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Patents apply even in ignorance. So if you write a program,
say a blackjack card game program, you will find out that you
just violated a patent on computer card game programs. You will
be sued even though you didn't know you violated a patent and
defending the suit will cost you millions.
(IBM vs SUN story)
Patents have the potential to cause huge damage to the free
software industry. You need to become aware of the patent
threat. You need to become involved in fighting against
software patents. You need to do this now. Europe is about
to vote on software patent laws.