Subject: Re: software patents in the wild
From: Bernard Lang <Bernard.Lang@inria.fr>
Date: Tue, 16 Aug 2005 14:26:44 +0200



Hi,

you did not specify whether your program is free software or not.

If it is not, you may be very constrained, because even if you migrate
it to Europe, people may force you to remove it from public access
since you have control over the copyright.

On the other hand, if the program is GPLed (or similar licence, which
have stronger status than BSD in some legal system, because they give
you something in return), than you are pretty safe.  The day you
receive the cease and desist letters,  you comply.

But you cannot help it if other people in Europe (no patents yet, and
the fight goes on), or India or Brasil and Argentina, decide to keep
you project public.

The patent fight is not finished.  Patents are a competitive
disadvantage for a coutry that has them, while others do not.  If we
resist long enough, the USA and Japan will have to yield.

But, of course, if you are infringing US patents, you may not be able
to use your program for business in the USA.

Bernard

* Ian Lance Taylor <ian@airs.com>, le 15-08-05, a écrit:
> Joe Corneli <jcorneli@math.utexas.edu> writes:
> 
> > I have a software project that I'm working on finishing up that may
> > include features that have been patented.  Should I worry about this?
> > 
> > Since it seems like people can "patent anything", and have (to the
> > amusement to many a slashdot user), I get the sense that any
> > reasonably complicated program will contain "patented" features.
> > Especially if the idea for the program (or something similar) has been
> > floating around in public discourse for a while without any
> > implementation.
> > 
> > If I release the software, should I brace for cease and desist
> > letters?  Would I be running the risk of a lawsuit?  Is there
> > something I can do to avoid getting in this kind of trouble (e.g. move
> > to a far away country and release the code from there)?
> 
> I concur that every substantial piece of software violates several
> U.S. software patents.  In general there is nothing you can do about
> this.
> 
> The only saving grace in this absurd situation is that patent holders,
> unlike trademark holders, do not lose any rights if they do not
> challenge violations.  So you only have to worry about patent holders
> who have something to gain by challenging your program.  If your
> program does not make a substantial income for you, and does not
> remove substantial income from a potential patent holder, then you are
> more likely safe.
> 
> If you are unlucky enough to get challenged, it's likely that your
> only plausible option will be to settle right away.  Mounting a
> successful defense against a lawsuit by a patent holder can run into
> multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars.
> 
> Moving to Europe will at least temporarily be a defense against
> software patent lawsuits, but of course your program would not
> necessarily be available in the U.S.  And the pro-patent forces
> continue to fight to extend software patents to Europe.
> 
> The whole situation is completely insane.  Nevertheless, there are
> people who sincerely believe that extending patent protection to
> software is good for society.
> 
> Ian

-- 
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