Subject: Re: GIF/LZW patent
From: Federico Lucifredi <>
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 2006 08:59:31 -0400 wrote:
>> I happen to believe that patents can work FOR open source in much the same
>> way that copyright was supposed to. Even better, if we do it right. Just
>> the
>> opposite result if we continue to close our eyes to the reality of
>> software
>> patents.
>> I'll be blunt about it: If we didn't have copyright on software and only
>> had
>> patents, we'd be much better off. At least then monopolies would be based
>> upon innovation instead of mere writings by armies of programmers of
>> mostly
>> me-too code. Programmers would be rewarded for being innovative, and the
>> rest of us could otherwise copy and reuse any non-patented or off-patented
>> software we wanted, regardless of who wrote it. That's how intellectual
>> property works in every other area of technology! Wouldn't that be a
>> better
>> world?
> Right now the system is broken.  Companies are patenting very obvious
> things.  Until that is fixed the patent system will continue to be a hated
> thing by programmers.
> Closing our eyes to reality of patents is not an option.  But neither is
> the current system.  The sooner it collapses under its own weight the
> better.  I'd suggest that 95% of the software patents granted right now
> are complete horseshit.  So suggesting that I should wade through all that
> crap to not infringe someones rights is pretty onerous.
> Your concepts are intersting for a patent system that truely represented
> inovative work.  But most of it isn't.

And there is one additional problem: evn if the system were working, 
what sort of patent search would you have to run to figure out every 
claim applicable to your code ? Google Patents (TM) might come to the 
rescue, but otherwise the traditional patent search approaches are too 
slow, too burdensome for F/OSS developers as single entities.

Best -F