I don't think that reverse-engineering trade secrets is illegal -- yet. Stealing trade secrets is illegal, and using reverse-engineering "to circumvent copy controls" will apparently be illegal under the DMCA in some months' time -- but reverse-engineering is still OK for now, as far as I know (unless you're trying to watch movies that is ;)
How would you define a law that could see the difference between an engineering company that wants to
protect itself from 'bad' customers and a company that uses patents solely for extorsion?
It's as hard to do that as it is to define which patents are "software patents" for the purpose of invalidating only those. Rules have to be applied fairly, and I think that the whole patent situation has gotten so out of control recently that that may be impossible.
Which is not to say that I'm against patents altogether -- if they were granted according to the kinds of criteria Thomas Jefferson used, we'd never be in the mess we're in now, and I might be a big patent advocate (from what I've read, Jefferson himself went from being a patent skeptic to being a patent advocate over time).
I guess I wouldn't even mind the current situation (and I know my friend & his company wouldn't mind defending themselves) if the price of defending oneself was not so high -- in lost business and in legal fees. Maybe it would be enough to take patent suits out of the courtroom & into mandatory government-funded arbitration, only, at least until such a time as the situation's normalized. Or something.
?? I don't know. What do you think?
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