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 Forum index » Taking the Puppy out for a walk » Puppy Power
Should Barry patent?
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Flash
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Joined: 04 May 2005
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PostPosted: Mon 10 Oct 2005, 22:22    Post_subject:  Should Barry patent?  

First let me say I'm no expert on patents, in the U.S. or any other country.

I have read a bit about them, here and there, over the years. Recently there is a lot being written about "software patents" in the E.U..

I've read that in the U.S., a patent is awarded to the person who can prove he was the first to think of an idea, while some other countries award the patent to the first person who files the paperwork for it, regardless of who first thought of the idea.

It occurs to me that at least some parts of Puppy Linux may be unique and innovative enough to be patentable in some countries. Multisession DVD for instance.

Could somebody patent some part of Puppy, in, say, China, even though he obviously stole the idea? If so, what might that mean to Barry? (I only use China for the purpose of discussion. I know nothing about the patent laws in China.)

Is this something the Puppy foundation should look into?
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JohnMurga
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PostPosted: Mon 10 Oct 2005, 22:36    Post_subject:  

Software patents in the form you are referring to are mostly a US problem ...

Patenting also tends to be a faily costly endeavour contrary to the software foundation and principles that puppy is built upon ...

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/patent-reform-is-not-enough.html
http://www.ffii.org/

Cheers
JohnM
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dvw86


Joined: 04 May 2005
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PostPosted: Mon 10 Oct 2005, 23:07    Post_subject:  

I think you have some valid concerns, but I HATE software patents. I believe that software should be copy protected (if the author desires) but not patented. IMHO Barry's best defense is the GPL license that he already falls under. JM is correct that patents take quite a bit of time and money, at least here in the US. In the companies that I have worked for, the patent lawyers were always some of the highest payed individuals.
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keenerd

Joined: 20 Aug 2005
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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct 2005, 09:50    Post_subject:  

"The Case Against Patents"
http://www.tinaja.com/glib/casagpat.pdf

Now, this is about patents in general, not just software.

Patents only give you the right to defend the idea is yours, in court. Court is expensive. Also (in the US) patents are awarded to those who invented first. So anyone just has to prove prior invention, and your patent gets taken away.

In short, patents are worthless. Unless you can afford a team of laywers. The rule of thumb is "don't patent unless your idea is worth at least X dollars." This amount goes up with time, right now it's around (US) $20 million.

Patents are good for bulking up your resume. Just don't try to take your patent to court.
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Flash
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PostPosted: Wed 12 Oct 2005, 01:24    Post_subject:  

Whether you think software patents are a good idea or the root of all evil, the fact is, they exist. My question stands: could someone steal Barry's idea and patent it? If so, how much trouble could that cause him?

A patent is just a special protection issued by a government that gives the holder the upper hand if he sues anyone for stealing his idea. As keenerd noted, it is up to the patent holder to enforce the patent. The government won't prosecute for the patentholder. As keenerd also noted, lawsuits are expensive. For both sides. Which is why the simple threat of a lawsuit is often enough to affect the plans of even large corporations.

Here's a story about how patents can be misused, that I happen to know something about:

Sometime in the late '70s, Honeywell patented an autofocus IC, for use in cameras. The patent application was so broad that in effect it covered any possible way to make an autofocus IC, but the government issued the patent anyway. Honeywell apparently never intended to manufacture a camera, or even an AF IC for sale to camera manufacturers. As it turned out, their strategy seems to have been to sit on their patent and wait for someone to market a camera which used an AF IC, then sue for patent infringement.

They didnt' have long to wait. In the early '80s, Minolta developed and marketed the first practical AF camera. It was a huge success. Honeywell immediately sued Minolta for patent infringement. Since the U.S. was the largest single market for cameras in the world, Minolta chose to fight. Minolta claimed they developed their AF IC completely independent of Honeywell. The lawsuit went on for nearly 10 years, with many appeals. In the end, Honeywell won. The total award to Honeywell, with penalties and extra fees tacked on, amounted to nearly a billion dollars. It eventually put Minolta out of business. After winning that lawsuit, Honeywell then turned to all the other camera manufacturers who were selling AF cameras in the U.S. and said, in effect, "pay up, or we'll do the same to you." AFAIK, they all paid whatever figure Honeywell named. And all without Honeywell manufacturing, or even developing, anything.
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Lobster
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PostPosted: Wed 12 Oct 2005, 01:45    Post_subject:  

Very interesting story makes SCO (whatever happened to them - tee hee) look like girl guides. Twisted Evil

I do not think patents apply to Puppy. If they do and if we need to look at this then The Foundation will protect Puppy in whatever way Barry and our Puppys desire.

Cool

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BH having a look
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PostPosted: Wed 12 Oct 2005, 03:40    Post_subject:  

That's a completely disgusting idea....You use FREE software then come up with an alternative idea of how to package and use it, then you want to keep it for yourself.


The whole idea stinks, man I just can't articulate how disgusting I feel this idea is........

How could you even bring this idea up ?


Actually after the "Puppy Foundation's" ideas it doesn't surprise me, I dare say someone somewhere (just not an individual maybe a group) would dearly love to hijack Barry's creation in some way to make money.

I'm totally disgusted.


Just a thought...I really feel the forum moderators should be the types that have a better depth knowledge of Linux than what I've seen here.
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Lobster
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PostPosted: Wed 12 Oct 2005, 04:21    Post_subject:  

BH having a look wrote:
That's a completely disgusting idea....You use FREE software then come up with an alternative idea of how to package and use it, then you want to keep it for yourself.


Dear Totally disgusted, Shocked

Flash is quite right to bring it up. Smile
Some of us live in the real world (not me of course) as such there are disgusting people in that world. Those like SCO who want to own Linux, or MS who want to own the Internet or those who want to own what ideas are permissable.

Flash is making the totally valid point that someone could attempt to patent Puppy, then deny us the right to use what Barry and others have worked so hard to give away.
That is why The Foundation is in your interests. If you look at the Founders and Trustees of The Foundation you will see it contains widespread support.

Sometimes we have to protect the freedom that Puppy provides from those who would attempt to deny it. Puppy is also free to commercial organisation eg the PuppyPC people and we are quite happy to encourage, support and allow more people to have hardware based Puppys. DSL provide their OS on a plug in board (or did I miss something) and Barry has contemplated providing Puppy on USB keydrives, something the foundation may do. Other Puppy users are putting Puppy on laptops and selling them - they are free to do so. Some are donating a percentage of sales to Barry. That is not essential it is just nice.

Though it is true that I am probably about as disgusting as one cructacean can be, most of the Foundation members are Puppy developers and advocates and users who I respect and trust. There are components of Puppy that may be patentable. There are people who would attempt this; disgusting as that may be. It also may be that we have to be aware of that. That is not disgusting. It is reality.

What is your alternative? Red Hat (not my favourite Linux people) put up $100 000 to fight the SCO nonsense (and nonsense it is) so good on them.

Maybe I have misunderstood your point? What are you positive recommendations?

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PostPosted: Wed 12 Oct 2005, 05:14    Post_subject:  

SCO did not want to own Linux.......their beef was that part of the kernel code was an infringement on some code they had the rights to (or did they), in a nutshell.

MS and The Web........hmmmmm The grounding of the web was there well before MS was a twinkling in Bill & Co's eyes........

From what I've seen alot of ppl seem more interested in making Puppy cute and pretty rather than making it better "under the hood". Eventually prettiness goes away and can leave a sour taste in ones mouth. No matter how pretty the boot screen is or the initial splash screen is if buggy releases come out no one will want to use this particular distro.

Another thing the that I just can't understand is that the amount of people who rave about how fast Puppy Linux is but have a HD install.......hmmm

The theory and initial implementation has been fantastic but I think more time spent in between releases on debugging and implementing core features, hotplug springs to mind, would be more beneficial.

I like it but my observation is that the development lately has taken it away from what it really would become.
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Flash
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PostPosted: Wed 12 Oct 2005, 14:12    Post_subject:  

BH having a look wrote:
...Just a thought...I really feel the forum moderators should be the types that have a better depth knowledge of Linux than what I've seen here.

Why don't you PM JohnM your qualifications and ask him to make you a moderator? The forum could always use another moderator, especially one who knows his stuff. Smile

In case you've never been a forum moderator, it takes a lot of time. Anyone with your obvious depth of knowledge of Linux would be more useful helping Barry with the development of Puppy. I'm amazed Barry finds the time to read and answer questions in the forum.
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rarsa


Joined: 29 May 2005
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PostPosted: Wed 12 Oct 2005, 15:42    Post_subject:  

Hey Flash,

John already knows him and has him in great esteem. If you read at the quasi obituary post, most of us respect what he's done.

Now, after reading my previous post and the actual comments from bhhavingalook, have you guessed who is he? Clue, the bh is shorthand for his nick. Wink

He has valid points, although in my own opinion, he misinterpreted your well meant comments.

Let's not battle between people that want to see puppy more stable, more functional, and nicer looking. Those are orthogonal goals not incompatible with each other.
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raffy

Joined: 25 May 2005
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PostPosted: Wed 12 Oct 2005, 17:51    Post_subject: Simple Argument  

Let's have it simple: imagine Minolta as Barry and the future detractor as Honeywell...

It's just about the use of multisession DVD, is it not? Flash did not even cover the use of live CD in general.

We have to admit that software patent is the Achilles heel of free software. So the movement has to be forward-thinking and protect itself.

IMHO, if we have a lawyer in this group, the Foundation would have been registered by now. We have to admit this weakness, something which the unsympathetic might just exploit. So we have to deal with it squarely.

BH, thanks for dropping by Smile
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Pizzasgood


Joined: 04 May 2005
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PostPosted: Wed 12 Oct 2005, 17:52    Post_subject:  

I'm against patenting it, and as for the foundation backing Barry up, I have access to a pretty nasty bulldog. Twisted Evil George shall fight for freedom once again! (George is the dog, not me)

Puppy could not be patented by someone else, but the processes could. But don't patents only apply where money is gained? Barry isn't asking for a fee to use Puppy, so even if someone tried to patent it, he wouldn't be benifiting for "their" patent. Patents aren't copyrights, after all.

Also, which aspects of Puppy could even be patented successfully? The idea of a live cd is used by many people, so patenting it would mean fighting the world. Most of the scripts are fairly widespread also, so that would be a loosing battle. About the most unique aspects are the multi-session and the ramdisk. I don't know much about patents, but I can't see them being innovative enough to be patented.

So in short, Puppy is in no threat.

EDIT: Just a thought- Even if it would help to patent Puppy, It would be very expensive ($1000+ US). Also, patenting could actually attract trouble, not repel it.

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PostPosted: Fri 28 Oct 2005, 18:24    Post_subject:  

I'm against any sort of patenting of sotware and of puppy too. First of all before you consider this bear a few things in mind. Number one is that there are lots of large companies who have lots of broad patents already so it is very likely everything you might think you could consider patenting already has been. To start off, you need to find which patents might be relevent (to see if they even exist). I am no patent expert but in the US I think that's hundreds of thousands of patents to look through. Also remember that many of these and to do with software are extremely broad, so even if you did get one patent some other big company might have 9 others which cover lots of other areas of your work. Effectively then I don't think anyone should fall for the patent trap, it's a bad move . Linux should be about software freedoms and not about forcing your software on people as microsoft does.

If puppy gets patented I do not think I would want to use it.

ljones
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