[clug] Novell & Red Hat litigation - The start of a relentless grind? [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

Paul Wayper paulway at mabula.net
Tue Oct 16 02:55:14 GMT 2007

Hash: SHA1

Roppola, Antti - BRS wrote:
> Just as the dust begins to settle on SCO, an IP patent troll appears the
> very next day just like Steve Ballmer threatened it would.

Groklaw also found out that three senior Microsoft managers moved to the
parent company of the IP Troll six months ago...

> It strikes me that established players benefit from the poisonous
> atmosphere of software
> patents. Despite some collateral losses (like the Eolas lawsuit), the
> net gains stack up
> very much in favour of sustaining the status-quo.

Absolutely.  To them, the thousands of dollars to put a patent through is just
another minor business expense, whereas to the small inventors can't afford
more than one (let alone trying to enforce it).  The small inventors are the
patent law equivalent of John Howard's 'aussie battlers' - people who don't
really exist in the system anymore because they've ceased to be relevant to
the real players in the business.  Patent reform is always talked about in
terms of 'making it easier for the small inventors' but so often the actual
reform would do them far greater damage.

The thing that really galls me personally is that the big companies are so
hypocritical about it.  Microsoft (and Apple, and many other companies)
regularly pay hundreds of millions of dollars to settle patent infringement
claims.  And they and a conglomerate of very big companies are fighting to
overthrow a patent that the CSIRO took out on wireless communications (I think
pertaining to spread spectrum) that it is now trying to insist payment for.
So really they're saying that, for them, they don't care what patents exist -
they'll either ignore them and pay the fine, or try to get the patent thrown
out.  These are the people that are then strutting around saying how important
patents are and that those open source people should be respecting our patents?

The good news, to me, is that if that patent can't get itself thrown out on
its ear with so much prior art that it bounces all the way from Canberra to
Newfoundland then I will be very surprised.  This has all the makings of
another SCO - the same big claims, the same high-profile lawsuits, the same
crushing defeats of those trying to oppose Open Source.

For the record, I'm generally against patents, in that I feel we are now at a
stage where the implementation of an idea can happen so fast and travel the
globe so quickly that we've grown way beyond what the patent system was meant
to do.  Patents protect resources where the implementation time is long and
costly - the cost to tool up a factory producing cars was way more than the
cost of the initial design.  Now, with electronics and especially with
programs, once the program or algorithm or circuit is designed it can be
produced in weeks by bespoke manufacturers and shipped around the globe as
quickly - programs, of course, transit in no time at all, relatively speaking.
  So protecting them with patents is protecting your web site by putting your
server in a locked room.

However, ideas are not free, and a good way of doing something is worth some
money.  I support people making money from their work.  I don't support the
huge and leechlike infrastructure that's grown on top of them.  Being able to
buy and sell the rights to an invention, or a song, or an artwork, with no
intention of using it as is but just to trade it and get money out of it, is
an obscene perversion of that original creative process.

Enough of me.  Have fun,

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