Subject: Re: GIF/LZW patent
From: DV Henkel-Wallace <gumby@henkel-wallace.org>
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 2006 10:24:13 -0700

On Sep 27, 2006, at 09:59 , Chris DiBona wrote:

>> (1) Pharma patents have their own problems. One of the reasons  
>> that the
>> software patent mess isn't being addressed is because politically  
>> it is
>> being conflated with pharma patents. A.... Perhaps compulsory  
>> licensing at reasonable rates, or
>> perhaps shorter terms, or perhaps different ways of funding  
>> expensive and
>> time-consuming drug testing????
>
> Maybe? I don't really think that mixing the general open source
> software treatment of patents and pharma will reveal anything. I also
> think that there really isn't anything more futile than tryign to come
> up with a unified statement on, well, anything from the open source
> world. WRT Pharma: A better choice would be to wait for Gumby, who is
> running a biotech startup to chime in.

Well, Chris, you brought it up!

Rosen understands the problem, although term is a problem in both  
fields.  But the pharma examiners understand the domain better than  
the software ones seem to.  I do presume the problem is one of time:  
eventually the examiners will catch up as the rate of innovation  
slows even further (we're well past the cambrian '60s so that may not  
be so long).

It's really the same as with software reliability.  In 100 years  
software will be as reliable as bridges -- and we've forgotten all  
the bridges that fell down in the Victorian era because they're gone!

>> (2) Cross-licensing in the auto industry (or perhaps, as you  
>> describe it
>> instead, an informal agreement not to assert their patents against  
>> each
>> other) is a good thing, not a bad thing. Particularly in  
>> industries where
>> there is a large cost barrier to entry and enormous manufacturing  
>> expenses
>> (unlike software!), an agreement not to impose large patent costs  
>> against
>> each other is an effective business strategy. As long as such  
>> informal or
>> formal arrangements don't adversely affect innovation and  
>> competition in
>> automobiles, I'm all for them.
>
> Make no mistake, car companies -wish- they could enforce their patents
> against Cherry, or Daewoo, or Kia. They can't. With each other they
> maintain enough distance and time from each others patents that
> they're not worth re-negotiating cross licensing deals for.

I have long wondered why the automotive industry doesn't suffer from  
the same problems.  It seems that they standardise on a lot of  
important UI features (.e.g steering wheel) and only waste time on  
things like the windscreen wiper delay.  Or maybe they normally don't  
patent stuff?

It's Chery by the way.