Proposal: Liberated Intellectual Property Organization (LIPO)

Proposal: Liberated Intellectual Property Organization (LIPO)

Post by Bill Hous » Tue, 30 Jun 1998 04:00:00



Many have expressed their concern on the threat that software patents pose
to the free software community.  The combination of corporate avarice and a
lack of technical acumen at the US patent office is creating a situation
where free software developers are almost certain to violate some patents,
like it or not.  That this has not yet resulted in legal action against
Linux I believe is more a testament to a lack of perceived threat on the
part of major patent holders (like MS) than an indication that such legal
actions will not be forthcoming.  As Linux continues to gain popularity and
visibility in the press, this 'honeymoon' period may be coming to an end.
What can be done to counter this threat?

I believe this is a situation that calls for community action.  Furthermore,
I think that the current legal environment leaves the community no choice,
but to fight fire with fire -- intellectual properties must be liberated
under the current law, as the political will to change Title 35 will almost
certainly be lacking, given the wealth of the proprietary sw. lobby.  By
building a portfolio of liberated intellectual properties,  the free
software community can obtain the same legal protections for open source
developers that is now enjoyed by proprietary code. Such liberation can be
pursued by the following means:

1. Documentation of prior art in a suitable database (under Linux and a free
RDBMS, of course), made available over the Internet.  Such information could
then be used, not only as a defense against invalid patents, but hopefully
as a mechanism to help educate the USPTO, so that they will issue fewer
invalid patents to begin with.

2. Recruitment of distinguished software luminaries to act as spokespersons,
and to assist in filing friend of the court briefs for patent cases in
litigation.  This approach would be similar to the one outlined in the FSF
materials.

3. Obtaining defensive patents on key algorithms.  Such patents would be
held in trust, perhaps by GNU (if they desire it), or otherwise by LIPO, for
the express purpose of keeping them free to all who wish to use them.  In
some cases, it may be possible to persuade current patent holders to assign
their patents, if they only obtained them to prevent others from
monopolizing the technology. In other cases, it may be necessary to obtain
new patents. (This is the "fire with fire" part.)

4. Waging an ongoing information campaign to inform the public of the
dangers inherent in software patents and the negative effect such
instruments may have on the free software community.

If there is enough of a positive response, I will attempt to obtain seed
money and resources to help found the organization.  However, this idea can
only work if the free software community thinks it is the right thing to do
and is behind it.  Also, if there are other individuals that the community
feels would be better suited to spearhead such an effort, I would be glad to
serve as merely a soldier, and someone who might be able to obtain some
initial resources.  Your choice.

Comments?

Bill House

 
 
 

Proposal: Liberated Intellectual Property Organization (LIPO)

Post by Tracy R Re » Tue, 30 Jun 1998 04:00:00



>monopolizing the technology. In other cases, it may be necessary to obtain
>new patents. (This is the "fire with fire" part.)

Isn't it extremely expensive (thousands of $$$'s) to patent something?

--
Tracy Reed      http://www.ultraviolet.org
Linux: Opening doors and shattering Windows.

 
 
 

Proposal: Liberated Intellectual Property Organization (LIPO)

Post by Bill Hous » Tue, 30 Jun 1998 04:00:00




>>monopolizing the technology. In other cases, it may be necessary to obtain
>>new patents. (This is the "fire with fire" part.)

>Isn't it extremely expensive (thousands of $$$'s) to patent something?

That all depends.  My approach would be to recruit someone who is both a
patent attorney and a software engineer.  As it happens, I know of one who
is public spirited, and might be persuaded to work for less than scale for
such a project.

I also know venture capitalists who are software engineers and who have
ideological and business reasons to see the tide of frivolous software
patents, if not abated, at least sandbagged against.   If they got involved,
there would be money to pay for patent costs.  I'm not thinking of this as a
bunch of us programmers getting together and pooling our spare change.

Also, I should clarify that I don't think that a new-patents-only approach
is really feasible. Instead, I would appeal to software luminaries who have
patented key technologies as a defensive measure. There are many individuals
like this.  If the proper sort of effort could be organized, such
individuals might be willing to come on board, contributing their
technologies for the common good of the software industry.   Some
educational institutions might also be persuaded.   Nevertheless, obtaining
patents on strategic algorithms, especially those which render irrelevant
proprietary algorithms that cannot be cheaply licensed, would have to be a
priority. There must be a rich set of liberated technologies in the
portfolio.

Additionally, the prior art database shouldn't be undervalued.  As this
resource is developed, not only would LIPO be able to identify invalid
patents, it might also significantly cut the cost of prior art searches.

Anyway, I don't claim to have all the answers alone.  I have some ideas, but
I'm also hoping to get some input from others to round of the plan and
tighten up the approach.

Any suggestions?

Bill House

Quote:>--
>Tracy Reed      http://www.ultraviolet.org
>Linux: Opening doors and shattering Windows.

 
 
 

Proposal: Liberated Intellectual Property Organization (LIPO)

Post by Bernd Paysa » Wed, 01 Jul 1998 04:00:00



> Isn't it extremely expensive (thousands of $$$'s) to patent something?

For a private person, who is resident in the USA, and writes the patent
files himself (no need for an external attorney), it's AFAIK less than
or around $1000. This includes examination and covers all costs during
the entire life-time.

Defensive patents are a lot cheaper here in Germany. You can file a
German patent for 100 DM, and if you don't pay anything it expires after
three years (not examined). This is enough for defensive patenting (the
PO can do a search for previous art in their own archive).

--
Bernd Paysan
"Late answers are wrong answers!"
http://www.jwdt.com/~paysan/

 
 
 

Proposal: Liberated Intellectual Property Organization (LIPO)

Post by Richard Tilman » Wed, 01 Jul 1998 04:00:00



> If there is enough of a positive response, I will attempt to obtain seed
> money and resources to help found the organization.  However, this idea can
> only work if the free software community thinks it is the right thing to do
> and is behind it.  Also, if there are other individuals that the community
> feels would be better suited to spearhead such an effort, I would be glad to
> serve as merely a soldier, and someone who might be able to obtain some
> initial resources.  Your choice.

This a necesary and important step if we are going to build and sustain the
'open source' software model.  Creating and sustaining software in todays world
needs more that the development and testing  phases of the total delivrary
system.  We also need to provide for the distribution, education and marketing
functions.  And, unfortunately we need to provide for the protection of our
work from a world of preditory lawyers.
 
 
 

Proposal: Liberated Intellectual Property Organization (LIPO)

Post by Bill Hous » Wed, 01 Jul 1998 04:00:00




>> Isn't it extremely expensive (thousands of $$$'s) to patent something?

>For a private person, who is resident in the USA, and writes the patent
>files himself (no need for an external attorney), it's AFAIK less than
>or around $1000. This includes examination and covers all costs during
>the entire life-time.

In this case, all that may be necessary is to have the consultation of a
patent attorney, just to help get it right.

Quote:>Defensive patents are a lot cheaper here in Germany. You can file a
>German patent for 100 DM, and if you don't pay anything it expires after
>three years (not examined). This is enough for defensive patenting (the
>PO can do a search for previous art in their own archive).

International prior art searches are also something to consider.  How does
one get access to German patents?  What are the legal ramifications wrt
German patents vs US patents -- is there a reciprocal treaty of some kind?

Bill House

Quote:>--
>Bernd Paysan
>"Late answers are wrong answers!"
>http://www.jwdt.com/~paysan/

 
 
 

Proposal: Liberated Intellectual Property Organization (LIPO)

Post by PILCH Hartm » Wed, 01 Jul 1998 04:00:00


Is the LPF (Leage for Programming Freedom) defunct, or why is a new
organisation needed?  

IMHO a longterm campaign goal should be to have patent law modified so as to
mean that any patented technology can be used for free software.  This is in
line with the purpose of the patent system: Disclosing the technology is in
itself similar to writing free software, and the purpose is to prevent other
people from capitalising on the technology, not to prevent the distribution
of knowledge.   This way software patents can exist and do good instead of
harm.

--

a2e Ostasien-Sprachendienste Pilch, Wang & Co
http://www.a2e.de/oas/, Tel +49891278960-8

 
 
 

Proposal: Liberated Intellectual Property Organization (LIPO)

Post by Bernd Paysa » Thu, 02 Jul 1998 04:00:00



> International prior art searches are also something to consider.

It usually doesn't happen (mostly because it's too dificult - all
patents have to be filed in native language).

Quote:> How does one get access to German patents?

Same as US patents. You need an attorney if you aren't inhabitant of the
EC.

Quote:> What are the legal ramifications wrt
> German patents vs US patents -- is there a reciprocal treaty of some kind?

They acknowledge priority, and you can make a German patent an US patent
in the first year after filing (and vice versa). It's a bit more
difficult for an US patent to become a German or European patent,
because unlike in the US, there is absolutely no publication of the
patent allowed before filing (this is a reason why the RSA public key
patent isn't an European patent - RSA published a paper almost half a
year before filing the patent).

--
Bernd Paysan
"Late answers are wrong answers!"
http://www.jwdt.com/~paysan/

 
 
 

Proposal: Liberated Intellectual Property Organization (LIPO)

Post by Bill Hous » Thu, 02 Jul 1998 04:00:00



>Is the LPF (Leage for Programming Freedom) defunct, or why is a new
>organisation needed?

AFAIK, the LPF is no longer in existence.  Email sent to them is bounced
back and their domain name now belongs to some political group in Florida.
If the LPF was still active, I would have been joining and trying to get
them some more resources to address the patent issue.   If we get enough
interested parties together to show we're serious about LIPO, perhaps
Stallman will want to throw in with us, or maybe even be the Chairman (I
have no personal desire to be poo-bah, I just want to see the mission
accomplished).  The key is getting enough people involved, I think.

Quote:>IMHO a longterm campaign goal should be to have patent law modified so as
to
>mean that any patented technology can be used for free software.  This is
in
>line with the purpose of the patent system: Disclosing the technology is in
>itself similar to writing free software, and the purpose is to prevent
other
>people from capitalising on the technology, not to prevent the distribution
>of knowledge.   This way software patents can exist and do good instead of
>harm.

I would love to see patent law modified, but I am skeptical that it will
happen in my lifetime.  Instead, a pro-active documentation of prior art,
obtaining licenses or assignments of rights for existing defensive patents,
and filing new patents for key algorithms (especially those which replace
proprietary algorithms) seems like a sure-fire way to grow the body of work
that can be freely used by all.  Without that, every free software author
runs the risk that, should their project become so popular as to pose a
threat to monopoly patent holders, they will be inundated with patent
infringement litigation.

Hmmm... a free-software legal defense fund might also be a good thing for
LIPO to maintain.

Bill House

>--

>a2e Ostasien-Sprachendienste Pilch, Wang & Co
>http://www.a2e.de/oas/, Tel +49891278960-8

 
 
 

1. Does innovation require intellectual property rights

http://www.reason.com/0303/fe.dc.creation.shtml

March 2003

Creation Myths
Does innovation require intellectual property rights?

By Douglas Clement

".. As for software, Boldrin refers to an MIT working paper by
economists Eric Maskin and James Bessen. Maskin and Bessen write that
"some of the most innovative industries today -- software, computers
and semiconductors -- have historically had weak patent protection and
have experienced rapid imitation of their products .."

".. Moreover, U.S. court decisions in the 1980s that strengthened
patent protection for software led to less innovation. "Far from
unleashing a flurry of new innovative activity," Maskin and Bessen
write, "these stronger property rights ushered in a period of
stagnant, if not declining, R&D among those industries and firms that
patented most." Industries that depend on sequential product
development -- the initial version is followed by an improved second
version, etc. -- are, they argue, likely to be stifled by stronger
intellectual property regimes .."

2. m4 loops

3. Intellectual Property DANGER! (Re: DVD driver)

4. Having problems configuring X86 with ATI Rage Pro and Optiquest Monitor

5. Intellectual Property Rights

6. Linux (Redhat7) just FREEZES!

7. intellectual property and the GPL

8. utile-1.5 now available

9. Intellectual property rights

10. contamination with UNIX intellectual property and job changes

11. BILL GATES / MICROSOFT CAUGHT STEALING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY !

12. Seminar: GPL versus Intellectual Property

13. Does "intellectual Property" exist?