Software patents

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Discussion of general topics related to the new release and its place in the world. Don't discuss new features, report bugs, ask for support, et cetera. Don't use this to spam for other boards or attack those boards!
DragonlordP
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Software patents

Post by DragonlordP »

Excuse me if this has been discussed before.
The other day I saw a user's signature saying "will phpbb be illegal in europe?"
Could this actually happen?
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SolarFX
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Re: Software patents

Post by SolarFX »

This is interesting... however most people can get around it by getting a server out-side the US to host their sites... so it doesn't really stop many people.

I read a while back about the patent thing going on, but I don't recall if it actually went though... never followed it. I guess it did.

But the only way phpBB would be illegal in Europe is if someone patented bulletin boards, and this late in the stage, I think it's impossible.
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rivaldo
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Re: Software patents

Post by rivaldo »

SolarFX wrote: But the only way phpBB would be illegal in Europe is if someone patented bulletin boards, and this late in the stage, I think it's impossible.
Impossible because of something called "prior art".
Dunvallo
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Re: Software patents

Post by Dunvallo »

Hi,
I guess it was in my signature that you saw that statement. ;)

Since about two years a process is running in the EU to make software patentable. It is now in the final stage before becoming law, it has to be accepted by the European parliament. It may seem that patenting software is nothing very harmful. If someone wants to protect his intellectual property, what is the harm? The harm is indeed great and endangers all open source development in the EU. That’s why many open source websites in Europe protest against it.

The reason for this is that the rules of what can be patented are not strict enough. There are patented which have already been granted (and become valid with the passing of this law) on very generic things which are widely used since several years. To get an overview of the scope of the problem look at the following website. It shows that a normal webshop in Europe might become illegal, since it is violating 20 patents:
http://webshop.ffii.org/" target="_blank

So it is indeed possible that phpBB becomes illegal in Europe, if, for example, it's database operations or the idea to organize information in a forum violate some patent.

For more information I suggest the following websites:

http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/" target="_blank (more a general public introduction)
http://swpat.ffii.org/" target="_blank (more an information source for people already knowing about the problem)

@rivaldo: You are actually wrong, as the above example shows. Such patents have already been granted and will become effective as soon as the patentability of software has become law. That they have been granted earlier also shows, that a lot more such patents might be granted later on.

PS: I am not a lawyer, but as an example, the current Olympus skin might be violating a patent by using something like tabs to give access to FAQ, Search, Members and User Control Panel. But I am not very good at reading legal texts, so you should check out for yourself if this is a valid example:
http://l2.espacenet.com/espacenet/viewe ... =en&DB=EPD" target="_blank
BioALIEN
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Re: Software patents

Post by BioALIEN »

You seem to be forgetting one simple human (if i say so myself being the alien around here) factor. It costs a great deal of money to take legal action against the patents. And lets face it, i just broke some major patents right now doing this: :mrgreen:

What are they going to do about it? Take me to court, and when i get the patent invalidated because it is out of date (yes a patent has a short life-time) and is indeed a prior art!

These sites that over blow simple issues and try to make a big fuss (to gain popularity) over something stupid really impress me. Even if it has been discussed in EU by government/parliament. Its been enforced in the USA and it seems life is still moving along normal. Fact is, many laws get reviewed and discussed everyday this is just one of them. They really should be scratching their heads over how the hell something like this is totally legal: http://www.SaveToby.com" target="_blank :twisted:

p.s. im against patents dont get the wrong idea. But i do accept that ownership of an idea does need to be acknowledged in form.
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SamG
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Re: Software patents

Post by SamG »

I'm not a lawyer either, but given the way some software patents have been "abused" in the U.S., I'm not entirely sure European concerns are all FUD.
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Roberdin
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Re: Software patents

Post by Roberdin »

BioALIEN wrote: Fact is, many laws get reviewed and discussed everyday this is just one of them.
Once the EU has passed a law, it will take years to get it altered again.
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Super-Mario
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Re: Software patents

Post by Super-Mario »

But does phpBB (2.0 and 3.0) use patented ideas?
Dunvallo
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Re: Software patents

Post by Dunvallo »

Hi,
I'm quite tired right now, so I won't write alot now and I also guess it will not be good (at least the english...). ;)

@Super-Mario: It is quite possible that phpBB uses patented ideas. Since such simple things like tabs (you know, the things your webbrowser and the "display" property dialog of your windows version has) ARE patented, everything might be patented and will be soon if it is not now. To be clear: This patent about tabs is granted, so it will become active as soon as there is a legal foundation to it. And it can only be invalidated by someone filing a protest in a court and saying that tabs are standard in the computer world since windows 95.

@BioALIEN: As SamG already said, this is not just FUD. There are very intelligent people in Europe who are very concerned about this whole issue. The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (http://www.ffii.org/" target="_blank) has quite a name in the open source community in Europe and is coordinating the effords to stop this proposed law. Also the Chaos Computer Club (http://www.ccc.de/" target="_blank), hoster of the largest European hackers conference C3 (http://www.ccc.de/congress/2004/" target="_blank) has started some actions against software patents, the biggest german computer magazine C't and slashdot are broadly covering the issue and a lot of the linux folks are asking themselves if their OS will become illegal (which will at least make it impossible to use it in a cooporate environment)...

Check out the webstore example to see for yourself, if these GRANTED patents, which will become effective the minute the law becomes valid, are a danger to any open source applications.

Also note that it does not take legal action to do damage. The uncernity is enough. Do you think an open source developer with a job, a life and perhaps a family would continue his work if there was only the slightest danger that his spare time project might get him into jail? I think not. If think if you asked the phpBB developers, they would not be willing to risk going to jail just for the sake of a stupid bulletin board. No sane person would.

@all: I can not describe the whole problem very good. Check out the three links I've given in my first post. Take fiveteen minutes to read through the introduction to the problem and check out the webshop example. Then you can judge for yourself if this thing is something you need to care about or if it is all FUD.

PS: This is a direct link to a very short introduction why software patents destroy open source development. And these people know what they're talking about, since they are open source developers themselves:
http://swpat.ffii.org/log/intro/index.en.html" target="_blank
Magnotta
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Re: Software patents

Post by Magnotta »

BioALIEN wrote: They really should be scratching their heads over how the hell something like this is totally legal: http://www.SaveToby.com" target="_blank
Uhhh, I believe that is illegal, in many ways actually. Either way, it's probbaaly just a scam(uhhh, continuing illegal)....and if it isn't and he actually does kill/eat the bunny, then the next course of his action should be to make sure I do not get any info on where I can find him.
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