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Re: Policy on code covered by patents but not compiled?

On Fri, Dec 16, 2005 at 02:42:33PM -0500, Nathanael Nerode wrote:
> Consider the following situation:
> * Code (say MPEG encoder code) is considered to be covered by patents
> * Those patents are considered to be actively enforced
> * Code implementing an MPEG encoder is shipped in a source package
> * This code is not compiled or used, and the user is not encouraged to
>   compile it or use it, and is actually warned against compiling or using it
>   without a patent license.
> Now, it seems to me that this shouldn't create any legal patent problems.
> Under patent law, describing how to perform a patented process is supposed
> to be legally protected -- in fact, it's required under the patent publication
> laws.
> Actual use of the patented process is restricted, of course, but the situation
> I just described is specifically intended to discourage and prevent use, while
> allowing people to study the code.
> How debased is our patent system?  Do the lawyers or people paying attention
> to the status of legal cases think that this is safe or not (or safe in some
> countries and not in others)?

Good question. I'd also like to know the answer.

Unfortunately, I don't think anybody really knows. It's not the sort
of thing that courts often deal with.

  .''`.  ** Debian GNU/Linux ** | Andrew Suffield
 : :' :  http://www.debian.org/ |
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