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   Re: [xml-dev] Patents

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From: "Bullard, Claude L (Len)" <clbullar@ingr.com>

> It is definitely time to overhaul the patent systems
> worldwide.  The Europeans aren't above this either.

That would be nice but... any hope, really ? Quoting the news.com article:

"The Bush administration has proposed boosting Patent Office funding by 21
percent, far above the average nondefense agency increase of 3 percent or

So this is now a Defense-like (or Attack-like) priority. As all advocates of
the "free" entreprise and private interests, Dubya has read Keynes, or
<lowblow> possibly had it summarized to him in a 50-word cow-watcher
vocabulary </lowblow>, and realized that public spending was the way to
stimulate demand in tough economic times...

Therefore, the "solution" to a 25-month patent backlog is apparently to
throw more money and resources at it, not to fundamentally reform the flawed
patenting process into a more sensible solution, right ? I would personally
start with a heavy fine against the abusers who try to sneak in blatantly
silly or obscene ideas - obscenity as in "patenting the human genome", not
as in "possibly patentable porn ideas". I hope you don't have any of these,
Len ?

> The IBM patent may be a mortal wound to ebXML but
> I wouldn't be too sure yet.  It may also be the
> straw that gets the attention of Congress.  That
> is the kind of attention that has a way of chilling
> everybody's party.  On one hand, we have the massive
> theft of intellectual property (the entertainment
> cases) and on the other hand, very large well funded
> companies pursuing a very profitable patent agenda
> that can effectively freeze use of the media, although
> it will force innovation.  This is beginning to look
> like an election issue.

Let's hope we will not need a re-count in Florida then :-) Seriously, I
think it is overall beneficial that we have these controversies in the press
or the U.S. Congress or the European Parliament, or possibly even in places
where political decisions are taken. Only that can ensure that these issues
are not decided upon behind our collective back. If that is not enough, some
form of civil disobedience, whether by individuals or companies, might also
help. Purely rhetorical question: if tomorrow a company obtained a U.S.
patent giving them some toll right on the Internet, what could they actually
do with it in practice ? It would be impossible to enforce unless Dubya
raises the Justice budget to Defense-like levels - let's not even mention
the "outside the U.S." scenario...

So, I'm not really scared by the idea of an IBM or Microsoft placing a
tollbooth over "the Web" (T.M.)  or on every Internet-based business
transaction. Surely Gates and Ballmer haved phantasized someday about that
while doing the baboon dance on a stage and getting the ensuing testosterone
boost, but it seems to be beyond their reach. We should probably not get
distracted by the most improbable scenarios, but keep the more probable one
under close scrutiny - do we know what they really are ? .Net MyServices was
among the possible ones until various feedback loops sent it back a few
times to the business model drawing board. It will come back.

> If the software titans continue to use these tactics,
> the business industry will ignore their technologies.

True, at least Big Corporate would rather be the ones who patent whatever
they can, but definitely not depend on patents held by software titans on
the core Internet technologies their business depends on. Nor allow
unwelcome third-parties to get somehow involved in their relationships with
their customers.

> Conserve options.  This is when you need them.

Yes, but which ones should we focus on, then ? It's impractical to keep all
of them open, I noticed.

Another article I just saw:

We have reached the "The plot - Special report" stage already. I did not
check CNN but they may have the "Protecting the Nation's Standards" banner
next to the stock exchange news by now. Shouldn't we bait them with a Bin
Laden conspiracy theory ? You never know, he may have a patent application
somewhere in the Patent Office backlog :-)

Alain Rogister


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