[Foundation-l] Google Wave and Wikimedia projects

Tim Starling tstarling at wikimedia.org
Wed Jun 3 04:31:27 UTC 2009

Robert Rohde wrote:
> Assuming Google is intending to be "not evil" about this, I would
> guess the point of the intellectual property (e.g. patents and
> trademarks) is to prevent people from creating things that are called
> and/or identify themselves as Wave servers and yet don't conform to
> the communications protocol.  And there is a reasonable point there.
> Regardless of what features and services a server might offer, it is
> still important that the underlying communications protocol be
> something that all parties can make sense of, otherwise your network
> gets bogged down in gibberish.
> Anyway, that's the optimistic interpretation.

The optimistic interpretation is that it is what is called a
"defensive patent", and that they don't intend to enforce it at all.
The USPTO is notoriously bad at finding related work that doesn't come
up when they search their own patent database, so a defensive patent
can be useful to prevent similar patents being registered by
competitors. It may also be useful to strike down future patents in

Red Hat, for instance, have taken this approach:

Some people have suggested that Wikimedia should register some
defensive patents, although they probably didn't realise how much time
and money is involved in registering and maintaining the things.

-- Tim Starling

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