Fwd: Re: [clug] FOSS patent infringements

Craig Small csmall at enc.com.au
Wed May 16 01:37:14 GMT 2007

On Wed, May 16, 2007 at 11:15:29AM +1000, Jason wrote:
> All these piles of mysterious patents really confuse me, maybe someone who actually understands it properly could do a talk on what a poor open source developer need to know one month.
That would be handy.

> For instance the difference between copyright, trademark and patent, a companies logo is automatically copyrighted but they can can apply for it to be trademarked or maybe registered? How do you differentiate between a graphical concept like a logo and an equally graphical concept like a user interface which can be apparently patented?
I look at it like a word-processor.
 * You would copyright the code, so people can only copy the code using
   whatever license I have applied to it.
 * You could trademark the name of the wordprocessor. Trademarks are
   usually for "labels" like a name or logo of something.
 * You could (try) to patent the *idea* of a wordprocessor, or perhaps
   some component of it.

Patents are abused in software to restrict trade, if you come up with an
idea for a word processor and patent it, I cannot make one even if I
have never heard of you or your product.   Of course you would probably
fail to patent a word processor as there is lots of prior art.

Personally, I strongly believe that no software patents should be
permitted. There is no public benefit to them, which should be the true

> There are also fair use provisions in copyright, (I think you can quote up to 10% of a copyrighted document) are there any such provisions involved with patents?
As far as I am aware, no. 

> If I have no money and I am making a free (as in beer) product, what can the big evils actually sue out of me?
No money or assets at all? Then you might be ok. They could stop you
from distributing it somehow.

Craig Small      GnuPG:1C1B D893 1418 2AF4 45EE  95CB C76C E5AC 12CA DFA5
http://www.enc.com.au/                             csmall at : enc.com.au
http://www.debian.org/          Debian GNU/Linux, software should be Free 

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