[OpenBIOS] Intel holding back information

William Meyer wmeyer at earthlink.net
Sun Aug 8 21:23:36 CEST 1999

> How might we implement such an approach.  It would probably require two
> separate mail lists.  One for the group to reverse engineer the other BIOS
> and a second for the group creating the new BIOS.  The could be no
> communication between the two groups about the BIOS's other than the
> "identified functions."

It would require a rigid protocol. E-mail is not likely to be an acceptable
record of communications. Rigorous note keeping using traditionally accepted
methods would be essential. Those participating in coding would have to be
able to swear out affidavits attesting to their complete prior ignorance of
BIOS coding.

There are paper notebooks which serve well for documenting developments
which are potentially of legal importance. One supplier is the Laboratory
Notebook Company. The notebooks are stitched, the pages are gridded and
numbered, and each page provides space for the author and a witness to sign
and date. I've used these on projects for over 20 years, and they are
generally adopted as a standard in companies where patentability is a
consideration. They should be equally useful in documenting freedom from
infringing practices.

> If we are to take this route, then perhaps it is best we split soon to
> avoid the process of legal "contamination."

True enough, but the split can't be based merely on people's preferences.
Coders have to be free from any prior knowledge of BIOS source code. Many
won't like this, but there is no other way I am aware of to keep the group
legally untainted.

Legal advice would be essential. A lawyer (with considerable knowledge of
trademark, trade secret, and patent law) should draft a protocol, and should
also specify the considerations for membership in the coding group.

One question which occurs to me is whether there is still the potential for
problems from 3rd party contributions subsequent to publication of an open
BIOS. After all, the intellectual property of IBM, Phoenix/Award, and AMI
will persist.

Now the question is whether a geek lawyer can be found who would be
interested in contributing his or her services to a non-revenue open BIOS.

William Meyer

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