Avoiding Patents

The US patent system is a mess. There is little that we can do to prevent patent trolls from patenting portions of this design, even with the public disclosure of this wiki. Patents are even issued for ideas that are already patented. All the trolls need is a thesaurus, because patents are merely the claim of a text description of an idea, and patent examiners are usually reduced to comparing text strings without understanding what they represent. The decisions about patent validity usually get punted to the courts.

So the trick is to get infringement lawsuits (against server sky participants) thrown out of court as quickly as possible, and the easiest way to do that is to demonstrate the existence of huge amounts of prior art. That is what this wiki is for, folks - add your ideas, vague musings, calculations, drawings, and other server sky related stuff to this site as fast as you can type and draw. That makes it public, and prior art.

If you feel you are not especially creative, but you can understand some of these pages, you can help by printing out those pages, and signing and witnessing the printouts in the presence of a notary. Your bank or credit union probably has a notary that will stamp the pages and your signature very inexpensively. If dozens of you do this, then you can be among the dozens of witnesses that can testify (usually by deposition in a meeting room in your town) against a patent troll. That will make it hard for a troll to get very far in court.

And for those of you that are patent trolls, and who want to grab off a piece of this and hold the rest of us hostage, be warned: we CAN out-design you, and make your patents worthless. We can prevail against you in court. And even given the small chance that you get an injunction against the manufacture of pieces of server sky in your country, there are a lot of countries in the world. Do not be the reason that your neighbors won't have jobs working on server sky. We can destroy your reputation, and add your name to the villains of history. Instead, why not share in the fun, help reap the honest profits, and join our brave band of brothers (and sisters)?

Personal statement by Keith Lofstrom: I don't like patents, and avoid them when possible (though my name is on more than a dozen in many countries, and more are on the way). In particular, I don't like the way that they are claimed to help advance technology, when they actually bury companies in legal expenses, cause companies to hide what they are doing and ignore what others are doing, and generally tend to isolate people who could do a better job by collaborating. For the public, it means designs that vary unnecessarily, and interfaces that change with big leaps rather than with prudent small changes. This makes everything more complicated, spare parts non-interchangeable, etc.

Hence, I want to avoid patents on server sky, and I want to make life very hard for patent trolls who try to create roadblocks for it by patenting key technologies. I believe there will be plenty of profit from selling server-sky services and pleasing customers, and that prudent businesses will engage clever and creative people (like myself) to capture as much of that profit as they can, as soon as they can.

I am not putting some of my business and product/service ideas on this website. While most "business methods" are no longer patentable, they are the most important ways to maximize profit. I will share them with the businesses and individuals that pay me. As soon as the ideas are actually deployed, they will of course become public knowledge, and may be copied by others. But as eBay, Google, Amazon, and other "first to the market" companies demonstrate, first mover advantage is important.

I would encourage everyone that participates in server sky to also think about the business opportunities. There will be plenty for all of us. Keep in mind the actual individuals in the supply chain, from businesspeople and engineers, through manufacturing workers and salespeople, all the way to the end users of the services that server sky will provide. Provide value at any part of this long chain, and you will get value back.

Most importantly, keep in mind the not-yet-users. They are the pool of future customers that will fuel growth. Many of these people are now starving in remote parts of the world, and server sky may be their path to profitable involvement in the world economy. Participants that understand the value of server sky to the individuals involved (which is everyone on the planet) will be well compensated by the individuals and businesses that fund the development of server sky. Design for value!

AvoidingPatents (last edited 2009-03-18 06:58:19 by KeithLofstrom)