Patent Busting for Fun and Common Profit

25May07

I just read about a really nice little project undertaken by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It’s their Patent Busting project, and it undertakes to challenge bogus software and Internet patents, like Amazon’s patent on “one-click” Internet purchase systems. According to the article in Ars Technica the project is three years old, but is clearly under-publicized because I’ve never heard of it before.

And it’s a shame that I’ve never heard of it. The real solution to the patent problem is the reform of the patent laws, so the idea of going after bad patents one-by-one might seem like a waste of time and effort. But going after some of the more obviously stupid and obnoxious current patents, in as public and attention-grabbing a fashion as possible, can be an excellent way of putting this issue before the public eye and developing broader political support for reform. So kudos to the EFF for taking this on.

And maybe kudos to Novell, of all entities. The article (which I found through a link on LinuxOnline) is actually about the fact that Novell has publicly signed on to support the Patent Busting project. As the article mentions, this is probably motivated by Novell’s desire to get back into the good graces of the Linux community after their alliance with Sauron Microsoft. But that’s okay, so long as they actually come through with some real support. It’s sort of nice to know that flame-mails and trash-posts can actually, sometimes, bring about something positive, at least when the flame and trash has been applied to someone who has really done something to deserve them. Like Novell.

Note to self: Check back in three months and find out what Novell’s “support” really amounted to. Have kindling and garbage at hand …just in case.

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