Alessandro Rubini rubini at
Fri May 11 12:23:21 UTC 2001

Anybody heard of

Since patents are great threat to Free Software (and software
development in general), I'd like to have some constructive discussion
about the problem (and especially about the priorart initiative) in
this forum.

I don't expect this to become *the* forum about patent issues (there's
already patents at, with very smart people in), but I
think the topic is important enough to brainstorm about possible
actions in the FSFE realm.

My first impression when I heard about it has been disgust,
exacerbated by the fact that the initiative is welcome to some known
free software personalities. I'm glad someone else confirmed my
in-expressed points.

Mainly, I think the pro-swpat institutions are playing friends to
better fool us. This "priorart" initiative can't help in busting bad
patents; on the other hand it would help (if it has any effect, that I
doubt) the patent offices and litigation companies.

One problem is that patents are mostly granted on so-vague claims that
I don't see any way a repository of inventions can stop someone from
filing bad patents (and someone else from granting them).

Also, current-art is increasing at an astonishing pace (if you include
anything that is patentable under US-and-proposed-European law), it's
definitely impossible to collect any meaningful amount of that. And
why should I help them in making the system better? If they succeed
they'll find it easier to export the US system here, and I am soon out
of the market.

The final problem, in my opinion, is that publishing a real invention
may well suggest malign people the filing of an obvious related paten.
It has been demonstrated (in patents@) that patent offices consider
"non-obvious" everything that is just "new".

Any thoughts, flames, suggestions?

Quello che scrivo rappresenta solo il mio personale punto di vista,
non rispecchia l'opinione di organizzazioni di cui faccio o ho fatto parte.

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