[clug] Re: [Linux-aus] FOSS patent infringements

Michael Cohen michael.cohen at netspeed.com.au
Wed May 16 02:47:24 GMT 2007

On Wed, May 16, 2007 at 10:39:44AM +0930, Andrew Pam wrote:
> I note that patent law specifically provides that patents are intended 
> to "teach" the method(s) in the patent.  However there is little 
> evidence that programmers *ever* look at patents, in fact these days 
> they are encouraged *not* to look at them to reduce the danger of triple 
> damages for wilful infringement.  Therefore it appears that the public 
> benefit claimed as a justification for the establishment of patents is 
> almost completely absent in the case of software patents - they 
> definitely impede innovation, and rarely or never encourage it.

A possibly worse situation is that of standards actually requiring the use of
patented technology. In that case you have no choice but to use the patent if
you want to implement the standard. For example PDF uses LZW as part of the
standard (i know LZW expired now). There are a number of such cases (e.g.
MPG2,4 mp3 and most of the multimedia stuff). MS Fat system is so widely used
everywhere it is basically a standard (if only because thats the only
documented filesystem windows can read reliably).


More information about the linux mailing list