Subject: Re: IC's patent-pending technology
From: <stephen@xemacs.org>
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2006 21:24:07 +0900

Jamie Lokier writes:

 > And I am bothered that a number of uses are effectively forbidden,
 > such as using the techniques in GPL'd code,

But if forbidden at all, it's forbidden by the GPL, not by the
patent-cum-covenant, which explicitly permits it AIUI.

Software practicing the patent and distributed under a free software
license may not be free software, but my understanding of what Larry
Rosen has posted is that he doesn't claim it is.  What Larry claims is
that (a) the resulting code may be freely redistributed in the form of
software, (b) R&D per se may be done without risk, and (c) there are no
restrictions whatsoever on derivatives that don't practice the patent.

I think that overall those are three big improvements over the usual
practice of patent licensing, and all are minor advantages to an FSB
(once again, relative to the usual practice of patent licensing).

 > One reason it bothers me, is that similar things _have_ happened to me
 > before: I have put maybe 6 months R&D into similarly tricky code (in
 > another field, DSP), only to find that what I produced by the end of
 > it, which seemed the optimal thing to produce, was patented and, in
 > the absence of a suitable license, I could not distribute the fruits
 > of my work.  That is a very unpleasant experience; one which I would
 > not wish on anybody.

Is that experience really relevant, though?  The whole International
Characters approach is so public that you shouldn't need to do a
patent search per se; a little bit of Googling at the start should
warn you that you're likely going to need a license.  If getting a
license is acceptable, hand the task to your lawyers.  Either way, go
work on something else!

If you got beat in a race, so that the patent was *not* publically
visible when you got started, my condolences.  That's genuinely
unfortunate, an unavoidable downside to the idea of "patent".  But
where one *could* search for a preexisting patent, AFAICS the
International Characters approach should substantially ameliorate the
friction due to the expense of patent searches.  And if you're even a
few months behind, you're probably going to be able to find it on
Freshmeat.