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Open Source Patents Software

Patenting Open Source Software 60

Posted by Soulskill
from the system-and-method-for-protecting-innovation dept.
dp619 writes "The tactic of patenting open source software to guard against patent trolls and the weaponization of corporate patent portfolios is gaining momentum in the FOSS community. Organizations including the Open Innovation Network, Google and Red Hat have built defensive patent portfolios (the latter two are defending their product lines). This approach has limitations. Penn State law professor Clark Asay writes in an Outercurve Foundation blog examining the trend, 'Patenting FOSS may help in some cases, but the nature of FOSS development itself may mean that patenting some collaboratively developed inventions is inherently more difficult, if not impossible, in many others. Consequently, strategies for mitigating patent risk that rely on FOSS communities patenting their technologies include inherent limitations. It's not entirely clear how best to reform patent law in order to better reconcile it with alternative models of innovation. But in the meantime, FOSS still presents certain advantages that, while dimmed by the prospect of patent suits, remain significant.'"
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Patenting Open Source Software

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  • by Virtucon (127420) on Friday May 17, 2013 @09:53AM (#43751609)

    I can envision a world in which the USPTO just rubber stamps everything coming in as an application and letting the courts determine which are valid or invalid. Wait, we have that system now.

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Friday May 17, 2013 @10:46AM (#43752307)

    Yes, and that time frame is imposed by a government regulatory process known as FDA approval.

    I'm fairly sympathetic to the idea of extending patents to account for the regulatory process. A lawyer once told me that a patent is:

    A contract between an inventor and the government in which the inventor discloses the best known way to practice an invention so that it can be repeated by others in exchange for the right to prevent others from practicing that invention for a specified period of time.

    So that specified time is right now 20 years. Well if the government also imposes a regulatory process that takes 15 years or some other variable but significant duration before sale can take place the patent contract becomes quite meaningless.

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