JRAMON at uamed.uam.es JRAMON at uamed.uam.es
Sun Mar 3 11:10:00 EST 1991

I forward to the list the letter I mentioned yesterday about AT&T
sending a letter requiring copyright licenses for the use of

I find it VERY interesting: just imagine what can happen if anyone
had to pay thousands of licenses for THOUSANDS of small and specific
patents used in a big software project *AND* -most important of all-
that have been un-used for years while the package spreaded freely
as a SUPPOSED public domain one :-(.

        BTW, I read recently in a Dr. Dobbs J. editorial that there
is a patent for using a user-driven cursor drawn with bitwise XOR
in the screen for pointing and selecting items. How many of us would
have to pay (say 1 centave) if the holder took the same decision as

        I begin wondering whether we all should begin patenting
every little thing, letting evryone know and use it freely WITHOUT
telling'em it is patented and, once it is popular and many people
has made great investments and got greatly involved with it, telling
them "Surprise!, now you've all got to pay >:-)".

        It's getting easier to become a millionaire! Let's all go
for it! :-)


" I thought that this would be of general interest, to say the least..

The following letter has been sent by AT&T to all (to my knowledge)
MIT X Consortium members, though its claims potentially affect *all*
users of The X Window System, version 11 / revision 3 and above.

To quote the letter directly (all misreferences to "X Windows"
intentionally left in):

                                < Dated February 7, 1991 >

Dear <unfortunate X user>:

  AT&T is aware that your company/institution is an active
participant in the further development of the X Windows
System.  We assume that your company/institution is, or may
well be, commercially marketing or internally developing
products(s) which are based on an X Windows System

  Consequently, we bring to your attention an AT&T patent
#4,555,775 invented by Robert C. Pike and issued on November
26, 1985.  The "backing store" functionality available in the
X Windows System is an implementation of this patented
invention, therefore, your company/institution needs a license
from AT&T for the use of this patent.

  We will be pleased to discuss licensing arrangements with
the appropriate organization in your company/institution.  To
expedite these arrangements, your response should be directed

Ms. O. T. Franz at:

                10 Independence Boulevard
                Room: LL2-3A28
                Warren, New Jersey  07059-6799
                Telephone: 908-580-5929
                FAX: 908-580-6355

  We look forward to resolving this matter in the near

                                Very truly yours,


                                A.E. Herron
                                Manager, Intellectual Property

Copy to:
L. Bearson
O.T. Franz
R.E. Kerwin


So. What more can I say? You are, of course, free to direct your
responses to those listed above.. :-)

One also wonders about other window systems using "backing store"
and the degree to which this patent will be enforced.


        OK, I think this speaks for itself. What are we going to do
now to preserve the freedom of thought in science? Should we pay fees
to Maniatis for ALL the protocols? Should we pay fees for Lowry or
Stain-all dying? Must I pay Pharmacia a fee every time I USE their
electrophoresis devices? And one fee for each user?

        Any lawyer out there?

                J. R. Valverde
        Biomedical Research Institute
                Madrid - SPAIN

"Si no hubiera barbaros, todos seriamos esclavos" (Liberto).

More information about the Bio-soft mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net