Subject: Re: JBoss aquired by Red Hat
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Mon, 01 May 2006 23:59:54 +0900

>>>>> "Taran" == Taran Rampersad <cnd@knowprose.com> writes:

    Taran> At a meta level, I view it this way: If there were more
    Taran> trade secrets, there would be less silly patents.

If they work, trade secrets are (from an economic point of view) about
as bad as patents.  While they don't prevent reinvention, if there is
a really difficult problem that has been solved, they conceal the
solution, perhaps even the question!  They also warp business
practices into socially risky forms involving an (economic and perhaps
technical) single point of failure.

The best thing that can be said about trade secrets is that they are
sufficiently weak that they cannot be abused in the same way as
patents are under the current system, which means that they are not as
great a threat to freedom.

    Taran> Is there a way out of this mess that any of you see?

(1) Ameliorate the patent system by raising the absolute bars of
novelty and unobviousness, and by introducing an adversarial process
where the claims are published and analyzed publicly.  (I suggest this
only because I think these reforms are far more likely than abolition
of software/business method patents, and it would help.)

(2) Start contributing patents, to be publicly licensed under an
appropriate free license.


-- 
Graduate School of Systems and Information Engineering   University of Tsukuba
http://turnbull.sk.tsukuba.ac.jp/        Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
        Economics of Information Communication and Computation Systems
          Experimental Economics, Microeconomic Theory, Game Theory