If there's one good thing it did, it brought the issue of software patents and aggressive intellectual property management to the forefront of electronic civil liberties. The belated Unisys action to enforce it meant the development of alternative unencumbered standards, and a grass roots campaign to try and curb the worst excesses of the software patent fad. It may have even helped in the growth of the EFF.
Goodbye GIF patent. You won't be missed.
Actually it's not entirely gone. Here in the UK we have to wait another year.
The European patent EP0,129,439 expires on the 18th June 2004.
And the same for Canada and Japan.
The Canadian patent CA1,223,965 expires on the 6th June 2004.
The Japanese patents 2,123,602 and 2,610,084 expire on the 20th June 2004.
(Though it's unlikely that these will be enforced over the next few months...)