Subject: RE: Patent prior art database
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <stephen@xemacs.org>
Date: Fri, 04 Jul 2008 17:31:56 +0900

Lawrence Rosen writes:
 > Steven Turnbull wrote:
 > > Easy to say, hard to do.  A patent is defensive because the nature of
 > > the invention is that it's not worth much in licensing, not because
 > > the nature of the inventor is to be a pussycat.

 > What you say is sometimes true, but not always. For example, if open source
 > software is commercially better because it implements a "free for open
 > source" patent, perhaps the commercial companies that want proprietary
 > products will be encouraged to buy patent licenses just to compete. Doesn't
 > it depend on the value of the patents involved? Most are worthless, but not
 > all!

I'm not sure what you're getting at.  I don't mean at all to imply
that a FLOSS developer won't come up with revenue-generating
inventions.  I'm simply trying to define "defensive patent", and point
out that the reason it's hard to get developers to file applications
for defensive patents is that they aren't worth much in revenue.  Does
that make more sense?

 > Let those companies pay what the patent is worth, which may be
 > little or much as the case may be.

Sure.  But that does depend on analyzing the patent, the use, and the
potential licensee on a case-by-case basis.  This is expensive.  My
point is that it's probably prohibitively expensive in the context of
"why can't a database of FLOSS prior art, embodied in patent
applications, fund itself via royalties on patents that are granted in
the process?"

If the point is "should FLOSS developers file patent applications?" I
would say "yes, if there's a business logic to it.

 > I always welcome the advice of economists when I try to calculate value.

Well, just make sure you pay what the advice is worth, which may be
little or much as the case may be!