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From dav...@dedasys.com (David N. Welton)
Subject Re: FW: Microsoft's patent loss rattles tech community
Date Fri, 05 Sep 2003 09:50:04 GMT
Brian Behlendorf <brian@collab.net> writes:

> On Thu, 4 Sep 2003, Noel J. Bergman wrote:
> > With respect to the mess of software patents, here is an example where
> > initially most people laughed, "Ha ha, they f----ed Microsoft!", until it
> > slowly began to dawn on people that this is a huge problem.

> Is there any indication yet that Eolas intends to enforce this
> patent on any open source or free software projects?

Mike Doyle is active in the Tcl comunity - http://mini.net/tcl/212

He has a few things to say here:
http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20021107.html


        "It would sure be nice for someone to actually consider all of
        this from our point of view, rather than MS's," wrote Doyle in
        a recent message to me. "It amazes me that everyone just
        assumes that MS will be able to merely write a check and make
        the whole thing go away. What if someone went through the
        following, purely theoretical, of course ;-), logical
        analysis?"

        "Is there any practical settlement amount that is worth more
        to Eolas than a victory at trial? Considering the facts in the
        case and the magnitude of the stakes here, a highly likely
        outcome is that it will actually go to trial, and, once it
        does, that a jury will award us both damages and an
        injunction. Injunction is the key word here. That is what
        patent rights provide: the power to exclude. What if we were
        to just say no? Or, what if some other big player were to
        acquire or merge with us? What if only one best-of-breed
        browser could run embedded plug-ins, applets, ActiveX
        controls, or anything like them, and it wasn't IE? How
        competitive would the other browsers be without those
        capabilities? How would that change the current dynamics in
        the Industry?"

        "One possible scenario is that Eolas would have the power
        necessary to re-establish the browser-as-application-platform
        as a viable competitor to Windows. That would be an
        interesting outcome, wouldn't it? How much would that be
        worth? The Web-OS concept, where the browser is the interface
        to all interactive apps on the client side, was always a
        killer idea. It still is. It lost momentum not because it
        wasn't economically or technically feasible, but because MS
        made it unlikely for anybody but them to make money on the
        Web-client side. Therefore, nobody could justify the necessary
        investment to take a really-serious shot at it. It doesn't
        have to be that way, does it? Just think of how we could use
        this patent to re-invigorate and expand the competitive
        landscape in this recently-moribund industry. What if we could
        do what the DOJ couldn't, and in the process make Eolas and
        everybody else, possibly excluding MS, richer? Wouldn't Eolas
        stand to profit more in such a scenario than any kind of
        pre-trial settlement could provide? Wouldn't everybody else?"

        "The last couple of years in IT seem to have convinced people
        that the current status quo will continue indefinitely. They
        seem to have forgotten what seemed so obvious as little as
        three years ago, that change is the only invariance. That
        axiom has always proven out in the past, and I'm certain it
        will continue to do so in the future."

It doesn't sound like the sky is about to fall down in this particular
case.

-- 
David N. Welton
   Consulting: http://www.dedasys.com/
     Personal: http://www.dedasys.com/davidw/
Free Software: http://www.dedasys.com/freesoftware/
   Apache Tcl: http://tcl.apache.org/

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