protecting an Innovation from unlicensed abuse by a rival commercial 3rd party

Harri Saarikoski harriers at
Fri Jun 11 14:30:40 UTC 2010

> Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2010 19:26:58 +1000
> From: mrj at
> To: license-discuss at
> Subject: Re: protecting an Innovation from unlicensed abuse by a rival commercial 3rd party
> On 06/10/10 23:33, Harri Saarikoski wrote:
> My question concerns an AGPL covered OS software (below Software)
> > developed by Company#1. We (this writer) are Company#2 who extend this
> > Software to produce Software+ by way of an Innovation whose copyright
> > Company#2 solely owns. Company#2 and Company#1 are partners that want to
> > market and sell Software+ /in full agreement and cooperation//.
> Harri, the surest way to prevent "Innovation" from being exploited is by patenting one or more aspects. Closing the 
> source isn't really a way to delay clones, because cloning requires clean-room methods anyway. How easy would it be to 
> clone?

Ok right, well first of all let me say I understand the difference between patenting and closing. To respond to your question, no, I don't believe anyone can do it, took me 8 years to 'get it', it's termed as Open Problem in academia and I've only seen a couple of projects that remotely ressemble one I successfully completed, and they have all aborted long time ago. This should not be taken as foolish optimism or arrogance, it's just that the problem is *actually* difficult to solve.

Patenting yes, it's not like I hadn't thought about it... Just that being relatively poor (as most of us are), I find the funding required for worldwide patenting to be too much. Although (now I have to ask since I let go of patenting six months ago), if I apply for patent in my home country, and it then goes into the "process" of novelty inspection and all that, does it then protect the Innovation from some point then on from someone reading the patent document and patenting it worldwide in all the other countries (specifically the US where the rivals are) ? I don't know how it is in your countries (and I do appreciate the flurry of replies in such short time) but here the goverment agency supporting patenting takes -3% royalty fees for each sales of the product (so that kind of 'forced dependency' turned me off). 

> You say you want to "market and sell Software+". But unless you're selling support, closing some aspect, or embedding 
> ads, it very difficult to directly make money from software that only employs an OSI-certified licence. Are you looking 
> for a business model, or are you just wanting to build a reputation, which could lead to a job?

No, the opposite of all that rather. I own a software company whose primary sales item this is. But yes: I am looking for a business model.

Best choice for us at this point seems to be either dual license or SaaS distribution. But it's just that like, I'm borne and raised on OS products, I believe in the whole thing. Where does the line go where one can claim something as one's own (without fear of the community that 'raised' you and you believe in) ? May sound philosophical and useless and it is indeed a POSITIVE problem. 

But good business, as I see it, doesn't involve ANY infringement of rights to use Software+ or Innovation (as it is also sold as standalone).

> What benefits do you think community involvement can bring you? 

Well, community mainly stands to benefit. The product will be developed unto its optimal point by me in like a year.
Didn't think of the community as contributors.

> What do you mean by "maximal exposure"? 

I mean the intended far-and-wideness of the products' eventual distribution  -> this should travel everywhere *without discrimination*
(except for the NEGATIVE undue undeserved impact of those Company#X !).

> Yes, the 
> innovation, excitement, goodwill, access, and general activity that comes from community participation can be a bulwark 
> against competitors, and you can protect a lead by using trademarks, but how are you going to make money?

5-15k$ / client / year is the projected sales price, well within defines of existing (and GPL covered) products.

Money is not the point, Good Business as outlined above is paramount over huge revenue.

> Perhaps you should employ a licence that makes it possible for you to require some users to pay to use your software, 
> while at the same time using some OSS-like aspects as marketing techniques:
>    - Free trials.
>    - Free and discounted licences for some types of users.
>    - Releasing the entire source code, build tools, and documentation source documents.
>    - Accepting, and possibly rewarding, contributions.
>    - Allowing people to release, and possibly sell, derivative works, as long as users of this software also abide by 
> your licence, and so must sometimes pay you.

Hmmh, these sound a bit half-hearted solutions to me, you know. 

A Non-Standard solution on how to deal with Innovations other than mine could perhaps be ultimately offered by the OS community by way of a new licence that would (somehow) be able to 'quantify' level of Innovation to be set as a threshold between what is commonly accepted as proprietary and what should be (is) open source.

Linux came from my country some ten odd years ago (don't know Linus, just mentioning). It was aimed to combat the monopoly of Microsoft but something must have been done wrong by either Linus or the nature of the context itself. Why hasn't the Linux/Windows market share changed as expected, it's still 98%/2% ? MS is one of Software+ product rivals too so there must be a lesson somewhere to be learned... Was it marketed improperly or what ?

> It can be argued that this is more FOSS-like than the common dual-licence approach of an OSI-certified core plus closed 
> documentation or extensions, and provides a more certain revenue stream than the dual-licence approach of only charging 
> users who require a less restrictive licence.
> Mark

right, thank you Mark for these comments ;)

best wishes, Harri 		 	   		  
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