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OIN Going After Unpaid Staff to Help Legitimise Software Patenting

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Summary: Students are being used to help write so-called "defensive patent publications"

IBM, a key component of the USPTO (with David Kappos, a former IBM employee, running it), helped form OIN, which was the creation run by another former IBM employee. OIN recently made it into the news again. There is a coordinated PR effort to get volunteers to help an agenda that legitimises some software patents (which IBM loves). To quote one output of this PR (in Red Hat's site): "In Fall 2012, the Linux Defenders, from the Open Invention Network (OIN), teamed with the students of the Open Source Software Practices class at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (in Troy, NY) to write a set of defensive patent publications.



"OIN should join the efforts to end software patents, not tame them for the benefit of IBM et al.""The students in the class first went through four lectures on the history and nature of patents, one of them given directly by Andrea Casillas, director of the Linux Defenders program at OIN. After this training, each one of the students wrote a defensive patent publication on a topic close to a class project that they were already working on.

"Members of OIN guided the students at every step of the process, providing instructions on how to write the publications and leading them to the finished product that was ready to be submitted to the US Patent Office."

This is bad because they exploit a volunteer (as in unpaid) workforce to help legitimise software patents as a concept, just like Peer2Patent did. This is a lawyer's non-solution to a real problem and another lawyer is proposing this rather misguided 'solution'. Let's stress that the solution is to abolish software patents, not help garden them. OIN should join the efforts to end software patents, not tame them for the benefit of IBM et al.

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