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Re: Why not contribute? (to GCC)
> At some companies, the lawyers specifically request that employees do
> NOT check for violation of patents or research any patents before
> writing code, as this process actually increases liability. It's similar
> to the "clean room implementation" model. If I look, then my ability to
> say "I wrote this myself without any input" is tainted. If I just write
> it myself without researching what others have done, then I can at least
> claim I never copied any ideas, and although I might still be found in
> violation of a patent, this can be addressed if and when it is found
> (either pay license/royalty fees or re-write the code to NOT use the
> now-known-to-be-patented ideas).
Indeed this difference between patents and copyrights is worth repeating
since it's critical and non-intuitive. If you and I both write an
identical piece of music, neither of us can succeed in a copyright
infringement case against the other if we can prove we never SAW the work
of the other: in order to infringe on a copyright, you actually have to
COPY the work.
That's NOT true for patents. Even if I independently "invent" the same
thing you do, I owe you royalties if you patented it and I didn't. This is
why patents are a very serious threat to free software.