Subject: Re: Novel anti-software-patent article
From: Lynn Winebarger <owinebar@free-expression.org>
Date: Fri, 7 Jan 2000 17:56:39 -0500 (EST)

On Fri, 7 Jan 2000, Jesus M. Gonzalez-Barahona wrote:

> 	Excuse my ignorance, but from a libre software point of view,
> where is the difference between a trade secret and a patent. If a
> technique is patentes, a libre program cannot use it. If it is
> patented, a libre program cannot use it. Oh, yes, if it is a trade
> secret, I cannot hit it when programming, and being sued later for
> patent infringement...
> 
   Actually, the matter of whether a patent would be enforced by a court
has not yet been determined.  Yes, there have been cases where a free
software author has stopped distributing software implementing a patent,
but as far as I know, none have actually gone to court and argued that
free software should be exempt from patent enforcement.  (I know Crispin
disagrees with me, but judges have in the past shown an amazing ability to
look at issues with a long-term view towards the public interest, and
until they apply that view to this particular issue, it's not been
decided).
   
> 	On the other hand, security by obscurity is curently not well
> considered, AFAIK. If you want a crypto algorithm to be used, it has to
> be publically inspectable by experts. Hard to do if it is a trade
> secret. (Of course this characteristic of crypto algorithms does not
> hold in other environments).
> 
   You think M$ allows its crypto implementation to be publically
inspectable?  And it seems to me their stuff is being used pretty heavily.  
   And I doubt they're the only ones.  How about SDMI (Secure Digital
Music Initiative)?

Lynn