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PBX I'm Paul Bissex. I build web applications using open source software, especially Django. Started my career doing graphic design for newspapers and magazines in the '90s. Then wrote tech commentary and reviews for Wired, Salon, Chicago Tribune, and others you never heard of. Then I built operations software at a photography school. Then I helped big media serve 40 million pages a day. Then I worked on a translation services API doing millions of dollars of business. Now I'm building the core platform of a global startup accelerator. Feel free to email me.


I co-wrote "Python Web Development with Django". It was the first book to cover the long-awaited Django 1.0. Published by Addison-Wesley and still in print!


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Burn all JPEGs?

Some recent news is giving me flashbacks to 1995, when Unisys sprung their GIF patent surprise on the young World Wide Web. We got quite angry and some enterprising people even built a replacement for the beloved GIF.

Are we going there again? Forgent, a Texas company that "develops and licenses intellectual property and makes scheduling software" (it makes me feel dirty just to type that) is suing 40 companies, including Microsoft, Apple, and Yahoo, for infringing on JPEG-related patent No. 4,698,672.

The most distressing line in the above-linked article:

Following the filing of the litigation, five companies that were defendants have entered into license agreements.

As you can see on the relevant Wikipedia page, the patent issue hasn't come totally out of the blue. JPEG2000 (doesn't that sound quaint?) isn't in the clear either. And this Slashdot piece tells me that even GIF has lingering IP problems, despite the expiration of the Unisys patent.

What a mess. At least they're losing money -- hopefully implosion will follow.

Sometimes I feel like a crazy idealist for promoting open formats. Not today.

Wednesday, October 5th, 2005
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0 comments pending approval
Comment from suzanne , later that day

Wired ran a interesting interview with Forgent's CEO back in June of this year. Besides suing for the alleged violation of the jpeg patent, the same company claims to own a "DVR patent" that supercedes Tivo's even though Forgent's was apparently issued after Tivo's. Wired calls it "patent trolling." That seems about right. The interview is at http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.06/start.html?pg=13

Comment from Paul , later that day

Nice find, Suzanne, thanks. I also found a Wired News story from April 2004 which covers Forgent suing 31 companies -- many of the same ones, I presume.

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