Coda File System and Coda

From: M. Satyanarayanan <>
Date: Sat, 6 Mar 2010 07:41:11 -0500
Here's a Coda-related tidbit that one of my students sent me.  I thought
people on this mailing list would find it interesting:

> I thought I must share this news item with you. Recently Google acquired
> for $25M. Its amazing to see that the foundation of this
> online MS Office document editing service has principles not only inspired
> by Coda but seem infringed  upon from it. Its highlights are as follows:
> - It has local plugin(like Venus) which lets you edit docs locally (Coda
> client-cached copy) and saves a copy on the cloud ( Coda Server)
> - It allows multiple people to edit the same file at the same time (a la
> SVN, Git...)
> - It saves these documents by 'intelligently' syncing the changes and keeps
> version information (reintegration in Coda)
> They call this 'innovation'. Its a specialized and optimized(for Office
> docs) version of Coda. If you had patents on Coda, you could've blown the
> daylights out of these guys!

Here's my reply to this student, reflecting my personal view of the role of
university research in society (and open source software):

> Dear Jimit,
>   Thank you for alerting me to that news item.  At an intellectual property
> level, you are absolutely correct.  It is a very specialized implementation
> of the Coda concept.     Regarding patents and blowing them
> out of the water:    you are also right that it would definitely be a case
> of patent infringement.   However I chose not to patent my ideas but to
> put them in the public domain for a very good reason.  It allows others
> (such as this company) to build on these ideas without fear of lawsuits
> (from me or anyone else).
> In return, I would be very happy if they acknowledged publicly that their
> approach is directly inspired by Coda.   Words, not dollars.
> If they would like to donate a miniscule part of the $25M to Carnegie
> Mellon to support my current and future research, that will be even better!
> Coda made the IP waters safe for them to swim in.   If you start a company
> and make gigabucks, I hope you will do that :-)
> There's an excellent discussion of the corrosive effect of patents on
> innovation that you might find interesting:
>         "Against Intellectual Monopoly"
>         Michele Boldrin and David Levine
>         Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (July 2008)
>         ISBN: 0521879280
> Enjoy spring break, and see you in class in just over a week.
>      -- Satya
Received on 2010-03-06 07:42:36