Subject: Re: Patents (was Re: DiBona, Allman, Tiemann, O'Reilly, Perens interview)
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 13:54:55 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "kms" == Karsten M Self <> writes:

    kms> Greg Aharonian can probably dig up the juicy quotes.

OK, I agree with your point about commissioners and examiners.  I
still think it would be worth trying to get the examiners the
resources needed to search for prior art in the textbooks where it
exists rather than in patent databases where it doesn't.  Eg, a
fair-use exemption for the PTO so they can scan all the professional
texts and journals into their prior-art database.

Also pushing for a much extended public review period.  Raising the
bar may not be optimal from our point of view, but it's more plausible
than abolition from the legislative standpoint since it's already been

As for Greg, I'd rather _he_ spent his time getting Patent-Busters,
Inc, rolling.  This would both have direct ameliorative effects, and
serve to point up current absurdities in a way that might result in
useful reform.

    >> Wishful thinking, IMO.  Patenting business methods probably
    >> works in favor of the Fortune 500; they can afford to pay the
    >> license fee if reasonable or break the patent if that's cheaper
    >> (and most of them are breakable).

    kms> Fair enough.  I hadn't considered that, but it's probably
    kms> true.  Though even a short-term disruption of business would
    kms> be extremely costly to any of these firms.

It's unlikely that business would be disrupted, though; the
patent-holder has to prove their point to some degree first, don't
they?  For internal operations this would involve discovery, etc, etc,
all of which could be delayed, while at the same time the defendent is
coming up with plausible prior art (which we all believe would be the
case).   The plaintiff would probably prefer to back off and either
settle for a reasonable fee or attack somebody else.

And remember, even this scenario would probably only apply to patents
held by professional patent extortionists.  Companies like IBM would
probably prefer cross-licensing, pools, or reasonable fees.

So I suspect that even when some F500 firm takes a hit, in many cases
the outcome would be proposals for reform of a type that would be
particularly ugly for OSS, tending to support the IP of well-
entrenched companies with large portfolios who are well-behaved
leeches, but make life difficult for people who hold one or a few

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