Is the era of open source legal stupidity over?

Is the era of open source legal stupidity over?

Summary: Some SCO partisans still don't believe it, and lawyers like to get paid, but at some point in the economic cycle such arguments become an unaffordable luxury and we may well be at that point.

TOPICS: Open Source

SCO logoI would love to go through 2009 and never have to use the tag "legal" on an open source blog post.

Wishes do come true. SCO has lost, to the tune of $2.54 million, plus interest. The era of obvious business method patenting may also be over, along with Microsoft's patent threats, thanks to the decision In Re Bilski.

Some SCO partisans still don't believe it, and lawyers like to get paid, but at some point in the economic cycle such arguments become an unaffordable luxury and we may well be at that point.

The legal status of open source and Linux now seems clear. The contracts are legal, the software is legit.

Where does the law go from here?

My hope is that it goes back to basics. New inventions deserve protection, but only for themselves, not for the idea of invention. And not every great idea must have someone with a hand out behind it.

Some ideas are just a hand up.

Topic: Open Source

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  • ...must have an invention...

    I disagree about not patenting an "idea" of an invention. I've got ideas for several new technologies, but I don't have the capital to create them. They require microscopic parts. If I can't patent my idea, I can't propose it to larger companies that CAN manufacture it without fear of them just taking it from me. I need that patent protection and society, as a whole, needs me (and others like me) to have that protection, so we have the encouragement to bring these new technologies forward so everyone then benefits from them... which is the fundamental purpose of the patent system.
    Software Architect 1982
    • Your ticket to obscene wealth has been revoked.

      So because of your inability to find a suitable and trustworthy business partner you are willing to sacrifice the general welfare of our society as a whole. Your logic and reasoning as to why you need special protection has been proven to be poison to innovation and the advancement of technology. Step out of your "inventors" shoes for a moment and put yourself in my shoes. I've watched enough money spent on patent trolls' frivolous litigation to send a team to Mars and back. And what did we get for their troubles? Think about it. And when you're done thinking about it, think about it some more. What you want hurts all of us. Your gain is our pain.
      • He can find help.

        Some organizations will purchase and patent good ideas. The inventor receives the money he's earned and the patent process makes the information about what the information does and how it works available to all.

        People can license the invention either for a product or as the basis for still further invention.

        Thomas Jefferson ceased to oppose patents when he saw how much inventiveness needed only the encouragement of cash to appear.

        Why should you be any less persuaded than he when you observe the effects of the secure promise of money for ideas?
        Anton Philidor
        • You're absolutly right Anton.

          I'm going to patent the bow knot, among others, for tying your shoes and sue the crap out of you. Yep! Money is the supreme motivator.
    • Patents not necessary for talented individuals

      You claim that you cannot even propose your idea to larger companies for fear that they will steal it?

      To paraphrase Don Lancaster, if your idea is truly any good you should feel perfectly free to share it while making it clear that they should treat you fairly if they want you to share any of your *future* ideas with them. Their motive to profit over the long term should keep them in line.

      Of course, this presupposes that (a) your idea is actually well developed, and (b) you are capable of cultivating more than one good idea...

      Having a scrap of paper (i.e., a patent) will not prevent any of the big boys from stealing your idea in any case even if you can muster enough Capital to stand toe-to-toe with them in court. They will simply outlast you in court with delays and legal entanglements (until you go bankrupt and drop the case), or, if you *can* manage to last to the end, they will likely either get the patent invalidated or severely restricted. In any event your Holy Patent is unlikely to earn you so much as one thin dime; it will instead cost you a fortune to defend and prove itself to be worth a whole lot less than the paper it's printed on.
    • ideas are cheap

      Anyone who's been around the block a few times knows that
      ideas are dime a dozen. Turning them into something real is
      where all the hard work is. I don't think anything should be
      patentable until it's been built. We have way too many patents
      and way too lengthy copyrights.
  • RE: Is the era of open source legal stupidity over?

    I wonder if I could patent the business practice of "patent trolling"
    • As long as you don't infringe on Hallibuton's patent application.
  • RE: Is the era of biased journalists over?

    Not likely.

    Dana Blankenhorn joins the ranks of Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols:
    • Well then.

      He's in good company. That's my biased opinion opposing your biased opinion. Unbiased opinion is an oxymoron.
  • Wont believe it until they put a stake through SCO

    Garlic, silver bullets, stakes, holy water....
    I dont care what you have to use... just use them all to make sure SCO doesnt come back to life.

    Better safe than sorry.

    And as much as I despise scum sucking lawyers, the SFLC has their own podcast which is worth it.
    Its hosted by Bradley Kuhn who was at the FSF before the SFLC was created, so that's at least one real geek (you can check the GPLed code he has worked on) present. With any luck, they'll get Eben Moglen on one day when he gets up on the wrong side of the bed... its always entertaining.
  • A patent on the patent process, and patenting anything

    Is what I am applying for. Then I can sue the crap out of the patent office and anybody who holds a patent.

    Fight fire with fire is the best battle plan, and the best plan of defense is ATTACK!
    Ole Man