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

Richard Stallman rms at gnu.org
Wed Oct 20 01:04:35 UTC 1999

    Each patent has a 3 month public period were
    everyone can file an objection to a published patent. It should
    be trivial to show prior art to the PTO and argue about the
    triviality of the filed patent.

You may not realize how much work this involves.  I think that several
thousand US patents are issued each month.  Just finding the ones you
want consider part of the scope of the effort would be a substantial
job.  Then you would have to read the patents and see what they cover.
Reading and understanding a patent is torture.  (You could give it a
try and judge for yourself.)

You have not said what fields you would want to do this in.  Perhaps
software and circuits?  I think that just to organize people to *study*
all the patents being issued in these fields would be beyond us.

Finding actual proof of prior art for a patent is a lot of work as
well.  (Assuming there is any proof.)

All this work might succeed in eliminating some trivial, absurd
patents.  But the nontrivial patents that cover real inventions (most
of which are not brilliant) cause the same danger.

    Richard, may be
    the FSF is the right place for such a watch-dog group.

I think it would be better to keep it separate.  For one thing, I as
FSF president am overcommitted and I cannot supervise this.  If it is
an independent activity, then it doesn't need my supervision.

For another, it is important for the FSF to tell people that an effort
like this would NOT solve the problem of software patents.   The problem
of software patents is NOT just due to the absurd trivial ones.
The nontrivial software patents are just as harmful.

I encourage people to invalidate individual software patents when
there is a way to do so, but I will not call this approach a plausible
solution to the problem of software patents.

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