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The best protection for software assets

Without the argument over patents, what would Microsoft be doing that was controversial regarding open source?
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

Roberto Galoppini has an interesting piece running today on Codeplex, and how to improve it.

I can't say much more than "attaboy" about it, but he ends with an interesting comment:

Software patents are not legal here in Europe, and Europe uses a lot of open source software.

As a commenter here wrote earlier today, much of the controversy surrounding open source involves patents, which he calls the "Fight Club" of software. (That's what Brad Pitt is doing here.)

Without the argument over patents, what would Microsoft be doing that was controversial regarding open source? Some of its licenses are one-sided, but so are its contributions to the code protected by those licenses. The MS-PL license is also OSI-approved.

One point I have made many times -- as have people much wiser than I am -- is that patent protection isn't that great a deal. You have to reveal your invention. The rights don't last that long.

Contrast this with copyright and trademark. This story, and the logo above it, will have legal protection long after Microsoft's so-called Linux "patents" are forgotten.

When people "pay" for software, what are they really buying? Support. They want to know needed updates will come in, that someone is back there stamping out bugs, protecting us from bad guys, and enhancing the code.

We convey this information through a trademark, not patents.

The difference between open source and proprietary software is visibility, nothing more. Why am I signing a contract for software I can see? To acknowledge your copyright on it, not your patent rights.

All the controversy between Microsoft and open source would be over if the Supreme Court followed Red Hat's recent brief in the Bilski case, and stripped out rights previous courts had given software companies, rights that have proven to be little but trouble, protecting only monopoly and not innovation.

Perhaps Microsoft might add an "amen" to that brief. Can I hear an amen?

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