der Mouse mouse at Rodents.Montreal.QC.CA
Mon Jan 2 14:58:46 CST 2006

>> Of course, whether Dave cares about patents in the USA is another
>> matter, seeing as how he's in Canada.
> Forgive me for quoting out of order, but I wanted to make this point
> first.  I have no interest in patenting any part of this particular
> program (in the USA or Canada), for several reasons:

> - A patent would serve to suppress use of the idea.  [...]

A patent *can* serve to supporess use of the idea.  It does not have
to; indeed, a number of organizations have purely defensive patents,
and at one point I heard of a "Free Patent Foundation", which
membership in meant you agreed to license all your patents for free to
all other members in exchange for reciprocal licenses to all their
patents - and there's no requirement that one hold any patents in order
to join.  Perfect for those who truly do want to use patents only
defensively.  (I did a bit of googling and it looks as though there's
nothing under that name live now.)

If you want to allay any fears that any putative patents could be
turned to evil ends in the future, you could grant an irrevocable,
perpetual, *sublicensable* license to someone the community trusts (my
favourite example is Eric Raymond).

> - I have no reason to patent any part of it, as I have no current or
>   projected revenue stream to protect.

That is not the only reason for a patent.  A patent also serves to
prevent anyone else from patenting the same thing (and then using that
patent to prevent you or others from practicing the technique).

> - I personally disagree with the general notion of a software patent

So do I.  But given the broken legal system we live in, occasionally it
is necessary to use the tools the system gives, even though they are
tools usually turned to distasteful ends.

> - Most important!
>   There is nothing in the program which I believe to be patentable!

This is an excellent reason, and quite likely true from what I've read
of ID.

There's also the point that getting a patent tends to be expen$ive,
though I don't know just how much so, and without the revenue stream
you pointed out you don't have, that money has to come from somewhere
else.  It's a tradeoff between the risk that someone else will get a
patent and enforce it against you, versus the cost of getting (or at
least attempting to get) the patent yourself.

So far in my own case it's always come down against going for the
patent.  I expect it will in your case too....

>>> It's essentially 'published' now.  Doesn't that mean a 'prior art'
>>> defense will work?
>> Most places, I think so.  But in the USA, there's traditionally been
>> a one-year grace period between publication and unpatentability.  (I
>> put it that way because whether it's still so I don't know.)
> I don't know USA patent law in great detail, but doesn't this refer
> to publication by the applicant of the patent

What I've read of the situation in the USA leads me to think that the
relationship, if any, between the entity publishing the work and the
entity applying for the patent is completely irrelevant.

Of course, I'm not a patent lawyer in any jurisdiction, least of all
the USA, so if it really matters to you, go find someone who is, or at
*least* who has actually cared enough to look at the question closely.

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