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Re: Subject: [Discuss-gnuradio] APCO 25

From: John Kodis
Subject: Re: Subject: [Discuss-gnuradio] APCO 25
Date: Sun, 19 Jan 2003 11:13:41 -0500
User-agent: Mutt/1.4i

On Sat, Jan 18, 2003 at 10:21:39PM -0500, Dave Emery wrote:

> As has already been mentioned, there is a patent problem with IMBE.
> There have already been several private efforts to implement APCO-25
> decoders (no encoders I know of) that remained unreleased to the
> hobbyist/public safety scanning or ham/rf hacker open source worlds
> because of the patent issue.

While IANAL, this doesn't sound right to me.  My layman's
understanding of the patent "deal", at least in the US, is that by
putting a description of an invention in the public domain (which is
what happens when the USPTO publishes a patent application), the
inventor gets a government enforced monopoly on the commercial use of
the invention for some limited period of time.  The publication of the
details of the invention is required specifically to allow others to
duplicate and to in turn patent improvements on the original

Since the source code of an implementation of a patented technique is
really nothing more that a (very detailed) description of that
technique, it seems unlikely that publishing this description would be
illegal.  Likewise, a hobbiest or student making use of such a library
for non-commercial research purposes seems unlikely to draw the wrath
of the patent holder.

This situation seems similar to the current status of mp3 software:
while parts of the mp3 algorithm are patented, and while no one has
gone to jail for making mp3 source code widely available, Red Hat and
the other free software companies are still prevented from
distributing mp3 codecs that infringe on these patents.

If the FSF or the EFF has an attorney who could provide some expert
guidance on this issue, that would be a much better approach than
having a bunch of software and radio geeks trying to figure out what
the law says about this situation.

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