[Mono-list] something general about software patents

Gerald Henriksen ghenriks@rogers.com
Thu, 14 Mar 2002 14:00:16 -0500

On Thu, 14 Mar 2002 10:10:01 -0000, you wrote:

>I've argued for a while now that Open Source projects should simply "relocate"
>outside the USA to places like Europe.
>In most cases the idea of the project having a geographic location is a fiction,
>but if a project is declared to be European, then surely the burden would be
>upon any suing party to prove that an offending piece of code was written under
>US juristiction... I have little to no legal experience, so this is simply based
>upon naive common sense (which is often wrong).

The US has a habit of ignoring jurisdictional matters (witness the CSS
case (Norway), Sklyarov (Russia), and supposedly soon the murder of
Daniel Pearl (Pakistan)).

Also note that pressure from the US and Europe is forcing countries
like the Cayman Islands to change their banking privacy laws to suit
what the US/Europe wants.  Pressure from US/Japan/multinational
companies appears to be bringing software patents to Europe (given
enough time).

>The fringe benefit that might occur if enough OS projects decalred themselves
>to be within the EU is twofold, to send a message to the US authorities that
>there may be consequence to their satnce on software copyright, and secondly
>to perhaps encourage EU (I don't know about Asian) authorities that their 
>caution over software copyright might be worthwhile.

How much longer is that caution going to last?  I seem to keep reading
how software patents are getting to be closer and closer to being
implemented in Europe.

>What amazes me is the US continues to batter software projects outside of large
>corporations, and said projects continue to identify themselves with the US 
>(even if such identification is subtle rather than eplicit it's there, almost 
>by default).

Simply a fact that many of the projects are started by people in the
US.  I doubt any court would give any credibility to the fact that a
project was European if all the people working on the project were in
the US, or even if the people in charge of the project were in the US.
So the projects are American.

Now of course if you live in Europe that would be another matter.

>Set up the "mono server(s)" in an EU state, and issue a declaration that Mono
>is an EU project... if nothing else it'll get press.
>By way of novel, but interesting wackiness... one might consider the new(ish)
>colocation facility sat on a fat pipe set up in the Principality of Sealand,
>off the coast of the UK, which as it happens, has no patent or copyright law
>(exlicitly)... I'm sure a deal could be sorted with them in return for the 
>press *shrug* regard that as a thought thrown out there.

If Sealand ever became a nuisance it would simply disappear into the
sea one night.

What it comes down to it this.  Software patents are a problem, but a
problem that for the most part you need to ignore if you are writing
programs.  If you were to research for any possible patents before
writing a piece of code you would never complete your program and/or
need a team of people just doing the research.

The good news of course is that as open source projects become more
important to big companies like Intel, HP, IBM, Sun, Apple, etc then
you start to get protected by their patent portfolios.  After all, I
am sure like any software company that deals in the current mess that
software patents are MS has likely violated several.