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Eben Moglen: “We Will Not Between Now and 2020 [Face] a Copyright Crisis But the Patent Crisis is Not Going Away.”

Eben Moglen portrait



Summary: Here are just some among many takes on a talk about software patents and the Bilski case, courtesy of Professor Eben Moglen

Paula Rooney: Moglen: Bilski decision set back patent reform for more than a decade

Moglen said companies and individuals are now comfortable with open source licenses and doing hundreds of billions of dollars of commerce but the industry won’t be able to eradicate trollers for at least 10 years.

“We will not between now and 2020 [face] a copyright crisis but the patent crisis is not going away. We learned this from the United States Supreme Court,” Moglen said during his keynote. “What we know is that in the U.S., clarity on the relationship of patents to software is not coming any time soon and if there’s no clarity in the U.S., there’s no clarity in the world anytime soon.”


Ryan Paul: OSS and software patents: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em

At the Linux Foundation's annual LinuxCon event this week, Columbia University law professor and Software Freedom Law Center founder Eben Moglen explained that the prospects for software patent reform are bleak and that the time has come for the free software community to start finding ways to solve its patent problems by using the patent system itself.

The rapid proliferation of broad patents that cover software methods has turned the technology industry into a litigation minefield. It's difficult for a startup to develop a new product without treading on patents held by incumbent industry giants. Software patents are especially problematic for open source software because patent licensing is largely incompatible with the principles of unrestricted redistribution that are inherent to open source software licenses.


Brian Proffitt: Moglen Targets Patents, Compliance and Innovation as Key Challenges for Free Software

The patent crisis is not going to go away," Moglen stressed. This summer's Bilski ruling from the US Supreme Court confirmed as much for Moglen, who related to the audience that before the decision was handed down, he feared that the Court would hand down a ruling to the effect of: "You can't patent this, and here are five incoherent reasons why... and that's exactly what happened."

Moglen is concerned that without clarity from the US regarding patents, there will be not international clarity, and patents will remain a constant threat.

"We going to have to deal with this slowly and carefully," Moglen reiterated, using such patent defense organizations such as the Open Invention Network as one potent method of defense against patents.

It won't be easy: "The patent system is built for secrecy, obscurity, complexity... and troublemaking." Nonetheless, the challenge will remain for some time.


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