Saturday, 9 June 2012

Judge Alsup Hammers Final Nail Into Oracle V Google Suit

The Oracle V Google patent case ended with more of a bang than a whimper when Judge William Alsup ordered Oracle to pay Google's court costs for the third damages report on condition that Oracle agreed to pay Google's defense fees. As Oracle licks its wounds, the backlash against it in the tech blogs has begun.

I've been having a field day with this because it's proving effective as ammunition in my ongoing campaign for intellectual property rights (IPR) law reform. It's great; I can conveniently jerk my thumb at this case as an example of why it's impossible to base hopes for economic growth on the rents from a state-sponsored economy. It's too easy to abuse IPR and use lawsuits for your income stream instead of actual innovation. Therefore patents can't, in and of themselves, drive the economy or the innovation on which it depends. All patents actually do is either block or license innovation.

My targets

I've been taking virtual potshots at my MP and MEP, as well as other representatives and government figures, pointing out the absurdity of an economic model that only lawyers can benefit from, whether they win or lose. The proliferation of trade agreements, treaties, and laws that affect not just our sovereignty but our personal freedom, on and offline, is showing no sign of slowing down. Perhaps the people behind them think that we will tire of the game of whack-a-mole and stop opposing them. Considering what's at stake, we can't afford to.


I'm pleased to read reports of governments opting to turn to Open Source to avoid vendor lock-in because this validates my position on IPR. The trouble with these laws and treaties is the threat to Open Source, which I personally rely on as a tool of my trade. I use GIMP, InkScape, and Kompozer for web and graphic design and build websites on WordPress. IPR maximalism apologists love to tell me that "strong IPR protection" encourages innovation by forcing people to make new things. Actually, the over-broad wording of patents can have the opposite effect by limiting the innovating you can do without falling foul of someone's patent. You know, like Oracle V Google. I dread to think what damage could be done by evergreening if it ever made the leap from pharma to tech. They've already tried to claim license fees for APIs, i.e. the code that enables interoperability. Man, we dodged a bullet there!


When downloading copyright material is criminalised, I could go to prison for watching Eighties pop videos on YouTube. Of course I won't stop fighting: I can't afford to. Linking to copyright material can already get you deported. What about Google? They link to copyright material and that's all Richard O'Dwyer was doing.

So yeah, I'm very pleased about this and the encouraging news that another patent troll has been kicked to the kerb in the Apple V Google case. I hope the trend continues.

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