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Software Patents

Software Patents

Approaches for Minmizing Risks

To minimize the risk to developers and end users of patent litigation, we can take several approaches:

  • Support legislation and reforms of the patent system that reaffirm the non Patentability of Software in as many counties as possible.
  • Develop software that is modular so only parts that are needed in an end user product are included in it, minimizing exposure to features that may attrack aggressive patent attention.
  • Develop software so that features such that the interface allow the implementation to rewritten without a large impact on the rest of the program.
  • Avoid developing software that is has known patents associated with it.
  • Community deterant - if an aggressive patent entity happens to be provider of products to end users of the OpenSceneGraph then those customers could perhaps apply pressure for that entity to back off less damage its own business.
  • Maintain licensing that ensures their is no monetry value in the OpenSceneGraph software, this is already the case, and for a patent entity purely wanting to make money then their is no money in the pot to raid.

Even with these approaches we can't fully avoid the threat, the only way to do that would be have software made unpatable right round the world, or stop developing completely, and go get a job stacking shelves at a local market and never touch a computer again. Techniques like the above for minimizing the risks only likely to reduce the risk by a small amount, and the actually remidies can have a deterimental on the project in themsleve - such as not implementing useful functionality. The project is already suffering in this way :-|

The most effective remedy of all the above is to help get legislation through to stop the patentability of software, this does require us to down tools and invest time and energy into the effort, and learn about the legislation, legislative bodies and the parties involved and to engage with them, either through letter writing or even better face to face meetings. This may be very alien for us, but its an effort that is as anything else you may do in your computing career.

Known Software Patents that may directly overlap on OpenSceneGraph source code and usage.

  • None known at present.

Known Software Patents that may indirectly overlap (via 3rd party libraries) on OpenSceneGraph usage.

  • Forgent JPEG Patent
  • TrueType Patent

Main areas of activity with respect to software patent legislation world wide right now: