[MUD-Dev] patents and muds

Cynbe ru Taren cynbe at muq.org
Thu Oct 14 14:49:20 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999


Bruce Mitchener wrote:

> Can this list help to serve as an archive of prior art?  Has anyone run into
> problems of this nature yet?

In the '80s, I participated in a legal fight to reverse a bogus
trademark.

The case was open-and-shut, the other side was conducted by a
semi-senile fool with the unpaid help of a lawyer friend with no
relevant expertise, they made about every legal mistake possible, we
did everything about as cheaply and well as possible...

... and it still took nearly a decade and over $20,000 to win.

Reversing a -patent- defended by a company with anything approximating
sane, paid legal advice would be -much- harder, no matter how clear
the prior art.

This whole area is dominated by case law made by and for mega-corporations
fighting their private duels:  Considerations of public interest and
such get -very- short shrift.

So the practical question is less, "Do we have prior art to show,"
than "Do we have people willing to spend hundreds of thousands of
dollars (doing things -very- cheaply) and years out of their lives to
contest this?"

Barring a friendly billionaire who thinks fighting bogus software
patents sounds like a neat sideline to get into, the answer is almost
certainly going to be, "No."

On the bright side, a lawsuit against an open source project for
patent infringement is going to be expensive to win and unprofitable
even when won: The target is legally diffuse and can easily legally
relocate to a country with sane patent laws.

My Muq server source is currently distributed only from the
Netherlands.  Seemed legally advisable. :)

 Cynbe



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