Dan Ravicher, the guy who came up with the list of patents which might threaten the Linux kernel, has put up an article on Groklaw
explaining why patents are much more of a threat to proprietary software than to free software. "Therefore, a permanent injunction is the only truly threatening remedy available for a patent holder bringing a patent infringement suit against Free Software. However, knowing that patents cannot cover functionality, and can only cover certain structure that accomplishes functionality, it is highly likely that before a patent infringement case is tried and appealed, the Free Software at issue can be designed around the asserted patent. Further, it is also highly likely that the Free Software community, a very participatory and technically sophisticated group, will be quite capable at finding prior art to challenge the patent's validity.
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