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Re: [pgsql-advocacy] Software Patents

From: Chris Travers <chris(at)travelamericas(dot)com>
To: "Marc G(dot) Fournier" <scrappy(at)postgresql(dot)org>
Cc: "Joshua D(dot) Drake" <jd(at)commandprompt(dot)com>,Bruce Momjian <pgman(at)candle(dot)pha(dot)pa(dot)us>,Josh Berkus <josh(at)agliodbs(dot)com>, pgsql-www(at)postgresql(dot)org,pgsql-advocacy(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Re: [pgsql-advocacy] Software Patents
Date: 2005-04-22 18:35:49
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Lists: pgsql-advocacypgsql-www
Marc G. Fournier wrote:

> *And* ... unless I'm mistaken, this whole 'anti-patent' stuff will 
> never get rid of the existing patent system in the US, or any other 
> country, will it?  Only about the EU implementing such?  And, as far 
> as that is concerned, does anyone here *know* what is being proposed 
> in the EU?  Is it a better (more strict) patent system then there 
> exists in the US?  Or is it going to allow for ppl to patent "generic 
> ideas", like some of the ones going through the US patent system have 
> been ... ?
Hmmm....  There are two aspects to the patent system:  The first is the 
USPTO and current patent law.  This is the legal framework for patents.  
The second, IMO, is the business models that have grown up around 
exploiting this framework.   The first one will not be soon changed.  
THe second one is being changed as we speak.  Ironically for this 
conversation, it was IBM who really was the first major player to move 
in this direction with their release of OpenAFS under the IBM Public 
License.  Similarly with the Apache License 2, we again have the idea 
that software patents can be used to stabilize the current situation.  
This is done by using patent licenses to *forbid* patent enforcement.  
IANAL, of course.

Apache is a great example because it is used by so many businesses, and 
that these businesses would have to stop using the software and all 
derivatives if they wanted to sue over any patents covering the 
software.  Otherwise the plaintiff loses all rights to use the patents 
licensed under the Apache License.

Personally, I am all for going to IBM now and asking for an appropriate 
license for ARC.  Otherwise we would have to remove the old versions 
from the download site.  We are in a position where we can safely do 
this as the worst that can happen is that we stop distributing old 
versions of the software.  And if they can work with us to meet our 
needs, then they will get some positive press out of it and the story 
will have a happy ending for them (and for everyone else, I might add, 
as this is a step towards mitigating future harm in the patent area).

So the first step is to get large businesses to provide global licenses 
for their patents under non-enforcement terms (i.e. if you use this 
software you cannot enforce any other patents you may have against it).  
This *may* seem like ruffling feathers with some sponsors, but I think 
that it would also help convince them to contribute back because in so 
doing, they gain some protection.  I.e. we get a patent pool behind the 

Once this is commonplace, then the legislative angle becomes less 
relevant and may eventually simply be a matter of formality.

> Basically, if we're going to be *anti-patent*, we need to know the why 
> of it ... is it just because we are anarchist and dont' believe that 
> anything should be regulated?  Or is it because of what we've been 
> seeing over teh past couple of years coming out of the US Patent office?
No argument here.  I don't want to see simple flames against software 
patents on the web site any more than anyone else.  THis is why I have 
been more of explaining our logic behind the ARC decision rather than 
flaming the patent system.

Best Wishes,
Chris Travers
Metatron Technology Consulting


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