Tuesday, August 23, 2005

MUELLER WARNS AGAINST ANTI-IP RADICALISM: Recently, open-source companies using the Linux brand name (which belongs to Linux creator Linus Torvalds) have been approached by Linux lawyers seeking licensing fees. Accordingly, some of the more vocal members of the open-source community have been screaming "Judas!" at Linux, apparently being unable to distinguish how one could simultaneously oppose software patents and enforce trademarks at the same time.

Apparently, the outcry was significant enough that Florian Mueller had to step in and warn the more radical elements that "all parts of the open-source community should steer clear of an anti-IP positioning, or else a vocal and radical minority will be responsible for unfavorable legislation and a reluctance by center-right governments to adopt open-source software".

"It's lawless and pointless to indiscriminately oppose intellectual property rights. They're the foundation of the digital economy. We just have to ensure that they serve their real purpose of protecting innovators, and that's what software patents unfortunately don't do in 999 out of 1,000 cases. Software patents are a power play that benefits anti-competitive forces and productless extortioners, but copyright and trademarks generally reward those who create and market real products."

Well, at least Mr. Mueller has some sense of the ridiculous, but it's always interesting to me how the "real purpose of protecting innovators" is never applied to software patents, especially when one is operating in an environment where patent protection is shunned as a matter of course.

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