An idea for opening software patents...

Doug Hudson dthudson at
Tue Oct 19 14:26:25 UTC 1999

The problem is current software/e-com patents are not "inventions" but "land
grabs."  People & corps are trying to cover well known business models (now
patentable, by the way) by adding the electronic element.  Instead of
rewarding invention with a limited monopoly, the result is an enforceable
monopoly protecting corps from competing with their electronic businesses
(oh, and preventing anyone without their own patent pool from writing
software with any modicam of complexity)

There is a way to take care of obnoxious software patents.  Invalidate them
the same way the best software is written...

When a questionable patent comes to someone's attention, they can "nominate"
it to a central site.  Then, instead of one person spending days or weeks
looking for prior art, let everyone look at it and contribute their prior
art, by distributing the work.  The art stays in a database attached to each
patent, and, poof, people can get an idea of how broadly the patent would be
interpreted or how likely it would be enforced at all.  It's not a "legal"
prior art search, but it would probably give everyone a better idea of what
a patent is worth than any PTO search.  And you wouldn't have to wait until
a lawsuit w/ lawyers to find out.

This is taking what Netscape, and W3C did in the last two years, and taking
it to the next logical step.

Right now, I have two domains ( &, and I
have a few law students who know IP/software who'd be willing to help.  The
site should be up in about 2 weeks, and any recommendations would help, and
any technical assistance would spped up the time frame.

The scary thing is, even setting up a simple web organization like this may
violate some unknown e-commerce patent lurking out there...  I recently saw
a patent owned by IBM for any hyperlinked document which contained links to
audiovisual objects, and another for any hyperlinked document which links to
an "imbedded" hyperlinked document.  This is ridiculous, and I think this
idea may help

-Doug Hudson

More information about the License-discuss mailing list