On 27 Jun 2001, at 14:47, Simon Budig wrote:

> I just had contact to Mr. Soquat, a member of the staff from the
> german Ministry of Economics and Technology [1]. He is very interested
> in how patents are a problem for free software. He asked me about Gimp
> and Color Management and I had to tell him, that I don't know enough
> to give good answers - I pointed him to Raphs Colormanagement Page [2]
> though...
> At the opening of the Linuxtag there is a chance to present the
> problem to a higher representative of the Ministry (5. 7. 2001, about
> 13.15 - 13.55). It would be great if we could collect the relevant
> information and find a person who is willing to present this at that
> time (about 5 to 7 minutes...). 

The history of the enforcement of the Unisys patent on LZW(?) 
compression would be a nice example of how free software can be 
hindered in something as simple as the production of the predominant 
graphics format on the web. I realise it is not a good example of 
'obvious' things to be patented, but I am sure enough examples of 
that can be found. 

It is a good example though of the far reaching consequences patents 
can have for 'hobbyists'. The message (the current implementation of) 
American patent law seems to send is that if you are not willing to 
make money with your innovations, you are not allowed to innovate. 
That is a pretty scary message, because the two parts that it is made 
up of are not related.

Anyway, I digress.

You may want to ask the people at http://www.freepatents.org/. AFAIK, 
they're (related to) the ones that advised the Dutch government on 
patentibility of software. 


branko collin
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