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From Matt Sergeant <>
Subject Re: [definitely OT] LZW patent [was Re: MathML package structure?]
Date Sat, 19 Jan 2002 16:00:15 GMT
On 19 Jan 2002, Andrew C. Oliver wrote:

> +1.  The trouble is protecting the little guy from the Microsoft and
> Suns of the world, but I believe oneupmanship and competition is the way
> to do this.  Supposing we were competitors, you come up with an idea, I
> build on it and improve it.  You build on my idea and improve it.  This
> kind of competition causes rapid innovation.  Once again the trouble is
> protecting the little guy from the sharks who can control his access to
> the marketplace.  In the US we don't do this very well anymore.

How can the little guy compete when to even step into the market he has to
pay Mr Big $200,000 just to use his compression technology that hundreds
of millions of people around the world are using, and if he doesn't
support it he gets marginalised? That's the entire problem with software
patents. Patents were devised to help the little guy, because we didn't
have things like a global internet - so the little guy needed that
patent in order to find a larger market without being squashed by the big
boys - and he didn't need to worry if his new fancy steam piston didn't
interoperate with Mr Big's steam piston. With software, particularly
internet software, that very same concept is a hinderance to Mr Little's
entrance to the market. I'm amazed you can't see this, especially in the
free software business. How are you supposed to implement SVG2GIF (or
2PNG) if Adobe want's 5% of your gross profits before tax, or $5 per copy
shipped, whichever is higher? There's no way in hell you can do that as an
open source developer.

Face it, software patents have NO PLACE in today's market. There are
perfectly valid and workable alternatives for commercial entities.

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