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In 2004, Brandeis economist Adam Jaffe and Harvard Business School professor Josh Lerner published Innovation and its Discontents: How Our Broken Patent System is Endangering Innovation and Progress, and What to Do About It - a rare book on patents and written for generalists, not patent lawyers. "Broken" is strong language, but it gets attention.
A patent is a powerful thing: it's a legal monopoly on an invention for up to 20 years. In the past, patents were almost universally regarded as essential to the economy. By rewarding innovation, they created an incentive for inventors to invent more. Yet more than any other time in our history, the patent system now is under fire, and enormous change has been afoot to "fix" it.
Oracle Corporation of America just suffered a massive defeat at the hands of Google in its patent infringement lawsuit. A California jury decided that Google did NOT infringe on Oracle’s Java patents with its ubiquitous Android operating system. This decision has a significant impact on the future on the of Free Software.
In this week’s edition of TLWIR, I will take a look at the continuing twentieth anniversary celebration of our beloved GNU/Linux operating system. I will also look at Microsoft’s olive branch extended to the Linux community. In yet another surprising turn of events, the U.S. Department of Defense has released its own GNU/Linux distribution.
In TLWIR 51, I talked about how Coreboot might provide a solution to the confusion created by the Secure Boot fiasco. In the Linux Week in Review 52, I’ll talk about the need for a GNU/Linux reference system. In this “gold standard” system, all of the installed hardware would be known to work perfectly with the latest version of the Linux kernel.
MPEG LA is blatantly trying to claim a monopoly on online video. The patent system is failing for software, and initiatives to “fix” the system are not working. A clear exclusion of software ideas from patentability is the only workable solution. VP8 is an attempt to free the software industry and all software developers from this patent troll.
Tony Mobily published an article in Free Software Magazine discussing software installation, specifically end-user software installation, on Linux, which he calls broken. I agree that the system is flawed, but it is not broken. The most important thing is that we not reinvent everything around the fragmented models that OS X and Windows use.
What about Windows and OS X?