Thursday, 4 March 2010

Law Theatre and Patent Suits

From Groklaw on Apple vs Psystar:

[I]f freedom matters to you, don't sell out the goal of a completely free operating system, without any proprietary blobs at all. There is a purpose to that goal, because proprietary blobs mean restrictions on use. That is a given. There are other negatives, but that one is the one this case highlights. So work for drivers that are not proprietary. Stay away from code that you believe has potential patent infringement claims. Why? Because a short-term seeming advantage can block the end result you want. It will provide a Brand X solution that takes you on a detour away from your goal.
I'm not so concerned about that - Psystar lost. But the message PJ is pointing out is that combining free with non-free is bad in the long term. Another place where this is tempting is with embedded software - vendors are happy to base phones in free software, like Android, but will bury it under proprietary software. So we look at free software based devices with some suspicion.

Fresh from their Psystar kill, Apple is targeting HTC, manufacturer of phones of various parentage but specifically mentioning the Android OS by name. It is another patent case, primarily. Apple-patented multitouch is in the list of patents in question, and we know that android phones are multitouch-capable: there is even software to enable it.

Other than this, most of the patents cover basic software methods. The community is busy finding prior art.

There is a lot of speculation flying around right now about what all this means. Could this be the next SCO? What is certain is that US Patent Law is about to provide another round of spectator sport.

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