[OT] Re: Geoworks and their patent

Vilya Harvey vilya at nag.co.uk
Mon Jan 24 14:32:04 GMT 2000

David Megginson wrote:
> In general, though, are there any recent examples of the big tech
> companies (i.e. Microsoft, IBM, Sun, etc.) trying to enforce a
> software patent?

The obvious example that springs to mind is Unisys and their patent on a
particular compression technique (was it LZW compression?). The patent
covered compressed GIF files, among other things, and was the cause of
much consternation for the global graphics community. Unisys have been
fairly active about enforcing the patent too, I believe.

An interesting point though, is the response that this generated: the
enforcement of the patent on GIF files led directly to the development of
the (superior) public domain PNG file format, which is slowly but surely
replacing GIF as one of the formats of choice for images on the web. I
think there's probably a lesson in that somewhere...

Vilya Harvey  <vilya at nag.co.uk>    Wilkinson House  Mob: +44  961 106 505
Computational Mathematics Group   Jordan Hill Road   Wk: +44 1865 511 245
NAG Limited                    Oxford  UK  OX2 8DR  Fax: +44 1865 311 205

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