06.03.11

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Tim O’Reilly (US): “We Need Some Serious Reform on Software Patents.”

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 1:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tim O'Reilly
Photo by Robert Scoble, former Microsoft AstroTurfer (“Evangelist”)

Summary: Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly fame (the publisher) joins the tongue lashing against software patents; Techrights commends him.

Tim O’Reilly has had a mixed bag when it comes to techrights, in which he commented before. We appreciate the work he did bringing Open Source to the public’s awareness as the books his company publishes definitely help adoption of Free/Open Source software (we have an interview about that coming). The main Issue that we have had with O’Reilly is that he is inclusive to the point where even hostile intrusions (notably by Microsoft) get tolerated and funding from Microsoft is allowed to have impact [1, 2, 3, 4]. Another issue with the company and not the person is its recent deal with Microsoft and also some neglect of “Openness” at the code level, not to mention standards. APIs are not really “openness”, they are an invitation to become dependent on someone else.

At any rate, we wish not to berate O’Reilly. Rather, we strive to highlight areas where there is room for debate and hopefully better understanding. We agree with Tim on many of the points he makes, including his important denunciation of software patents in this tweet where he says “I’m with @fredwilson: Enough is enough http://bit.ly/kfXXMV We need some serious reform on software patents.” Some people who work for O’Reilly, notably Andy, are actually pro-software patents. Maybe that will change.

Yes, software patents are now being fought against also by Tim (we don’t say O’Reilly as that would cause confusion w.r.t. the company/person), who is very influential in the United States. Fred Wilson himself is very pleased with the attention he got for speaking out against software patents the other day:

Clearly this is a hot topic. It’s got me hot and it’s got a few others hot too. That’s a good thing. It’s clear that we need to do more to fix the software patents mess and the reaction to yesterday’s post is a strong signal to me on that front.

We can second that as Techrights grew very fast since it started covering software patents in 2006. Now more than ever we see software patents doing a lot of harm everywhere in the news, so proprietary software developers — not just Free software developers — speak out against these. Let’s keep up the fight. The SCOTUS cannot betray the people for too long.

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