Uncle Dave used to be a programmer many moons ago. Why would I (or anyone) want to be one today writing commercial or even (as this article points out) open source code? Hard to write new programs when every other line might be copyrighted by someone more interested in making money in the courts (cough SCO cough) than via writing better software. Another reason the US is headed toward being second rate in technology.

The Monster Arrives: Software Patent Lawsuits Against Open Source Developers

We’ve warned you for a decade. Now the monster has finally arrived: attacks against Open Source developers by patent holders, big and small. One is a lawsuit against Red Hat for the use of the principle of Object Relational Mapping used in Hibernate, a popular component of enterprise Java applications everywhere. The other attack is on an individual Open Source developer for his model railroad software.

These two attacks are the tip of the iceberg, thousands more are possible as software patent holders turn to enforcement as an income producer and away from the patent cross-licensing détente exercised by large companies until the mid-1990s. Open Source will not be the only victim: small and medium-sized companies make up 80% of our economy and any of those companies that develops software, either proprietary or Open Source, will be vulnerable. The American IP Law Association estimates that defense against a single software patent lawsuit will cost between 2 and 5 million dollars. Under US law, even a company that only uses software can be sued.

[…]the real solution is to go back to the original intent of the Patent Office and stop granting patents on software.

  1. ECA says:

    Fun ain’t it.
    And I remember the days the Game groups used to swap code and make things better, until the corps, and narrow minded got involved.
    It’s like try to invent NEW music, after 1000 years of OLD stuff. You can’t find a Riff that hasn’t been done, 1 way or another.

  2. gquaglia says:

    I guess its easier and more profitable to sue someone else who has the drive and guts to make something usefull then it is to develop the product yourself. That’s what happens when a bulk of the members of congress are themselves lawyers.

  3. Thomas says:

    I’m not even convinced that copyrights on software should be allowed. Software is too nebulous for copyright or patent. There has to be a better way of protecting software intellectual rights without allowing bozos to patent the “if” statement.

  4. Milo says:

    “patent the “if” statement”?

    I’ll umm, see you later. I have to… Ummm that’s a ridiculous idea BTW. “Google search for copyrirght lawyers.”

  5. Milo says:

    If this becomes widespread expect to see some countries, formally or not, dropping out of the international copyright agreements.

  6. ECA says:

    I can see a copyright, but NOT FOREVER.
    5 years and Its free. It wouldnt take long for ALL of it to become free.

  7. ECA says:

    i miss the OLD days, when this KEPT being improved, even using old tech, someone was adding to it.

  8. RBG says:

    How does an individual who sits down at his/her computer to create a supposed new chunk of code ever know whether it may already have been patented?

    Are you expected to know about all patented pieces of code before you begin work?


  9. Uncle Dave says:

    RBG: You can’t and Yes, based on these court cases.

  10. ECA says:

    there is 1 trick.
    DONT LOOK, DONT ASK, and if you REALLY didnt know, they GENERALLY dont hit you too bad, in the courts.

  11. Ethan says:

    Interestingly I worked for a company 11 years ago where I wrote some code they were excited about. We met with IP lawyers who said that patenting code was impossible… They compared copyrighting (I know it is different than patenting, but similar nonetheless) code to copyrighting a book. Someone could use chunks of the code similarly, as long as it wasn’t identical…

  12. ECA says:

    the problem NOW is Patterns in Coding, and NOT just changing a couple values.
    In music if you change 6(?) bars, you have a new tune.
    NOT in coding..It cant resemble ANY part of it, or incorporate ANY part of another code, except in generalities, such as the mathmaticla representation of a circle.


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