[Linux-aus] Seeking nomination

James Polley linuxaus at zhasper.com
Sun Dec 23 07:22:50 UTC 2007

Hi David

I get the impression from your email, although you don't explicitly
say as much, that you oppose "submarine patents" - that is, the idea
that if I independently develop an algorithm which later turns out to
be covered by an existing patent of which I was unaware, I should be
subject to the same penalty as if I'd knowingly infringed that patent.
Is that correct?

You mentioned that you feel that current software patent systems grant
patents too easily, and grant low-quality patents. Could you give some
examples demonstrating this? Even better, could you provide examples
of what you consider high-quality software patents?

On Dec 23, 2007 4:38 AM, David Newall <david at davidnewall.com> wrote:
> Sridhar Dhanapalan wrote:
> > From reading a few of your recent messages, I gather that you may be in
> > favour of [software patents]. Can you please clarify your position?
> This is a complex question, and hence has a lengthy answer.  The very
> brief answer is that the patent system is currently faulty, and needs
> urgently and major repair.
> I favor allowing those who create a work to control its use.
> Researching and developing software is often an extremely time-consuming
> exercise.  Computer games can cost in excess of $100m(*) to produce!   I
> believe that Stallman holds that after being bought and sold just once,
> software must thenceforth be free; he is wrong.  The world abounds with
> examples of software that were so expensive to create that no single
> purchaser would have paid that amount.  Being able to distribute costs
> amongst a wide user-base is sometimes essential.
> I oppose deliberate and willful violation of software patents.  Patents
> are part of our law and must be respected for that reason, if no other.
> I think it's reasonable for somebody who creates something to be allowed
> to say who may use that thing and how.  Denying them that right not only
> disrespects their efforts, it's also unnecessary.  If one doesn't like
> the conditions imposed on use of said property, the proper course of
> action is to not use it.  Use something else.  Cats can be skinned in
> infinite ways.
> As to whether I favor software patents: I'm not sure.  Contracts and
> licenses provide enormous protection, but not enough.  In particular, as
> stated in Legal Protection of Digital Information:
>     "While a contract restricted what people receiving the software
>     could do with it, particularly limiting their further distribution
>     of the software, it could not bind people who were not parties to
>     the contract. A person finding a computer program on the street
>     could do anything he or she wanted with it. Copyright law, on the
>     other hand, provides protection for a computer program even when no
>     contract exists."
>     -- http://digital-law-online.info/lpdi1.0/treatise17.html
> Patent provides a completely different class of protection than
> copyright.  Somebody can spend years inventing a really clever
> algorithm, and rightly would want to be rewarded for that.  Patents can
> make sense.
> I particularly dislike the apparent ease in which patents can be
> abused.  Even more, I strongly dislike the very poor quality of patents
> that are issued.  The system clear needs urgent attention!
> I started by saying it's a complex question, and the answer is that
> within our western economic framework, patents are an appropriate form
> of protection for all inventions, and software should not be excluded.
> Absent any abuse of process and they can be a positive factor in
> software development.  Remember, too, that patents don't stop you
> achieving a particular outcome; there are even more ways to skin a cat
> than I previously said!
> (*)Unable to find a reference.
> _______________________________________________
> linux-aus mailing list
> linux-aus at lists.linux.org.au
> http://lists.linux.org.au/listinfo/linux-aus

There is nothing more worthy of contempt than a man who quotes himself
- Zhasper, 2004

More information about the linux-aus mailing list