I asked some people (online) if they knew about the Vuestar Patent issue, and whether they felt it applied to them. These friends and contacts are generally IT-savvy people. A few of them own their websites.
I was mildly surprised to learn that most responses typically went along these lines:
- "Yes, I've heard about the Vuestar patent case, but I don't think it applies to me" (note: have you actually read Vuestar's patent claims?)
- "So sad that a Singaporean is doing this" (note: Vuestar is a company that chose to register in Singapore. That doesn't make it Singaporean)
- "Oh, wait, you mean if I'm a website owner and I enable links via images, I have to pay them a license?" (that seems to be the case)
- "Is it possible for them to sue every owner?" (Does it matter?)
- "OMG, this is a worldwide license?" (
It's a worldwide patent- My error. See this comment. I've also verified that patents apply to only to an individual country. No such thing as "worldwide patent". There is a "Patent Cooperation Treaty" of which Singapore is a signatory, but it doesn't make a patent registered in Singapore applicable outside of Singapore.)
In my view, Vuestar has done nothing illegal. The legal ramifications of Vuestar's patent claims is something to be settled through due legal process.
So why am I concerned about the case when I don't run a website of my own (Vs. using a blogging service)?
Well I'm interested in whether the collective insights by knowledgeable individuals (bloggers and non-bloggers) would make a difference to the issue.
For most Singaporeans who've read the related newspaper articles or blog posts about this case, they'd assume only "IT people" will be affected.
But what if you're a student who runs a website using the so-called "technology to link to images" and you're suddenly faced with an invoice asking you to pay for the license?
Close down the site or blog?
Settle in court?
Whatever the choice, I believe in being prepared. To resolve some of the information-murkiness surrounding this whole affair.
Of course there's the saying that "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing".
In this case, I think the issue for many of us is really the lack of specific knowledge, i.e. Intellectual Property and Patent laws.
The conundrum that I have is that I'm not that well informed about IP and Patent laws either.
I can only suggest that before we dismiss this Vuestar Patents issue as something that "doesn't apply to me", let's think about it further.
What are the implications for yourself, or for the website owners whom you reply on to obtain your news and information?
Or if you're a website owner, find out as much about the issues involved. See if Alice's efforts at RefuteVueStarPatent can help. Or contribute to what she's trying to do.
Surely, being informed through credible sources is a first line of defense.
[Part 3 - Official clarification from IPOS]