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05.13.11

Patent Defence Cartels Versus Abolishing Software Patents

Posted in GNU/Linux, OIN, Patents at 11:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Why the “Defensive Patent License” is not part of the solution to the problem Free software is having

“Fighting patents one by one will never eliminate the danger of software patents, any more than swatting mosquitoes will eliminate malaria,” Richard Stallman famously alleged. This is why all those patents boosters who claim to be gathering “defensive” patents are totally missing the point or simply lying to everyone. Consider Novell for example. One year it claims to be “defending” Linux with OIN and the following year it sells those patents to Microsoft. Yes, that’s “defensive” for you. Take Sun as another example. Those so-called “defensive” patents it had on Java are now being used to sue Google, which happens to share a seat with Oracle inside the OIN. What a failure. And then there are the Microsoft scams, which the company uses to pretend that it’s safe to step in Microsoft patents. Nathan Willis helps promote Mono software from a Novell employee despite the fact that Microsoft's MCP leaves legal holes. Legal analyses of that show it to be useless.

There is yet another one of those “defensive” pools and it calls itself (or its proposition) the Defensive Patent License (DPL), which was mentioned here before [1, 2, 3]. It has just given the following talk, as expected.

Direct link (TinyOgg could not do conversion to Ogg, unfortunately)

I have listened to the entire talk and it still falls short of actually eliminating software patents. The speakers are lovable people, but they unhelpfully speak about “Intellectual Property” and parrot some pro-patents talking points. They do not address the issue, or hardly ever do. It’s more like a defensive pool, of which there are already several. They try to find legal mechanisms to reduce risk without actually questioning the status quo, instead just taking for granted software patents. They also do not propose much of a solution to patent trolls. As we noted last night, Yahoo! managed to beat one such troll (who targeted Linux), but this is not a sustainable strategy. Linux is already being taxed by some software patents and Red Hat, for example, hides this fact. So did Novell. Software patents need to be eliminated urgently, without exceptions. The FFII, the FSFE and the FSF got it right all along.

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