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Re: Software Patents: Was: Re: Re: Is anyone packaging `lame' ?

Reinhard Tartler wrote:
> Only if they are enforcable in court. Regarding many multimedia related
> software, there is indeed an ugly lot of software patents around, and it
> is very unclear if they would succeed in court if somebody would
> distribute software which implement ideas described by a patent.
> I don't think debian has decided on a more or less 'official' position
> regarding software patents. There many packages in debian, which are
> suspected to implement many ideas described by software patents. I don't
> know of any case were debian had to explain in court. This causes a lot

Hi Reinhard,

You are correct to point out that many software patents are not valid -
that is they cannot be enforced in court.  I've heard of people
obtaining patents for ideas that have been in the public domain for decades.

The problem for the open source community is can Debian, or any other
open source producer afford to fight the big money companies in court
for the years it would take to go through court and all of the appeals,
possibly in multiple jurisdictions?  Of course, it probably won't
actually come to that because those big money companies would not be
getting any money (or very little) for their massive expenditures - even
if they win, they lose.

As far as I know, none of these software patents have actually been
tested in court (I could be wrong, of course), but I think that, in most
cases all the company in question has to do is pull a TSR (a defunct
role-playing game company notorious for threatening fan sites with
lawsuits to get them taken down), and get their patented ideas removed -
if that didn't work they could go with a restraining order or actually
file the lawsuit...  With no intention of following through, of course.

fn:Chris Walters
email;internet:cwalters999_antispam at comcast dot net

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