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FreeType Project Cheers TrueType Patent Expiration

CmdrTaco posted about 4 years ago | from the just-wait-it-out-i-guess dept.

Patents 203

FlorianMueller writes "The FreeType project celebrates the expiration of Apple's TrueType bytecode patents. The open source font rendering engine now has the bytecode technology enabled by default. The relevant code existed for some time, but the project felt forced to disable it and advise everyone not to use it due to patent encumbrance. The 20-year maximum of validity of software patents is long, but sometimes the stuff that becomes available is still useful. The Unisys GIF patent was an example. And anything open-sourced 20 years ago would also be patent-free by now (except for the code that has since been added)."

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Your official guide to the Jigaboo Presidency (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32951780)

Congratulations on your purchase of a brand new nigger! If handled properly, your apeman will give years of valuable, if reluctant, service.

INSTALLING YOUR NIGGER.
You should install your nigger differently according to whether you have purchased the field or house model. Field niggers work best in a serial configuration, i.e. chained together. Chain your nigger to another nigger immediately after unpacking it, and don't even think about taking that chain off, ever. Many niggers start singing as soon as you put a chain on them. This habit can usually be thrashed out of them if nipped in the bud. House niggers work best as standalone units, but should be hobbled or hamstrung to prevent attempts at escape. At this stage, your nigger can also be given a name. Most owners use the same names over and over, since niggers become confused by too much data. Rufus, Rastus, Remus, Toby, Carslisle, Carlton, Hey-You!-Yes-you!, Yeller, Blackstar, and Sambo are all effective names for your new buck nigger. If your nigger is a ho, it should be called Latrelle, L'Tanya, or Jemima. Some owners call their nigger hoes Latrine for a joke. Pearl, Blossom, and Ivory are also righteous names for nigger hoes. These names go straight over your nigger's head, by the way.

CONFIGURING YOUR NIGGER
Owing to a design error, your nigger comes equipped with a tongue and vocal chords. Most niggers can master only a few basic human phrases with this apparatus - "muh dick" being the most popular. However, others make barking, yelping, yapping noises and appear to be in some pain, so you should probably call a vet and have him remove your nigger's tongue. Once de-tongued your nigger will be a lot happier - at least, you won't hear it complaining anywhere near as much. Niggers have nothing interesting to say, anyway. Many owners also castrate their niggers for health reasons (yours, mine, and that of women, not the nigger's). This is strongly recommended, and frankly, it's a mystery why this is not done on the boat

HOUSING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger can be accommodated in cages with stout iron bars. Make sure, however, that the bars are wide enough to push pieces of nigger food through. The rule of thumb is, four niggers per square yard of cage. So a fifteen foot by thirty foot nigger cage can accommodate two hundred niggers. You can site a nigger cage anywhere, even on soft ground. Don't worry about your nigger fashioning makeshift shovels out of odd pieces of wood and digging an escape tunnel under the bars of the cage. Niggers never invented the shovel before and they're not about to now. In any case, your nigger is certainly too lazy to attempt escape. As long as the free food holds out, your nigger is living better than it did in Africa, so it will stay put. Buck niggers and hoe niggers can be safely accommodated in the same cage, as bucks never attempt sex with black hoes.

FEEDING YOUR NIGGER.
Your Nigger likes fried chicken, corn bread, and watermelon. You should therefore give it none of these things because its lazy ass almost certainly doesn't deserve it. Instead, feed it on porridge with salt, and creek water. Your nigger will supplement its diet with whatever it finds in the fields, other niggers, etc. Experienced nigger owners sometimes push watermelon slices through the bars of the nigger cage at the end of the day as a treat, but only if all niggers have worked well and nothing has been stolen that day. Mike of the Old Ranch Plantation reports that this last one is a killer, since all niggers steal something almost every single day of their lives. He reports he doesn't have to spend much on free watermelon for his niggers as a result. You should never allow your nigger meal breaks while at work, since if it stops work for more than ten minutes it will need to be retrained. You would be surprised how long it takes to teach a nigger to pick cotton. You really would. Coffee beans? Don't ask. You have no idea.

MAKING YOUR NIGGER WORK.
Niggers are very, very averse to work of any kind. The nigger's most prominent anatomical feature, after all, its oversized buttocks, which have evolved to make it more comfortable for your nigger to sit around all day doing nothing for its entire life. Niggers are often good runners, too, to enable them to sprint quickly in the opposite direction if they see work heading their way. The solution to this is to *dupe* your nigger into working. After installation, encourage it towards the cotton field with blows of a wooden club, fence post, baseball bat, etc., and then tell it that all that cotton belongs to a white man, who won't be back until tomorrow. Your nigger will then frantically compete with the other field niggers to steal as much of that cotton as it can before the white man returns. At the end of the day, return your nigger to its cage and laugh at its stupidity, then repeat the same trick every day indefinitely. Your nigger comes equipped with the standard nigger IQ of 75 and a memory to match, so it will forget this trick overnight. Niggers can start work at around 5am. You should then return to bed and come back at around 10am. Your niggers can then work through until around 10pm or whenever the light fades.

ENTERTAINING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger enjoys play, like most animals, so you should play with it regularly. A happy smiling nigger works best. Games niggers enjoy include: 1) A good thrashing: every few days, take your nigger's pants down, hang it up by its heels, and have some of your other niggers thrash it with a club or whip. Your nigger will signal its intense enjoyment by shrieking and sobbing. 2) Lynch the nigger: niggers are cheap and there are millions more where yours came from. So every now and then, push the boat out a bit and lynch a nigger.

Lynchings are best done with a rope over the branch of a tree, and niggers just love to be lynched. It makes them feel special. Make your other niggers watch. They'll be so grateful, they'll work harder for a day or two (and then you can lynch another one). 3) Nigger dragging: Tie your nigger by one wrist to the tow bar on the back of suitable vehicle, then drive away at approximately 50mph. Your nigger's shrieks of enjoyment will be heard for miles. It will shriek until it falls apart. To prolong the fun for the nigger, do *NOT* drag him by his feet, as his head comes off too soon. This is painless for the nigger, but spoils the fun. Always wear a seatbelt and never exceed the speed limit. 4) Playing on the PNL: a variation on (2), except you can lynch your nigger out in the fields, thus saving work time. Niggers enjoy this game best if the PNL is operated by a man in a tall white hood. 5) Hunt the nigger: a variation of Hunt the Slipper, but played outdoors, with Dobermans. WARNING: do not let your Dobermans bite a nigger, as they are highly toxic.

DISPOSAL OF DEAD NIGGERS.
Niggers die on average at around 40, which some might say is 40 years too late, but there you go. Most people prefer their niggers dead, in fact. When yours dies, report the license number of the car that did the drive-by shooting of your nigger. The police will collect the nigger and dispose of it for you.

COMMON PROBLEMS WITH NIGGERS - MY NIGGER IS VERY AGGRESIVE
Have it put down, for god's sake. Who needs an uppity nigger? What are we, short of niggers or something?

MY NIGGER KEEPS RAPING WHITE WOMEN
They all do this. Shorten your nigger's chain so it can't reach any white women, and arm heavily any white women who might go near it.

WILL MY NIGGER ATTACK ME?
Not unless it outnumbers you 20 to 1, and even then, it's not likely. If niggers successfully overthrew their owners, they'd have to sort out their own food. This is probably why nigger uprisings were nonexistent (until some fool gave them rights).

MY NIGGER BITCHES ABOUT ITS "RIGHTS" AND "RACISM".
Yeah, well, it would. Tell it to shut the fuck up.

MY NIGGER'S HIDE IS A FUNNY COLOR. - WHAT IS THE CORRECT SHADE FOR A NIGGER?
A nigger's skin is actually more or less transparent. That brown color you can see is the shit your nigger is full of. This is why some models of nigger are sold as "The Shitskin".

MY NIGGER ACTS LIKE A NIGGER, BUT IS WHITE.
What you have there is a "wigger". Rough crowd. WOW!

IS THAT LIKE AN ALBINO? ARE THEY RARE?
They're as common as dog shit and about as valuable. In fact, one of them was President between 1992 and 2000. Put your wigger in a cage with a few hundred genuine niggers and you'll soon find it stops acting like a nigger. However, leave it in the cage and let the niggers dispose of it. The best thing for any wigger is a dose of TNB.

MY NIGGER SMELLS REALLY BAD
And you were expecting what?

SHOULD I STORE MY DEAD NIGGER?
When you came in here, did you see a sign that said "Dead nigger storage"? .That's because there ain't no goddamn sign.

Hot damn! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32951788)

:D

This makes me worried... (1, Troll)

bogaboga (793279) | about 4 years ago | (#32951838)

The open source font rendering engine now has the bytecode technology enabled by default. The relevant code existed for some time, but the project felt forced to disable it and advise everyone not to use it due to patent encumbrance.

The statement above makes me worried because it suggests that the Open Source Community could not find their way around these patents for two decades! Think about it....20 years!

That's enough time for an infant born at the time of patent filing to [legally] be a parent at its expiry...and that's a long time folks.

Re:This makes me worried... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32951878)

No, that makes this a worthy patent, like the RSA patent. All those other patents that can be easily worked around, those are the bad patents.

Re:This makes me worried... (2, Informative)

quickOnTheUptake (1450889) | about 4 years ago | (#32952060)

Not necessarily. What if there is one obvious way to solve a problem and it gets a patent? Ridiculous example: If someone had gotten a patent for "circular apparatus that facilitates low friction locomotion" there might not have been much to do but wait out the 20 years.

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

vijayiyer (728590) | about 4 years ago | (#32952254)

If it's obvious, it's not supposed to be patentable. Unfortunately, the examiners seem to let a lot of obvious things slip through, but that covers your scenario.

Re:This makes me worried... (2, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | about 4 years ago | (#32952346)

I think the problem is that the wrong examiners handle some obvious patents. Something that may be obvious to a software developer may not be obvious to someone with only a degree in chemistry and a single undergrad programming course (and vice versa) and once a patent has been granted it's a pain in the ass to get rid of it even if there is prior art so everyone just kind of seems to hope that those who get such patents granted realize that they'd be useless in a serious legal battle (against someone with the resources to find the prior art or demonstrate how the patent would be obvious to anyone in the field).

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 4 years ago | (#32952944)

I think the problem is that the wrong examiners handle some obvious patents. Something that may be obvious to a software developer may not be obvious to someone with only a degree in chemistry and a single undergrad programming course (and vice versa) ...

You may think that, but you'd be wrong. The USPTO has lots of different art groups, and people reviewing software patents are software developers with CS or CE degrees, and people reviewing chemical patents are chemists or chem engineers.

Re:This makes me worried... (2, Funny)

js_sebastian (946118) | about 4 years ago | (#32952522)

If it's obvious, it's not supposed to be patentable. Unfortunately, the examiners seem to let a lot of obvious things slip through, but that covers your scenario.

Why don't you go tell the meso-american civilizations that the wheel is obvious?...

Re:This makes me worried... (2, Informative)

petermgreen (876956) | about 4 years ago | (#32952556)

A big problem is it's very difficult to judge obviousness, something that would be obvious to someone who has spent some time working on the same problem won't nessacerlly be obvious to a patent examiner. After the fact it's even harder.

Another big problem is those soloutions which aren't particularlly obvious but where there is only a very small number (sometimes only one) of good soloutions which are likely to be found eventually by multiple parties. Lightbulbs are a good example of this, both edison and swan came to the same conclusion on how to make a usable filament at about the same time independently.

And a final big problem is cases where you have to use a patented method not because it's the only or even the best soloution to the underlying problem but because it's the soloution compatible with what everyone else is doing.

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

quickOnTheUptake (1450889) | about 4 years ago | (#32952804)

No it shouldn't, but the ggp was distinguishing 'worthy' from 'bad' patents (it was given that some patents shouldn't have been granted). I was just saying that his criterion for distinguishing them isn't correct: Just because there isn't an easy work around doesn't by any means imply that it is a worthy patent.

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

EvanED (569694) | about 4 years ago | (#32952448)

I would suggest "a circular apparatus that facilitates low friction locomotion" would have been an entirely worthy patent when it was first invented.

The problem (IMO) isn't that you had to wait out the 20 years, it's that patents are being filed for things that aren't novel or are obvious. Do the latter things apply to TTF? I dunno. But put the problem in the right place.

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

vlm (69642) | about 4 years ago | (#32952512)

Ridiculous example: If someone had gotten a patent for "circular apparatus that facilitates low friction locomotion" there might not have been much to do but wait out the 20 years.

How about a real, ridiculous example instead of a made up one? Putting medication into popsicles and feeding the popsicles to children. Until it expires on Dec 20 2013 we can't do this.

http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/5431915/description.html [patentstorm.us]

This is the second time I've posted this patent today...

When I was a little kid (let just say, back when OJ was famous for an entirely different reason than now) my mom had one of those tupperware sets to "make your own popsicles" and I occasionally took medication that way per pediatrician advice. Instead of putting plain kool-aid in and freezing them, you put something kids don't like, such as cough medicine, in, fill the balance with kool-aid, stir to mix, freeze... best made onesie-twosie to prevent accidental overdose. Now a days I would like a tupperware popsicle maker kit so as to add ethanol. Oh that patent-violating mother of mine...

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

maxume (22995) | about 4 years ago | (#32952574)

Only for some ridiculotard version of can't.

Sure, drug companies are going to have trouble marketing medi-pops, but if you are actually worried about the legal risks you would take by making your own, you have gone off the deep end.

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

bami (1376931) | about 4 years ago | (#32952808)

>> Now a days I would like a tupperware popsicle maker kit so as to add ethanol.

You need some hard-core freezing equipment to make ethanol popsicles though.

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

vlm (69642) | about 4 years ago | (#32953046)

You need some hard-core freezing equipment to make ethanol popsicles though.

I can't be the only slashdotter who's frozen mixed drinks into icecubes. You know, so your jack -n- coke doesn't water down as the ice cubes melt. "Everyone knows" that fifty:fifty jack and coke will freeze in a residential deep freeze and possibly in a plain residential freezer, and fifty:fifty jack and coke is pretty strong, thats like jack with a slight coke flavoring. No liquor 80 proof and above can possibly freeze in a residential freezer. I believe the freezing point for diet coke is far higher than regular coke due to the sugar content. I don't know how corn syrup content vs sucrose content varies the mix.

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 4 years ago | (#32953094)

How about a real, ridiculous example instead of a made up one? Putting medication into popsicles and feeding the popsicles to children. Until it expires on Dec 20 2013 we can't do this.

http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/5431915/description.html [patentstorm.us]

That's odd... I don't see "putting medication into popsicles and feeding the popsicles to children" in the claims. Are you sure you're not attempting to refute a patent based on stuff with no legal weight, like the title, abstract, or pictures?

This is the second time I've posted this patent today...

When I was a little kid (let just say, back when OJ was famous for an entirely different reason than now) my mom had one of those tupperware sets to "make your own popsicles" and I occasionally took medication that way per pediatrician advice. Instead of putting plain kool-aid in and freezing them, you put something kids don't like, such as cough medicine, in, fill the balance with kool-aid, stir to mix, freeze... best made onesie-twosie to prevent accidental overdose. Now a days I would like a tupperware popsicle maker kit so as to add ethanol. Oh that patent-violating mother of mine...

And yet, nothing like the system claimed in the patent existed commercially... Do you have any proof that you did that, or are we to simply take your word for it? I don't know about you, but I'd be pretty pissed off if, as an inventor, someone was to say "oh, your invention? I totally did that years ago, but I don't have any proof, documentation, photos, or anything else. But you can't get a patent on it now."

Why should we deny patent protection to an inventor who is disclosing his invention to the public, in favor of someone who, if they're being completely honest, sat on an invention and didn't disclose it to the public or add to the state of the art? We're supposed to be encouraging public disclosure of innovation... not simply undocumented, secret innovation. The latter, at best, is doing the same thing as submarine patent trolls... and I thought Slashdot hated submarine patents.

Re:This makes me worried... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32953096)

Compounding pharmacists have been doing this with candy forever.

Re:This makes me worried... (2, Interesting)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 4 years ago | (#32952952)

Thanks to the free market, there would be no incentive for someone with such a patent to just sit on it for a number of years, unless they also held (and licensed) a patent for "mammalian apparatus of equine variety that facilitates locomotion"...

Patents are only there to prevent the sort of "clandestine creativity" that surrounds an expensive project that is faced with the very real threat that it will be stolen right out from under the inventors. Look at China for a very real example of why a working (if less than ideal) patent system is better than no patent system: the only reward for creativity is obtained through going to market faster than your competitors, who will undoubtedly "borrow" your creations for their very next product cycle. This leads to one hastily released, poorly developed product after another, with no time spent on refining and perfecting new technologies. Companies with long development cycles like Apple, Cisco, Microsoft, IBM, and others would be completely unviable without a patent system. Love them or hate them, they have made the Western (and patent-friendly) world what it is today.

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

cgenman (325138) | about 4 years ago | (#32952978)

To be fair, a lot of things are obvious in retrospect. It's obvious now that a round object with a shaft down the middle might be used to easily carry weight, but the wheel wasn't discovered by all cultures and has no parallel in nature. One-click... that's obvious.

There are many moments of "Oh yeah, why didn't anyone think of that?" It's not a solution to a math problem, it's a stroke of creative intuition. In retrospect, those strokes seem obvious. But without seeing someone else do it first, however, nobody else might ever have thought of it.

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

jabuzz (182671) | about 4 years ago | (#32952264)

The RSA patent was not a worthy patent. It failed the obvious to someone skilled in the arts test due to the fact that it had been previously discovered at GCHQ some years previous. Clearly someone with the right mathematical skills and into cryptography could work it out without problem. The whole concepty had been previously publicaly published by someone who lacked the mathematical skills to provide a working solution.

It really bugs me when people claim that the RSA patent was worthy as it shows a lack of knowledge of the issue.

Re:This makes me worried... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32952344)

On the contrary, this sounds one of the worst kinds of patent - it was used as a interoperability lockout.
You can't "work around it" because the data is stored in a particular format, and the way to read it is patented.

Re:This makes me worried... (2, Informative)

JavaBear (9872) | about 4 years ago | (#32951888)

Yes, in a business where most things are considered obsolete after 5 years, and ancient at 10, a 20 year patent life time is extremely excessive.

It is sad to see that countries and regions (EU) who do not (officially) allow software patents, are working on legislation to enable them.

Re:This makes me worried... (2, Interesting)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | about 4 years ago | (#32952134)

Well at least New Zealand seems to be moving in the right direction on that topic.

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 4 years ago | (#32952234)

Yes, in a business where most things are considered obsolete after 5 years, and ancient at 10, a 20 year patent life time is extremely excessive.

That statement is ironic when you consider this exact case - TrueType, still in primary use today, still valid, still relevant, not obsolete or ancient and still sought after.

Re:This makes me worried... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32952360)

Microsoft still holds a patent on subpixel smoothing. It seems to be specific enough that there are already alternative implementations, but those are doubtless held by some submarine patent holder.

Re:This makes me worried... (1, Funny)

operagost (62405) | about 4 years ago | (#32951896)

It's illegal to be a parent at some age under 20? Sue mother nature!

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 4 years ago | (#32951916)

The original post never even hinted at 20 years being any sort of a minimum for parenthood - just that it was long enough for it to happen.

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

quickOnTheUptake (1450889) | about 4 years ago | (#32952152)

born at the time of patent filing to [legally] be a parent at its expiry.

I don't know how to parse this except as a direct refutation of your post.
As with GP, I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. Nor do I understand its relevance.

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

digitig (1056110) | about 4 years ago | (#32952350)

I don't see why you have a problem with it. 20 is old enough to legally be a parent, at least here in the UK. 30 is old enough to legally be a parent. 40 is legally old enough to be a parent. But if somebody becomes a parent at the age of 12 then unless it's the second coming of Christ (good luck persuading the court) an offence has been committed.

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

quickOnTheUptake (1450889) | about 4 years ago | (#32952688)

Assuming you are addressing the second and third sentences of my post: I don't know what 'legal parent' means. I also just don't see how this is a particularly relevant comparison of time.
BTW, what is the offense that is committed if a 12 year old becomes a parent? (I'm not arguing the law, I'm just curious.)

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

digitig (1056110) | about 4 years ago | (#32952924)

Simply that saying that it's legal to be a parent at 20 does not mean that it's not legal to be a parent at some other age. And I wonder how somebody could become a parent at 12 without some offence being committed. What the Americans call statutory rape would be the most likely, but it's not the only possibility.

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 4 years ago | (#32952942)

what is the offense that is committed if a 12 year old becomes a parent?

barring immaculate conception, statutory rape if you're in the US or sexual assault of a minor up here (Canada) if the other parent is more than 2 years older.

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

flink (18449) | about 4 years ago | (#32952694)

But if somebody becomes a parent at the age of 12 then unless it's the second coming of Christ (good luck persuading the court) an offense has been committed.

In most places I know of, it's not illegal for 2 minors to have sex with each other. In any case, I would argue that the intercourse is the legally problematic bit, not the "becoming a parent" part.

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

digitig (1056110) | about 4 years ago | (#32952948)

In any case, I would argue that the intercourse is the legally problematic bit, not the "becoming a parent" part.

Hence my careful phrasing.

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

quickOnTheUptake (1450889) | about 4 years ago | (#32952582)

Actually on second thought, I wonder whether he meant by 'legal parent' a parent recognized as a parent under law (with, for example, full custody rights) rather than saying 'a parent who hasn't violated the law'.
Either way, this doesn't seem to be what GP was saying.

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | about 4 years ago | (#32952734)

It's a clumsy reference but I think the GGP (or is it GGGP? I've lost track...) makes a valid point.

He's saying that a child could be born and grow to an age where s/he could procreate before a patent runs out. It's like saying "Once in a blue moon" to indicate that something happens rarely or only after a long time.

Then the thought occurred to him that a person could be a parent at some ridiculously young age that's far shorter than the amount of time for a patent to run out. Thus, he threw in that "legally" word to indicate that the span of time he's referencing is even longer.

As I said, it was a clumsy reference. However, it seemed pretty clear to me from the outset.

Re:This makes me worried... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32951978)

Not illegal, just really fucking retarded.

Re:This makes me worried... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32951900)

So you're saying open source developers can't think up their own solutions.

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 4 years ago | (#32952386)

Thinking up your own solutions doesn't help if about every font out there uses the patented one.

Re:This makes me worried... (5, Insightful)

marga (455344) | about 4 years ago | (#32951948)

The statement above makes me worried because it suggests that the Open Source Community could not find their way around these patents for two decades! Think about it....20 years!

That is not what the article says. What it says is that the patent was filed 20 years ago, and that the freetype library included the code that infringed on that patent "for some time".

What would "find a way around these patents" be? With software patents, that patent a "method" of doing something, it's quite hard to be able to find a way around them. Say Microsoft decided to enforce their double-click patent, how would you find a way around it? Basically, no other software would be able to use the double click input method without paying Microsoft for a patent license.

The EFF fights against many of the enforced software patents, trying to prove that there was prior art and that the patent was actually invalid when it was granted. If the patent was actually valid, there's not much you could do.

That's how it is, that's why we hate software patents.

You cannot patent an idea, can you? (2, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | about 4 years ago | (#32952074)

Say Microsoft decided to enforce their double-click patent, how would you find a way around it?

Microsoft cannot be granted a patent on such a thing. What they could patent is the implementation of how events are handled by the system. So double clicking wouldn't be patentable. Under the patent regime today, what they could patent includes the method of effecting a [desired] change after double clicking.

Please correct me if I am wrong.

Re:You cannot patent an idea, can you? (4, Informative)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#32952196)

Please correct me if I am wrong.

Okay - consider this [slashdot.org] your correction.

While what you say is true in the theory of how patents should work - it is not how it is applied today. People abstract a lot of the methodology to claim that their idea IS the methodology.

Re:You cannot patent an idea, can you? (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#32952200)

You can patent anything you can get a patent clerk to sign off on. At which point the only recourse the public has is to take you to court. That's well beyond the resources of a project like FreeType. Just because the patent is technically invalid doesn't mean they can't make your life hell for infringing on it.

Re:You cannot patent an idea, can you? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about 4 years ago | (#32952270)

That would be how it should work if patents were allowed for software.

But that is not how it does currently work.

Few software patents are on "this method" of doing something, but rather on "a method" (any method).

Personally, I consider that software is the only area where both copyright and patents cover the same material.

It should be one or the other, and I favor copyright.

Re:This makes me worried... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32952412)

I know that Slashdot never pays attention to this but software patents are often infinitely more detailed than is let on and the patent covers the much narrower implementation outlined in the details of the patent.

For example, Microsoft did not patent "double clicking". If you only read maybe the first statement or two in the first paragraph of the summary while wearing anti-MS blinders then maybe you could extrapolate that the patent covers double clicking. But the claims go much deeper, specifically having application-specific buttons on a portable device offer multiple operations based on how the user interacts with that button, e.g. a media player button on a phone where one click opens the media player, two clicks moves to the next song and holding the button for two seconds shuffles the currently playing playlist. The covered implementation only deals with portable devices and application-specific buttons on those devices. That may also seem obvious today, but that patent was filed 11 years ago. Now if you can find a handheld device that offered such specific functionality prior to 1999 then feel free to offer it up as prior art, but something tells me that you won't without some severe stretching that would fall well outside of the applicability of the patent. You'll also note that this patent is not a software patent.

That said, there are bad patents out there and the system does get abused and deserves reevaluation, but there are plenty of good patents used in an appropriate manner so the baby should not be thrown out with the bathwater.

Triple-click? (1)

Comboman (895500) | about 4 years ago | (#32952672)

Say Microsoft decided to enforce their double-click patent, how would you find a way around it?

Easy, use a triple-click with an "accessibility" tolerance of +/- one click.

Re:This makes me worried... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32951994)

There may be multiple ways of solving a problem but where the best and most obvious solution is patented. If this is the case it is still desirable to change from an inferior method to a the best method when the patent expires.

Re:This makes me worried... (3, Informative)

Qzukk (229616) | about 4 years ago | (#32952052)

could not find their way around these patents for two decades

Sure, there was a way around the patents: be incompatible with TrueType.

That's how PNG was invented to work around the patents on GIF.

Re:This makes me worried... (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#32952280)

Sure, there was a way around the patents: be incompatible with TrueType.

But then how would you get the major foundries on board without being compatible with the two major desktop PC operating systems?

Re:This makes me worried... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32952578)

And that's precisely why FreeType didn't include a "workaround". Since it would be tantamount to creating a whole new file format, what would be the point?

dom

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

kabloom (755503) | about 4 years ago | (#32952054)

That's enough time for an infant born at the time of patent filing to [legally] be a parent at its expiry...and that's a long time folks.

Giving new meaning to the term "generations" of technology.

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

diegocg (1680514) | about 4 years ago | (#32952114)

I'm not sure it's possible to work around the patent in this case. It seems that TrueType fonts (invented by Apple) include some sort of "program" that once it gets interpreted by the font renderized it makes fonts look better, but the TrueType format is not patent-free. The options are to invent a new font format or to use the ttf format and avoid the features that are patented.

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 4 years ago | (#32952164)

The statement above makes me worried because it suggests that the Open Source Community could not find their way around these patents for two decades! Think about it....20 years!

They "found their way around" the patents long ago, using what is actually a more advanced automatic hinting method than the patented method. Early on it sucked, but over time the differences seemed to become almost unnoticeable in many cases.

At any rate, top font designers go to a lot of effort to hint the fonts by hand. That's the bit that was patented. Freetype might as well go ahead and fully utilize the efforts of the font designers now that they can.

Re:This makes me worried... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32952928)

Find a way around what? Using True Type fonts? The way around it is simple to define some other mechanism. But when you're talking about a mechanism that is tied to a representation, then there are serious compatibility issues if one implements some other solution.

Re:This makes me worried... (1)

Late Adopter (1492849) | about 4 years ago | (#32952990)

FOSS programmers can and often do find parallel solutions to problems where patents are involved. The problem lies in compatibility, people want to be able to distribute files in one format and have them usable by everyone. You can't even write a format converter without using the patented algorithm to interpret the original ttf (or gif, or mpg) files.

Patents cover methods, as they were designed to do, but in the software world that means they by necessity cover interfaces too.

Does this really matter (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 4 years ago | (#32951844)

Didn't most distributions that shipped FreeType enable usage of TrueType fonts by default already, or am I misunderstanding this?

Re:Does this really matter (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32952024)

The bytecode in question is about hinting and gridfitting (try Googling those terms): it tells the rendering engine (e.g. FreeType) how to scale fonts at small sizes so they look good. By default, FreeType just scaled text down, which can make it hard to read at small sizes and give blurry edges. Although it did make some efforts to guess what would make good grid alignment decisions, they couldn't used the wealth of information that some fonts' designers painstakingly design into their work by default. It's one of the reasons why fonts on Linux look like crap at small sizes, especially with antialiasing turned off. (Remember that Windows never had problems when fonts were just displayed as black and white!)

Anyone have a comparison? (1)

stefanb (21140) | about 4 years ago | (#32951850)

My google-fu must be weak today: is there an example comparing small font sizes with and without the byte code interpreter enabled?

Re:Anyone have a comparison? (4, Informative)

jisatsusha (755173) | about 4 years ago | (#32952170)

There's this image [entropy.ch] (left without bytecode, right with) I found which has a comparison for a number of fonts, but the site mentions that other patches were also included, so it may not be entirely representative. Perhaps someone else can find a better example.

Re:Anyone have a comparison? (1)

stefanb (21140) | about 4 years ago | (#32952276)

Excellent! That was exactly what I was looking for. Looks like a very decent improvement with many fonts.

Re:Anyone have a comparison? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32952542)

All right, I give up. Which column is supposed to look better? The one on the left, or the one on the right?

Re:Anyone have a comparison? (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 4 years ago | (#32953074)

The right one. It doesn't necessarily look better per se, but rather looks as the font designers intended.

Patent time needs to be extended! (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 4 years ago | (#32951904)

This may become the next drive where software patents are concerned. In much the same way that the H1-B programs get extended and increased while unemployment is hitting new highs, software patents stifle business and innovation and keep the courts systems over-burdened... we need more of it!

Re:Patent time needs to be extended! (1, Offtopic)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 4 years ago | (#32951968)

In much the same way that the H1-B programs get extended and increased while unemployment is hitting new highs

Indeed. Those in power always seem to find excuses to line their pockets. Much like contractors proclaim that illegal immigrants are taking jobs that "no one else wants" despite anyone in the know seeing that there are a ton of unemployed Americans in the drywall, masonry, landscaping, and other construction trades looking for work who can't find it because of jobs taken by illegals. What the rich guys mean whey they say they're taking jobs that "no one wants" is that they're taking jobs that THEY don't want.

Like I said, they'll always try to argue to line their own pockets.

Re:Patent time needs to be extended! (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 4 years ago | (#32952228)

I am presently employed in IT. Some might say under-employed... but I've been considering waiting outside of Home Depot on weekends. That tax-free income looks pretty attractive right about now.

I think when our white faces start showing up in news articles instead of the typical brown ones, there might be some additional notice paid. Unfortunately, I don't speak spanish particularly well so that might be a problem with my getting any of that weekend-tax-free-pay.

Re:Patent time needs to be extended! (1)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#32952326)

I think when our white faces start showing up in news articles instead of the typical brown ones, there might be some additional notice paid. Unfortunately, I don't speak spanish particularly well so that might be a problem with my getting any of that weekend-tax-free-pay.

That's what community college and a holiday in Spain are for.

Re:Patent time needs to be extended! (0, Offtopic)

dpilot (134227) | about 4 years ago | (#32952604)

> What the rich guys mean whey they say they're taking jobs that "no one wants" is
> that they're taking jobs that THEY don't want.

Correction: they're taking jobs that "no one wants" at the wages the rich guys want to pay. After all, we can't ALL be rich, and if you're going to crank that difference between them an us in there, you've got to start somewhere.

Re:Patent time needs to be extended! (0, Offtopic)

Insightfill (554828) | about 4 years ago | (#32952616)

What the rich guys mean whey they say they're taking jobs that "no one wants" is that they're taking jobs that THEY don't want.

Stephen Colbert had a guest on from "Take Our Jobs" [takeourjobs.org] the other day, a group with the premise that field labor work is hard, but skilled, but also doesn't pay very well. The illegal immigrants aren't taking anyone's job, because hardly anyone else here will do it. Their claim: take our jobs, please. It's hard work, and we're stealing nobody's job.

I love the disclaimer on their site before you sign up: "** Job may include using hand tools such as knives, hoes, shovels, etc. Duties may include tilling the soil, transplanting, weeding, thinning, picking, cutting, sorting & packing of harvested produce. May set up & operate irrigation equip. Work is performed outside in all weather conditions (Summertime 90+ degree weather) & is physically demanding requiring workers to bend, stoop, lift & carry up to 50 lbs on a regular basis."

Re:Patent time needs to be extended! (2, Interesting)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 4 years ago | (#32953110)

The illegal immigrants aren't taking anyone's job, because hardly anyone else here will do it. Their claim: take our jobs, please. It's hard work, and we're stealing nobody's job.

Only to those who don't know any better. I have family members in drywall, and several friends in the masonry business. Most of them are currently unemployed - not for lack of wanting to work, but for the fact that the companies that employed them went under due to not being able to competitively bid against companies using off the books/illegal labor. Other companies are literally bidding less than the break even cost of legit companies because they're paying their labor under the table for less than minimum wage.

In the construction industry as a whole, it's literally gotten to the point where if a company wants to play by the rules, they're as good as gone. This isn't about Americans not being willing to work hard. I know people who have been doing these jobs for 30+ years working hard for all their lives who now are simply not able to find any work. For the younger generation, it's not too bad. They still have some hope of trying to get on in a different industry that hasn't gone all to hell. The 50+ guys whose main skill is now worthless to an actual American though is SOL.

I work in IT too - I don't do a menial labor job, but having grown in in the sticks, I know a ton of people who don't/didn't have cushy office jobs. These people have busted their ass for a living, and now their jobs are being handed away to those working for illegally low wages (which are made possible by the fact that they're not paying income taxes - that nagging little thing that reduces the wages of legit workers by 30-40%) just to make the rich richer.

Funny Enough... (4, Interesting)

wandazulu (265281) | about 4 years ago | (#32951930)

Apple apparently uses FreeType in the iPhone. Go to settings->General->Legal and you get the long list of projects uses in the iPhone; the Freetype project is mentioned about a third of the way down (right below the copyright notice for ncurses).

I suppose Apple had no issue recompiling with the flag turned on.

Re:Funny Enough... (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | about 4 years ago | (#32952020)

I guess they felt they could violate their own patent?!

Re:Funny Enough... (1)

DittoBox (978894) | about 4 years ago | (#32952466)

Funny me laughs at this.

Pedantic me says that since they own the patents, it's just like if one of us was licensing the patent. Ergo, turning that option on at build-time would have been legally hunky-dory.

Funny me laughs at it again though.

Re:Funny Enough... (1)

Vintermann (400722) | about 4 years ago | (#32952586)

Wouldn't the GPL3 give them trouble with that, if someone called them on it?

Re:Funny Enough... (1)

Cyberax (705495) | about 4 years ago | (#32952042)

They are patent holders for that particular patents :)

Re:Funny Enough... (4, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 4 years ago | (#32952238)

I suppose Apple had no issue recompiling with the flag turned on.

IIRC, the Freetype FAQ suggested that for commercial use, you could talk to Apple and get a license so that you can legally recompile with the flags on. I assume Apple sent an email to 127.0.0.1 to request such permission.

Re:Funny Enough... (1)

Vahokif (1292866) | about 4 years ago | (#32952862)

That's because they don't need to license their own patent.

summary not precise (1, Informative)

aepervius (535155) | about 4 years ago | (#32952044)

The code would be under copyright, but patent free. Not the same things. That mean you would not be able to COPY the code snippet, but you would be free to make your own implementation.

Can now embed into X11? (-1, Troll)

Dzonatas (984964) | about 4 years ago | (#32952050)

I wondered how a 'bytecode interpreter" based on static arrays would work as embedded into X11. It seems with this patent expiration, it would allow progress to continue actual deployment of any previous experiments. If we used some code from Wine and add it to a X11 backend, then think how much this could benefit bandwidth wise. It wouldn't be an easy first step except for this bytecode interpreter. A more extreme viewport on X11 would be a fully embedded Cairo surface, yet by that time we probably find exactly what can stay in the X11 process and what needs to stay in apps that use such a richer X11 display.

This isn't just an idea on a whim. There are already designs to add i7s right behind the pixel plane of monitors. With the 3D interconnect design of intel chips, you know what they are planning to do next (possible hint: Asetek prototype [blodic.us] ).

[They probably wouldn't call it X11 anymore.. maybe DirectX11. Not.]

Re:Can now embed into X11? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32952136)

Slashdot really needs a moderation score of "-1 Incoherent"

Re:Can now embed into X11? (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 4 years ago | (#32952460)

No... then no one would be able to read what I wrote. I do the majority of my commenting between 2am and 4am. I know it shows when I later re-read them over the course of my waking hours. Reminds me of a horrible typing mistake when I was
TRYING to discuss a "Seagate" "hard diSk" getting inserted into a live RAID. ...it didn't cum out well.

Re:Can now embed into X11? (1)

Dzonatas (984964) | about 4 years ago | (#32953052)

Dyslexic typing is not trollish, and maybe you should be mindful of those of us with such disabilities.

Notice that Slashdot has never added the "edit" feature to a comment, so that those of us with such disability can come back later and fix the comment. We just have to let live with trollish comments like yours when disabilities have taken over when we try to share the same abilities to post like you.

Re:Can now embed into X11? (0, Flamebait)

MrHanky (141717) | about 4 years ago | (#32952178)

What the fuck are you talking about? How the hell will "some code from Wine" added to a "X11 backend" benefit anything bandwidth wise? You don't make any sense whatsoever.

Re:Can now embed into X11? (1)

Dzonatas (984964) | about 4 years ago | (#32952370)

How is not clear I'm talking about possible optimization and possible trends? Don't expect a complete posted dissertation with all technical details embedded into a Slashdot comment.

Re:Can now embed into X11? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 4 years ago | (#32952594)

While I don't know how fonts are rendered in Wine, if Wine actually renders them itself and sends the resulting bitmaps to the X server, then this will certainly consume more bandwidth than if it just sends the text and font info and lets X render it.

Re:Can now embed into X11? (2, Interesting)

Dzonatas (984964) | about 4 years ago | (#32952896)

if Wine actually renders them itself and sends the resulting bitmaps to the X server, then this will certainly consume more bandwidth than if it just sends the text and font info and lets X render it.

Mod parent very insightful.

Some used to pre-render a larger bitmap full of commonly used letters. For example, a 2kx2k bitmap cut into squares for each letter. As letters are needed, an empty square is found and filled with the pre-rendered letter with all anti-aliasing and such applied. Then the program just tells X11 to copy and blend that square to the destination. The bitmap acts like a cache that doesn't have to constantly take up bandwidth to fully send.

That has worked well except when you get into letters combination that shape differently due to different letters in the combination. For example, the tail of the y may extend further under some scripted letters than others. In others languages besides English, this occurs more often.

The enable technology the article speaks about could help in this area if the X11 server was optimized to handle such bytecode interpretation internally. Then there is no need to fill the bitmap cache with every combination of shaped letters.

What some of these anonymous cowards don't realize is the size of the cache needed to store all possible unicode characters combination with all shapes and styles applied, and then you should realize the cache method has become useless.

Re:Can now embed into X11? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32952212)

WTF?!

Not to say whether there's any sense in whatever you're rambling on about or not, but it sure ain't the same thing as the article's talking about, and makes less than no sense in this context.

Re:Can now embed into X11? (1)

Dzonatas (984964) | about 4 years ago | (#32952510)

The article talks about a patent expiration which would enable technology, just like the article mentioned how FreeType having code enabled from what was disabled because of that patent expiration. What is so hard to understand about that? That's all I'm saying besides a possible trend.

Screenshot with and without BCI (3, Informative)

nstrom (152310) | about 4 years ago | (#32952102)

Here's a side-by-side screenshot of Linux font rendering with and without the now patent-free byte code interpretation: http://avi.alkalay.net/2007/01/freetype-with-bytecode-interpreter.html [alkalay.net]

Re:Screenshot with and without BCI (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#32952260)

Oh no. I find the shot without BCI easier to read.

Am I getting old? Do I like old things better than new things?

I don't wanna grow up! I'm too young to own a lawn!

Re:Screenshot with and without BCI (5, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#32952474)

From your linked page:

BTW, anti-aliasing is useful in 2 situations only: if you are rendering fonts in big sizes (bigger than 13px)

And guess what: LCD subpixel rendering stretches the font outline horizontally by a factor of three as its first step. So if you're rendering a font at 9px, it's as if you were rendering it at 27px across.

or if you have bad, non-hinted fonts (as Bitstream Vera)

Case in point: I had to switch a client's web site from Helvetica to Arial (sorry, smug typophile weenies) because Helvetica's hints handle this stretching poorly, causing the upper bowls of letters like m, n, and r to overshoot the x-height by a whole pixel. When FreeType's autohinter performs better than Microsoft ClearType with BCI on Helvetica, something is up.

Re:Screenshot with and without BCI (2, Interesting)

magus_melchior (262681) | about 4 years ago | (#32953136)

When FreeType's autohinter performs better than Microsoft ClearType with BCI on Helvetica, something is up.

Well, Microsoft ClearType was designed with the assumption that "better" = "readable on screen", not "faithful to the typeface design".

I thought it was 17 but 20 isn't bad.. but 100+? (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 4 years ago | (#32952332)

Copyright needs to be lowered. I find it amazing that huge industries were unable to extend the patent duration while the entertainment industries were able to extend this to over 100 years from the original 14+14 years.

Work around (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#32952642)

Patents used to last 17 years after issue. But certain patent owners would employ dirty tricks to keep a patent in the "pending" state (filed but not issued). Now they last 20 years after filing, with an available 5-year extension for certain health care products to compensate for delays in getting the FDA's marketing approval. This greatly reduced the available techniques to keep a patent below water, though nonpracticing entities have discovered a few that still work.

U.S. copyright is longer because a copyright is far easier to work around than a patent is to invent around. The methods used in a computer program cannot be copyrighted (17 USC 102(b)). Only the expression can, and the key case for that was CA v. Altai. Names of commands were ruled uncopyrightable in Lotus v. Borland, allowing look-alikes and work-alikes of office applications such as OpenOffice.org. But two disturbing copyright interpretations remain: the uncertainty in the scope of copyright in video game scenarios (Atari v. Philips ruled for wide copyright; Capcom v. Data East ruled for narrow), and the possibility of accidentally infringing the copyright in a sequence of musical notes that someone else happened to claim first (Bright Tunes v. Harrisongs).

Am I the only one who thinks this looks terrible? (1)

volkerdi (9854) | about 4 years ago | (#32952540)

Just because the patent expired doesn't make it great. Some of the stuff rendered with BCI almost makes me want to go back to bitmapped fonts. Or maybe it works well, but only with non-free fonts. If that's the case, here's hoping that free operating systems that use FreeType do NOT make this the default immediately.

Apple style rendering? (1)

Pivot (4465) | about 4 years ago | (#32952624)

Does anyone know how to enable with Freetype, the same kind of font appearance as apple does on OS X?

Some say apples font rendering is a bit more blurry, but I find it easier on the eyes than stock font rendering under linux.

Cleartype (1)

Clarious (1177725) | about 4 years ago | (#32952680)

Well, Truetype BCI is useful but today most computer screens are LCD it isn't enough anymore, we also need a good subpixel rendering method, the one included in Freetype isn't so bad but isn't as good as Cleartype either. And the Cleartype code in freetype had been removed, unlike the BCI, which is only disabled, so we who don't live in the US can't use it either. (there are still a way to patch freetype though). I wonder how long will we have to wait until we can have nice looking fonts on Linux desktop.

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