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25 July 2011

[lisp-game-dev] warning about lisp games and DoD "intellectual property"

David O'Toole dto1138 at

Sun Jul 24 11:53:00 PDT 2011

I thought the Lisp games community should know that someone on the
Boston Lisp meeting contacted me privately in response to my post
about the presentation I'm planning for later this year (see threads
below). You may wish to be careful in discussing Lisp with people who
are (or claim to be) former contractors for the US Department of
Defense, and I urge you protect yourselves and to do your own

That is all for now.

[boston-lisp] Fwd: restatement

David O'Toole dto1138 at

Fri Jul 22 12:10:35 PDT 2011

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: David O'Toole <dto1138 at>
Date: Fri, Jul 22, 2011 at 3:09 PM
Subject: Re: restatement
To: John Morrison <john.nmi.morrison at>

Okay John,

"Our goal for MAK was to commercialize the technology and make it
available to game makers and video arcades."  -- taken from this
article by your MAK co-founder:
Thanks for the lunch offer, but I'm not going to have an off-the-record discussion of any kind with you, I'm not going to look at or discuss code you've been working on that possibly violates a non-compete agreement still in force, and I'm not going to discuss my own future plans with someone who might open source "server side stuff" that involves his patent on networked physics simulations:
Was this patent research funded by public money? "The U.S. Government has a paid-up license in this invention and the right in limited circumstances to require the patent owner to license others on reasonable terms as provided for by the terms of contract no. DAAH01-91-C-R269 awarded by the Small Business Innovation Research agency (SBIR). This contract in no way limits the rights of non-government entities to request and receive licenses under the invention." >From the Katz article: "From an entrepreneur's standpoint, what's most remarkable about the SBIR program is that it essentially provides free venture capital from the federal government. Under the program, the government offers up to $850,000 in seed capital, requires no money back, takes no equity in the company, and retains few intellectual property rights to technologies developed with the funds." I don't think we have anything to discuss. On Thu, Jul 21, 2011 at 10:20 PM, John Morrison <john.nmi.morrison at> wrote: > The non-compete does not "cover" any software, including anyd unreleased > software I have written. It precludes me from competing with that company > before that date. Competing means either selling or open sourcing software > into the niche market served by that company. I used the term "releasing " > to mean either selling or open sourcing. > > As to what I want to talk about, I was actually interested in what YOU want > to do with respect to Lisp and games. A hobby? A livelihood? An altruistic > activity to popularize Lisp? Something else? I hoped a discussion would > help both clarify my own thinking and perhaps identify some opportunities > for complementary endeavors. But no sweat if it's not your idea of a good > time. > > -jm > > -- John Morrison > > On Jul 21, 2011 9:47 PM, "David O'Toole" <dto1138 at> wrote: >> I could probably sum all this up by saying: >> >> 1. I don't want to discuss your unreleased work if you can't release >> it until the agreement expires, because that fairly obviously signals >> that it's covered by the agreement. >> >> 2. I really might give better answers if you told me in more detail >> what you want to talk about. > --------------- Hi John, before discussing things further I would want to be sure that our conversation would not in itself cause a legal problem for me in the future. i maintain a "clean room" for my projects, and left the software industry partly in order to be completely free and clear from any form of non-compete agreement, intellectual property/invention assignment agreements, and non-disclosure, as my ethical precepts disallow them. more to the point, I would need unambiguous assurance that the unreleased code you just mentioned, and any ideas we discuss (whether or not involved in the code, and whether or not i even see the code) will NOT be affected in any way by the agreement still in force between yourself and Mak. - Show quoted text - ----------- Hello David, Sorry to be brief. Am on family vacation & using itsy-bitsy phone to reply hopefully only to you. Am working on hopefully industrial strength lisp based simulation/game. Am located in MA. Would love to have a chat about what you're doing & what your goals are. Am under non-compete with simulation company I co-founded & sold ( - agreement is up 21 Dec this year. Have code in the can - mostly server stuff - but cannot release anything yet. Please reply if interested in chatting - I'll buy. -jm -- John Morrison - Show quoted text - > _______________________________________________ > boston-lisp mailing list > boston-lisp at >

[boston-lisp] a bit of context

David O'Toole dto1138 at

Fri Jul 22 13:19:22 PDT 2011

I felt obligated to disclose this email train because other
programmers (possibly those on this list whom he may contact
privately) should know that:

1. whatever he open-sources (before or after dec 21) may be subject
to non-compete issues and patents;

2. Asking pointed questions about both non-compete and patents
did not produce satisfying or complete answers, in that:

3. He appears to have danced around the non-compete issue, mentioning
the agreement and its expiration date in the first email but then
trying to explain
why it wasn't going to be relevant to our discussion;

4. I had to find out about the patent from Google, even though it seems pretty
reasonable to wonder whether a networked method for calculating
newtonian physics
interactions in a simulated virtual world could apply to server code
for an online game,
AND even though I had specifically mentioned patents as a general concern.

If anything, my privately negative reaction to the non-compete
agreement issue might have kept others from hearing about it later,
which could be a problem, since the non-compete issue is what led me
to the patent.

If Mr. Morrison has violated any agreements in talking to me, that's
not my problem.

Date: Sun, 24 Jul 2011 22:51:17 -0400
Subject: Re: Your emails to John Morrison
From: "David O'Toole" <dto1138[at]>
To: Dan Stanger <dan.stanger[at]>
Cc: John Morrison <john.nmi.morrison[at]>

I have unsubscribed from your mailing list.

On Sun, Jul 24, 2011 at 10:16 PM, Dan Stanger <dan.stanger[at]> wrote:
> Dear Mr. O'Toole,
> I am writing to you regarding the emails you posted to the Boston Lisp email
> list. The first one, whose subject line reads: Fwd: restatement seems to be
> a forwarding of a private email exchange between you and Mr. Morrison. The
> second whose subject line reads: a bit of context is your explanation as to
> why you decided to post the previous exchange to a public list. Mr. Morrison
> emailed me directly regarding this, leading me  to believe that your
> conversation with him was a private one.
> If so, I do not consider posting a private email exchange proper, and I
> would like you to refrain from posting them on this list.
> Even if I am mistaken, and your exchange was intended to be public, your
> second posting seems to say some negative things about him. I do not want
> this list to be a forum for personal attacks, and I would like you to also
> refrain from postings such as this in the future.
> Sincerely yours,
> Dan Stanger