Sunday, November 28, 2004
Google, Oracle, Sun Scramble To Aquire "Nuclear Patents"
Commerce One, a bankrupt software company, is selling off its assets. These assets include 39 patents, some of which include the protocols used for exchanging business documents over the web. Naturally, this has worried every major net business, since it is believed that some company could snatch up the patents (completely violating the purpose of patent law, which is to protect the creator, not the holder of a random document) and begin suing every business on the internet. So, to combat what the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Jason Shultz described as "nuclear material" that shouldn't fall into the wrong hands, some of the biggest net companies have banded together, including Google, Oracle, Sun, and more than a dozen others, into a nonprofit group called CommerceNet, who plan to buy the patents and summarilly trash them.
This really needs to stop. It's bad enough when companies file for patents they have no right to own. But that a company should be allowed to auction off patents to the highest bidder; patents to items that are clearly publicly available (internet protocols) and thus have no value in their own usage; patents which have usage in only one aspect: lawsuits; this has to stop. Why doesn't the governement have any controls over this kind of "patents as a form of rape" usage of a system it owns. Couldn't there simply be a law that states:
"Under no circumstances can a company sell a patent in and of itself. A patent is a property connected with a product, individual, or company, and may only be transferred not through the sale of itself, but through the sale of the attached product, individual, or company. A sale of a patent for pure monetary purposes shall deem that patent void, for all purposes, especially litigation."Currently, patent law states:
Under no circumstanes may this law be applied in a sane, rational manner honoring the spirit in which it was intended. Under no circumstances shall a company be called to task for being complete douches, for that is the way we were taught in law school. Neener neener neener.Seriously, that's the passage from the patent law. I swear. You can look it up.
But seriously, this should not be neccessary. I'm the first one to step up and ask the government to stop getting involved in our lives, but I'm also the first one to explain that the governement needs to step in and fix its own messes. You crapped on my floor? You mop it up. Don't force companies to buy the patents to avoid some kind of ridiculous blackmail scheme. It's like when someone figured out you could be the web addresses of popular brand names that had yet to do so themselves, and then wait for that company to show up and pat hundreds of thousands of dollars for the domain name. The government showed up there and made the practice illegal. Why isn't patent blackmail illegal, if all other forms of blackmail are? Why is it the only form of blackmail created, sanctioned and supported by the governement? See a problem here? I do.