>Subject: Re: Inprise InterBase(R) 6.0 Now Free and Open Source
Tom Lane <tgl(at)sss(dot)pgh(dot)pa(dot)us> writes:
>It is not possible to be "tainted" by looking. There are only two kinds
>of intellectual property rights (at least in the USA) and neither one
>creates that risk:
>1. Copyright means you can't take the code verbatim, just like you can't
>plagiarize a novel. You can use the same ideas (plot, characters, etc)
>but you have to express 'em in your own words. Structure the code
>differently, use different names, write your own comments, etc, and
>you're clear even if you lifted the algorithm lock stock & barrel.
>2. Patent means you can't use the algorithm. However, looking doesn't
>create extra risk here, because you can't use a patented algorithm
>(without paying) no matter how you learned of it --- not even if you
>invented it independently.
You overlooked a third type: trade secret.
It is possible to be "tainted" by being privy to a trade secret. There was
a recent fuss about exactly this with Microsoft's "publication" of their
Samba extensions in the form of a trade-secret document protected by a
However this is an extremely rare circumstance these days, now that software
enjoys full copyright protections.
Anything distributed under any open source license is by definition not a
trade secret, and so the Inprise database carries no such limitations.
P.S. Of course, there's also trademark, which is a fourth protected form of
intellectual property, but that's definitely not relevant here.
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