Re: patents and non-free
On Thu, Aug 30, 2001 at 12:14:44PM +0100, Edmund GRIMLEY EVANS wrote:
> Does Debian have any kind of policy on patents at all?
Debian's policy on patents has been to deal with them on a
 It's not possible for any software vendor anywhere to
avoid infringing patents. That does not mean that such
patents have merit.
The U.S. patent office, at least, has criteria which are lax (no
perpetual motion machines), and patent examiners' long term salary
is based on how many patents they approve.
The U.S. patent office has granted patents on well-known physical
principles (e.g. Kirchoff's laws).
 The treatment of alleged patent violators in U.S. courts is "guilty
until proven innocent". [This, by itself, is a good reason for non-US.]
That, and Debian is a diffuse set of people.
As Joseph Carter said: this means that we don't have much of a backbone
on patent issues. Or, put more positively: we do what we're sure is
right, and try stay away from the shadier areas.
Or, if you want a capsule summary: what patents cover has a lot to
do with what people say, and disappointingly little to do with what's
actually written in the patent.
Or, even more briefly: we're fairly cynical about patents.