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Re: Patents: Join Open Invention Network advice

On Sat, Dec 28, 2013 at 06:30:21PM +0100, adrian15 wrote:
>   Hi all,

Hi there! 
>   As you might now from earlier posts I'm the main Rescatux
> developer. Last year I received several emails (because I always
> told him that I would take a look later at it and I didn't because
> of being busy) from a Open Invention Network (OIN) contact.
>   You will find what they sent to my email below.
> Basically what you can read at their FAQ (
> http://www.openinventionnetwork.com/about_faq.php ) is:
> What is Open Invention Network®?
> Open Invention Network’s mission is to further software innovation
> by acquiring patents to be used for cross-licensing purposes to
> defend the Linux System - making them available on a royalty-free
> basis.
>   I am personally a bit unconcerned because I live in Europe where I
> think that software patents are not legal yet (or maybe they are
> because you never know when lobbys win).

As wookey said, there are in fact software patents in Europe. Yes,
there have been battles at the EPO, but suffice it to say de facto
software patents exist unfortunately.

>  But as Rescatux can be downloaded and used in the USA I'm a bit
> concerned too.
>   Anyway, the questions are:
> 1) Should I apply to OIN so that Rescatux is a member?

Sure. I think wookey's view of OIN is spot on.

> 2) What's the Debian policy about OIN? I've only found this information:
> http://www.debian.org/News/2012/20120219
> http://www.debian.org/legal/patent
> http://www.debian.org/reports/patent-faq
> but nothing specific about OIN.

I think, but may be mistaken, that the patent-faq is as close as
you're going to get if you're looking for "official" policy regarding
Debian and OIN. Talk with zack (former three-time DPL) for more details.
> 3) Are there any specific patent guidelines for Debian derivatives?
> I didn't find anything relevant in:
> https://wiki.debian.org/Derivatives/Guidelines .

Here's my advice; avoid patented software as much as you can. Also,
use a free software license that explicitly addresses patents if you
feel you need protection, i.e. GPL v3. Read more at the Free Software
Foundation, Free Software Foundation Europe, and the Software Freedom
Law Center.

> 4) As some of the Debian derivatives representatives are in this
> mailing list, what you other Debian derivatives are doing regarding
> your patents?

> 5) Do you recommend me other royalty-free cross-licensing patent
> network to apply to?

The only one I can recommend is OIN since they have the economic
muscle and smart, good people working for them, people who know and
care about software freedom. But it is not a panacea and is likely
more useful to large corporations like Google than to a Debian
derivative. In the US, if someone takes you to court over a software
patent, how will you respond? You'll likely need a lawyer if you want
to avoid a summary judgement, that gets expensive quick, OIN can't
really help you there. On the other hand, you likely have to be making
a bit of money for the patent trolls to come sniffing.

Note that there is a lot of legal change underway and if you plan to
be a mega-corp then you'd do well to become more informed on the
changes to patent law in the US, or hire someone to do that for
you. :-)


> Thank you.
> ----
> Hello,
> My name is ***** ***** and I am writing to you on behalf of Open Invention
> Network (OIN), an organization formed to support and protect the Linux
> System and everyone who builds or uses Linux related technology.  I
> recently noticed Rescatux on DistroWatch and want to invite you to join our
> community.  As I haven't had any success locating a direct email address, I
> hope this attempt will get to the correct audience.
> The OIN community helps support open innovation and deter patent
> restriction around the Linux and its related ecosystem by providing an
> aggression "No Fly Zone." Anyone can join by pledging nonaggression towards
> OIN members and, in return, receives the same pledge from the other members
> as well as OIN's support if faced with aggression from third-parties.  Our
> objective is a future where patent aggression aimed at Linux is
> unacceptable.
> There is no cost to join and we now have over 480 members worldwide who
> support our efforts to ensure the continued growth of Linux.  Ubuntu, Red
> Hat, KDE, Mozilla, Hewlett-Packard, Twitter, and Google are just a few of
> our members and we'd be pleased to have Rescatux join too.
> While I know you're busy, I've taken the liberty to attach additional
> information and, when you have time, invite you to review it as well as go
> to our website at http://www.openinventionnetwork.com.
> I thank you for your time and hope you will consider and join us.
> adrian15
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