Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Apparently I've Violated a Software Patent

Yesterday I was attending a class in administering FAST Enterprise Search software. The instructor explained how document IDs are distributed among search nodes (md5 hash of ids is generated and a numerical value is computed from the hash, then molulo % number of nodes is applied) for deterministic document id management.

After he described the algorithm I was like, "Wow, that's exactly how I did it in a prototype I did a year ago with Lucene." I thought I was clever when I did it, but later on I learned another developer working for a nearby software company did it the same way, too.

But I digress.

FAST Instructor: "I hope you realize the dangers of using Lucene!!?"

Me: "Ummm, no. What dangers are you talking about?"

FAST Instructor: "Lucene violates several of our software patents. In fact, the algorithm we just discussed about deterministic document key management is patented, too."

Me: "Interesting."

So I will try and determine what patents, specifically he is talking about - and alert the Lucene DEVs to this situation.

Looks like software patents are getting to be a bigger and bigger threat to innovation everywhere. Silly, huh?


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