Home Messages Index
[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Author IndexDate IndexThread Index

Re: More Patent Threats from Microsoft

Verily I say unto thee, that SomeBloke spake thusly:
> Tim Smith wrote:

>> The FSF has also stated that Linux violates a ton of Microsoft 
>> patents.
>> Indeed, that used to be one of the major arguments against software
>> patents--that any significant open source project would, completely
>> accidently, violate a ton of patents, because the patent office is 
>> letting patents go through that are not sufficiently non-obvious.
> Can you provide a link?

Software Patents and Literary Patents

by Richard Stallman

This article was first published in The Guardian, of London, on June 20,
2005. The software patent directive was voted down, on July 6, because
its supporters decided at the last minute not to try their strength.
They will surely try again, in not quite the same way.

On July 6, 2005, the European Parliament will vote on the vital question
of whether to allow patents covering software—a policy that would
restrict every computer user, and tie software developers up in knots.


Just as one novel could infringe many different literary patents at
once, one program can infringe many different patents at once. It is so
much work to identify all the patents infringed by a large program that
only one such study has been done. A 2004 study of Linux, the kernel of
the GNU/Linux operating system, found it infringed 283 different US
software patents. That is to say, each of these 283 different patents
covers some computational process found somewhere in the thousands of
pages of source code of Linux.


However, there are a few points to consider before taking that statement
at face value:

. The fact that a "study" concluded those lines of code infringed
  patents, does not necessarily make those claims valid, they'd have to
  be tested in court first
. Even if some of those 283 claims turn out to be true, the patents
  themselves may not be enforceable, due to prior art or triviality, and
  could therefore be challenged
. Software Patents are not universally recognised, and the entire
  concept is widely held to be unethical

So ... assuming any of those claims are valid, are not based on prior
art, are asserted in a jurisdiction that actually recognises the
validity of software patents, and are actively pursued in court, then
the version of the Linux kernel circa 2004 /might/ have patent issues.
Meanwhile the kernel developers have had four years to do their own
investigation into the possibility of patent infringement, and take
appropriate action to remove/change the offending code if necessary. So
the claims made four years ago may not even be true any more, if they
ever were ... not that anyone outside of Redmond is likely to ever know
unless Sweaty puts his money where his is, and actually tells us what
specific patents Linux supposedly infringes.


| "At the time, I thought C was the most elegant language and Java
|  the most practical one. That point of view lasted for maybe two
|  weeks after initial exposure to Lisp."   ~ Constantine Vetoshev

Fedora release 8 (Werewolf) on sky, running kernel
 21:06:57 up 12 days,  6:02,  3 users,  load average: 0.00, 0.01, 0.00

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Author IndexDate IndexThread Index