NewsForge: Prior Art Won't Solve the Software Patent
"The Open Source Development Lab (OSDL) has a project to educate
the US Patent Office about ideas already known ('prior art') so as
to prevent issuance of 'poor quality' software patents which would
cover those known ideas. It works by annotating free software
packages in free software repositories so that ideas in them can be
found more easily. It sounds like a good thing because the problems
are hidden. The GNU Project does not participate in the project,
and you should think twice about it too.
"Such a project cannot really protect programmers from software
patents, because it focuses only on absurd software patents--those
that could be legally denied or invalidated based on prior art.
However, the greatest danger comes from patents that are not
absurd, those for which we have no prior art..."
"Controversy has erupted over an initiative by the Open Source
Development Labs, known as Open Source as Prior Art, which is
designed to improve the quality of software patents and thereby
reduce the number of patents that can be used to threaten
open-source software developers and users.
"The goal of OSAPA is to reduce the number of poor-quality
patents that are issued by increasing accessibility to open-source
software code and documentation that can be used as prior art
during the patent examination process..."