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The GNU forces the cost of that back to the software purchaser
and that is unacceptable to some buyers. Some accept the risks;
however one defends it, one must. Some use their own IP to
defend it. That's smart. The problem here is how IP intersects
with standards development. Each organization is setting
their own policies, but there are beginning to be
breakdowns among some of the organizations that
were cooperating to get royalty free standards
and specifications. As one is forced back into
indemnifying the technology against claims
and one way to do that is to own IP, what one
bargains away is a scrutinized item.
It is a cost of doing business. As I read these
RFPs, I see the indemnification clauses in all of
them. This isn't new stuff. There is naivete
or simple arrogance in denying it is important.
Claims that say, "Well, our model produces better
technology cheaper if you ignore risks" is not the
same deal as a budget airline that can cut costs
by not providing services; they still have to step
up to the risk management of getting the customer
to the destination alive.
Let me ask you; if the submarine patents are that
scary, what possible good is the W3C royalty-free
requirement or any other document for that matter
which asserts property claims with regards to
technology? Not much. So the common business
practice is precisely to document known claims and
then to contractually place the ownership of the
risk. The GNU contracts make the buyer liable.
Common business indemnity clauses make the seller liable.
One of IBM's responses to SCO is to cite their own patents,
a couple of which look fairly ridiculous too, but,
this is the IP value I discussed earlier. The
big guys have patent portfolios. The little
guys may have some; the ones who are saying
they need none are roadkill.
From: John Cowan [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Bullard, Claude L (Len) scripsit:
> That is what some are trying to work out. One common approach is to
> ensure that each document in the process covers the contingencies
> for the next step. For example, the workshop is a little dangerous
> if any of the presenters provide information which taints further
> work. In an RFP, one details all obligations for submission including
> for example, recognition that the submitting the material obligates
> the submittor to the IP policies of the organization posting the
The trouble is that (especially with patents) there may be submarines
which neither RFP creator nor proposer is aware of. Your only defense
against this is general anti-patent insurance.