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Patents

Submission + - Tridgell recommends reading software patents (swpat.org) 1

H4x0r Jim Duggan writes: In a recent talk, Andrew Tridgell rejected the common fears about triple damages "If you’ve got one lot of damages for patent infringement, what would happen to the project? It’s dead. If it gets three lots of damages for patent infringement, what happens to the project? It’s still dead." Tridge then explains the right way to read a patent and build a legal defense: "That first type of defence is really the one you want, it’s called: non-infringement. And that is: 'we don’t do that. The patent says X, we don’t do X, therefore go away, sue someone else, it’s not relevant for us'. That’s the defence you want. [...] Next one, prior art: [...] Basically the argument is: somebody else did that before. It’s a very, very tricky argument to get right. Extremely tricky, and it is the most common argument bandied about in the free software community. And if you see it in the primary defence against a patent, you should cringe because it is an extremely unsafe way of doing things." — there are even some tips in the talk specifically for Slashdotters.
Patents

Submission + - Bilski hearing comments on software patents 1

H4x0r Jim Duggan writes: End Software Patents have published their analysis of what the Bilski hearing statements imply for software patents: At Monday's hearing (transcript html, pdf), neither party had the objective of abolishing software patents. The Bilski case is about a business method patent, so there was Mr. Jakes arguing that business methods should be patentable, and Mr. Stewart arguing that they shouldn't. For software to be excluded, we're relying on the judges (to whom we wrote an amicus brief, as did many others). There're some worrying statements, but there's definitely hope.

Submission + - FSF brief: patents block compatibility, harm users (fsf.org) 1

H4x0r Jim Duggan writes: After those of Red Hat and SFLC, FSF has published its Supreme Court brief. The lengthy brief (as long as Red Hat's and SFLC's combined) focusses on compatibility: "In the context of writing an email reader, a word processor, or an image viewer, being blocked from reading, modifying, or writing in the required data format is equivalent to being banned from writing a functional program for that task." It also details harms to software progress, economics, and how innovation in software flourished without patents, as is shown by GNU/Linux, and, for better or worse, Microsoft (who in 1995 had only 77 patents). The brief ends with quotes from domestic and foreign experts. Their press release gives more information. A Bilski 3 project has been launched to collect constructive criticism of the brief.
Patents

Submission + - FSF to Supremes: software patents are unjust (endsoftpatents.org)

H4x0r Jim Duggan writes: Not taking chances on any particular argument, FSF has submitted a brief approaching the word limit. After outlining the contribution of the free software movement to software progress, the brief details how software patents fail their constitutional justification, and how the USPTO's practice is harming individual freedom, community development projects and the progress of software as users would want. "Given that software development includes common activities such as making a webpage, the freedom to use a computer as you see fit for your daily life is a fundamental form of expression, just as using a pen and paper is. ... In the context of writing an email reader, a word processor, or an image viewer, being blocked from reading, modifying, or writing in the required data format is equivalent to being banned from writing a functional program for that task.

Submission + - Consumer electronics and violations of free softwa (lwn.net)

H4x0r Jim Duggan writes: "Veteran violation chasers Shane Coughlan and Armijn Hemel have summarised how licence violations are caused in the consumer electronics market under time-to-market pressure and thin profit margins "This problem is compounded when one board with a problem appears in devices supplied to a number of western companies. A host of violation reports spanning a dozen European and American businesses may eventually point towards a single mistake during development at an Asian supplier." They also discuss the helpful organisations which have sprung up and the documents and procedures now available."

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