[linux-elitists] We should thank SCO

Bulent Murtezaoglu bm@acm.org
Mon Jan 20 02:52:01 PST 2003


>>>>> "LMA" == Larry M Augustin <lma@lmaugustin.com> writes:
[on Patents for Public Interest]

    LMA> Do people think that open source and free software developers
    LMA> would do this?  

I think there's precedent for similar things.  They certainly seem to
have liked the idea of using copyright laws in a manner that they
perceive to be beneficial to all.  That might get the GPL zealots.
One can also concoct schemes where private licencing by the inventor
to closed source alongside a defensive licence to open-source is 
available with PPI getting a cut from the licencing revene.  That 
certainly should motivate the other folks who are not opposed to
non-GPL licences.  

    LMA> If there were an organization that held a
    LMA> defensive patent portfolio on behalf of free software, and
    LMA> that organization had enough funding to help free software
    LMA> developers patent their creations, would developers take the
    LMA> time to work with that organization to submit their works for
    LMA> patent?

The hassle would need to be minimized for the inventor (a sign and
date daemon running on a PPI machine, no phone calls from patent
attorneys seeking business, workflow completely on-line etc.).  I
think big names like Alan Cox would support this if what I see from
him on LKML is any indication.  

I don't have acccess to the demographics of open source developers but
I suspect some of them are now out of school, out of VC/Nasdaq funded
jobs and are maturing to the point of not outright rejecting the legal
framework under which money is made.  Since a scheme like this would 
also provide the patent office with the kind of documented prior art
they want, it could be seen as an improvement to the patenting process
and thus a valuable contribution for that effect alone.  

If I were trying to figure out how to make this fly, I'd talk to
college profs and collect opinions on how the process works for whizz
kids who enter grad school at a young age and don't seem to care about
publishing.  Something outside of funding worries makes these kids
develop a keen eye for publishable stuff in short order.  Whatever it
is, maybe the same kind of motivation could be utilized to cultivate a
culture where developers think in those terms.  If the inventor is
motivated to at least point out what might be an invention, we'd be
set.  We have a crowd available who are getting exposed to legal
thinking (you know what I mean) by reading about IP battles being
waged.  That crowd can take over and actually do part of the work of
proper wording etc.  If there are people willing to be kernel
janitors, there certainly will be people who are willing to be Open
Patent Scribes.

What do the others think?

cheers,

BM



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