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From "William A. Rowe, Jr." <wr...@rowe-clan.net>
Subject Re: On Patents: don't lose the hope
Date Tue, 29 Mar 2005 23:51:20 GMT
At 10:01 AM 3/29/2005, Stefano Mazzocchi wrote:

>No, I'm not suggesting that we enter the 'patent clearing' business.... it would turn
the incubator into a politburo... I was just reacting on your statement that 'they are different'
as it seemed to imply 'we should only care about the first and leave the second to the ecosystem
to deal with'.

We should be clear *to* our users that we only cared about the first,
we only address the first, that only Patents held by contributors
to the ASF are covered under the Patent clause of the ASL.

That doesn't mean an outside patent isn't convertible, if we become
aware of it and the patent holder wants to grant us (our users) license
under the ASL terms.

We publicly disclose all of our code, patent holders can trivially
defend their patent using Google, in our case.  It's the closed
source applications they have a harder time pinning down, at times.

But start our own patent research division?  What is your proposed
solution to the second case?

>Sure, that would be very easy, but I wonder if that is morally correct: if one of our
users gets sued for patent infringment, they come to us and we say "dude, it's your fault,
we never told you you had the right to use that 
>code", the repercussions would be terrible!!!

s/code/method or technology/  Patents don't protect 'code'.

And no, not terrible.  Because they have a community interested 
and willing to promptly replace the offending logic.  They and
their customers and our users are all in a stronger position than
even a commercial enterprise, with fixed costs to replace the
patent infringement.  Heck, if such a user -wants- to, they can
even pay the royalties and use that patented technology.  Obviously,
we won't - the offending logic would be removed and replaced.

All we can answer to those users is that 'Hey, we invented this
techology in parallel to the patent holder.  If you want to go
after them on prior art [perhaps with us], here's what we have
in code revision history and mailing list discussion.  We are as
disappointed as you that we can no longer provide this part of
our terrific program.'

Someday, an entire ASF project will be submarined by a broad patent.
Not some specific feature, class, or whatever.  That's when the
fireworks will become interesting.  Until then, this thread is mostly
speculation.
 






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