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SubjectRe: [OT] Re: Troll Tech [was Re: Sco vs. IBM]
On Wed, 25 Jun 2003 18:09:36 -0700
Larry McVoy <> wrote:

> On Wed, Jun 25, 2003 at 05:27:42PM -0700, David Lang wrote:
> > Robert, nobody is disagreeing with this part of the discussion, that I
> > hear Larry saying is that this process isn't producing innovations, it is
> > almost exclusivly producing copies.
> >
> > the companies doing propriatatry work are doing the innovation and the
> > fact that their ideas get copied quickly is reducing/eliminating their
> > return on investment and is killing them (some slowly some quickly)
> >
> > one big reason why innovation is so much more expensive then copying is
> > that when you are innovating you spend a lot of time going down dead-ends,
> > you have to cover all that time spent and thrown away in the cost of the
> > product that you produce. when you are copying you get to avoid a lot of
> > these dead-ends becouse you know what the final product looks like, it's
> > much easier to work towards a known goal then to work towards something
> > that you think will work.
> >
> > Then Larry asks the question 'what will we do if we kill off the companies
> > that are paying people to do this innovation and there isn't any more
> > software to copy'
> >
> > David Lang
> Perfect summary. Thanks.

Yes, it's a summary, and therefore it shows clearly whats really wrong about
the argument.
You deny the simple fact of existing competitors. Your (newly arriving)
competitors will look at your product and partly re-engineer it, learn from it
and try to make a better one - of course by driving around the lots of
dead-ends you walked in being the _first_. Everyone being second will learn
from the first, whoever that was. So you end up at the same point: if you have
one or several competitors or open source people having a look at your software
is more or less the same.
And please, please do not talk about patents to prevent that, because it may
well be that some big bad company one day (after you have worked your ass off
and have a nice customer base and are wealthy) stands up and tells you you
broke their patent XYZ for several years now and therefore sues you for a
billion bucks. It may well be you cannot even afford the court-costs and simply
have to give in, even if you know they are wrong.
And exactly _this_ is what the whole story is all about. _Nobody_ has an idea
of the numerous patents flying around, so you basically can only start business
(or Linux, listen to Linus) by ignoring their existence. If you would want to
check everything out _before_ doing something you will be dead and buried
before you wrote a single line of code - and your lawyer will have all your
And if there might ever been an argument against that it was surely buried by
SCO or by the AOL-M$ agreement regarding Netscape/IE-issue (tm,tm,tm,tm,tm by
whoever owns it).
Do you _really_ know if there are no ten lines of code inside bitkeeper that
are patented and that one of your programmers brought in unknowningly citing
code he has read ten years ago at school in a book by a guy already dead?
I would say you cannot even afford the search for such cases. So it is indeed
very hard to even say who was _first_ ...

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