Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 14th Jul 2011 21:16 UTC
Legal I've been sitting on this item all day. Technically, it's about patents and the like, and even I understand I've been beating this dead horse so often it almost looks like it's alive. However, this is an interesting opinion piece by Craig Hockenberry, long-time employee at The Iconfactory, one of my favourite software development houses - these guys breath software and beautiful design, and employ one of my favourite artists, David Lanham. The gist of his story? Software patents are killing the independent developer scene.
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Ummm ...
by WorknMan on Thu 14th Jul 2011 21:57 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

The sad thing is that the only ones who can change this are the ones who have no interest in changing this at all. Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, and so on, all have a vested interest in keeping the patent system as it is - the only changes they are lobbying for are changes to make it harder for smaller entities to use the patent system. While this may stop lawsuits going from patent trolls to the larger companies - it will also turn the patent system into even more of a stomping ground for these same large companies than it already is.


Ummm, isn't this a case of a lawsuit going from a patent troll to a smaller company? Iconfactory is currently getting its ass handed to it by a patent troll, and this guy is blaming the larger companies who are trying to make it harder for patent trolls to abuse the system. So, what am I missing here?

Furthermore, how many cases have we seen of larger companies filing patent lawsuits against small, independent developers? I'd assume that a lot of bad PR would go along with that, and bad PR is like kryptonite to these corporations. I'd also assume these large companies would be happier going after other large companies, where surely more money could be had. Why would they give two shits about some Joe working on a small app out of his bedroom?

Edited 2011-07-14 22:00 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: Ummm ...
by Thom_Holwerda on Thu 14th Jul 2011 22:01 in reply to "Ummm ..."
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

So, what am I missing here?


The fact that this wasn't a reference to Lodsys? ;)

Furthermore, how many cases have we seen of larger companies filing patent lawsuits against small, independent developers?


It's the threat that counts. To take this way over the top - terrorism is not about killing people or making casualties. It's about scaring the crap out of your enemy.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Ummm ...
by WorknMan on Thu 14th Jul 2011 22:14 in reply to "RE: Ummm ..."
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

The fact that this wasn't a reference to Lodsys?


Ok, so again... where are the examples of these 'little guys' getting picked on by these large companies?

It's the threat that counts. To take this way over the top - terrorism is not about killing people or making casualties. It's about scaring the crap out of your enemy.


And I think that threat is a bit misguided. When it comes to terrorism (since you made the analogy), these large companies are like major metropolitan areas, while the small indie developers are like the folks who live in the back woods of Jerkwater, USA. If you're looking for the biggest target to hit, where are you going to aim? Plus, a lot of these companies (like Apple, MS, Google, etc.) have ecosystems that require the work of developers to survive, so are you gonna start suing the very people you need on your side to help run your business?

Only thing I'm saying is that when it comes to software patents, larger companies have a lot more to worry about than smaller ones do. The guy says that large companies have no interest in changing the system, but perhaps they will call a truce when they finally get tired of being sued by each other.

Edited 2011-07-14 22:17 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Ummm ...
by Lennie on Fri 15th Jul 2011 11:44 in reply to "RE: Ummm ..."
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

"terrorism is not about killing people or making casualties. It's about scaring the crap out of your enemy."

Just today I read an article which was trying to make the point that the IRA made a lot more progress by not making casualties, but hitting financial centers like in London.

While fear might sound like a good idea to a potential terrorist, it turns out it isn't the way to get to your goal.

Anyway... waaaay off topic

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: Ummm ...
by JAlexoid on Fri 15th Jul 2011 00:39 in reply to "Ummm ..."
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Furthermore, how many cases have we seen of larger companies filing patent lawsuits against small, independent developers? I'd assume that a lot of bad PR would go along with that, and bad PR is like kryptonite to these corporations. I'd also assume these large companies would be happier going after other large companies, where surely more money could be had. Why would they give two shits about some Joe working on a small app out of his bedroom?


There aren't any. None of the small companies can defend against someone like Microsoft, IBM or Oracle, so they just fold to their demands. The changes in the law would be there only to serve in a case similar to MS vs i4i on the side of MS.

Lodsys has demonstrated that trolls will target smaller companies without hesitation.
And another point, is that there are many, many more cases where patent trolls have got licensees quietly and you will never hear of it... ever.

Reply Parent Score: 8

RE: Ummm ...
by TechGeek on Fri 15th Jul 2011 02:33 in reply to "Ummm ..."
TechGeek Member since:
2006-01-14

Ummm, isn't this a case of a lawsuit going from a patent troll to a smaller company? Iconfactory is currently getting its ass handed to it by a patent troll, and this guy is blaming the larger companies who are trying to make it harder for patent trolls to abuse the system. So, what am I missing here?


What are you missing? Well for one its the larger companies who pleaded (probably greased with campaign money) to get software patents allowed. Microsoft makes a good show of standing up for patent reform when its in their favor. Notice how they argued that these patents are being used to hold their company hostage by the likes of i4i to the US Supreme Court. Yet at the EXACT same time, Microsoft lawyers were filing a law suit against Barnes and Noble over the use of Android in the Nook. Android, which Microsoft claims violates their oh-so-innovative software patents, is being raped by its main competitor.

Microsoft isn't interested in changing the system. They just want to control it so it only hurts their rivals.

Edited 2011-07-15 02:36 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 6

RE[2]: Ummm ...
by MacTO on Fri 15th Jul 2011 02:53 in reply to "RE: Ummm ..."
MacTO Member since:
2006-09-21

I don't know if Microsoft is in favor of a patent system that they control. But let's assume that they weren't for a moment. I know, that's a big assumption.

Microsoft knows as well as anyone else that the nice guy just doesn't win in business. They know that because they were the bully and they were the winner. Now that they are being threatened with patents, do you really expect them to lay down on the ground and wait the be run down on a matter of principle? Hell no. They know the bully makes the rules (after all, they were the bully) and if you want to get anywhere you have to play their game. And if that means patent protection rackets then that means patent protection rackets.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Ummm ...
by spinnekopje on Fri 15th Jul 2011 06:48 in reply to "Ummm ..."
spinnekopje Member since:
2008-11-29

Furthermore, how many cases have we seen of larger companies filing patent lawsuits against small, independent developers?


The big companies can just follow those small ones and from the moment they write a very good piece of software they can offer them a little bit of money for it, but obviously not enough. If they don't agree, just threaten them with a lawsuit..

How many little companies will refuse even if they know it is not enough? a lawsuit will kill them anyway.

Reply Parent Score: 2