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Re: Idea: Add command-line option for reporting potential makefile error

From: David A. Wheeler
Subject: Re: Idea: Add command-line option for reporting potential makefile errors
Date: Wed, 12 Jun 2019 15:31:31 -0400 (EDT)

On Wed, 12 Jun 2019 19:22:09 +0100, Tim Murphy <address@hidden> wrote:
> If you use strace to detect dependencies you might have to do a thorough
> patent search. I will say no more because it's not my place to.

The odds of an *enforceable* patent on strace seem extremely remote from
the information I could find.

In the US, utility patents last 20 years
from the earliest filing date of the application on which the patent was 
Strace was originally written in 1991-1992, and ported to Linux in 1993.
All patents through 1999-06-11 have expired, many years after strace was 
We only need the basic capability provided by the strace of 1993, so
the probability that there is a problem *today* seems pretty remote.

In addition, if there's a valid patent on strace (a dubious premise),
there's a plausible defense that it's strace that is infringing and/or inducing 

It's true that the PTO often grants patents to prior art, sometimes *long*
pre-existing prior art.  The problem of garbage patents is well-known.
The PTO doesn't grant enough review time (shame on the PTO), and
people are incentivized to submit fraudulent patents (shame on them).
But those fraudulent patents are, according to law, supposed to get tossed out 
by courts.
If avoiding garbage patents is the criterion, then no one could write software.

I have no way to do a "thorough" patent search if that phrase has some special 
I'm not a lawyer, and I'm not being paid to do this.
If someone can do such searches for me, fantastic.
If someone has a specific patent number, let me know.
But since no one has decided to give me $BIGNUM to pay a lawyer,
I can only do what I can.

That said, I did use Google & searched for "strace patent".
I only found this:
I didn't read this patent in detail, because I found that it
describes something that is *NOT* strace
(strace is discussed to *contrast* what they propose). So that isn't relevant.

What's needed for this functionality is very basic "notice when the system
tries to check or open a file".  Many mechanisms use such services, not just 
and you'd think they'd have been sued by now.


--- David A. Wheeler

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