Subject: Re: Patents and Amazon?
From: Mark Shewmaker <mark@primefactor.com>
Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2000 15:54:50 -0500

On Fri, Mar 10, 2000 at 12:20:33PM -0800, Rich Morin wrote:
> John Gilmore <gnu@toad.com> has toyed with the idea of setting
> up some sort of a "free patent pool".  As I understand it,
> patents in the pool would be available for free use by members
> of the pool.  Other parties could license the patents from the
> owners, of course, if both parties agreed.  Basically, this is
> something like the GNU GPL, but applied to patents.

I've been trying to promote something just like this with the
"Open Patent License" under development at www.openpatents.org.

> I do not recall whether there was any provision for someone to
> put only some of their patents in the pool and still have the
> ability to use pooled patents.  John, could you clarify this?

I'm not familiar with John Gilmore's notion, but...

With the Open Patent License, you submit patents using Options
of the license, and use patents from its Pools.

When you submit patents, they become available, (speaking a bit
sloppily) for use by any other participant who has abandoned
their patent and patent-like monopoly powers over other participants
to the same or greater extent than you have.

The intended upshot is that if a company submits *all* their software
patents, they become available to others who've also submitted all
their software patents.  Those who've only submitted individual
patches don't get to access these other "I've submitted all my
patches" customers, unless of course they decide to agree to that
Option level, and then they get access to both sets.

So the idea is to create a "safe" way to opt-out of the patent
system among agreeing participants, and give companies access
to more patents the more they open up their patent and patent-like
IP monopolies.

 -Mark Shewmaker
  mark@primefactor.com