Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 4th Jul 2014 12:57 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

A Sailfish developer (third party, so not affiliated with Jolla) has developed a swipe keyboard for Jolla. It's essentially done and ready to go, but he was too afraid to release it. The reason?

I'd like to release this as an open source project, but at the moment I'm not comfortable with the patent issue (I'm interested in any advice on this topic). I live in a country outside the US (and without software patents), so should I just find a code hosting service with no relation with the US?

Fellow Sailfish developers and users chimed in, arguing he should be fine with releasing it as open source and hosting it outside of the US, with a warning that it should not be used in the US. He has accepted this advice, and is currently working on releasing it. While this is great news for Sailfish users, this does highlight the destructive nature of software patents.

Since he's going to release the code as open source, we can be 100% sure that none of the code in there is stolen from Swype and that none of it violates the open source license governing possible other swipe-like functionality (e.g. Google's Android keyboard). Ergo, he has developed this on his own, and has produced his own code, or used code that is freely available. It's a fruit of his labour, possibly infused with code that was meant to be used in a sharing manner.

And yet, despite the above, it's very likely that yes, he is violating a bunch of patents by producing this keyboard, and is, potentially, running a risk. I'm not so sure the legal advice given in the thread holds up - I'm not a lawyer, and neither are (I'm assuming) the people in the thread - but I'm at least happy he is willing to run the risk for us.

Now, I ask you: is this fair? Is this the future that we want for developers and programmers? Is this the message that the United States government, its technology companies, and said companies' public advocates want to send to aspiring hobby developers the world over? Should Europe, India, China, and the rest of the world just accept this?

I'm sure the proponents of software patents will wave this away to solve their state of cognitive dissonance, but I'm honestly and seriously worried about the developers who have not released, are not releasing, or will not release their code because of the bribes changing hands from Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Google, and the rest to Washington legislators.

Patents are supposed to spur innovation, not hinder it.

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RE[3]: ...
by tupp on Sat 5th Jul 2014 07:39 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: ..."
Member since:

But where is the innovation here?

The innovation is definitely not with Swype, as here are three examples of decidedly prior art:

Message Ease is the first example and probably the fastest, but it's keyboard was designed for such a process (unlike a qwerty keyboard).

Evidently, the idea is obvious enough that quite a few folks appear to have had the same idea independently (as it often occurs with software implementations).

Even if this developer did "copy" Swype, Swype has no legitimate claim to the idea, in view of the prior art.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: ...
by Hiev on Sat 5th Jul 2014 15:13 in reply to "RE[3]: ..."
Hiev Member since:

Of course, like I said, the lenguaje had changed from "Changing the code is innovaating" to "Swipe is not even innovation", Is good that you have your opinión, but we disagree.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[5]: ...
by tupp on Sat 5th Jul 2014 18:56 in reply to "RE[4]: ..."
tupp Member since:

Of course, like I said, the lenguaje had changed from "Changing the code is innovaating" to "Swipe is not even innovation",

Not sure where you said that nor what it has to do with the point of my post.

Is good that you have your opinión, but we disagree.

It's not an opinion that prior art appeared long before Swype's implementation -- that is a fact proven by the linked videos.

Thus, Swype cannot legitimately be considered the original inventor of the software idea in question. That conclusion is basic logic, not opinion. By simply extending that logic, it is clear that the developer in question should not be bound by any license responsibility to Swype (regardless of whether or not he was inspired by Swype or other prior art).

In regards to whether or not the idea is obvious, that matter is much more subjective. However, with a bunch of folks independently coming up with the same/similar idea, it certainly seems to reduce the idea's novelty.

A lot of people do not understand innovation and make rash judgments about it. Those with direct experience in a field generally have the most valid opinions. Most here have little experience with actual creativity/inventing, hence, we get naive arguments such as "ideas are not patentable," and misguided notions such as "X 'copied' the idea from Y, so X owes Y, even though Z invented the idea long before Y."

Such misjudgment is especially prevalent with Apple fanboys who always have to be pro-IP, as their beloved company constantly attacks others based on Apple's weak/obvious patent claims.

Reply Parent Score: 2