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By Roy van Rijn
via redcode.nl
Published: Jul 08 2010 / 06:52

Just when I was about to open source the code for my Java Shazam clone (which I created earlier this year) an email from Landmark Digital Services LLC arrived... This taught me a lot on legal rights and software patents.
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User 85500 avatar

andrewm replied ago:

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it's a very nasty area, as anyone who has had a cease and desist letter can testify. when you are an individual up against a company, there is little chance as the system is so biased towards those who can weather the deep lawyer fees. this is the opposite of what the original patent system was intended for -- it was designed to protect the little guy's invention.

so, we are in a terrible situation with regards to software patents. many of them are completely obvious, or actually patents of things that existed before (which are technically invalid). even though a patent may be in the latter category, it will still cost lots to lawyer up and defend against this and apply for a reexamination.

and even for people/companies who want to do the right thing (i.e. not patent their inventions), they often have to file defensive patents or eventually lose the rights to their own inventions. this is the first to file versus first to invent dilemma. i have seen this in action.

although the above situation sounds insane and out of a crazy novel, sadly i am making none of this up.

User 291000 avatar

henrik.lundgren replied ago:

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Patents are alomost always evil, here is an old but interesting article about the case against intellectual property rights:
http://libertariannation.org/a/f31l1.html

User 85500 avatar

andrewm replied ago:

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software is in a very different category to patents on physical processes or machinery.

in the case of software, new works are built on literally thousands of other inventions. and the US patent office was very slow to build a database of prior art, allowing many so-called trivial patents to slip through.

further. prior art in a field as specialised as computer science is extraordinarily difficult. i've seen people supposedly "invent" stuff in one area of computer science, which has been well established as prior art in another area for over 10 years in another area. if comp sci specialists in a broad area can't find prior art that is extremely well established in another branch of the field, what hope do the patent examiners have?

User 189303 avatar

j0ke replied ago:

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the pattents exist only in US for example there are no software pattents in my country - Bulgaria, EU
SO ! there is no problem to release WHATEVER you want under OSS or even a blog post with no license at all they should not be able to do ANYTHING. if someone wants to use your code in US .. this is his problem not yours.

User 85500 avatar

andrewm replied ago:

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(take all my comments with a grain of salt, i am not a lawyer)

i believe that's true about the US versus rest of the world. i am under the belief that a patent can only infringe if it is a commercial usage etc. so, maybe a lawyer can help you draft wording for your site saying you cannot use the code in US or its protectorates. that should then be legal.

the fact they've cited EU patents and then not produced any documentation makes them look a bit stupid. also, why is it from the CTO rather than a lawyer. Probably to save costs.

User 724623 avatar

governor replied ago:

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I've forwarded the link to this article to my elected representative in the EU parliament. I suggest you do the same.

User 265881 avatar

Topnotch replied ago:

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Too late patent trolls!!! I've already printed out a copy!!! I'm now in possesion of a printed copy of the article!!!! LOL Seriously,the idea isn't worth much its the execution. The US Supreme Court is filled with corporate loving hogs so they failed to act to reform the broken software patent system in the US.

http://www.dzone.com/links/yes_software_can_be_patented_us_supremes_say.html

User 85500 avatar

andrewm replied ago:

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as an aside, the patent holder does not lose their rights if they don't apply the patent rights to something infringing. in this respect it is unlike a trademark.

so, the company is within its rights to be selective in applying it to your work and not others. however, the fact that they've applied it to your work probably means it was a bit too good an implementation to let pass. a weird compliment, however.

User 338269 avatar

Miloskov replied ago:

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Patents sucks big time!. Technology and Education can not advance with the idiot idea of patents.

User 149937 avatar

ntpruett replied ago:

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Upload article and code to bittorrent; create a "not_mr_van_rijn" or "landmark_digital_services_llc_sucks" account on github and post the code. Replace your blog post with text saying "I was forced to remove my 'Shazam in Java' post due to a C&D from Landmark Digital Services, LLC." Make 'Shazam in Java' a link to google for that term...

Email Mr. Darren P. Briggs, CTO that you have complied with his letter. If he finds the code elsewhere and complains again - oh well - once stuff is out there on the Internet you really can't control it... it's no longer on your site...

User 85500 avatar

andrewm replied ago:

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>Upload article and code to bittorrent; create a "not_mr_van_rijn" or...

talk to a lawyer before you do this. sending out the code this way will ensure it gets out there and can't be suppressed, but won't save mr van rijn from being sued.

User 415569 avatar

Daniel Ribeiro replied ago:

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Suggestion: the community can take the 468K (uncompressed) that makes up the page, and upload multiple times to google code, github, bitbucket, google sites, wordpress, torrent format, and so on. If every person who clicked on this link (currently 636) spread this 10 times, not only will this never die, as they will be unable to sue every single one. That is, assuming people don't use Tor (http://www.torproject.org/), making it untraceable. On the other hand, it may backfire even more against the author, if this goes public (they decide to make him the guinea pig of all this so called "patent infringement").

Either way, I saved a copy, and uploaded to a private cloud repos.

User 187417 avatar

sproketboy replied ago:

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Wow. Has anyone posted this @ slashdot or digg?

User 738039 avatar

www.google.com/profiles/104950233167105177992 replied ago:

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Give them a call and complain!

Contact info:
One American Center
3100 West End Avenue
Suite 300
Nashville, Tennessee 37203

T(615) 298-7300
F(615) 298-7295

sales@landmarkdigital.com
info@landmarkdigital.com

User 415569 avatar

Daniel Ribeiro replied ago:

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Alistair Cockburn (agile authority and creator of Crystal methodologies) comented about this on twitter ( http://twitter.com/TotherAlistair/status/18053308892 ): Simply putting Shazam code on a website wouldn't be patent infringement (AFAIK) because the patent itself does that and is public reading.

User 393686 avatar

RawThinkTank replied ago:

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Dont tell your idea to anyone , simultaneously release it on 10s of websites.

User 240010 avatar

Nikita Ivanov replied ago:

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Around $50K to $100K in legal fees to clear it up in court (CA rates & courts). And I would discards some of the "ideas" people posting here - don't do anything stupid and don't dig a deeper hole. Spend $2K to get a good legal consultation and then decide what to do. Unfortunately, it takes little money to file a suite and get a default judgement in case you don't respond. If you are to respond - you are in it for a long run usually.

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