[RFC] Automatic localisation of templates

Andy Wardley abw at wardley.org
Fri Jan 20 08:43:42 GMT 2006

>but of course you have to be careful not to infringe patent GB2403306,
>(http://v3.espacenet.com/textdoc?DB=EPODOC&IDX=GB2403306&F=0) among

David Hodgkinson wrote:
> Prior art. Plus, it's bleeding obvious. And never sue anyone with no  
> money.


This is particularly annoying for me because I wrote most of the code
that Canon then patented in Leon's name.  Canon spent years trying to 
patent the Template Toolkit or techniques around it "on my behalf" but
I resisted strongly.  So they took Leon's name in vain instead (and 
waited until after he had left the company so he couldn't so anything 
about it).

The prior art in this case includes the Badger Book (Perl Template Toolkit,
O'Reilly, ISBN 0-596-00476-1) and the Template::Sitemap modules.  This is
particulary funny because they're the modules that I wrote for Fotango to 
do the sitemap stuff that eventually got patented.  We released the modules 
and I gave a talk to London.pm about it in March 2004, some 9 months before 
the patent was published.


And we haven't even started on the fact that you're not *supposed* to be
able to patent software techniques in the EU anyway...

So the patent is totally bogus and not worth the paper it's written on.
The good thing is that it's very unlikely that Canon would try to enforce
it.  If they did, they would almost certainly lose and the patent would
be invalidated.  The bad thing is that if no-one challenges it (requiring 
time, money and lawyers) then they get to keep it, however worthless it is.

Although it's easy to say the patent is worthless, that doesn't mean that
it doesn't have ramifications.  When I'm preparing a project for a customer,
it's part of my job to evaluate the risks and make sure the customer is 
aware of them.  It doesn't look good when you have to say 

  "Yes, the Template Toolkit is great, it will solve all your problems, 
   and we don't _think_ Canon will ever try and enforce the patent and 
   shut your multi-million pound operation down...."

IANAL, obviously.  But as soon as I can demonstrate clear loss of income
as a result of this bogus patent, I will be hiring one...  :-)


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