Patents are challenging for open-source software. But that doesn't mean they aren't challenging for others, too! Thankfully, the heroes from our most beloved RPGs and stories never had to deal with patents. But what if they did?
Controls: arrow keys to move, spacebar to select/advance dialogue, hold "down" arrow key to increase dialogue speed
Rumor is an Old Man lives in a cave to the East. If you visit him, he will share what he sees in you, but quickly loses hope.
The Old Man represents how many people in software view patents - with despair. For the uninitiated, they may come across as a daunting task to deal with and so some avoid thinking about them altogether.
If you listen to strangers in the tavern, you will discover that you all share a common goal -- weakening the Evil Empire's grip over the land. You can try to join them, but unfortunately once they discover you don't have any weapons of your own, they will change their mind about teaming up.
Unfortunately, players in many industries treat their patents only as weapons, and refuse to share them with others. The task of saving the world (or changing it) needs people to work together. That's why Mozilla works hard with others to create open technology standards, which is essential to the interoperability behind the Open Web. After all, what's a Knight without his or her Round Table?
An Equipment Shop If you ask around, you may hear about the Equipment Shop located along the road leading out of town, to the North. Inside you may find some equipment for sale, but unfortunately using them is not as straightforward as one might hope. Due to licensing and patent restrictions, your money doesn't go as far as you need it to.
Some patent owners have tried to use their patents to restrict or control the use of their products, or even entire markets, way beyond what they could have achieved with other intellectual property laws alone. This can create some very bizarre results for consumers and markets alike -- such as being able to legally obtain a product but not legally being permitted to use it without infringing a patent!
The town's library is Southwest of the Town Square, and it contains ancient knowledge that may aid you. Sadly, that knowledge also carries a terrible curse. The WILLFULNESS Curse causes its victims to take 300% of normal damage in combat. Whether the knowledge is worth the price is anyone's guess.
The patent system is intended to "promote the progress of science and the useful arts" by granting a limited monopoly in exchange for disclosing one's inventions to the public. However, if someone willfully infringes a patent (which requires knowledge of the patent), they may be face treble damages. Add to that the fact that many patents are not particularly helpful for software development, and you end up with a huge body of patent literature that software companies actively try to avoid.
If you venture into the tunnels running underneath the town, you will encounter a Wizard being held prisoner. As he explains, he has been jailed because he cast a CURE 5 spell, and the Evil Empire claims it has a patent to all CURE spells. He will ask for your assistance, and swears he will never try to cast a CURE spell again, but it is up to you whether you want to ally with someone who is facing these types of allegations.
Patents are especially challenging for open source software because they can cover broad concepts, not just code. This creates a lot of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt over whether a developer can safely ship code. Sometimes this FUD causes many to steer clear entirely from certain areas of innovation because the risk can be too costly.
Once you are prepared, it's time to venture forth on your quest! The Trolls are a final test of your readiness. Good luck!
Spoiler Alert: Despite your best efforts, you will find that YOU ARE NOT PREPARED!!!!