Subject: Re: Patents and Amazon?
From: kmself@ix.netcom.com
Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2000 11:30:39 -0800

On Fri, Mar 10, 2000 at 11:44:50AM -0500, Ben_Tilly@trepp.com wrote:
> 
> How seriously are people taking Jeff Bezos' comments?
> 
> Does anyone believe that he has a chance?  Whether or not he does, what is
> the likely impact on free software?  Are there any suggestions he should
> take to Congress about patents that he has not considered?

He's talking the talk.  He didn't have to do that.  It's necessary but
not sufficient.  Still, it's promising.

I see Bezos's position as a rational one -- he holds a potentially
valuable patent, enabling a distinguishing feature, in a highly
competitive industry.  Regardless of the merits or worthiness of the
patent itself, business sense dictates he retain it.

The "we need patent reform based on foo, bar, and baz" pitch was a good
read -- Bezos has clearly understood the general form of the debate --
but I'm not very hopeful that something will come of it, yet.

What would be most useful and likely IMO would be for Amazon to outline
a patent licensing policy which promotes its own interests, promotes
open standards and free software, but doesn't cotton abuse or attacks by
hostile parties.  There's precedent -- the IBM PSL is essentially a
patent license with some software thrown in as an afterthought.  How
such a policy or agreement is structured becomes an interesting,
nonacademic question.  ESR's patent nonagression pact is one approach
(discussed several times, not formally proposed AFAIK).

-- 
Karsten M. Self (kmself@ix.netcom.com)
    What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?

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