Bless John Carmack. He's a fantastic example for the games industry. Of
course, he doesn't develop free software, but once his technology is
reasonably old that there is no further commercial value, he kicks it into
GPL mode and breathes a whole new life into it. I can't really ask for more
Of course, he has a particular grudge against patents: he personally
invented the "Carmack's reverse" technique for doing dynamic shadows (a
genius technique, by the way -- if anybody is interested in computer
graphics, you should look it up), and then as he was preparing to ship Doom
3, Creative Labs informed him they had a patent on the same technology so
he couldn't release. Hence:
"*The idea that I can be presented with a problem, set out to logically
solve it with the tools at hand, and wind up with a program that could not
be legally used because someone else followed the same logical steps some
years ago and filed for a patent on it is horrifying.*"
On Wed, May 23, 2012 at 10:24 AM, Brian May
> My understanding, based on media coverage (so I might be wrong), is it
> is a bit more complicated then that. It seems that Ric Richardson
> tried to license his patent to Microsoft. Negotiations failed. Ric
> Richardson claims they used his ideas as presented to Microsoft in the
> negotiations after the negotiations failed. Microsoft claim that they
> implemented something different.
> *If* Ric Richardson's claims are true, its hard to defend Microsoft's
> actions even if you assume that the Patent system is broken.
I can try to defend them. Say someone calls you up and says "hey, I have
some great technology you guys might be interested in licensing." You call
them into a meeting (maybe that was a mistake) and then he tells you his
idea: it's basically simple, but he has a patent on it. You're already
working on a similar idea, so you tell him to get lost. Then he sues you
later for using technology which you both independently invented. I don't
know if this is what happened or not, but it's a possibility.
To put it another way, if the idea can be quickly conveyed in a meeting
with lawyers, then it *is an idea and not an invention* and should never
have been patented. Patents are awarded for inventions, not ideas --
something the system seems to have forgotten.
The very fact that it is illegal if someone can has an idea, and they "try
to license it to you, then you turn them down and then rip off their idea",
is what is wrong with the patent system. Ideas (even bad ones, like DRM)
should belong to humanity, and it shouldn't be anybody's right to license
it to you or refuse to, as they see fit.
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