Patent trolls are a disease and they’re spreading into open source. I hope we can send a strong message from the community in support of Gnome. If the patent trolls win this case - they will come for more projects and they may not have the resources or reach to battle this non-sense. Winning this case will set precedent for future lawsuits. Please consider supporting them if you’re able.
I think resources need to go into getting rid of software patents. Utterly crazy.
Image if someone, for example, was able to patent the idea of cleaning sidewalks in general. We know you can use different methods to clean a sidewalk. Brooms, leaf blower, pressure washer, etc.
The same is true for software. Different methods to accomplish the same result. That is how we now have IBM Compatible computers: using different methods to get the same result.
I can’t say that I am 100% against the idea of software patents and intellectual property around them. The problem as I see it is the fact that they can be filed on ludicrously generic, non-specific ideas and also when prior art exists. Couple that with obvious bias in certain legal districts which are friendly to patent trolls and it leads to a broken system.
Patent trolls by my definition are companies that file or otherwise obtain patents for the sole purpose of pursing infringement lawsuits and hoping the defendants will simply settle rather than pay the outrageous legal fees. These companies have no intention of every bringing a product to market and only serve to stifle innovation.
It seems to me that if you fix any one of those issues the others become irrelevant and the whole extortion process falls apart. How these district courts are able to get away with these rulings is beyond me. How the patent office allows for such shoddy patents to be filed in the first place also baffles me. It seems like a system built to reward the bad actors rather than protect legitimate intellectual property.
I think the best outcome of this would be that the patent is found to be unenforceable and therefore useless. A counter suit for damages would be icing on the cake.
If there was no software patents, none of this would exist. However, I can see some software patents useful on very specific things.
An example would be a sorting algorithm. You can clearly define how that functions in ways no other types may exist.
These generic ones like Apple has been filing are lately just a bunch of BS. Like the ones for “tapping” or “swiping.” Those are natural human movements.
It would best to hit Congress up on things like this, but it seems they have more “important” things to do right now than to improve the country. I don’t see anything on this going anywhere until at least 2021.
Apparently they’ve settled the case and the patent-holding company has agreed to allow GNOME and other OSS projects use their patents without fear of being sued.
Although I personally would have preferred that the patents in question had been invalidated (because from a layman developer they seemed like BS), this is probably the best outcome we could have hoped for.