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Re: [hylafax-users] Problem on the Patent Front

On Thursday 11 August 2005 06:50, Bill Binko wrote:
> As I mentioned in my last (more important) post, there was a reason I
> thought of Hylafax tonight.
> I think everyone involved in hylafax development should read this post on
> Groklaw tonight:
> http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=2005080914234645
> Basically, J2 Communications (the eFax people) are suing a bunch of
> competitors using a patent on "Fax over Email" and several related topics.
> The competitors use Open Source software (including Hylafax it seems) and
> I think this may be a real risk.
> The article is important enough that at least the core developers should
> really look at it and see a) if they need to be concerned and b) if there
> is prior art that they can provide.
> As I mentioned, Hylafax has worked wonders for our business, and I would
> be happy to help defend it against this threat.  If there is anything I
> can do, please ask.

Software patents are null and void in many jurisdictions -- and not without 
good reason.  I am proud to live in just such a place.

A patent can be struck down if there is prior art, or if the technique it 
claims would be obvious to an expert in the field.  I would guess that the 
obviety clause would apply in this case  {e-mail is just a way of getting 
data from one computer to another}.  It is also possible that the patent may 
not even cover what the competitors are doing -- there may well not even be a 
case to answer.  A patent is meant to cover one specific means of reaching a 
given end, not the end in itself.

If there is an offence under US law of maliciously initiating a lawsuit -- 
surely such dangerous weapons should be subject to some controls? -- then it 
might well be worth counter-prosecuting.

Once upon a time the American dream was to make money by having an idea that 
nobody else had thought of before.  Nowadays, it seems that the new American 
dream is to find a way to charge everyone else money for something they 
already do very often.

Best of luck anyway.


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