[OT] Re: Geoworks and their patent

Len Bullard cbullard at hiwaay.net
Thu Jan 27 00:22:21 GMT 2000

My guess is the GeoWorks patent won't hold unless someone 
buys them who can afford to make a case of it.  Just a guess...

Tyler Baker wrote:

> I think that many large corporations (Unisys
> excluded) who have an interest in public opinion don't enforce their many patents nearly
> as much as some of the smaller companies who are in the "patent business", precisely
> because they fear being loathed by developers in the manner that Unisys has become
> universally loathed as a lame company by just about everyone I know in the technology
> business.

It was brought up at Unisys.  They laughed.  Universal loathing has not
eaten as 
deeply into their pockets as it may have their recruiting.  However,
they have 
profits which is more than most web companies can claim precisely
because Unisys  
now operates in a services economy and knows it.  Boris and Natasha are 
paid employees and being loathed is part of being Badenov.

Let's look at this another way.  Because webTech is still a give away
and because the operating systems business is now dominated on one end
an enormously popular commercial product and on the other end by a free 
one, there is close to zero money in developing core technologies
licensing.  The very thing so many from Barlow on down say they want
the very conditions they loathe. It's comical.  Without some way to
recoup the costs, 
services are all that is left, and in services, companies do not develop 
core technology:  they apply it and service its applications.  So it is 
buy or be fed by the kindness of strangers, capitalism or kindness, but 
choose because those are the choices.

> If software patents are to stay around, I feel that they should be limited to no more than
> 5 years (instead of 20 or more) and the company that applies for the patent must be
> obligated to make an effort at marketing their technology or product. 

So the solution is to have even more restrictive government
interference?  Software 
developers will be subject to special punitive legislation which
them from the MPEG hardware developers?  Sweet deal.  That will really
innovation under control of the companies that can afford it.

> Any ideas?

Sure.  If a technology is good enough, moneyed companies have to license
or challenge it.  If it is bogus, they will challenge it.  Remember,
need money and selling hotTech is how the top players get it.  The
danger is 
when the moneyed company buys the tech and the patents by buying the 
patent holder.  

The LZW patent was reviewed and it held.  

This was bad news for folks using it and not cricket of Unisys to wait
and do it after 
it was deployed, but that's business timing.  It is a legal patent.  GIF
is in the web browsers because the moneyed companies paid the license
MP3 is in RealPlayer because they paid the license fees.  Fair dinkum?

The openSoftware folks don't have to challenge bad patents.  Let the
guys with the 
bucks pay the lawyers and the licensing fees.  OTOH, I guess it is a
for openSoftware projects that cannot raise the capital to pay for the 
licenses because they can't develop for it; but they certainly can 
code to the API. Frankly, I think that patented component licenses are 
RedHat's problem.   Fair dinkum?

The secret is to realize just how tied together it all is now and 
how those knots get tighter daily.  Things have changed a lot in 
the last five years with regards to how much software companies 
have to negotiate to stay alive.  That pattern is repeating at 
every level of the global community as our interdependencies 



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