[CoMoDev] Re: bump: March meeting topic

  • From: David Beers <cervezas@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Pete Schofield <comodev@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 15 Mar 2005 20:27:10 -0700

It seems to me that copyrights might be a more sensible protection than patents 
for software.  The law should protect people from plagiarism (stealing 
copyrighted source code and using it for their own gain) without punishing 
someone who spent months or years creating an original implementation of an 
idea that almost anyone could have described in a one-page patent.  Even if 
juries don't understand ownership of ideas (I'm not sure I always do) they do 
understand that it's wrong to turn in someone else's homework for a grade.

I spent several days once reading patent after patent that were clearly written 
by people with a pen and a napkin but not the faintest clue about how the 
software idea would be implemented or even how to describe the hardware 
required.  All the patents overlapped with what my client wanted me to 
implement, none of had ever been turned into products by any of the patent 
holders, many were pure speculation written 20 years ago, before the hardware 
technology to implement them even had been developed.  It made me wonder: what 
if the creators of Star Trek had patented the idea of the transporter used to 
beam landing parties down to the planet surface?  If someone actually figured 
out how to build the transporter today I almost think they'd need to buy the 
patent rights from these script-writers or risk a law suit.  I'm exaggerating, 
of course, but even if a patent infringement suit has no merit, simply having 
to defend against it in court costs enough time and money to completely sink 
many startups.  I worry about it as I look toward releasing my own products in 
the future.

Well, that's one side of the story anyway, and probably one based on an 
oversimplified view of the issues.


David Beers
Pikesoft Mobile Computing

 On Tue, 15 Mar 2005 19:10:48 -0700, Pete Schofield wrote:
> The parent company to a previous employer was very big on patents.  They
> were a printing company that did a lot of R&D into processes, products,
> machinery, and related technology, so they generated a lot of IP that was
> easily identifiable, quantifiable, and probably could be protected.
> After acquiring our company, they carried this mentality into our software
> development.  As a result I ended up with a couple of patents.
> The process was long, full of lawyers, and more than a little annoying
> trying to turn technology concepts into something non-technical people could
> describe in legalese.  In my opinion, it was a waste of time (and probably a
> lot of money as well).
> By the time the patent filing is detailed enough to provide any protection,
> you have given away all the IP you were trying to protect.  Be a little
> vague to protect the IP and you give up any legal protection.  Given the
> speed of innovation, trends toward standardization, the job hopping rampant
> in the industry, and cost of litigation, I don't see much protection for
> software.
> The attitude of the general public - and therefore any potential jurors - is
> probably another negative towards patents.  Many people think software
> should be free (or is free) anyway because the can not physically hold it in
> their hands.
> If Xerox and Apple can't protect there IP, I don't think I have much of a
> chance.
> Pete
> -----Original Message-----
> From: comodev-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> [mailto:comodev-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]On Behalf Of David Beers
> Sent: Tuesday, March 15, 2005 5:10 PM
> To: comodev@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: [CoMoDev] Re: bump: March meeting topic
> Haven't had any presenter volunteers yet.  You guys better think quick or
> you may force me to present.  Fair warning!
> But before I volunteer myself, I wonder if I can yet shake something loose
> from one or two of you.  I notice that the EU just approved legislation that
> introduces software patents in Europe, creating quite a stir.  Software
> patents are already a sticky issue here in the US for anyone who tries to
> write commercial software.  (I've personally lost business on two separate
> occasions for reasons that related to software patent claims.)  I know some
> people have strong feelings and carefully considered positions--pro or
> con--about software patents and possible alternatives for protecting
> intellectual property. If we've got anybody who'd like to discuss the state
> of the debate or of various initiatives aimed at achieving a better legal
> framework for dealing with intellectual property, that might be a cool
> presentation that would generate some discussion.  If we had two people with
> different views on the subject... still cooler!
> Just as a quick poll:
>         Who has had the experience of developing or starting to develop a 
> project of original design only to find out that it runs afoul of one or
> more patents?
>         Who has (individually or as a company) researched the patents that 
>were out
> there to see if a product they were developing might violate one?
> Note: I wasn't planning on talking about this myself--I had something
> technical in mind that relates to the synchronization topic I mentioned
> earlier.  I'm just stirring the pot to see if anything bubbles up from the
> rest of you.
> David
> =========================
> David Beers, Moderator
> Colorado Mobile Developers
> www.comodev.com
>  On Thu, 10 Mar 2005 13:20:34 -0700, David Beers wrote:
>> Hey folks,
>> The March meeting is a couple of weeks away and I wanted to firm up a
> topic or two.  Is there someone who hasn't presented before who would like
> to talk to us about their work or demo something they've been working with?
>  It could be something you've been working on but it could also be a tool,
> an SDK, or product you like that relates to our mobility theme.
>> I've got a couple of ideas, but you know me... I'm always mouthing off at
> these meetings.
>> David

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