Yahoo Facebook Patent Battle: Mobilizing Engineers

If Yahoo had any shred of credibility left with developers then it has succeeded in destroying that with its misguided patent lawsuit against Facebook.  But the suit isn’t all bad.  It has the potential to become a catalytic event for broader social awareness of the perils of software patents, similar to how the SOPA/PIPA battle moved copyright and its enforcement into more of a mainstream issue.  That was sort of the gist of Mark Cuban’s post.

The first group of people who should really start to get engaged are engineers. After all, they are the one’s whose work becomes — as Andy Baio put it — “weaponized" in the hands of corporations.  A first step here might be to change how patent assignment works.  Engineers at a startup could require that assignment is made only for defensive purposes instead of unconditionally. This would prevent the kind of fate that befalls so many of the patents when companies are either acquired, get into trouble or fail (and their patents are acquired by a non-practicing entity, better known as a troll).

As another approach (albeit one that might take more time to construct), companies could assign their patents to a pool that would be used for defensive purposes only.  RPX does something along those lines but seems to be geared at big corporations and in RPX’s case the patents are still available for offensive purposes as well (at least as far as I know).

Between mobilizing developers and approaches to peer producing research to invalidate patents, I believe it is possible to build enough outside pressure on the system to achieve some real change.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Posted: 14th March 2012Comments
Tags:  Facebook Yahoo software patents

Newer posts

Older posts

blog comments powered by Disqus

Newer posts

Older posts