Re: LZW patented file left in .orig.tar source package?
On Wed, 2002-10-23 at 19:34, David Turner wrote:
> I found a case which says that blueprints are components in the sense
> meant by (c) (well, actually (f), but it's the same language) above:
> Moore U.S.A. Inc. v. Standard Register, No. 98-CV-485C(F), 2001.
> I've uploaded it to http://novalis.org/cases/Moore.html -- let me know
> if it's garbled in any way.
> If blueprints are components, then source code definately is.
So, according to the court, were paper and glue; does this make the use
of paper and glue illegal in the USA?
Clause (f)(1) states (from the decision):
"Whoever without authority supplies or causes to be supplied in or from
the United States all or a substantial portion of the components of a
patented invention, where such components are uncombined in whole or in
part, in such manner as to actively induce the combination of such
components outside of the United States in a manner that would infringe
the patent if such combination occurred within the United States, shall
be liable as an infringer."
While the decision found that blueprints could consititute part of "a
substantial portion of the components", it was clear that paper and glue
were also needed. It's not clear to me that blueprints by themselves
Furthermore, both the statute and the decision makes reference to
"actively induc[ing]" the infringing behavior outside the USA. It seems
clear that we do not actively induce any such behavior; indeed, one must
expend some effort to get infringing packages built, which would include
removing roadblocks we actively set up.
In contrast, the defendants in the cited case brought paper, glue, and
blueprints to Switzerland for the express purpose of making the patented
mailers as a training exercise, and they did, in fact, make some mailers
while in Switzerland.
Thus, the case doesn't provide evidence that distributing source code
for a patented algorithm in itself infringes on a patent. Providing
tools for compiling the code that are specific to the code, or compiling
the code and distributing binaries, may be held to be infringing, but we
don't do that; indeed, we make it more difficult to compile the code in
an infringing way.
I don't mean to say that removing the LZW code is a bad idea; I think
it's the safest route. But I am very nervous about the implication that
uncompiled source code, by itself, can infringe on a patent. It seems
to imply that I cannot learn about the patent without infringing on it,
which violates the basic idea of patents: public disclosure in return
for a temporary monopoly.