Re: Bug#176267: ITP: mplayer -- Mplayer is a full-featured audioand video player for UN*X like systems
On Wed, Jan 29, 2003 at 11:33:31AM -0500, Don Armstrong wrote:
> > It's my understanding that the best (only) way to minimize patent
> > liability short of hiring a lawyer is to avoid knowing anything about
> > potentially relevant patents entirely.
> AFAIK, ignorance of patents doesen't protect you from being prosecuted
> and/or found liable under them, at least in the US. (Unlike the
> convergent re-creation of copyrighted works.)
> If someone else knows differently and can quote caselaw, please do.
"The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (effectively the final word
on patent law, since the Supreme Court rarely takes patent cases) has
ruled that anyone who is not a patent attorney is not qualified to
determine the scope of the claims in a patent, and that it would be
unreasonable for you to determine that a particular patent is not
applicable to what you are doing unless you first get a legal opinion
from a patent attorney. Because, as a matter of law, you couldn't really
have believed that you understood the patent (yes, our federal courts
can be quite condescending), you will likely be found liable for triple
damages if it turns out that you were wrong, and that you really are
infringing the patent.
Because of this, lawyers routinely advise their clients to avoid
reading patents in areas they are working in. The danger posed by the
willful infringement doctrine is seen as outweighing any benefit that
can be gained from reading patents."
(Someone else can go shoveling through caselaw. :)