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Newsgroups: comp.risks
X-issue: 10.21
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 90 12:39:52 EDT
Subject: Re: Freedom to write programs

>For example, Unisys claims a patent covers compress, which may soon be a
>required part of a national standard (POSIX user portability extensions).

As an aside, it should be noted that inclusion of patented technology in
national standards is nothing new, when it is considered the best approach
and when the patent holder is willing to promise reasonable licensing.
(The inclusion of compress in POSIX is, last I heard, conditional on such
a promise from Unisys.) 

A good example of this is Ethernet, overwhelmingly the standard medium-
performance LAN, which is a national standard despite being covered by Xerox
patents.  Almost nobody realizes that Ethernet is patented and that your
Ethernet equipment supplier is paying royalties to Xerox.  This is a good
example of managing patents properly: the inventors profit and the public
interest is nevertheless well served.  Unfortunately, it's not always that way.

                           Henry Spencer at U of Toronto Zoology  utzoo!henry

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