Patents and OpenMoko

Nick Guenther kousue at
Fri Feb 8 13:19:29 CET 2008

On Feb 8, 2008 4:46 AM, Sander van Grieken <sander at> wrote:
> > I think that we all agree here that the patent system is completely broken.
> >
> > By filling patent, even for defense only, you are playing the rule.
> >
> > What I've seen so far is that small companies that cannot afford a lawyer
> > department simply choose to ignore the rules and just ignore completely the
> > patent system. In the essence of the law, as long as you don't obviously
> > *stole* an idea, you 've nothing to fear. But the system has becomed crazy
> > when you can infringe a patent without even knowing it. That's completly
> > wrong with the moral behing patent itself !
> >
> > Have you already tried to fill a patent ? Have you tried to make a study on
> > prior art ?
> >
> > I did for a few weeks and I didn't succeed. All is patented ! All,
> > completely ! Patents are as general as possible and cover everything you
> > could believe. It's nearly patents for "things" that do "stuffs".
> >
> > So whatever you do, you could be sued.
> >
> > I don't know the ressources of OpenMoko but patenting, writing and
> > submitting is a full-time job ! It would be shame (IMHO) to waste ressources
> > in this way. More : you have to fill the patents in different countries !!!
> >
> >
> > As OpenMoko does Free software, doing this, even for defensive purpose, will
> > have a terrible PR impact in the Free Softwware community. You have the
> > opportunity to just move, to ignore those silly things and to build
> > something new.
> >
> > On the other hand, if you are under a patent attack without any patents, I
> > think that the Free Software Fundation gives legal help in that kind of
> > case.
> >
> > I really hope that OpenMoko will not be covered by any patents. (but I'm
> > sure that there's a patent for a device allowing wireless communication
> > somewhere)
> I totally agree with Lionel here. It will be bad PR wise and it's very difficult to
> enforce. Openmoko hardware and software are already covered by copyright, and I think a
> patent doesn't add any protection. Even if parts will be covered by a patent, chances
> are that some smart company can circumvent it by making small changes/improvements.
> Besides, what's there to patent? If I understand correctly, anything that's published
> (or available publicly) before the patent cannot be patented anymore, so that would
> include all openmoko software up to today, the CAD design for the casing, ideas on the
> wiki etc.

I normally don't like to add too much noise here, but I really
strongly must echo this sentiment. Why is a free software company
patenting anything? Isn't everything in Openmoko supposed to be
already open? Is there really any judge in the world who would believe
that anything you've done constitutes enough new work to be
patentable? Forgive my ignorance if that's what it is, but I was under
the impression that the sole purpose of OpenMoko was to build an open
phone, not to invent anything new (and in fact, to rely on old and
well known components for stability).


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