[openip] Re: "rights" and "freedoms"

Ross N. Williams ross at rocksoft.com
Wed Oct 20 00:27:17 UTC 1999

At 11:43 AM -0400 19/10/99, Doug Hudson wrote:
>> >> The number of trivial software patent applications should
>> >> slow  drastically if a significant number of such
>> >> applications were rejected.

Here's another concept people might find of interest.

A month or so ago I was contacted by a Chicago patent attorney who
was representing a client who was being threatened by a patent
lawsuit. He wanted me to go out and find some prior art for him.

The interesting thing was that the attorney said that the company
that was threatening did not attempt to threaten more than a
small number of other companies at a time. The result was that
when each company received its notice of threat, it had a choice:
pay the royalty fee, or prepare a defence - ALONE! The attorney
said that he had contacted similar companies that might also be
targets, but none of them wanted to help. They didn't want to
do anything unless they actually got sued.

This means that one of the chief tactics of the trivial software
patent holders is to maintain a small window of threat so that at
any one time, there aren't many entities motivated to defend against
the patent (and hence collaborate in such defence). So long as the
royalties aren't too high, it works. This is the opposite approach
to that of (say) Unisys and the LZW patent where they basically
issued a press release saying "pay up everyone". :-)

Perhaps one service that patentbusters.org could provide is to
publicise this concept (so that companies understand it) and act
as a synchronization centre for companies that are under threat
to find companies that are likely to be next in line and convince
them to contribute a small amount to breaking the patent. In short,
the organization of defence consortiums.

The key question you have to answer about patent busting is
"where is the motive force coming from". If your answer is
"from the hackers" then you have to answer the question of
why intelligent hackers would rather spend time at patentbusters.org
reading about "CD-ROM rotation means with multimedia enhancement"
(one of 25,000) than writing the great American app. Unless the
site starts gaining some kind of numerical superiority in rate
of processing (which would be inspiring) everyone's just going to
go back to coding.


Dr Ross N. Williams (ross at rocksoft.com), +61 8 8232-6262 (fax-6264).
Director, Rocksoft Pty Ltd, Adelaide, Australia: http://www.rocksoft.com/ 
Protect your files with Veracity data integrity: http://www.veracity.com/

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