[OSM-dev] Drawing ways with beziercurves rather than linesegments

Dave osm at randomjunk.co.uk
Thu Jan 25 16:34:03 GMT 2007

Robert Hart wrote:
>> I think my point is I'd rather nobody on the list knew anything about
> any > patents that might or might not be related to something we're
> doing.
>> Mostly this is because:
>> a) Half the time we don't know what the patent is actually for
>> b) We have no real way of assessing whether or not we're infringing
>> c) We have no sensible way of determining whether, if we are
> infringing, 
>> the patent stands a chance of being valid
> Patents don't work like that. You are infringing the patent whether you
> know about it or not, and can get asked to pay up, or cease infringement
> immediately. I'd hate to be in a situation where we had to cease
> distribution of any of our data because it's storage, retrieval, or
> display was dependant on any potentially patented technology. 
> Given that, and the goals of the project, it would seem that
> understanding of all relevant patents should be very high up on our list
> of priorities!
> Perhaps in the same way we have come to some sort of agreement with
> Multimap and Yahoo (of which I'm unsure of the details) we could come to
> agreements with relevant patent holders?
You're missing the point.

Ignorance is no defence... this is true.
That isn't to say ignorance isn't an advantage.
What you have to understand here is that the level of knowledge you 
would need to "understand all relevant patents" is way beyond anything 
you're going to manage if not a full-time army, that the work in coding 
around every single /possible/ infringement is way beyond all possible 
hope, that the lawyers required to actually achieve any useful narrowing 
of this are way, way too expensive for this project.
And ignorance of a patent is an /extremely/ useful piece of ammunition 
if you stand any chance of fighting the validity of a patent. It helps 
imply the patent may have been obvious. And from the other side of the 
coin, as soon as you start getting a full knowledge of the patent space, 
you cease to be an untainted mind, and are extremely unlikely to be able 
to prove you didn't get your idea from a patent itself.
And you /will/ miss things, which puts you in the same position as we 
originally started with, just after spending thousands of hours coding 
round /potential/ problems, which due to that lack of experts in the 
field may have been unnecessary anyway.

You can ask Yahoo, Google, NavTeq, TeleAtlas, whoever, to give a blanket 
license of their portfolios to OSM if you like. They'll probably say no, 
or ask to negotiate with your lawyers. For each one that says yes 
there's less patents to not know about.

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