Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Patent Law Ruling Threatens FOSS 244

Posted by Zonk
from the multi-tasking dept.
savio13 writes "The EFF has asked the US Supreme Court to overturn a patent law ruling that could pose a serious threat to Free and Open Source Software projects. A recent Federal Circuit Court of Appeals decision required that even the most obvious incremental advances can be patented unless it can be proved that someone else suggested it prior to the patent being filed. As such, many 'bad patents' are being used as roadblocks for legitimate innovators, especially those working for FOSS projects (who have better things to do then search through thousands of technical papers for some mention of the obvious). The full brief is available online in PDF format."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Patent Law Ruling Threatens FOSS

Comments Filter:
  • by RingDev (879105) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:00AM (#15978326) Homepage Journal
    Than to sort through yestarday's stories: http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/08/24/15 13218 [slashdot.org]

    -Rick
    • by Richy_T (111409) on Friday August 25, 2006 @12:26PM (#15979197) Homepage
      The scene: A badly lit office somewhere in America. Empty pizza boxes are scattered around and a plush penguin lies face down on the floor.

      Sounds of death and destruction come from the corner. Panning around, we see a Slashdot editor (it doesn't matter which one) hunched over a keyboard playing the latest version of quake or WoW or Everquest (it doesn't matter which one). Almost inaudible, a "beep beep beep" sounds from watch on the editor's wrist. It's time for a new Slashdot article. He looks up at his second monitor to the open "Slashdot Submitted Articles" page and scans frantically for the words "Microsoft", "SCO" or "Patent" (it doesn't matter which one) clicks quickly at the "accept" button (maybe he gets the button for the previous article, maybe the next. It doesn't matter which one) then gets back to the real business of the day, some serious, hard-core fragging.

      Rich
  • Better Idea... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:00AM (#15978327) Journal
    ...maybe the EFF can talk the US Supreme Court into invalidating ALL software patents, not just the "obvious" ones.

    /P

    • Re:Better Idea... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Reverend528 (585549) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:06AM (#15978399) Homepage
      You say that as if there are non-obvious software patents.
      • by volpe (58112)
        You say that is if there aren't.

        For example, there's the RSA [tinyurl.com] cryptographic algorithm, and the Marching Cubes [tinyurl.com] volume iso-surface generation algorithm, just to name two of my favorites off the top of my head.

        I don't consider either of these obvious. Nor do I subscribe to the notion that methods that harness the laws of mathematics are inherently less inventive than methods that harness the laws of physics.

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          Except that regardless of whether you agree or not, Mathematical algorithms are supposed to be nonpatentable by law. The RSA algorithm, as best I can tell, squeezed by because of its implementation using a computer. In my opinion, the RSA patent is no more valid than any of the "do ]blah] on the internet" patents.

          Regardless, though, the vast majority (maybe 99.997%) of software patents are not truly nonobvious. They are simply obvious answers to a problem that no one had posed before. Invention should

      • by roman_mir (125474)
        yes, there are. Burrows-Wheeler transformation [wikipedia.org] and Golomb Coding [wikipedia.org] for example.
    • Re:Better Idea... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:14AM (#15978480)
      Disclaimer: I am a patent engineer. I write software patents for a living.

      Let's think about this for a minute. There are two common arguments for doing away with software patents: 1) It's just math (i.e., algorithms), and 2) software is already covered by copyright.

      Addressing 1) first, this argument could be taken to its natural conclusion by suggesting that *nothing* should be patented, since *everything* is simply a combination of laws of nature. But if we take a step back, we realize that what people are patenting is novel *uses* for laws of nature. If I'm the first person to design voice recognition software, why would that be any less patentable than a new kind of rubber? The point (theoretically, at least) is to reward hard work and innovation. Why should software engineers be any less entitled to that kind of reward?

      Some will respond to the previous points with 2). BUT, and this is an important point, copyright only covers the specific implementation or manifestation of the invention. So, if I were to copyright an insanely powerful peer-to-peer model, you would only have to use a different programming language, change the system architecture a little bit, throw a different GUI on it, and away you go. You may be copying my ideas EXACTLY, but you've found a way around the copyright. So it's clear that copyright doesn't protect certain kinds of inventions to the extent that patents do.

      Now, I'll be the first to acknowledge that the USPTO needs improvement. The examination process is flawed, and recent reform proposals have fallen far short of what's actually needed. But does that mean we should just do away with an entire class of patents? Of course not.
      • Re:Better Idea... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Daniel_Staal (609844) <DStaal@usa.net> on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:20AM (#15978536)
        Patents are supposed to be on a specific implementation of a specific idea. If I see your idea and come up with my own, different, implementation, that should not be covered by your patent.

        So, from your argument, copyright already does that for software. So what's the point of the patent again?

        (Note: Ideas are not supposed to be patentable or copyrightable. Only implementations or expressions of them (respectively) are.)
        • Uhh, wrong. (Score:2, Informative)

          by cdrguru (88047)
          Patents aren't about any specific implementation (or embodiment) at all. They are about a general concept that can be embodied in a specific implementation.

          If I have a patent on a braking system for cars and someone goes out and makes something nearly identical for use on trucks this is clearly patent infringement. At least I should because any smart patent lawyer will make sure "cars" never appears in the claims for the patent and it remains general. As general as possible while still preserving the con
          • by msobkow (48369) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:55AM (#15978908) Homepage Journal

            Patents are supposed to be for specific implementations, not general ideas.

            Check out the variety of automatic transmission designs, each under it's own patent. Yet clearly they do the same "obvious" task of shifting.

            The only reason that isn't the case for software patents is that the USPTO and legal system haven't got a clue how to do anything but follow the money. And the money is in the hands of those who benefit from misinterpreting the law.

            • by kimvette (919543)
              And the money is in the hands of those who benefit from misinterpreting the law.


              You forgot to complete the sentence, but it's understandable that you did because not everyone sees the full scope. I will correct it for you:

              And the money is in the hands of those who benefit from misinterpreting the law, which in turn are written in a manner that they are intended to be taken out of context or to be twisted or contorted by those same folks.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by joshetc (955226)
            Yes but if you invent a braking system that makes a motor vehicle stop, then get a patent for it. Then someone else goes out and makes a braking system that is different but does the same thing. In the software world you would be able to sue someone else just because the outcome is the same even if the implementation is comletely different. This is one reason software patents shouldn't exist. Someone could write a program in VB and patent it.. then someone could come and write a similar program in Java that
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tomstdenis (446163)
        Ignoring the fact that patents cover very specific implementations of ideas (e.g. this is why you have to claim subroutines as parts of the invention)....

        Most software algorithms [and in many cases hardware] are just evolutions of previous algorithms. Take LZW. Take any one of the millions held collectively by Apple, IBM, Microsoft and the like. Patents which are truly original and non-obvious are the exception not the rule. And given that OSS developers don't have the money to invest in patents it's ju
      • Re:Better Idea... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ElleyKitten (715519) <kittensunrise@gmail . c om> on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:36AM (#15978709) Journal
        If I'm the first person to design voice recognition software, why would that be any less patentable than a new kind of rubber? The point (theoretically, at least) is to reward hard work and innovation. Why should software engineers be any less entitled to that kind of reward?
        If you patent your rubber, I can work on a new, better type of rubber. If you patent voice recognition software, can I work on a new, better type of voice recognition software? Patenting voice recognition software would be like patenting all rubber; it's way too broad. Most software patents are way too broad, and thus stifle creativity instead of encourage it like patents are meant to do. Software copyrights, however, cover the implementation of software (not the vague concepts), so I am not allow to copy your voice recognition technology but I am allowed to work on new, better ways of voice recognition. Copyright law isn't perfect, but for software it is better than patents, at least the way the system is currently.
        • Most software patents are way too broad, and thus stifle creativity instead of encourage it like patents are meant to do

          While I agree with most of what you've said, I think you're misinterpreting how patents are meant to encourage innovation. The primary intent is to make sure that the inventor has exclusive rights to his invention, for a period of time. This encourages inventors to invent. With it, the small research shop would invent a better mouse trap, and Big Corp has to license that idea from the

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jedidiah (1196)
            NO. The primary intent is to encourage the inventor to be productive.

            The state granted monopoly is just a means to an end.
            • Please note that I'm not speaking of software patents right now -- I'm discussing patents in general.

              That being said: how do you encourage an inventor to be productive? If he's not financially motivated, he will be productive regardless. If he is financially motivated, the patent system is built to allow and encourage that -- so he will invent more things in the future. Simple positive reinforcement. I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, if you've anything to back it up.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Xerxes1729 (770990)
                Patents are granted in the United States "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries". The ultimate purpose of the patent (and also the copyright) is not to ensure that the creator is rewarded for his effort, but to promote innovation. The temporary monopoly that a patent provides is just a means to an end. If patents are granted in such a way that they inhibit innovation, then
                • But you haven't answered the basic question -- if not through that temporary monopoly, how does a patent encourage innovation? Without that incentive, it just becomes an optional beaurocracy.
          • With it, the small research shop would invent a better mouse trap, and Big Corp has to license that idea from them in order to produce it -- thus rewarding the innovator. Without it, the small research shop invents the better mouse trap, and Big Corp sees it for sale in limited number, and mass-produces a copy for less money. Small Research Shop not only has not been rewarded, they are quite likely now out of business.

            And if mousetraps were software, Small Research Shop would build a better mousetrap, but

          • While I agree with most of what you've said, I think you're misinterpreting how patents are meant to encourage innovation. The primary intent is to make sure that the inventor has exclusive rights to his invention, for a period of time. This encourages inventors to invent. With it, the small research shop would invent a better mouse trap, and Big Corp has to license that idea from them in order to produce it -- thus rewarding the innovator. Without it, the small research shop invents the better mouse trap,

      • I've heard that argument thousands of times before... only slightly differently. Mr. Patent Engineer how high and mighty are you? Novel??? Even a monkey can be sent to the moon given enough giant shoulders to stand on.
      • Addressing 1) first, this argument could be taken to its natural conclusion by suggesting that *nothing* should be patented, since *everything* is simply a combination of laws of nature. But if we take a step back, we realize that what people are patenting is novel *uses* for laws of nature. If I'm the first person to design voice recognition software, why would that be any less patentable than a new kind of rubber? The point (theoretically, at least) is to reward hard work and innovation. Why should softw

      • by Gulik (179693)
        The point (theoretically, at least) is to reward hard work and innovation.

        No. The point, made clear and explicit in the Constitution, is to "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts." Rewarding hard work and innovation is a means to that end, not the end itself.
      • Re:Better Idea... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by pieterh (196118) on Friday August 25, 2006 @02:11PM (#15980094) Homepage
        Dear anonymous patent engineer,

        The patent system, much like software, is the creation of our minds. It's an artificial system of monopolies with only one purpose, to maximise the amount of innovation society produces, through appropriate protection of investment. Copyright is, of course, exactly the same, only different.

        Your arguments don't address the actual question, which is much simpler than technical debate about maths, the reality of the universe, and the difference between an idea and a piece of work.

        The question is simply: does the patent system stimulate programmers and SMEs to invent, or does it not. It is a question with a black and white answer. Patents are either good for software, or they are bad for it. There are no special cases: any mechanism that produces more software, more cheaply, will do so systematically across all domains.

        If the answer is yes, you will find programmers and the CEOs of SMEs in their thousands invading the streets, or at least writing emails, demanding more patent protection.

        But, surprisingly perhaps for someone who has graduated to the position of engineer of patents, you find yourself confronted by masses of unhappy, angry, confused programmers and SME CEOs who detest software patents with such a fury that they are willing to sacrifice their time, their money, and years of their lives, in some cases, to oppose wider patentability of software.

        Software patents must be stopped, and rolled back, or the software industry will suffer and in some parts of the world, die.

        There is no pity in economics - inefficient systems are punished mercilessly, and if the US persists in its mindless pursuit of universal patentability, it will simply arrive at the stage where no-one - not the software industry, not the music industry, not the movie industry - will invest in copyrightable works, because every idea and concept will be owned by a patent engineer.

        At which stage the patent engineers of the world can write the content.
      • by Peaker (72084)
        Could you please explain a single idea you have patented, which is beneficial to society, and would not have existed without software patents?

        If you can, please list not only a patent description of yours, but also a few examples of problems you solved with patents, so I can try to alternatively solve the same problems, as a test of "triviality".

        The real test of whether patents are good or bad, is not if they are analogous to "physical" patents (although it is an interesting anecdote), but whether they cont
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by MHDK (894720)
        The argument against software patents is this:

        The purpose of patents is to encourage innovation, and it fails to do this in the case of software patents. Ergo, they should be abolished for software.

        That's it. No other point needs to be made. The reason they fail to encourage innovation is because the "small guy" who invents a brilliant idea will be incapable of creating a piece of software that both incorporates his brilliant idea and also does not infringe on 100's of other patents held by large corpo

    • Decoding the Windows NT Event Log message "The Data Is The Error Code"

      The message The data is the error code [iisfaq.com] is a very confusing term to most people and ..

      Lets work with an example:

      This error message in the Windows NT Event log is telling us that the data bytes C6 04 00 00 are the error code. So how do we get the error code, and then what do we do with it when we have it? The 4 bytes that are listed are a LONG value this means that they can contain a value from 0 to 2147483647.

      What we need to
    • ...maybe the EFF can talk the US Supreme Court into invalidating ALL software patents, not just the "obvious" ones.

      That's a great idea. Software never should of been patented to begin with. Or "business methods", or algorithms. Patents on these don't encourage progress they hinder it, and that was the stated purpose of copyrights and patents, to encourage cultural and scientific progress.

      Falcon
  • by STDOUBT (913577) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:08AM (#15978418)

    as Greed drives yet more brilliance out of the USA

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by krouskop (905215)
      Greed has driven plenty of billiance -to- the USA
      • By definition, greed drives the greedy, not the brilliant. Sometimes there is overlap, but overlaps are a subset of the entire group.
    • I can't wave goodbye, I've got a sandwich in my hand so I'd fall out of my tree, you insensitive clod!

      Yes, apparently I'm one of those who will be 'left behind' -- both by the brain drain, and by the Rapture. Sigh.
    • by 955301 (209856)
      Here Here. I'm leaving the country as soon as my personal reasons for living here.... expire :(

      If I can't sit in my home office and come up with ideas that could get me out of the working class w/o having to line someone elses pocket, how is that any better than Russia, Venuezuela or any other country the US leadership likes to criticize?

      If you live outside of the US and are wondering, we've passed the mark - This country has moved to Fascism. Here's a hypothetical sympton: I'd argue the reason US politicia
  • New license clause (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:08AM (#15978421) Homepage Journal
    I think we need to add a new clause to software licenses: "Not for use within USA or other countries where software patents are applicable. Using this software in any of these countries is your responsibility and in doing so you accept to pay any patent fees that may affect this software."
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tomstdenis (446163)
      Two words... "public domain".

      There is no license. So the users are entirely responsible themselves for the use of the software. It also means they can benefit the most.

      Tom
      • Two words... "public domain".

        There is no license. So the users are entirely responsible themselves for the use of the software. It also means they can benefit the most.

        It doesn't need to be public domain, just free. The patent laws only prevent someone from offering for sale, selling, or importing an invention. Potentially, this means that open-source software, released under any license, would work, as long as nobody charges money for it. Does this also mean that someone could create a nonprofit org

        • It doesn't need to be public domain, just free. The patent laws only prevent someone from offering for sale, selling, or importing an invention.

          I wish it were that easy, but a patent grants "the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States"

          So even if an open source developer distributes the app that uses the patented technology for free, he's infringing on the patent since he's "making

      • by pthisis (27352)
        Two words... "public domain".

        There is no license. So the users are entirely responsible themselves for the use of the software.


        Be careful if you're releasing software, that's not true in general. Public domain software still carries liability for the originator in many (most?) jurisdictions. That's why you'll see public domain releases carrying disclaimers like http://www.marcdatabase.com/~lemur/lemur.com/galle ry-of-antiquarian-technology/pd-disclaimers.html [marcdatabase.com].
        • That's cute, except one problem. You cannot license public domain software. Therefore, your warranty is moot. You're either liable or you're not.

          Implementing a patented algorithm is not a civil offense. Making it available is. However, you could argue [and I dunno how effective this would be] that a public domain implementation is not endorsed by the author. For example, suppose the patent is not valid in Japan. Then clearly the presense of the software does not indicate intent since there are places
  • http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/doc/general/i ndex.html#whatpat [uspto.gov]

    Even if the subject matter sought to be patented is not exactly shown by the prior art, and involves one or more differences over the most nearly similar thing already known, a patent may still be refused if the differences would be obvious. The subject matter sought to be patented must be sufficiently different from what has been used or described before that it may be said to be nonobvious to a person having ordinary skill in the area of
  • Yeah, so? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan Berlin (682091) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:10AM (#15978436)
    IMHO, They deliberately try to make it sound like the EFF is at the forefront of this case, appealing it to the Supreme Court.

    What really has happened is that KSR has gone to the Supreme Court asking for review, and the Supreme Court granted review.
    This happened a few months back, actually.

    The EFF has filed a brief in support of KSR.
    About 10 other briefs in support of KSR have been filed in support of KSR, besides the EFF one, including some more important ones, like the Solicitor General's (representing the views of the US/Bush Administration).
    The Supreme Court generally cares more about what the SG thinks than the EFF.

  • I don't see what staging protests is going to do. If the people with lots of cash want FOSS made technically impossible to create in the U.S. they're going to get their way. The government (whether you like Bush or not) is extremely pro-business right now and for all the wrong reasons. It's one thing to make sure businesses operate fairly, it's another thing entirely to give them control of the law via lobbyists. This will likely happen here and we pro-FOSS people will have to do whatever it takes to ge
  • At what point will it become so difficult to do research in the US that all meaningful science is done in other countries?

    Due to global trade agreements that enforce US IP laws in many foreign countries, how long will it be before no one in the world can do any meaningful research without being liable for patent infringment?
    • I really think we'll see patent reform before that point. The real question is how long will that take to start?

      Most large enough companies have a "portfolio" of totally abusive patents which they shouldn't have been granted. It's only a matter of time before all stores are taco bell if you catch my drift.

      Tom
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:15AM (#15978495) Homepage
    You know that judicial activism that those "right wing wingnuts" bitch about? This is an example of it. Judges seem to often lack any common sense, reading comprehension skills and any sense of limit on what words can actually mean. Kelo v. New London's gang rape of the phrase "public use," which was interpretted in its most legalistic and textbook definition, rather than it is more long-lived, vernacular use, is but one of many examples... this being the latest.

    Even most patent law defenders would agree that this is bad and outside the scope of what patents are for. Unfortunately, judges have often proved that if they can interpet something some way, they will almost seemingly for the hell of it.

    The only solution I can think of involves ending life-long terms and breaking up the law schools, which are, quite frankly, dens of sophistry, malfeasance, linguistic license and villainy. Generally speaking, any law that requires a highly specialized person, trained **in the law** (not the regulated profession), to interpet it, is a bad law.
    • "You know that judicial activism that those "right wing wingnuts" bitch about? This is an example of it."

      The "right wing wingnuts" know a lot about judical activism since they so strongly believe in it. Examples:

      Campaign contributions are protected by the first amendment (no officer, I wasn't soliciting a prostitute, I was making a political statement about legal prostitution by making a contribution).

      They believe that the President has the power to wiretap US citizens without court approval, to hold people
  • by siddesu (698447) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:21AM (#15978557)
    Support EFF. They do useful things.
  • by maillemaker (924053) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:24AM (#15978585)
    I've never understood all the hooplah about this open source stuff and taking grief from the corporations. If you want to write free software and give it away to the world for free, no problem - just do it anonymously and all of this patent headache goes away.

    Steve
    • Yes, you're correct- let's all ignore IP laws, and just be careful to do so anonymously so that we can't get in trouble. Who cares what laws they pass, we'll just ignore them anyway. Of course, if you're going to run illegal software, why bother with Open Source when you can just pirate the latest Microsoft software?
      We've discussed this with you in the past, Steve- Open Source is worthless if it isn't legal and doesn't credit the inventor. For one thing, many Open Source products come from or are supp
      • >We've discussed this with you in the past, Steve- Open Source is worthless if it isn't
        >legal and doesn't credit the inventor.

        Yeah, I remember. There's just something about this "I want recognition" thing that rubs me the wrong way. Either you're giving away free software or you aren't. I don't really care who writes it, or why. There's always going to be some anonymous kid in a basement writing the next free piece of software just for fun.

        So if you /really/ want to write free software, by all mea
    • I'll just extend you idea and suggest that you distribute it over the Internet. It's a modified approach and wasn't explicitly stated: therefore I can sue if you use your idea over the Internet.

      Laugh all you want (or not at all), unfortunately this is what the new law could potentially do.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...and why patents are so unjustifiably incompatible with software, see e.g. this [oxfordjournals.org] paper [grosche.com], as well as a free book [no-lobbyists-as-such.com] on the "mechanics" of the patent debates.
  • by mpapet (761907) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:31AM (#15978650) Homepage
    What really bothers me is not simply that the patent system is being used to protect the obvious these days, because it's a reflection on the general zeitgeist in America.

    It seems to me in a very general way that there is no sense of achievement in American business outside of the next quarter. Instead of concentrating on moving forward and doing new things, there's an emphasis on not moving at all and creating wealth by protecting what someone has.

    It's become a very different kind of hostile business climate. Not so many years ago a hostile business climate was described as one with high tax burden and many regulations that made it expensive to run a business. I'd say we're well on our way to eliminating both in the U.S. and yet the business climate is even more hostile because of the threat of litigation. Is the country better off for this? For the majority of Americans, I'd say no. Not at all.
  • The court system is being overrun by a bunch of crazy people who have no appreciation for the consequences of their decisions. Every time something like this threatens the FOSS community, it is because of this.
  • by JumpingBull (551722) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:42AM (#15978762)

    The patent system was designed to shelter innovation by offering a limited monopoly to develop a business or livelihood around it. Parts of it operate quite well, however, in the intellectual life it has serious shortcomings. Software is one of those parts of the intellectual life where the character of the process is more akin to governance then to making a cunning artifact.

    This therefore brings us to three observations: first, software developers move much faster then business processes; Second, the goal of business is adding value (like support and auditing) to generate sales; third, the common wealth is ill served by business turf wars. If business believes in competition, then let them coach their teams better. I'll expand on these points.

    The fundamental design of systems is very fluid. As an engineer that has worked on and co-ordinated large projects, I find that I tend to go though about four or five related designs before settling on a particular architecture. I have to think of the cost of the hardware, but also of the system cost. It serves the efforts no good if I design cheap hardware that prevents the software guys from achieving the system goals. And the software guys iterate over several solutions while deciding how to partition their part. When we are very, very lucky, we may have some time to sit down together and try to find the exact right "cut here" line!

    Assuming that we all managed to get it right, and we are actually delivering what the customer needs, we get to support it. That is the value of business to me, as a designer. It means that others (The Customer) can benefit from our collective work, that they can continue to do so, and that they will soon find new, interesting things for us to do. Marketing here does the research of what is out there so we can digest it and figure out the better mousetrap. They also do the customer legwork so the people we are talking to know what their system requirements are. (their business can be treated as a system in this conversation) The rest is negotiation, and avoiding the dead ends.
    A humourous example: The Customer Wants a Car in the Bauhaus Style; that is, the salient marketing features are spare, rectilinear lines. The dead end is delivering Bauhaus Square Wheels. Clearly, intellegent compromise is needed.

    Playing around with turf wars, the adult equivalent of King of the Hill, is a gumption trap that will suck the life right out of the organization. I don't think any intellegent executive wants this, but they'll scrap if they have to. Wisdom consists of setting up our affairs so we don't have to.

    As a humourous close, why hasn't someone started to patent forms of government? I see a huge market potential in this. Dictatorships could patent Democracy, for example...

  • Patent law is just as big a mess as copyright law due to technology and commerce slamming into one another...

    Watch EFF attorney Jason Schultz tear the roof off in the new documentary, ALTERNATIVE FREEDOM. Maybe you will learn something or be able to show your friends and then we can all make sure digital rights are always kept in mind...

    Also features Dangermouse (of Gnarls Barkley), Lawrence Lessig, Richard Stallman...

    Check it out:
    http://alternativefreedom.org/ [alternativefreedom.org] [alternativefreedom.org]
  • Add to this thread to have a documented record of the prior art.

    I hereby suggest "doing things with other things".

  • If all we have to do is suggest that some minor improvement is easy/obvious/possible, then let's close that hole right now.

    I'll start:

    "Voice communications systems (mobile and stationary, personal and corporate and public) can stand a lot of improvement. But current technology just needs a few tweeks to make significant progress. Improved signal filtering for one; more integrated electronics; better shielding; water-proofing; better user interfaces in general; smaller packages that integrate with clothing a
  • this threatens US based FOSS, not FOSS in general.

    If america manages to succeed in it's apparent crusade to heavily restrict all forms of software development (not just FOSS), then the US will find itself rendered irrelevent by developers in third world countries, India, africa, China, and good old Blighty (where I reside), to name but a few.
    Such developers, myself included, will just carry on, and ignore the rantings of the US while they paint themselves into a corner.

    Sometimes I wonder if the parties on b
  • If only this was being handled by an organisation with a record of winning vitally important court cases, instead of establishing destructive precedents by losing them. By now losing doesn't seem to matter to the EFF as long as they can still crow about what they did and put out the hat for money to do it again. It looks like a classic case of an institution promoting its own survival by destroying the thing it's supposed to be working for.

I have ways of making money that you know nothing of. -- John D. Rockefeller

Working...