Patents

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
bitcoin, blockchain, non-aggression, patents

Companies:
blockstream



Good To See: Blockstream Promises Not To Abuse Patents

from the more-companies-should-do-this dept

Over the years, we've discussed various examples of tech companies taking a stand against patent abuse. That is, in lieu of actual patent reform to fix a broken system, some companies are doing things on their own (we even had a podcast discussing a bunch of examples). One of my personal favorites was Twitter's Innovator's Patent Agreement which effectively lets the named inventors on the patent issue their own licenses to undermine trolls should the patents ever fall into trollish hands. Think of it as something of a poison pill to make the patents worth a lot less to pure trolls. One of the tricks though has been convincing smaller startups to take some of these steps -- even the license on transfer network, which is sort of a no brainer for startups. So it's good to see, as pointed out by EFF, that Blockstream, a fascinating company in the blockchain space that employs a ton of super smart people, take a big commitment to be a good player in the patent realm..

As detailed by the EFF, Blockstream's plan has three components -- all of which are good:
  • It adopted a patent pledge promising that it will only use its own software patents defensively — that is, it won’t use them to sue or demand licensing fees others for using similar technologies, but it may use them to defend itself from the patent lawsuits of others.
  • It shared its patents under the Defensive Patent License (DPL), licensing its patents to any other person or company who agrees to the terms of the DPL.
  • It introduced a modified version of the Innovator’s Patent Agreement, an agreement with Blockstream inventors that it may file patents for their inventions but may not use them offensively (if Blockstream ever assigns a patent to another party, the agreement would apply to that party too).
  • Hopefully as we see companies like Blockstream commit to these kinds of things, it will inspire more startups to do similar things.

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    • identicon
      Daydream, 1 Aug 2016 @ 9:10pm

      This is another one of those things that shouldn't be news...

      Like 'court suppresses illegally obtained evidence' or 'big company supports fan production'.

      What sort of society do we live in that a company agreeing to not do unethical things for financial gain is noteworthy?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      JNG, 1 Aug 2016 @ 10:18pm

      That's hilarious.

      Your realize Mikey, that Blockstream not only has no patents, it doesn't even have any published pending patent applications? Their promise is about as meaningful as a women with no ovaries "promsing" not to get pregnant. You folks are such predictable stooges for anything anti-IP and will lap up any pablum that's flavored the right way.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Ninja (profile), 2 Aug 2016 @ 4:51am

        Re:

        And you IP morons are very different, right? Never released any biased, factless studies or data, never paid people to parrot your debunked points... Saints you people are, SAINTS.

        As for the fact that it seemingly doesn't have patents, at some point Google didn't have either. You can't predict how things will be in the future and a pledge now may be of great help to everybody. So shut up and go back to your cave.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2016 @ 6:36am

          Re: Re:

          Ninja made an interesting comment regarding Google.

          As it turns out, Google filed its first patent application three years after it was incorporated, so his statement that "at some point Google didn't have [any patents] either" is correct.

          As of today, 18 years after it was incorporated and 13 years after its first patent issued, Google has more than 12,000 issued U.S. patents with hundreds more pending.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2016 @ 6:37am

        Re:

        "promising that it will only use its own software patents defensively"

        This sounds familiar, hmmmmm
        What was the name of that patent collecting organization that promised to only use their patents for defensive puposes?

        Perhaps Nathan Myhrvold could help us remember .... oh yeah - it's Intellectual Ventures! Remember them? What are they doing now with all those patents?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2016 @ 2:07am

      All these pledges are fine, until a Larry Ellison like person gains control of the company and see an opportunity to attack their competitors.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 2 Aug 2016 @ 10:08am

        Re:

        The point of the pledges is to protect against something like that, making it much more difficult to use the patents offensively.

        If they've got it down in writing that they won't sue over their patents, and somewhere down the line they do, then the target would have at the least a decent defense pointing to the original pledge and claiming that they only used the patents because they were told they wouldn't be sued.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 3 Aug 2016 @ 6:29pm

          Re: Re:

          If a company is bought out, the only thing that matters is existing contracts. I'm not sure there are many judges who would consider a "pledge" as having any real weight.

          And if the pledge does get in the way, it wouldn't stop the company from selling the patents to someone else who aren't bound by any pledge.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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