The current U.S. patent system is something that just about everyone loves to hate, particularly if they have anything to do with software. Now, there is hope, as well as some trepidation, that significant reforms will take place. Hope, because there is a bill in Congress to take such action, and trepidation over whether Congress will get it right.
Announcing the answer before knowing and understanding the facts is an increasingly popular pastime. My, but it does get tedious living in a world filled with experts.
An article by Randall Stross in the Sunday Business Section of the New York Times today called Why Bill Gates Wants 3,000 Patents put me in mind of the classic John Lennon song, "Imagine", one verse of which reads as follows:
Imagine no possessions,
I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...
Unlike a world with no possessions, though, a world with no software patents isn't really that hard to imagine -- especially by those of us that can remember what it was like when there were no software patents, or those that live in Europe today, where software patents are not accepted, as reaffirmed by a recent vote by the European Parliament, despite a protracted effort by the software industry to drop this restriction.
In 1991, it was the PowerOpen Consortium, and the goal was to create open standards on top of a proprietary architecture. Now, in 2005, its Power.org, and the processor is the same (the IBM PowerPC), but this time the name of the game is "Open Hardware." Will the model take off like open source?
What is the historical analogue that's mostly likely to predict the future relationship between developers and end-users in open source? Will it be union and management (I hope not)? Amateur and pro athelete (Marc Fleury thinks so)? [more]
In the great, ancient saga known as the Epic of Gilgamesh, the gods send a powerful foe to vanquish the mighty Gilgamesh, but after a great battle, they become allies. Will the just-announced SEEMesh group vanquish the Wi-MESH Alliance, or may they yet join forces?
Standards wars have been around for a very long time, and with a real (if not an admirable) reason: if you can successfully set a de facto standard around your patented technology, you can make a lot of money. But when that happens, someone often loses -- big. Just ask Topsy or Hayden.
In our June interview with Tim Berners-Lee, he predicted that the initial "Killer App" for the Semantic Web (like the original Web) might be corporate use on intranets. Guess what kind of tool Fujitsu just announced?
For those of you who were reading the entries below and/or those posted by David Berlind at ZDnet on the intersection of open source and open standards, as reflected in the contretemps at Apache over WS-Security, here are a few follow on items to check out.
After much anticipation, the Report of the Working Group on Internet Governance has been delivered to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. The much-awaited report has attracted great attention, due to its potential to threaten the hegemony of US based ICANN, the keeper of the root directory to the Internet. But instead of making such a recommendation, the report offers...four alternatives to choose from.