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Tue Nov 20, 2012, 05:04 PM

Join Us In The Fight Against Patent Trolls

On this blog, we have written a number of times about patent trolls, the patent system and our efforts to change it. Rackspace is increasingly the target of lawsuits filed on behalf of these patent trolls; suits that aim to disrupt our business and extract a tax on innovation. Patent litigation is the fastest-growing part of our operational expenses at Rackspace — faster than salaries, faster than R&D, faster than datacenter energy costs.

Not one of these suits comes from a competitor. No one claims that we surreptitiously “copied” their technology. And in our opinion, not one of the so called “software patents” being used against us and other businesses that are actually developing software is valid or infringed. Instead, all of these suits are from patent trolls (non-practicing entities or “NPEs” in polite company) that acquired software patents later and are using those patents as weapons to hold up the companies that actual employ people and build value in our economy.

We’re fed up, and we’re doing something about it. We are absolutely going to promote legislation to solve this problem. We particularly like an idea that Dr. Richard Stallman wrote about recently in a Wired article, namely, that the effect of patents are changed, such that developing, distributing, or running a program on generally used computing hardware does not constitute patent infringement. While nothing short of eliminating software patents will satisfy us, we intend to work hard on anything practical that will move the law in the right direction. That leads us to something that we think could make a difference.

At Rackspace, we believe that an open cloud will create the best opportunities for developers and end users. We also know that most of the innovation around computer systems and software now happens in the open source community. We see that innovation every day in the communities in which we participate, such as OpenStack. The problem is that so much of that innovation is in code that is invisible to the patent office.

Recently, we posted a new job on online employment and freelance job site Elance – you can see the text and the link below (an Elance account and log in are required). The job is the first in what we hope is a series of jobs where freelancers document important technologies in OpenStack and in other communities. We plan to make documentation available to the patent office via the IP.com database. By fanatically documenting the solutions that are developed in the OpenStack community, we hope to keep these fundamental cloud computing technologies open and publicly available for everyone to use, including our competitors. We also hope this will help keep these technologies out of the claws of patent trolls.

We don’t know if this will work. It may take some time. But it is the right thing to do.


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Reply Join Us In The Fight Against Patent Trolls (Original post)
phantom power Nov 2012 OP
randomtagger Dec 2012 #1
phantom power Dec 2012 #2
mythology Dec 2012 #3

Response to phantom power (Original post)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 03:51 PM

1. ...


I actually think that Richard Stallman has given the Open Source community a bad name. He is extremely pushy and refuses to accept the existence of proprietary software of any kind. There is a place for patents and there is a place for unrestricted innovation.

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Response to randomtagger (Reply #1)

Tue Dec 11, 2012, 04:14 PM

2. Could be I suppose. What are some examples of good SW patents?

If there are some examples of good SW patents, is there an accompanying argument about why said SW technology wouldn't have happened if a patent framework didn't exist?

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Response to randomtagger (Reply #1)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 01:09 AM

3. I just heard an interview with Richard Stallman

and he comes across as a complete asshat. Although Stallman would get quite pissy with you for saying he's involved with the Open Source community. Apparently he feels it's quite different from the Free Software community. He also got snippy when the interviewer called Linux distros Linux because he wants it called GNU plus Linux. Apparently he's known for stopping interviews if the interviewers don't kowtow to his terminology.

He's way too binary in his thinking for my tastes.

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