Analysis on balance: Standardisation and Patents

David Picón Álvarez eleuteri at
Tue Dec 2 19:18:03 UTC 2008

From: "Alex Hudson" <home at>
> It doesn't seem to make any argument why sub-licensing would be
> desirable and/or necessary for free software.

Interesting, for some reason I was under the impression that sublicencing 
was part of the essential legal machinery of free software, it turns out the 
GPL 3 for instance does not use sublicencing but conveying gives a licence 
from the upstream creator of the work.

> I think this is pretty weak. You don't patent things because they are
> "valuable", you patent them to make them valuable. That's the whole
> point of IPR as far as I can see.

Well, in theory the whole point of IPR is that those things which are not 
valuable (common knowledge, lacking a creative input (in copyrights) or an 
inventive step (patents) are in the public domain. Those things which cost 
money/labour to create/invent are privatized in the hope this incentivises 
people to invest that labour or money. If you can get the returns of that 
privatization without making the investment, that's a failure mode of the 
system, no?

> So they just don't do it ;) There are plenty of SMEs that are patent
> holders, and this is really just an argument to reduce the cost of
> obtaining a patent, which isn't really what we want.

Maybe worse is better is an acceptable strategy here. As in, maybe after 
things become so legally dangerous because thousands of SMEs have all kinds 
of patents, the big companies would think twice.


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