Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 30th Jun 2012 19:34 UTC
Legal Yesterday, we were treated to another preliminary injunction on a product due to patent trolling. Over the past few years, some companies have resorted to patent trolling instead of competing on merit, using frivolous and obvious software and design patents to block competitors - even though this obviously shouldn't be legal. The fact that this is, in fact, legal, is baffling, and up until a few months ago, a regular topic here on OSNews. At some point - I stopped reporting on the matter. The reason for this is simple: I realised that intellectual property law exists outside of regular democratic processes and is, in fact, wholly and utterly totalitarian. What's the point in reporting on something we can't change via legal means?
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Tony Swash
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Intellectual property is a good thing. Our current IP regime, however, is not. This isn't rocket science.

What is not clear is what you think the limits of the law on IP should be. The devil is in the detail. It's all very well saying current IP is broken or dysfunctional - OK - what should a working IP legal structure look like?

I get the impression that you don't like software patents at all, why? What in principal is different about owning the legal rights to a piece of code or software design compared to say owning the rights to a novel or a piece of music?

What about hardware patents? Are some OK but some not? In which case what are the dividing lines? Suppose someone sets up a company and makes shoes that look just like the latest Nike shoes and has a logo on them that looks very similar to a Nike logo and uses a product name similar to the Nike shoes? Should Nike have the opportunity to claim in court that their designs are being infringed? And if you can seek legal protection for the design of a pair of shoes why not for a phone or tablet?

It seems to me that product bans freak people out and Apple winning products bans really freak people out, including you Thom, and provoke generalised statements that sound plausible and principled but which obscure the fact that in the real world these issues are immensely complex and difficult. Generally the further away from the practical reality of a problem one is the easier it is to believe that there are simple solutions or that the issues are clear cut.

I personally think the current system of arguing the details out on a case by case basis through exhaustive legal actions in multiple courts in multiple jurisdictions is probably as a good a way to sort this sort of stuff out as one could find, tiresome though it is to watch. I think it is incumbent on those who say the current system is rotten to suggest what should be in it's place. How much of what sort of stuff should companies be allowed to copy and how and who should make the judgment of when thy have crossed the line?

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