My personal view of the storm around SpotON3D

I know it’s been a long time, not to say way too long, since I wrote on this blog. Not because I ran out of stuff to talk about, not by far, but mainly because the sorts of projects I’m involved in these days require me to sign an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement). So where I used to be able to shout out about a lot of stuff, there’s not a lot of thrilling new things I could share. However, the recent happenings in the Open Sim Scene which put the company I work for (SpotON3D®) in the midst of a storm, have made me think about my blog again and how I could use it.

Before reading any further in this first-post-after-two-years-of-silence, it’s important for all of you to know a few things; A) this is my personal blog, not a company blog – and all of the stuff I (will) talk about is only my personal vision and commentary, B) if you should quote me, *always* clearly note that it’s only my personal vision and C) mentioned before but it’s  good to point out again; I do work for SpotON3D®, so some would consider me “biased”.

It’s been today’s post at Hypergrid Business by Lawrence Pierce, and the first comment that were the trigger for me to write up this post.

More in particular, the sentence “When a company, such as SpotOn3D, comes along and threatens small businesses then that company needs to be made accountable for its conduct.” was something that quite surprised me, and made me wonder how smart and intelligent people like Ilian Torchner could feel that way. (And to perfectly clear about this; I’m not into guerilla PR. So no – smart and intelligent is not meant sarcastically in the previous sentence. )

I don’t see how SpotON3D has ever threatened any company by openly explaining what we were doing. To me, this has always shown the transparency and openness SpotON3D wishes to communicate with.  If we wanted to use these developments to stab you in the back, we wouldn’t have talked about them in the first place. We would have sat back while our patent was pending, hoping you’d all develop something that would fall under the patent we were filing for, then hit you with huge fees and law suits once the patent was granted.

As I see it, the fact that SpotON3D has very openly announced what it was doing, and what patent it was filing for, has been an invitation to talk and to work together. There’s nothing as beautiful as the ideal of people working together with closed wallets – Communism worked in theory, but did anyone with personal experience like it? I’m not saying open source is the same as communism, not by far – but there is a point in open source projects where you’ve reached the open source ceiling. To take it to the next level, there’s cold hard cash needed. The idea behind the potential licensing fees the patent would bring, is to fund further development of features everyone could enjoy and which would make all of our Open Sim Grids stronger and better. I think this whole point was obviously missed, and it doesn’t matter if you’re one of those that believes in patents, or that says patents are a bad thing – you cannot deny that this is a good intention.

And although I’m under NDA, and not allowed to go into detail (please do remember this when posting comments), the “potential fees” I heard in our board meetings are very, very reasonable and much cheaper than any grid having to invest in the research and development themselves – the more mature the product becomes, the more money you’ll save compared to when you had to develop it yourself. Why would you use your lighter to try and warm up a bucket of water, when there’s warm water coming out of the faucet? Yes, the water coming out the faucet will cost you something, but it will still be cheaper than those dozens of lighters you need.

There’s also been quite some feedback on the fact that we preferred to speak to people in our Web Worlds on Skype or through E-mail instead of using all of the blogs and forums on which there’s been numerous posts about this matter. Again I can only say I was surprised by the negative feedback, and I was happy to read that at least one blogger (thank you Lawrence) did see our intentions properly when we did our “reach out” meeting. We wanted to talk to all of you people with concerns, whether they were legal, technical or whatever-you-might-have concerns.

It frazzled me to read some claiming “we will be kicked and muted” – You could at least have given it a chance, no?

There’s been one guy that’s ruled a great part of the world that used to put it this way; “Divide and conquer”. From his point of view, it worked. But his point of view ain’t ours. I’m a Belgian guy, and I think there’s a lesson in the history of my country. Just like the Open Sim world, our country is divided amongst many cultures, and although we’re only a small piece of land on an enormous planet, we do exist and we’re able to live amongst the great economical powers. It’s all brought together in our national weapon, “L’union fait la force” or “United we stand strong( er)”.

If we want this medium to break through, and if we want this medium to gather mass adoption, we’re sentenced to each other. Google took over the world, and in that kind of project, you can be sure there’s been some difference of opinion… though I strongly doubt Google would have been what it is today if Sergey Brin and Larry Page rolled over in the streets fighting. Yes, back in the days their technology was revolutionary, just like ours is today – but no one is going make a risk investment (because that still is how we’re seen… as a new technology with potential, but who says it will ever make its full potential?), if those behind it can’t make their minds up and worse – are fighting each other using guerilla PR rather than by competing on service and quality.

The Open Sim scene is already pretty scattered – We have many small to mid-sized companies battling for the same market. There’s really no need for us to make the puzzle even more complicated for potential investors and early adopters. I’m a believer of the doom scenario that if we do not unite and work together, an alternative for Open Sim worlds will pop up one day and laugh about all of us fighting each other like children. They’ll use the same battle theory as Julius Caesar or Napoleon (which ever you prefer) once did – “Divide and rule”.  Victory will come for them with very little effort, as we’re setting ourselves up. Surely – we got a do a better job at making it harder for these potential competitors, no?

I’m not a technical nor legally educated person – I’m a marketing troll; Gimme ice, and i’ll sell it to eskimos. So although I do encourage you to leave your thoughts and comments, I do hope you’ll understand (above all, because this is just my personal blog), that I cannot comment or give feedback on questions you might have about the used technology or applicable licenses. One thing that I can answer though, is that the patent number, that so many asked for, is only released after 18months, when the patent application goes public.

I do invite all of you, even our strongest critics like Ilian Tochner and Rob Knop (who in spite of the posts about SpotON3D that I didn’t agree with, has a pretty nice blog going), to get in touch with us and come talk. That way, we can highlight our points, you can highlight yours – and who knows; if you prefer the whole internet to know what we talk about, we can maybe even issue a statement together. And well; if you don’t feel “safe” enough in SpotON3D’s Web Worlds, I think I might state that we all like a field trip – so how about firing up your own Open Sims and having us there? You’ll need to rez the coffee in that case…

And although all of the above is merely my personal venting, I’m pretty sure that the invite to come and talk to SpotON3D still stands.

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23 comments so far

  1. lap liberty on

    This is the same Spoton3D that threatened to sue me for embedding a youtube video, after i offered up technique and resources to them. I don’t what to hear about transparency. $0.02

  2. Gaga Gracious on

    Hi Phil

    Above you said “As I see it, the fact that SpotON3D has very openly announced what it was doing, and what patent it was filing for, has been an invitation to talk and to work together. ”

    Here is a problem, Much of this issue has blown up because the comment above from the article is false. Stevan has refused any detailed explaination what the patent is for and we are left with the simple explaination that SpotON3D are patenting the concept of running an Open Sim viewer in a browser by means of a plugin while there are a number of examples of this same exact method having been done prior and available to the open source community. Moreover, without the patent number no one can be sure exactly what SpotON3D is patenting anyway. Thus, the reaction of the community is one of apprehension which your company has only managed to fuel further by such comments as exercising your patent rights and charging licence fees, and further still when Stenan stated they will be seeking not one but five patents without even explaining those either.

    You can talk about engaging the community above but the die is set and the threat to the community apparant. I’m sorry but I don’t agree Lawrence Pierce’s article. He avoids the central issues in this debate in my view.

    Gaga

  3. Ilan Tochner on

    Hi Phil,

    I’ll address your points in order:

    The threat your company created is not in developing technology, it is in attempting to stifle competition using vague “patents pending” threats.

    See Stevan Lieberman’s “The technology encompassed in the plugin is patent pending world wide as well as copyrighted… To ensure that SO3D has the necessary funding and investment support it is necessary to capitalize on so3d’s patent assets.” in http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2011/07/opensim-in-facebook.html?cid=6a00d8341bf74053ef01539044fbd1970b#comment-6a00d8341bf74053ef01539044fbd1970b

    Capitalizing on patent assets can mean two things: preventing others from competing with you using your government granted monopoly on an idea or getting people who compete with you to pay you for the privilege of using “your idea”.

    It is worth noting that some of your company’s comments and my own comments on New World Notes have mysteriously… ahm… disappeared since our original exchange. I’ve even twitted about this as early as July 31, see https://twitter.com/#!/Kitely/status/97561471516549122 – it seems that the more incriminating statements by SpotOn3D were recently removed and/or edited. Suspicious wouldn’t you say?

    The practice of developing software and licensing it to competitors is not evil and potentially valuable to the ecosystem. The practice of patenting ideas so people can’t develop software that competes with your software without the threat of you going after them is evil. Please note this is not a discussion of the merits of patents in general but rather a discussion of software and business method patents which are not even recognized by many countries due to their dubious nature.

    The only reason Stevan stated SpotOn3D have a patent pending without specifying what it is to dissuade others from competing with his company. If he intended to give people an honest heads up he would have stated what they are attempting to patent. Without this information the “patent pending” thrown into the room only serves to intimidate others. No wounder that people felt that this is anti-competitive and threatens small businesses that can’t afford to take legal risks and will prefer to avoid potentially stepping into a patent minefield even at the cost of refraining from developing innovative software.

    As for your comment that “there is a point in open source projects where you’ve reached the open source ceiling. To take it to the next level, there’s cold hard cash needed. The idea behind the potential licensing fees the patent would bring, is to fund further development of features everyone could enjoy and which would make all of our Open Sim Grids stronger and better.” that is just empirically and morally wrong on multiple levels:

    1) Linux, for one, is developed by thousands of people working in multiple competing organizations that contribute code to the shared project. Despite the fact that many of those contributors could claim ownership of ideas included in that code they don’t attempt to capitalize on their patent assets in regards to Linux. I’ll repeat, for-profits, even Fortune 500s, work together on open-source projects and benefit financially from the shared code without trying to assert software and business method patents.

    2) Patent licensing fees will only help SpotOn3D and not the OpenSim community at large. The community doesn’t need SpotOn3D to “invent” things for it, there are many companies that actually contribute code to OpenSim that do so without trying to shake down other members of the community.

    Regarding not giving the SpotOn3D press release meeting a chance, I’ve already had two of my comments censured by SpotOn3D inside their own blog when they welcomed comments from everyone. I don’t indulge people who act that way with additional opportunities for open discussion under their own roof.

    Calling for unity while knowingly acting in ways that threaten your would be fellow community members is Machiavellian. If you come in peace then give up the big stick which has everyone worried.

    To summarize, if SpotOn3D can’t share code with the community project it is taking code from then SpotOn3D should do everyone a favor and just keep its ideas to itself and its own customers but without trying to stifle competition using software and business method patent threats.

  4. Phil on

    Goodmorning all,

    First of all, thank you all for your comments. I appreciate the time and effort you all took to send me some civilized comments. I’m also very happy that none of you sent me technical or legal inquiries as I wouldn’t be able to answer them. ( as I explained.)

    Again – I want to underline that this is just my personal blog, and all things here are solely my own opinion.

    @Lap – I published your comment (I’ve actually published all comments except for those talking about viagra… that was either spam or someone seriously lost) because I believe in free speech. I do not see a relation between your comments and the actual blogpost however.

    @Gaga – I hope you don’t mind me just addressing Ilan’s comment – I believe the points you brought forward are also taken up in his comment. However – you don’t need to be sorry you don’t agree with Lawrence’s post 😉 Difference in opinion – isn’t that the spice of life?

    @Ilan – Thanks for taking the time and effort for your lengthy comment. It’s more a letter, ain’t it? Although you’re a competitor and we clearly have a difference in opinion, I have a great deal of respect for the fact that you have always reacted in a civilized and friendly way on blog posts. It’s something so many forget these days.

    I think it’s indeed worth noting that some of our comments on the web (not just on NWN) have been sent to trash. In the case of NWN however, I honestly think Hamlet’s doing a great job in reporting on virtual worlds. I just wish he had more Open Sim content on his blog. As I’ve witnessed Hamlet’s blog over the years, I think he keeps it strictly a blog, where we are using these more as forums.

    Now to get to the things that we all came for –

    I think that a patent actually can serve a third goal when it is filed for in an environment like the ones we work in, which is what I tried to bring to the surface in my post. A patent can also be used to “share” a development between certain parties, keeping alternative products out of it. There’s this saying in Dutch (my mother tongue) of which I’ve been told it’s also one in English; “While two dogs are fighting for a bone, a third runs away with it”. I think these kind of patents make sure that when we come to an acceptable agreement for everyone on how to use/enforce them, they might actually protect us from that third dog.

    It’s good to read that you’re not one of those saying all patents are evil. Although the patent system may be a bit “borked”, as some have put forward in the numerous comments around the web, I think there’s multiple cases and examples of where they actually served a “good” purpose. As seen from an economical point of view, they often were one of the reasons for fresh money to be invested in a certain industry.

    Further on in your comment you say that my idea about an “Open Source Ceiling” is empirically and morally wrong. Empirically stands for “Relying on or derived from observation or experiment”. I think our difference in opinion here is based on the different experiences that we’ve had. It’s interesting you put Linux up as example, because this is just the thing that I wanted to bring forward, which I think it will not only show the origin of our difference in opinion, but I also believe will illustrate how we both came to our own conclusions.

    As stated, I am not a techie person and just like in the “real world”, I’m happy in our Web Worlds when I notice that the table I put together doesn’t fall apart when I step back. There’s a huge difference between being able to read a blueprint and being able to turn that blueprint into “stuff that works”. Be that as it many, my “non-techiness” is often seen as an advantage when working for technical companies because my input often comes from a totally different way of thinking. Here’s my experience trying out Linux – which I think might be very similar to the experience of others as well.

    I did download Linux Ubuntu one day, and was able to get it to work on an old desktop. (Men and their toys, right?) I enjoyed getting to know that and learn how to use it. However, when I decided to download another Linux distribution, I was very unpleasantly surprised to find out that most of the things I learned with Ubuntu didn’t apply. The interface was totally different, and yes – although it might have just been the interface that was different, it did spoil the fun for me and after a while I gave up on it.

    Now, let’s keep the patent aside for this paragraph and imagine there had been more of an agreement amongst those so generously donating their time to develop Linux about how an interface should look – and I might have been able to use it. I think the fact that the Open Sim interface is still pretty comparable to the Second Life one, is probably the main reason why so many people are able to make the switch. Being cheaper than Second Life is undoubtedly an important asset for this as well. However not many people would buy a car controlled by a joystick just because it’s cheaper. More importantly they want to feel safe and recognize their trusted interface as well.

    I think this is true for Open Sim as well. If we’re all competing, we will one day end up trying to catch the same fish. A comparable interface will allow us to compete on pricing, quality and service and in my opinion will be the reason we will be able to have the kind of competition that makes the overall experience better for the end user. Enforcing a patent on a way of logging into Web Worlds through the internet, keeping the same interface is a way of doing is. Whether or not it’s the right way is something I’m not judging here; I’m just stating it’s a way of doing so.

    You state that patent licensing fees are only a way of helping SpotON3D, not the community. I respect your opinion on that, although I strongly disagree. I’ve also pointed out in my post that the licensing fees I’ve heard in the meeting are very, very reasonable – not to say cheap. I think this might really help the community, giving start-ups an affordable way of adding extra spice to their product and allowing them to hit the ground running. Indeed, the community probably doesn’t need SpotON3D to “invent” things for them as you state yourself, but it’s always handy to have such a party around, no?

    In all honesty – I was surprised to read your comments on the SpotON3D blog were not published. I’m however not the only one with access to that blog and I do hope that time will prove that I do publish all comments on my personal blog. (Well, except the ones promoting viagra… Gimme another 30 years and I might be interested.) Learning that however has made me more understand why you weren’t there. I’m still not saying I agree with your boycott but I am understanding it better. How about firing up Kitely for us, or maybe just for me? I’ve got to shamefully admit I’ve not had the time yet to really check it out. I’m curious to learn more about your product, both on a personal and on professional level.

    Calling for unity wasn’t Machiavellian I think, as it’s just my personal blog and that was just my personal vision. It’s my own personal opinion and an idea I’ve been playing with for a while. I might dedicate a blog post to that sooner or later now I’m back to writing on this blog. I’m an admirer of what the W3C does for the 2D Web, and I think such organization might also work for the Open Sim community – although we’re competitors. On many occasions (surely in these early days of our technology) we’re pulling the same rope.

    I’m fully aware that I did not address the comments and suggestions about SpotON3D not feeding back code to the Open Sim community. Perhaps I’m missing the point, but if you say you do not need SpotON3D to “invent” things for Open Sim then why would it be a problem if SpotON3D would choose to not share code?

    While I am not waving a white flag, I do hope that it is clear that I come in peace, for sure on my personal blog. Just one last note to this lengthy response; the one thing they kept beating me up with when I studied marketing was “It’s all in the perception”. When you say SpotON3D comes with a big stick – are you sure it’s really a big stick? Or is it perceived as a big stick? I honestly think that some of the things Lawrence pointed out in his post on Hypergrid business are way bigger sticks than the one SpotON3D might seem to be waving.

    Thanks again for your constructive comments, it’s appreciated. And thank you for reading through my lengthy response. It’s good to see that even when our opinions seem to be very different, there’s a dialog going.

    Best,

    Phil

    • Gareth Nelson on

      I’m going to get straight to the point:
      How does it help me to have to pay your company licensing fees for code I wrote myself (if you even allow licensing your patent for code written by anyone other than you)?

      I can write the code myself, i’ve already done so and so have many others – but if I was a US citizen it’d be risky to use it because at some point you might be able to demand licensing fees from me. How on earth does this help me?

  5. Ilan Tochner on

    Hi Phil,

    First, I appreciate you willingness to hold a genuinely open debate without resorting to censorship. If your bosses had maintained that approach from the beginning they would have caused less PR damage for your company.

    I completely understand SpotOn3D’s desire to control perception by deleting old comments that exposed their patent enforcement intentions in a very clear language. However, doing so now after those incriminating comments have already been seen and discussed by the community creates a perception of a company that is trying to cover up its true intentions. Not the best thing to do for a company in dire need of good PR.

    Sharing a software development between certain parties while keeping alternative products from using the idea it is based on is exactly what the community is upset about. There is no problem in licensing software to other parties but trying to prevent other people from building their own software that competes with your offering using software patents is anti-competitive and doesn’t benefit the community.

    As you stated, people need to have options but enforcing software patents increases the cost of R&D without contributing anything to society. I stated that trying to assert software patents is empirically wrong because there is an abundance of research that shows exactly that. See, for example, the MIT research paper http://www.researchoninnovation.org/patent.pdf which found that “in such a dynamic
    industry [software], patent protection may reduce overall innovation and social welfare”.

    I’d stated that intending to assert patents in a community based around an open-source project is morally wrong because the entire premise of the software project that SpotOn3D built its business around is that of free, open sharing of code and ideas. SpotOn3D took from that community project and instead of contributing back to the common code base, as other people have done, it is intending to stake claim to ideas which those contributors may wish to implement in the future. In other words, SpotOn3D took what was freely given by a community based on sharing then turned around and intends to demand that those same people start paying it for the ideas it attempts to patent around their hard work. Doing so without even contributing code back to the community effort makes it all the more sinister.

    Regarding Linux, I fear you hold a common but somewhat uninformed opinion about the matter. The Linux desktop offerings (such as Ubuntu) are just a tiny part of what Linux is used for across many industries. It is the operating system that is used on the majority of servers across the world and is part of the reason why there is such an abundance of free online services. It is the basis of the Android operating system, which is used by many mobile phone companies and offers the only real alternative to a future Apple controlled monopoly of the mobile sector. It is the basis of many embedded devices helping reduce consumer costs for so many things that I can’t even list all the categories. Please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux for additional information.

    All the cost savings and innovation that Linux is responsible for is due to companies not trying to enforce their patents in relation to Linux. When one company, SCO, attempted to make various IP claims against Linux vendors and users it found itself in battle with Fortune 500 companies that eventually crushed its aspirations to assert what it claimed were its IP rights and brought SCO to file for bankruptcy. For additional information see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCO-Linux_controversies

    My comment about Machiavellian behavior was not aimed at you but rather at SpotOn3D’s bosses. I apologize I wasn’t clear enough as to whom I was talking about.

    While IBM and Intel may hold many more patents than SpotOn3D they have actively contributed to OpenSim’s code base and have shown no intention to wield their IP assets against the OpenSim community. The same can’t be said about SpotOn3D. The fact that the OpenSim community is currently made up of mostly underfunded entities makes SpotOn3D’s five pending patents and stated intention to enforce them a big stick.

    Again, I appreciate this open discussion. I think that if you read enough about software patents and the history of open source you will find SpotOn3D’s conduct to be problematic to say the least. What you choose to do with that afterwards is your call but if SpotOn3D is resolute on pursuing the same path SCO pursued against an open source project that is supported by some of the same Fortune 500s that thought SCO then why associate yourself with such a company?

  6. Vanish on

    Dear Phil,

    since I’m already quoted in your blog post, I might as well comment here: 1. Regarding transparency: Not only is SpotOn not transparent in this case – as Gaga already pointed out. Stevan and Tessa say they are, but in fact are not giving any information about the patent other than there is one, and it’s related to the plugin. I think it should be noted that this transparency was not seen with SpotOn’s previous patents, of whose existence we first heard at the meeting and some we still don’t know what they are for at all. So, to break it down for you: Transparency is not saying you are transparent. Transparency is saying what’s going on.

    2. Regarding Communism and Open Source projects: There are many open source, even free software projects, that are working just fine. Ilan already mentioned Linux. I’d like to mention Apache, which your webserver runs on; WordPress, which your blog runs on; php, which WordPress runs on. Do you believe any of these need “corporate funding” to improve? And Linux – the fact that you have the choice between different user interfaces, and components, and in fact different “flavours” is a feature! If you like the ubuntu interface, and don’t like, dunno, Kubuntu, Debian, or whatever else, then by all means use Ubuntu! No kittens will die because you stay with one distro, even though Stallman will be a little sad that you’re not using GNU. I kept hearing it over and over from Tessa and Stevan, and now from you, so I have to wonder what kind of world you’re living in. As Ilan already said, and I can confirm that: The OpenSim project is fine. It was fine before SpotOn, and it will be fine without SpotOn. Please don’t act as if the future of this project it depends on you, it just makes you look completely detached from reality.

    3. Regarding benefits from the patent: It’s true that we’d all benefit from not having to re-invent the wheel time and again; and you know what? That’s what open-source is about! For your technology to be beneficial to the OpenSim community, there’s absolutely no patent needed whatsoever. If you choose to keep it closed, and license it, that’s your right. But you can do that without patenting it, and in fact, that’s how most businesses are doing it. The patent benefits only one: SpotOn, and SpotOn alone. At this point it’s pretty clear that it’s main intention is to bring investors to SpotOn; how SpotOn’s investors benefit the OpenSim project is something that will remain SpotOn’s secret forever, I think. At this point, it is, however, not clear that this is the only intention of the patent. As Ilan already stated, and Stevan has also made clear, it’s a claim to a certain invention, and it would be foolish to assume the good-will of the patent holder for all times, especially if there’s no clear commitment not to use the patent against competitors, and as there’s indication that SpotOn is indeed aggressive about what they believe to be “theirs”. Again, please don’t try to sell this as a benefit for OpenSim, when it clearly is not, and most probably is a threat.

    4. Regarding the openness of SpotOn: I said you can kick and mute anyone you don’t like. That’s a standard feature of OpenSim, and it works on my own installation, so I’m assuming it works on SpotOn as well. I did not say you will do that, but I did indeed say that I wouldn’t trust you not to, as there is a precedent on silencing critical voices on SpotOn venues (the SpotOn blog, as Ilan said earlier, being a case in point). So no, I am not comfortable attending a meeting about SpotOn on SpotOn. However, I would have come, if the notice would have given me a little more time to notice; I am on the other side of the world (just like you) and the announcement happened during my sleeping and working hours; by the time I read about it, the meeting was already 1.5 hours over. It certainly felt like you (SpotOn) were again trying to appear transparent, without making any honest attempts at actually being so. Looking back at how the meeting went, it’s pretty clear that, no matter how many people would have shown up, there would not have been any more questions answered, or any more informations put forward.

    5. Belgium and Julius Caesar: I have no clue what the message here is, other than one conquered the other at one point. Is SpotOn trying to conquer someone and/or fears to be conquered? Are you saying (really?) that OpenSim is in danger because it opposes SpotOn’s patent? And that OpenSim would be better off if we would use a “comparable interface”? What kind of interface are you talking about? The viewer? That has a: nothing to do with OpenSim and is b: already available in dozens of different interfaces (including SpotOn’s own). Or the OpenSim console? That is pretty much standard already, except for the plugins, and it’s the nature of a plugin to allow customization. And your plugin is standardizing the OpenSim “interface”, so patenting it is a good thing because it “enforces” a standardized interface??? Phil, please… This is not unity. This is “divide and conquer”, if anything is: “Uniting” the OpenSim “interface” under SpotOn’s rule. Just tell me: Why are you thinking OpenSim actually needs SpotOn?

    6. Regarding SpotOn’s non-contributions: Nobody said it’s a problem that SpotOn is not contributing back. What most people are saying is that you are patenting technology that can stifle and prevent innovation on a particular area of OpenSim development. If you would lay off the patent weed and just keep your code for yourself, nobody would really care; you’d be on the same level as several other grids out there. It’s not really nice taking code that is estimated at many million US$ investment costs if it were paid-for and base your whole business on it and then not give anything back to it, but it’s actually hostile when you don’t just not say thank-you and give back a token of appreciation, but actually turn around and kick the project in the balls – and that’s what patents are.

    7. Perception: You might have learned in marketing that “it’s all about the perception”. But you can’t just spin perception any way you want it, because perception is, many times, based on very real experience and knowledge. Just because others have bigger sticks does not mean your stick becomes a feather. Honestly, saying there are bigger bullies than you are, and hence your behavior is alright, is a very very poor way of turning the table around.

    Greetings
    V

  7. […] This is a reply to SpotOn3D employee Philippe Pascal’s “My personal view of the storm around SpotON3D“: […]

  8. Phil on

    Morning Ilan & Vanish –

    your comments have been published – thank you for those. I will, as promised, also respond to them. I do hope you understand that this blog is something I do in my “spare time”. And although I will try to get an answer for both of you ready today, due to today’s busy schedule it might be that I’m only able to answer you tomorrow – but an answer will come.

    Best,

    Phil

  9. Phil on

    Hi Ilan –

    Thank you again for your comment. Again I appreciate the time and effort you took to formulate your opinion and ideas. And although I’m not sure we’ll ever fully agree, I’m most happy to engage in this open debate with you – I’m happy both of us have the intention of explaining our points-of-view to each other. I hope you’ll forgive me for repeatedly pointing out that the things I express on this blog are solely my own opinion, and that this is the reason I’m not copying over any of my responses to Hypergrid Business. I don’t want to cause any confusion, as many people automatically link my name to SpotON3D.

    In response to your message –

    I honestly think that SpotON3D has always shown to be available for an open debate on this and other topics. As pointed out in my blog post, if SpotON3D had the intention to strike hard we wouldn’t have communicated about anything at all. The fact that we did communicate about this and the fact that there was an outreach meeting organized (be it on short notice), are things that for me show that there were no bad intentions. Depending on your point of view, we might have been clumsy in PR. However, clumsiness does not equate to malicious intent.

    In reading your answer, a quote that caught my eye was:

    “in such a dynamic industry [software], patent protection may reduce overall innovation and social welfare”

    Even though your source for this quote was from science paper, this is merely an opinion, as witnessed by the use of the word “may”. I think if they’d state “it will” (eg. water will boil at 100 degrees Celcius), it would indeed be problematic. This I find to be a warning to be careful, rather than empirical proof. Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with being careful. But there’s still a huge difference between being careful and knowing for sure that something bad will happen. When you buy a gun, I’m pretty sure there’s some warnings on it, but there’s also a whole lot of gun enthusiasts that never shot themselves or someone else.

    When it comes to whether the company has given back code yes or no, Maria Korolov’s report on the outreach meeting clearly stated that the company has the intention of giving back code. In all the time I worked for Stevan and Tessa, I’ve always known them to be people of their word. As you’ve never had the opportunity of working with either one of them (as far as I know), I’m confident that this worry of yours will prove to be for naught over time. They will feed back code to the community. While you may argue whether or not it’s done to your specifications of what a “timely manner is”, there’s a huge difference between not giving anything back or just being a bit late. To say otherwise is inflammatory.

    I understand my opinion about Linux might have seemed a “common but uninformed” one, and I appreciate you giving me the links where I can find more information on these things. I knew Linux was used for web servers, however I did not know that it was also the base for Android.

    You did give me a better example though to illustrate what I mean when I talked about “the open source ceiling”. Android has in my view “jumped over” the “open source ceiling” thanks to the money brought into it by Google.

    In your comment, you state “All the cost savings and innovation that Linux is responsible for is due to companies not trying to enforce their patents in relation to Linux.”

    This statement made me wonder how you think that SpotON3D would enforce any patents it might get granted. I’ve said in both my blog post and my first comment that the rates there have been put on the table in our team meetings were very, very reasonable not to say cheap, and there’s several ways of enforcing a patent. I’m fully aware of the fact that Stevan said he would enforce patents when granted. However; if you’re given access to a technology for a very low licensing fee, does that make it die-hard enforcement of patents? Or could you also see that as some kind of helping hand? (Leaving the fact whether you want this helping hand in the middle.)

    I do hope that the points I’ve put forward make you understand my point-of-view and ideas about what’s going on better. Yes, SpotON3D has filed for more patents but it’s not said they’ll be granted and should they be granted; there’s not necessarily any bad intention behind those. They might throw a whole lot of useful technology out on the street for a cheap price. The more they do this, the less research any other potential Open Sim Developer would need to do.

    I’m not asking you to be convinced (though I’d be happy if you were), I am asking you however to take another look at things with the information and ideas I’ve gladly shared with you.

    Could patents be potentially harmful? Yes, no doubt about that. Will they always be harmful? No.

    Has SpotON3D got the intention to share code with the Open Sim Community? Yes, the intention is clearly there. Will they really, really, really do so? Time will tell, but my money is on “yes, they will.” Did they do so in a timely manner? One might argue about that, but is that really worth all this commotion?

    On a personal note; I have to say that I think I understand your point-of-view better now, on many levels. Not just because you’re so kind to take the effort of explaining it to me. Also because I’ve not just been a consultant in start-ups, but as I’ve actually had and still have my own start-ups. They will probably be the reason for me getting gray way to soon, but there’s nothing like the dynamics in a start-up with a motivated team.

    To answer your last question “[…] why associate yourself with such a company?” Well, you stated SpotON3D’s behavior is potentially problematic, I hope to have shown you it doesn’t necessarily need to be problematic. The reason I choose to associate myself with them is a result of the things I shared with you in the personal note above. I’m a junk for the dynamics in a start-up with a motivated team, and dynamics and motivation is something I think there’s no lack of at SpotON3D. Add the fact that some weren’t really happy with SpotON3D’s recent PR, and you’ve got all the ingredients I like; next to dynamics and motivation they also offer me a good challenge.

    Looking forwards to your response,

    Best,

    Phil

    • Ilan Tochner on

      Hi Phil,

      I’ll be copying my reply to the Hypergrid Business article as well as that is where the main discussion is being held.

      I may have not been clear enough in my previous replies so I’ll try to make more definite statements in this one.

      SpotOn3D stating it has a patent pending and not giving enough details so people can avoid infringing it is not acting with transparency. Doing so creates fear, uncertainty and doubt in OpenSim community members. If SpotOn3D wishes to be called transparent it should detail what exactly it is claiming to have invented. If it’s unwilling to do so it’s better it doesn’t say anything than create vague threats.

      Have you actually read the article that I sent you? Discounting a famous research paper in the field because of one partial quote from its abstract (which has to follow very strict rules about making claims if the paper is to be published), will leave you very uninformed about empirical data. I suggest you don’t act in such haste and actually read the analysis.

      However, as you will probably contend that you don’t have time to spend actually educating yourself using empirical research, I’ll just point you to an overview of much newer research paper that was done about the subject: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110725/03174515229/very-basis-our-patent-system-is-myth.shtml . The core of its findings is that “Surveys of hundreds of significant new technologies show that almost all of them are invented simultaneously or nearly simultaneously by two or more teams working independently of each other.” . In other words, the basis of patent law for which society is willing to grant patent writers with a government granted monopoly over an idea is just plain wrong. Please don’t reply without first reading at least this overview. It uses quantitative analysis of realworld patents.

      If you actually read the academic research about the patent system, especially as it relates to software and business method patents, and continue to support them I would like to know why.

      Stating you will give back code to the open source project you are using and actually giving back code are two very different things. Until SpotOn3D actually contributes something it can’t expect to be given credit for it.

      I hadn’t claimed for-profit companies don’t invest in open source projects, I said the exact opposite. What I claimed is that they did so without pursuing licensing fees from other companies in relation to those same open source projects. In other words, companies share R&D resources to create joint open source projects but they don’t go around asserting patents over users of those projects. SpotOn3D is acting in bad faith when it intends to assert patents over users of the open source project it has built its business on.

      No one has a problem with SpotOn3D attempting to license its copyrighted software to others. If someone wants to use SpotOn3D’s software then they should pay for it. However, that doesn’t mean SpotOn3D can go around forcing people to license their software instead of using an alternative piece of software that does the same thing. The community is in arms because SpotOn3D has stated that it will enforce its patents to gain competitive advantage.

      The ways SpotOn3D can enforce its patents are either: to use a court order to block a competitor from continuing to provide their service, filing harassment suits to bankrupt or dissuade competition, or forcing competitors to pay it patent licensing fees. None of those options is good for anyone other than SpotOn3D.

      It doesn’t matter how “reasonable” SpotOn3Ds patent licensing fees are – SpotOn3D has no moral right to them. The only reason it may get them is because it leverages a broken patent system. As has been said multiple times, lawful does not mean justified. Read the aforementioned research to understand what it isn’t justified.

      I hope this didn’t come out to harsh, but I do feel you are judging your company’s conduct as a biased insider instead of taking a step back and seeing SpotOn3D’s conduct for what it is. I’ll try to give an analogy, taking candy from someone else’s baby is morally wrong even if the law allows you to do so and you enjoy licking that stolen candy.

  10. Phil on

    Morning Vanish –

    You’re up next ;). Man – you guys make me feel like I’m back in the debate club, though it’s good I think to have this conversation going. Vanish, also a “thank you” to you, not just to take the time and effort to post your comments and concerns here, but maybe even a bigger thank you for keeping it civilized. It’s much appreciated.

    The attention you’ve given this whole subject on your blog shows to me you’re someone really caring about Open Sims, and with some genuine concerns. Although everything on this blog is only my personal vision and ideas, I do hope to be able to at least lessen your concerns.

    So, to get down to business;

    1) I agree transparency is not just saying you’re transparent, no discussion about that. However, there is a difference between trying to be transparent and not being seen as transparent. As was illustrated in the article on Hypergrid Business, SpotON3D did mention also the previous patent applications on their blog. Is it their fault not to be transparent when no one read them? It’s like placing a window in your house but no one looking through it.

    2) Yes, I’m a believer that Open Source software could be even more than it is today when there’s funding behind it. Not saying this needs to be “corporate funding” though. I’m a red cross volunteer, and we would be perfectly fine volunteering without any funding, but it’s thanks to the funding that we’re able to get good equipment and even an ambulance. Just to illustrate that the effort volunteers put in can be dramatically improved with a bit of funding here and there. Also, do note that I’ve never said Open Sim does need SpotON3D, nor did I say the future of Open Sim depends on SpotON3D. My only point here is that SpotON3D does care about Open Sim, and the future of Open Sim.

    3) I’m very happy to read that you state “It could probably be a threat”, and that you do leave (be it minimal) space for people to see this from another point-of-view. I think the “indications” you refer to are differently interpreted by both of us. The difference here is that the facts are the same, but that you think the glass is “half-empty”, where I think it is “half full” – said with all due respect. It’s something that only time will tell, and I’m someone not just giving SpotON3D the benefit of the doubt, I have no doubts at all about their intentions. They might seem a bit protective, (Hell yeah, I was protective about my company when I started it. Who wouldn’t be?), but I don’t think being protective necessarily translates into something bad.

    4) It’s good to read you would have been there if it wouldn’t have been on such short notice. I do not agree however that it doesn’t matter how many people would have been there, as no more questions would have been answered. People are very different, and as I’ve witnessed years of press conferences, I can assure you that it only takes 1 person more to create a fully different experience.

    5) No – that’s not what I meant, I think the image I tried to use there didn’t come across. What I’m saying there is that if we all spend our time fighting each other, we don’t make a good appearance in potential investor’s eyes. These potential investors might then choose to invest elsewhere because of this. Now, we talked about investing and funding a few points back – and I think that whether or not you think Open Sim could use some cold hard cash to be invested doesn’t matter to make this point clear. You’ll have to agree that yelling at each other in the streets doesn’t make us look good to the outside world, does it?

    6) It’s good to read you think that it’s not a problem if SpotON3D would not feed back any code. However, I do understand that you could think of this as being “not ethical”, which is why the fact that they did clearly state to have the intention to feed back code makes me happy. Leaving the ethical point-of-view out of the equation for a moment, Open Sim being open source does make this possible. If I walk into the woods and find myself a nice block of wood which I turn into a sculpture, I’m allowed to sell it and to patent the way I made it into a sculpture, no?

    7) It’s indeed all about perception, but please do not insinuate that I’m trying to turn the table around. I’m hoping, and it’s my intention getting engaged in this discussion, to also show you our side of the table. I don’t need/want you to come sit at our side, although you’re welcomed to do so. I just hope that I can make clear that it’s not necessarily all bad and evil.

    Let me throw another quote out there, since we are all using quotes to defend our cases. I believe it was “Pan” who said in Hypergrid Business: ” All the mistrust only leads to splitting the OpenSim community apart. Who fears a unified community most? Who benefits most? Who would have an interest in pulling that strings? How much would they invest for that?”

    Makes you think, doesn’t it? These are exactly the questions in my mind, and the questions I as avid user and fan of Open Sim worry about. I don’t think any of us will benefit from splitting the Open Sim community apart.

    Best,

    Phil

  11. Vanish on

    Hi Phil,

    I don’t know what you mean when you say Android has “jumped over the open source ceiling”. Android is still open sourced, and has tons of free contributors. You don’t need to run the google-ized version on your device, but can run any custom ROM you’d like to; in fact, I do just that.

    To say that SpotOn would not enforce its patents because the licensing fees are reasonable is quite missing the point. Not everyone will want to license SpoOn’s patent; in fact, right now, I believe almost nobody will want to. As Diva Canto said on another opportunity on patents: “I will use every resource I have available in the UC in order to shoot your merit-less patent applications down. Second, I can guarantee you that if something you patent is with merit but critical, I won’t stop until I find another way of doing it that doesn’t step over your patent.” Again: This is an open-sourced, free software project. Patents go against its very core and spirit, and there are lots of smart people who will not stop before they found a way around the patent, and will give that way to the community for free. And it’s exactly this scenario that people are worried about: When SpotOn will not find enough licensees, and there will be a free solution available that does just what the patented plugin does. To show that this scenario is not too far-fetched, I’d like to mention Gareth Nelson’s open-sourced Firefox Wrapper.

    1) It’s nice you mention the previous SpotOn patent applications. One of them is mentioned as a side-note in a blogpost titled “Fashionistas Needed! Designers Coming IN!! Woot!” Another is indeed announced in a blogpost, only not on the SpotOn blog, but on VeeSome. The other two are, at the time of this writing, still unknown. So I challenge you, in the name of transparency, to come forward with them, because so far, the curtains on your windows are not only drawn, but made of aluminum foil.

    2) It’s nice you believe open source can be more when there’s funding behind it. I’d like to mention that SpotOn did have funding, and lots of it. 300.000 US$, one of the “better-funded grids”. Tell me, how did that benefit OpenSim so far? And, judging from that, how will further funding of SpotOn benefit OpenSim?

    3) I’m very happy you read that I stated “it could probably be a threat”. I don’t however, think the false is “half empty”, I think there is no glass, and SpotOn never intended to fill it. It’s one thing to give them the benefit of doubt, but it’s another thing to decide to be deaf and blind to the things they actually say and do. It’s a nice technique to use general statements to distract from the matter at hand, so no, being protective does not necessarily translate into something bad, it’s just that in SpotOn’s case it definitely does.

    4) If I would have attended the meeting, I would have asked all the questions that have been put forward in it anyway. We saw that none of them were answered satisfactorily, even though they got addressed repeatedly. I like the thought that my presence alone would have made that world of a difference, but in all honesty, I don’t think I have the force. But tell you what? Here’s a proposal: I’d offer to moderate a meeting between SpotOn representatives and other OpenSim contributors on a neutral grounds with ample notice, maybe Second Life, or OSGrid, or, heck, even the TGIB standalone, if it can hold the audience.

    5) I don’t think we’re fighting each other. What I’m seeing is rather the OpenSim community very equivocally rejecting patents, so in this case, the community is actually united like never before. The only people not part of that union are SpotOn, and for obvious reasons. Trying to spin this into in-fighting among the OpenSim community that will somehow weaken it to “intruders” is just not coherent with reality. At this point it would be great if you would not use SpotOn and OpenSim as if they were the same thing. It might make it harder for SpotOn to find investors, but that’s a) not OpenSim’s fault and b) not OpenSim’s problem.

    6) One more time, with feeling: OpenSim is an open sourced free software project. Patents go against its very core and spirit. You’re not doing anything illegal, but in this case, there are many other things to be considered besides legalities. One of them is to understand what open-source projects are like, because they’re very different from commercial products. Open-source is centered around a community. Since there is no company to turn to for customer service or business inquiries, it all, virtually everything, depends on the community. It’s all there is, without the community, the project doesn’t exist. Now, this community is made up of people who work on the project because they believe in it, they do so for free, in their own time, and on their own terms. They’re not obliged to anyone for anything. Not respecting this community and working against its spirit will leave you without any support whatsoever.

    7) I agree that it’s not all necessarily bad and evil. But I don’t think we’re talking about the general state of the universe here, but about very definite patents, very definite business methods, and a very definite company. And while I’d love to speculate about the non-bad/evilness of all things, I have to say that in this case, things do indeed look like they’re all bad. Not necessarily evil, that would require growing some horns and spreading sulphur.

    In closing: I’m glad you brought up “Pan” as the only one wacky conspiracy comment in a post full of thoughtful comments, so I might as well repeat here what I said there: ” I don’t know. But I do know who would benefit from directing the attention away from them through some kind of conspiracy theory.” You see, it indeed made me think, just not in the direction that was intended.

  12. Gaga Gracious on

    Hi Phil

    Presently, real life keeps me busy but I am following this debate intensely and I broadly share Ilan and Vanish’s point of view. They have put the opposing arguments eloquently and I can’t add to them at this time. I have given my detailed response on my own blog anyway. I do thank you for pubishing everyone’s point of view and I hope it makes a difference although I am not really expecting it to since Stevan and Tessa have not conributed anything here yet.

    Gaga

  13. Gaga Gracious on

    Oh, as for Pan I think S/he was pointing a finger at SpotON3D as much as anyone else. My view is this is not actually splitting the community at all but rather uniting the community in full support of open sources and the belief in a free and open Metaverse. In my view that is what this all comes down to; the community feels threatened although there will be varying points of view on that. Speaking for myself only, I feel my dream is threatened regardless and, while I have no doubt of SpotON3D’s desire to build a secure network, patents and licensing of software largely based on prior art freely donated to the community by community members is not morally right, even if it’s legal.

    SpotON3D issued this challenge to the Open Sim community so it’s no surprise the community is reacting the way it is. SpotON3D, at the end of the day, can do what Linden Labs, Google, Facebook and others have done and plough ahead the way they will. They may or may not be successful in the long term. Only time will tell but the one thing that you can be sure of SpotON3D will not have the support of the community as a whole and that will not help you. Kitely has worked hard to gain acceptance and other commercial grids such as InWorldz and Avination take care how they tread. I have been hard on all of them in my time as Vanish and Ilan knows but I have been won over by what I see as good solid engagement and sensible attitudes to the rest of the community. This is what I hope SpotON3D will recognize and re-consider their position accordingly.

    I don’t feel my dream is threatened by Kitely, InWorldz or Avination nor any of the hundreds of other grids pitching for a stake in the open Metaverse. SpotON3D needs to open their eyes and look at where this is going and the damage being done to their reputation. No one is going to sweet talk me out of my position and I am bound to blog further on the way I see it. I want to see something better and have positive things to say.

    I am a passionate believer in a free and open Metaverse where both commercial and none-profits can work together, be supportive and share source when it benefits the whole. The 2d web grew into the open Internet we all enjoy today because the founders wanted to let that happen. The 3D Web must be founded on the same principles.

    SpotON3D can not control and dominate the 3D Web as it’s personal monopoly but they could be a major player if they turn this around. You know the problem.

    There, I had something to say anyway.

    Gaga

  14. Phil on

    Ok guys – thanks for your comments again. Same old story as before; I found them in my mailbox when I was quickly catching up on mails in between meetings. Comments have been published (all of them).

    I appreciate you all doing the time and effort to put those up here, though I do hope you’ll understand that I’m doing this in my spare-time – so give me some time. I will react as soon as I can.

  15. Phil on

    Goodmorning all –

    Thank you again for your comments. I hope you won’t mind me trying to address the questions, concerns and feedback given by the three of you in one go. I do have however the impression that I do need to state a few things clearly before I “get down to business”. It’s important to understand that this is nothing more and nothing less than my personal blog. I do sincerely hope you do understand (and maybe even appreciate) that I’m trying to come and talk with you guys as “just Phil”, not as “SpotON3D”.

    Although I was expecting some of the questions that have been put forward in the latest reactions, you will need to understand that I cannot address/answer all of them. These are not to be answered by me personally, and I also don’t have the desire to end up in the middle between two parties. As I see this, you’ve been banging on the office doors of SpotON3D, and I’m the inside guy that said “Meet me in the bar across the street, let’s have a pint and I’ll try to demonstrate to you there’s not necessarily a need to be worried, nor is there a necessity to think this is all evil.” However – I do this mainly because I’m very aware and very fond of the fire and passion you guys are showing for this technology we all love, and I do think that’s something we have in common.

    Other than that, I’m most happy to have this discussion with you, and there’s no need to apologize for being harsh.

    I did not say SpotON3D would not enforce any patents if they would be granted. There’s however several ways of enforcing patents, ranging from “ok” up to “OMFG”. The point I am trying to make is that I believe that when one enforces their patent in a reasonable and affordable way, it’s not as apocalyptic as is being claimed by some.

    And yes Ilan, I did read the paper you sent me, and I’m not tearing it apart. However, I do interpret the things they stated differently than you. I’m not judging here whether a patent is a good or a bad thing. I’m only saying that if there was a 100% certainty about a patent killing innovation, it would have been different. In actuality, this article actually supports what I’ve been attempting to state when, in its conclusion, they advise a more balanced approach. In my personal opinion, a patent used wisely and with consideration towards the open sim community (by for example announcing what you’re doing way in advance, and having very reasonable licensing fees) is more or less balanced. It’s not the exact kind of balance they talk about in the paper, but it’s also not a killing-, doom- and murder-scenario.

    On a side note, after these announcements of SpotON3D went out, there has been a vibe in the whole community about the advancement of such plug-ins. I’ve not witnessed as much talk and coding about browser plug-ins before. As Vanish pointed out in his reply quoting Diva Canto, there are and will be people taking up the glove just because of all this notoriety. Imagine if you will that the brilliant Diva Canto creates a third way, next to your Facebook Trigger and SpotON3D’s. In that case perhaps just the mere announcement of the patent stimulated innovation as we would then end up with three (maybe even more) ways of doing the same thing. I do agree however that for one of these three ways, innovation might be slightly tempered for now. One might wonder if that means the end of the world – Open Sim is a wonderful technology, but there’s still lots and lots of development to be done – and I’m sure that even if innovation on this particular part would be tempered, coders will not suffer a bore-out.

    Also made clear in these arguments is that there are strong doubts about any grid being willing to take a license if the patent was granted. I think that, depending on your point of view, it’s going to be just one more thing to take in to consideration whenever one makes a choice. It will not be the “be all end all” reason for taking advantage of the license. It would be foolish starting to try and sum these all up, but Vanish brought a good point forwards there. SpotON3D takes a risk aiming for this patent, and just as with many risks in business only time will tell if it was worth the effort and investment. They might be rewarded, they might be neglected – only time will tell. This is the nature of doing business. For those of you that think Spoton is the devil, perhaps you’ll enjoy sitting back and potentially seeing them shoot themselves in the foot.

    It has also been stated that the Open Sim Community was united like never before. I have serious doubts about that. There have been grids and people really concerned about this. There have been grids and people expressing their support for SpotON3D (be it not always on the public forums as they didn’t care to get dragged in to the mire) and there are grids and people ignoring this or being indifferent. So no, the Open Sim community is not united, nor did they “rise as one” The community is divided into multiple parties and none of us has the mandate to speak for all.

    I understand those opposing these recent events frequently using terms associated with the word “moral”. I honestly do believe that might indeed be a valid point you’re making, and I think that’s a discussion that we can continue to have but will never be able to ever finish it. I think my personal opinion on this has been clear

    It’s been my intention not only to give all of you an uncensored forum, but also to come out and talk in the spirit of demonstrating that there are valid perspectives on all sides. It’s not just black, it’s not just white. It might also be gray. I’m therefore happy to see Vanish saying that it’s not necessarily evil. I can live with “I think it looks bad”. It is my hope, actually my belief, that time will confirm that the world is not ending with the issuance of these patents. Although this might have not been SpotON3D’s best PR effort, I do believe that time will heal those that feel wounded. I’m sure we will not be able to have everyone smile at us, but then again; who is able to do that?

    Last but certainly not least – as some of you might know, SpotON3D is doing a Content Creators Expo in Second Life over the weekend. We will be organizing presentations and discussion groups, spiced up with a bit of music here and there. This Friday at 5PM, there is scheduled “SpotON3D ‘s Patent Pending Plug-in: Is it a threat or a benefit?” – this might be a better place and time for those concerns I’m not able to answer myself. I’ll share the location with you as soon as I have been able to get In-World and grab a SLURL.

    Best,

    Phil

  16. Ilan Tochner on

    Hi Phil,

    First, I fear you haven’t read both articles I’d sent you or you wouldn’t have stated that the negative effect of software patents on innovation is open to interpretation. Software patents hurt innovation and have no moral justification, as many recent research papers have shown (I can flood this forum with links if need be). There is no “in my opinion” is that statement.

    If someone uses a broken system to try to take what is not rightfully theirs then no matter how “reasonable” their demands are the community should stop them and punish them in such a way that all other would be bullies will think twice before ever trying that kind of stunt ever again. In no way should the community just sit idly by and let that bully advance his malicious schemes.

    SpotOn3D has zero right to get ANY patent licensing fees over ANY type of software implementation. No one knows what they patented, no one is basing their software on what they patented, and if someone unknowingly uses a method that SpotOn3D eventually gets a patent for then there is ZERO moral justification for that person needing to pay SpotOn3D for infringing that patent. SpotOn3D did not contribute to that person creating anything, it did not add anything to the mix, and therefore it does not deserve to share in the fruits of that person’s labor.

    Personally, if someone ever tried to shake down my own company, I would make sure that that person suffers a much bigger financial and social cost for their evil attempt than any amount they could have ever wished to extort from me. I would do so even if the licensing fees are so “reasonable” as to make fighting back irrational. I would do so even if it meant that my own company would go bankrupt in the process.

    The community should create an organization that protects its members from companies that intend to extort “reasonable” fees from them. Bullies pick on others when people stand by idly, if we join forces then we’ll be able to fend off even bigger would be patent trolls. If SpotOn3D is willing to give up on its intentions to unjustly share in the fruits of others then it will be invited to join that organization as well.

  17. Phil on

    Ilan –

    thank you again for your comment, it has just been published and I’ll try to respond to you asap. Chances are high though that that will be on Monday – I’m pretty busy with our CC Expo, and on top of that it’s my wife’s birthday.

    Meanwhile, I am able to give you the location, should you choose to come to the conversation tomorrow. Place to be is: http://slurl.com/secondlife/SpotON3D%20Biz%20Solutions/128/126/53/

    Hope to see you tomorrow, otherwise have a great weekend & see you on Monday.

    • Ilan Tochner on

      Hi Phil,

      Thank you for the invitation but I will not attend any event under SpotOn3D’s roof until it reforms and starts playing nice with everyone else.

      Have a great weekend as well, and please send your wife best wishes from me, I hope she has a wonderful year.

  18. […] My personal view of the storm around SpotON3D – Philippe Pascal, SpotON3D’s Developer Program Manager’s personal blog […]

  19. Phil on

    Goodmorning Ilan –

    I hope you’ve had a good weekend, and thank you again for your comments.

    For now, this will be my final response to this debate we’ve been having for a week. It’s been a respectful and lively debate, for which I thank you, but I think carrying on any further would only make us run in circles. I do hope you appreciate haven gotten an uncensored forum for your concerns and although we may not agree on several points, there’s no doubt that we both have been able to better explain our points-of-view.

    Although I do respect your decision not to come to any SpotON3D forum, at the same time I regret it. I don’t understand, why if you didn’t feel like coming to a SpotON3D hosted forum, you also didn’t invite us to come talk “at your place”. I strongly believe in an open and respectful dialog as the first step to clear up these kind of situations, even if the opinions on it are polarized.

    A fire fighter might think there’s a fire going on somewhere, as long as he doesn’t step into his truck to go to it, he’ll never know for sure if there’s really a fire going on, how bad it is and if it’s possible to extinguish it.

    When last Friday we had the open forum at our SL Expo, we’ve openly allowed those with a different opinion to express themselves and to put their questions forward. Vanish, who joined in on this discussion earlier, has been there and I thank him for voicing his concerns openly and giving us a chance to answer them. Maybe he did not like the answers, maybe he did – but at least he’s been given answers.

    “Absolutely, we’re willing to commit not to use patents in an anti-competitive manner ” (Stevan Lieberman, August 19th 2011)

    I hope that just like Vanish states “I was happy to hear that SpotOn is indeed committed not to use its patents in an anti-competitive manner, and we have a few more information about what the patents are there for” (http://tgib.co.uk/2011/08/20/spoton3d-panel-discussion-about-patents/), the quote above will at least give you a bit of reassurance. Time will tell who of us was right.

    I’m sure that we could have a lively further debate on many spin-off topics generated by these happenings. At this point however we’ve both illustrated our thinking, and that’s as far as we’ll go right now. We’ve both come in peace and talked, none of us waved the white flag. Carrying on further would make us subject of this cartoon – http://xkcd.com/386/.

    The more this technology we both cherish grows, the more we’ll bump into each other. Let’s sit down and have a beer when we have the chance, first round’s on me. For now, I’m back to using my spare time to play my sax & beat up my drums. (I’m pretty sure that my neighbors have been grateful for this debate).

    I wish you the best of luck with Kitely,
    Best,

    Phil

  20. Ilan Tochner on

    Hi Phil,

    From people’s accounts of what transpired at this event I think you have painted a unjustly rosy picture of SpotOn3D’s openness and commitment to not use their patents (if/once granted) for trying to shake down the community. For example see: http://tgib.co.uk/2011/08/20/spoton3d-panel-discussion-about-patents/#comment-738 (as you know there are many more quotes I can provide that detail similar accounts).

    Software and business model patents are already viewed as highly unjust government mandated monopolies by millions of highly educated people whose interest those patents were intended to serve.

    Anyone who has repeatedly made it clear they are intending to use an unjust law to try to shake down other people is a social pariahs in my book. I do not go to would be extortionists’ events and I do not invite them to my own. There is nothing to discuss with such people as long as they maintain they have a right to hurt others. The only discussions that should take place are inside the community on how to make sure that such would be “legal gangsters” will think twice about ever implementing their intended protection rackets.

    I’m truly saddened that you do not see the evil in your employer’s conduct. I’m hoping that this is because of some sort of cognitive dissonance resulting from you currently working for them. That said, you seam like a nice guy and I will gladly have a bear with you if we ever cross paths.

    Cheers,

    Ilan


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