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RE: [xml-dev] [Fwd: W3C ridiculous new policy on patents]
- From: Jeff Lowery <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- To: email@example.com
- Date: Mon, 01 Oct 2001 13:26:47 -0700
The real problem is not whether W3C should adopt patented technology. The
real problem is whether patents work in the software industry.
The point of patents is to drive innovation by making innovation
remuniterive for innovators. Is that the effect of software patents? I think
it's pretty clear that it is not. The benificiaries of patents in this
industry seem to be:
1) small but well-funded law firms that buy patents on the cheap from
not-so-well-funded patent holders, who then sue real software firms for
patent infringement. These are invariably settled out of court for a fee
that is marginally less than the cost of contesting the patent in court.
Some would call this institutionalized extortion.
2) large software firms that carry enough patents to countersue other large
software firms they try to sue them. The result is cross-licensing of
patents, where each firm is essentially "held harmless" from the other.
2a) large software firms that can quash start-up competition with threat of
patent suits, well-based or not. If you don't have money to contest a patent
suit, you go out of business.
We have come to this pass because patents are handed out too freely and
because patent disputes are settle in courts of law, with attendant expenses
to both parties.
It's the last two problems that have to be fixed.