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Old 04-08-2010, 06:01 PM   #1
wpmills
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Exclamation Cover-Flow Patent

Hi Kovid,

This article is of some interest and could very adversely affect Calibre.

I personally love using the cover-flow system and will be sad to see it go if, indeed, it has to.

http://www.engadget.com/2010/04/08/a...on-cover-flow/

Hope it's not too big an issue. You have made such an awesome product and it will be sad if corporate entities are able to limit you in your creativeness.
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Old 04-08-2010, 06:34 PM   #2
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Pretty much everything you can think of when it comes to software has been patented. IBM holds a patent for debugging that was filed in 2008...
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Old 04-08-2010, 07:37 PM   #3
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Pretty much everything you can think of when it comes to software has been patented. IBM holds a patent for debugging that was filed in 2008...
Your link goes to a patent application, not a patent. That application doesn't give IBM any right to prevent people from debugging. Further, they aren't asking for a patent on all types of debugging, just a very specific type of debugging. It's unlikely that they'll even get rights to the specific type of debugging they are claiming in that patent application. Most of the time they will have to narrow their claims significantly.

Finally, IBM is notoriously hesitant to assert their patents. They are primarily used defensively when another company asserts a patent against IBM. They can often settle by cross licensing. I'm not saying they never assert them, but that they do so less often than many other companies considering they are the largest patent holder.
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Old 04-08-2010, 08:08 PM   #4
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Your link goes to a patent application, not a patent. That application doesn't give IBM any right to prevent people from debugging.
Correct but the threat associated with "patent pending" can easily be used to pressure people away from using the implementation. Even when it will be rejected in the future.

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Finally, IBM is notoriously hesitant to assert their patents. They are primarily used defensively when another company asserts a patent against IBM. They can often settle by cross licensing. I'm not saying they never assert them, but that they do so less often than many other companies considering they are the largest patent holder.
They also break their patent pledge and threaten Open Source Projects with patent infringement if it might cause them to lose money.

The overall point I was trying to make with the example is software patents cover so much every day design and development that there is no way to develop software without violating a large number of patents. Microsoft even claims, "The Linux graphical user interfaces - essentially, the way design elements like menus and toolbars are set up - run afoul of another 65 [of their patents]."
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Old 04-09-2010, 12:34 AM   #5
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Old 04-09-2010, 10:02 AM   #6
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Correct but the threat associated with "patent pending" can easily be used to pressure people away from using the implementation. Even when it will be rejected in the future.
Anyone can ask the government to issue them a patent on anything. I'm not going to worry about it until it issues, and I'm particularly not going to worry about it if I don't do what they are trying to patent or I think they are trying to patent something that's old. In the latter case, they shouldn't get the patent, and if they do, it shouldn't survive litigation.

Quote:
They also break their patent pledge and threaten Open Source Projects with patent infringement if it might cause them to lose money.
Well, at least IBM has pledged not to assert against OSS, and while you may see it as a breach of their pledge, the article you link to seems to be pointed against a for-profit company. Yes, that company supplies services to an open source project, but that doesn't seem to me to be the same thing.

Quote:
The overall point I was trying to make with the example is software patents cover so much every day design and development that there is no way to develop software without violating a large number of patents.
I understood the point, but I can't tell if it's correct. Each time I read an article that says a patent has been granted on something that's well-known and has been around for a long time, I try to actually take a look at the patent referenced. Each time I've done that, I conclude that the article is basically incorrect. Sometimes they are talking about a patent application, not an issued patent. Sometimes they are talking about a very narrow patent. Sometimes it's just a design patent. There are hundreds of patents issued each year on various improvements to cars, but I don't see articles claiming that Ford or GM has just been issued a patent on "cars" implying that anyone who makes or uses a car will be an infringer.

Do you know of any software patents that you think Calibre infringes? Seriously. I'd be interested in looking at them. I certainly won't disagree that some awful patents have been issued on software, but some of the most notorious are either never asserted, or have been invalidated when attempts were made to assert them.

People can argue about whether patent laws should allow patents on software, but given that software patents are issued, I'd like try to develop an accurate picture of how much risk there really is.
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