No first use of software patents against companies with less than 25 people.
Was this Kat hallucinating, or did his eyes serve him correctly? Above, via Tweets from @Claim_1 and @filemot, is the text of The Patent Pledge, an ingeniously subversive ploy by Paul Graham to achieve one or more of the following objectives:
- to give patents and/or trolls a good name by curbing real and/or imagined excesses in the manner of their enforcement;
- to make sure that creativity in software development is preserved by letting small furry little software companies develop without that constant fear of being sued by one of the industrial gruffaloes;
- to refresh interest in open source licensing, which has all gone a bit quiet recently and which has a more collaborative ethos to it than simple restraint from suing;
- to create a pool of surplus of redundant patent litigators who can then be retrained to do harmless tasks like embroidering lace tablecloths and giving strategic advice about what you can do with your software patent when you're not suing someone for it;
- to test out an exciting piece of law school theory as to whether (i) a generalised public statement of this nature is capable of giving rise to some form of estoppel on the part of patent owners who take the pledge and then get twitchy about wanting to sue a small business or (ii) Paul Graham's own thoughts on the pledge are documents to which reference may be made when construing either the text of the pledge or a software patent owner who signed it;
- to encourage those who think outside the box to revisit their old class notes on software copyright infringement and see if they still have any value;
- to see how many investors die of heart attacks when they see on the list the name of a business that they have invested in but which isn't going to race to court in order to protect the software they've paid to develop.
As usual, readers' responses are welcome.