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Apple Sues Freetype - NOT (updated)

CmdrTaco posted more than 13 years ago | from the sonofabitch dept.

Apple 257

Don Giovanni writes: "Apple Computer, Inc. has finally filed suit against the Freetype Project for violation of US patents #US5325479 and #US5159668. Linux Today has the story." This from the company that actually licensed Amazon's One-Click patent. Update: 03:30 PM EST by C :We're sorry. The link referred to in this article is incorrect. We're checking up on this information, and if we have any more to report, we will. However as of right now, the consensus is that this is a hoax.

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Another revenue source (1)

bluelip (123578) | more than 13 years ago | (#536667)

It seems that the worse a company is doing financially, the more often it looks to "alternative income sources".

I'm sorry to hear that Apple isn't doing that well.

Bad link (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#536668)

Yes, LinuxToday has a story. One about a RAID5 array. It may be interested, but I hardly see how it's related. Correct link, anyone?

Correct link? (1)

LightningTH (151451) | more than 13 years ago | (#536669)

What is the correct link for the story? That one is definately the wrong link.

Bad linkage (2)

bonzoesc (155812) | more than 13 years ago | (#536670)

Patents are evil - we all know that. However, giving us a link to the wrong article is even more evil.

Tell me what makes you so afraid
Of all those people you say you hate

This will help (5)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 13 years ago | (#536671)

This [] is freetypes page explaining the copywrite issues.


Where's the story? (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#536672)

So I'm sitting here looking at this article, wondering where the actual story is? Not only am I not finding the link on Linux Today, I'm not finding it anywhere. Not on AP, UPI,, LinuxToday, etc. Has anyone seen this story anywhere but Slashdot?

Fonts? (1)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 13 years ago | (#536673)

Ok, so there's a bad link, so I guessing it has to do with Fonts?!

Fonts?, what the hell?

Why, is Apple worried it infringes on their Quartz display layer? And does this sound familiar to a lawsuit involving colorsync where Apple was sued?

--Never trust a guy who has his IP address tattoed to his arm, especially if it's DHCP

What are you complaining (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#536674)

What the hell are you complaining?

In the previous article people were incensed because a corporation had not complied with the GPL. Here the license owner defends his rights against an infringer and people are mad at him!

Bloody hypocrits.

broken link (2)

Webmonger (24302) | more than 13 years ago | (#536675)

Not only is the link bad, but there's no evidence on Linux Today's home page that they ever posted such a story. It doesn't appear on their story search either.

And what did he mean by "finally"? He doesn't like FreeType?

IS this documented anywhere? (4)

Tet (2721) | more than 13 years ago | (#536676)

The link goes to a completely different Linux Today story, and there's nothing about it on the freetype home page. Is this just a rumour, or is there anything substantiating it?

Re:Bad linkage (1)

Lover's Arrival, The (267435) | more than 13 years ago | (#536677)

How are patents evil? Surely only some badly implemented patents are evil? If there was not a patent system, then companies and inventors would have no motive to innovate, because they would be unnable to exploit their inventions.

It seems to me that only stupid, ill-thought patents are evil, like Amazons one click nonsense. And I am not a patent lawyer!

worst case scenario (2)

hugg (22953) | more than 13 years ago | (#536678)

1. Apple enforces patents on TrueType fonts, barring any open source implementations;
2. Web pages become more dependent on TrueType fonts to be viewed properly;
3. Non-MS-or-Apple web platforms lose even more market share;
4. Total chaos ensues.

Already this is happening ... most designer-y fixed-column-width web pages look like a huge amount of suck on X platforms.

another ploy to get posted? (1)

AlbanySux (248858) | more than 13 years ago | (#536679)

Linux Today DOESN'T have that article.. maybe this is just following the formula to get posted on /. Maybe its time to do more then a read a headline before a story gets posted...

Re:Bad linkage (1)

pythorlh (236755) | more than 13 years ago | (#536680)

What kinda slashdotter are you? You actually tried the link BEFORE you posted?

(sigh) (1)

reaper20 (23396) | more than 13 years ago | (#536681)

Too bad for Apple ... first they pull all the "Apple-like" themes from, now this ... They take (BSD allows this though), but they don't give back. Apple can follow Rambus and Amazon to the shithouse ... oops, I better not say that, don't want to get sued for violating a copyrighted name...

Re:Another revenue source (1)

Dennis Hopper (265561) | more than 13 years ago | (#536682)

I would be willing to bet that there is not much money to be made that way.

It seems more of a control issue, and Apple is not doing that bad financially, so I don't think that they are that desperate (yet).

Protect 'em if you've got 'em. (2)

xFoz (231025) | more than 13 years ago | (#536683)

If you have a patent it's your job to inforce it. Sit idlely by and do nothing and your "investment" goes away.

Clean rooming (1)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 13 years ago | (#536684)

Ok, so they claim they "clean-roomed" it. Is that supposed to be something close to illegal in the patent world? Or maybe I mixed it up with reverse engineering. Also, MS coauthored it with Apple, why aren't they sueing?

--Never trust a guy who has his IP address tattoed to his arm, especially if it's DHCP

Point out calmly to Apple.. (1)

Julian Morrison (5575) | more than 13 years ago | (#536685)

...that the last thing a small, semi-recovering box-pushing company needs is a concerted and deeply angry public backlash, plus being "sent to coventry" by all those kind OpenSource folks who were co-authoring their new OS's underpinnings.

bullshit (4)

Siqnal 11 (210012) | more than 13 years ago | (#536686)

Not only is it a bogus story, but the submitter [] doesn't exist.


perhaps if.. (1)

Dr.NickRiviera (251701) | more than 13 years ago | (#536687)

we all wrote to our representatives in office or to the US patent office instead of posting comments here something would change

Freetype necessary (1)

ajs (35943) | more than 13 years ago | (#536688)

Apple has really screwed the pooch, here. Talk of boycotts will surely ensue, but here's what I suggest. First, if you have any Macs on order at your company, call up your distributor and ask if the lawsuit will affect your ability to run X with Freetype under Linux on the boxes. If the distributor does not know, ask them to escalate the call to their Apple contacts. Second, if you currently have Macs that are under support, call Apple and ask if your license for MacOS covers your use of Freetype under Linux (or BSD or whatever you prefer).

The goal here is to make Apple, internally, aware of the PR impact of it's choices. Often, the majority of the company is NOT aware of what the legal dept is doing, and may not be aware even of what Freetype is.

If you really feel like going out on a limb, try joining the Freetype project and contributing work, documentation or legal fees (I'm sure someone will post a legal defense fund address once it's available).

Re:Bad linkage (2)

bonzoesc (155812) | more than 13 years ago | (#536689)

Oddly enough, you hit on the point that almost every critic of the GPL uses.

If there was not a patent system, then companies and inventors would have no motive to innovate, because they would be unnable to exploit their inventions.

The famous quote "Necessity is the mother of invention" still holds true. Freetype was written not for money, but to be able to show TrueType fonts without paying Apple money to use their interpreter. Oh, I'm typing this comment for money, so feel free to pay me, Lover's Arrival, because I want to exploit it...

Tell me what makes you so afraid
Of all those people you say you hate

Re:Fonts? (1)

demon (1039) | more than 13 years ago | (#536690)

Well, Apple did create TrueType, so it is their technology. Though, since FreeType is (supposedly) a clean-room implementation, does the patent apply?

Re:Bad linkage (1)

bonzoesc (155812) | more than 13 years ago | (#536691)

I agree - don't know what got into me... It's this winter break nonsense, I'm sure. Actually, I didn't know what to write at first.

Tell me what makes you so afraid
Of all those people you say you hate

Re:IS this documented anywhere? (4)

emag (4640) | more than 13 years ago | (#536692)

We read it on /. so it must be true.

Seriously, doesn't anyone actually check these links before the stories are posted? If not, a particularly juicy-sounding story could easily get that damned link onto the main /. page...


Re:Cool! (2)

KnightStalker (1929) | more than 13 years ago | (#536693)

The irony involved in buying a Sony project because you want to avoid manufacturers who unfairly prevent interoperability for their own advantage is just sickening...

(See also: DVDs, Playstation emulators, Minidiscs... probably a dozen or so more, but those spring to mind.)

Re:IS this documented anywhere? (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 13 years ago | (#536694)

Don't encourage the AC's!!!


Yet another reason I will never buy Apple Products (1)

rrognlie (79008) | more than 13 years ago | (#536695)

Ever since they sued Atari (and others) for the look-n-feel of the trashcan in GEM which was in reality an idea they "discovered" while on a tour at Xerox PARC, I've sworn off all Apple products.

I have yet to regret that decision.

Re:Use the source, but don't help (1)

Mister Black (265849) | more than 13 years ago | (#536696)

Apple is definitely a commercial company

You can't pay your employees in goodwill. You can't spend money on R&D with bonhomie. You can't buy equipment from suppliers with charity. Apple needs to make money so that it can (repeat after me) continue to stay in business. This is true of every company whether it be Apple, Microsoft, Exxon, your local pub, or the corner grocer.

As an aside: everyone talks about how Linux is open source and free. If Linux is so free then why do I have to pay Debain, Red Hat, LinuxPPC for a free program?

Re:Cool! (1)

KnightStalker (1929) | more than 13 years ago | (#536697)

s/project/product/ :-)

Re:Cool! (1)

bonzoesc (155812) | more than 13 years ago | (#536698)

Doesn't the vaio come with Windows? Hell, I just spent all morning trying to dual boot Windows 2000 and ME, so obviously Microsoft also has something against interoperability.

Tell me what makes you so afraid
Of all those people you say you hate

Finally as in inevitably (2)

Cardinal (311) | more than 13 years ago | (#536699)

It was bound to come up eventually. The Freetype page explaining the issue that was already mentioned was last updated in March 2000. Which is to say, this has been a known issue for quite some time.

Re:IS this documented anywhere? (3)

emag (4640) | more than 13 years ago | (#536700)

Normally I wouldn't, but this is plain ridiculous. One would think that anyone with even a modicum of responsibility would at least verify the story links before posting. As other posters have said, there's no indication has ANY story relating to this at all.


Re:broken link (2)

handorf (29768) | more than 13 years ago | (#536701)

I believe what was meant is that this was expected for quite a while.

What do Apple want? (2)

mattbee (17533) | more than 13 years ago | (#536702)

Somebody's obviously alerted them to the fact that every copy of XFree86 4.0 is using TrueType fonts, but what can Apple gain out of this? They can hardly hope to get license fees out of it; FreeType will just remove the hinting bytecode interpreter and everyone will have slightly naffer looking fonts. Presumably, though, their worry is that competitors will use FreeType to make the products a pretty as Apple's . But it seems like a bit of a PR gaffe to have a go at people working from a freely-published specification to achieve this end. Patent warfare, especially software patent warfare, is just about trying to build up `amicable' cross-licensing agreements where the law will allow, but free software authors can't play this game. It doesn't really matter that they worked from a specification that Apple provided, and that this might be legal-- lawsuits & threats of lawsuits are a pretty good way of getting free software authors to yank code, whatever the reason.

Re:Fonts? (1)

ethereal (13958) | more than 13 years ago | (#536703)

All other things being equal, a clean-room implementation would only protect you against claims of copyright infringement, not patent suits. Clean-room just ensures that you aren't using any of Apple's work, but you could still infringe on their patent if you wrote your own implementation that works in the same way.

Don Giovanni (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#536704)

This appears to be a troll story. Don't buy into it without external correlation.

Remember, Don Giovanni is the name of a truly epic bastard from a Mozart opera, who gets dragged, still-living, into Hell for his evil deeds.

What is Slashdot trying to do, out do the New York Times? []

Re:Cool! (1)

daniell (78495) | more than 13 years ago | (#536705)

ut at least when you buy x86, you aren't neccesarily funding a company who is spending your money on preventing interoperability

What with Sony? you are so fooling yourself. Besides, Apple will have an all new laptop out soon in January. You'll want it, and you'll cry if you can't get it :). Besides, the people at Freetype knew this was a possibility, so did SDL when it advised about using Freetype.


Re:Bad linkage (1)

Lover's Arrival, The (267435) | more than 13 years ago | (#536706)

Necessity is the mother of invention

But for most companies, necessity=money. And if they (or individual inventors) cannot patent their inventions, then they won't make any money from it. If they do invent something, it would have to be for altruistic reasons.

Also, the GPL model works well for software, where there is an abundance of people who are willing to be altruistic, so I have no problems there. But what about the Pharmaceuticals industry or the Auotomobile industry or the Computer Hardware industry? The same thing does not exist in these fields, and it is not likely to in the near future. It is the safety net of the patent system that allows these industries to innovate. So I think saying that the Patent system is totally evil is just plain wrong, I'm afraid.

Sorry ;)

Only thing I could dig up... (1)

singularity (2031) | more than 13 years ago | (#536707)

OK, so the link is massively bad (a search of the site shows they do not have a single article concerning Apple and FreeType).
The only thing I could find was ?NID=1134 [] , but that was almost a year ago.
FreeType's Page [] does not list anything current, either.

Re:Er microsoft is better than apple?? (1)

MartinG (52587) | more than 13 years ago | (#536708)

Where did i mention ms?

Re:Protect 'em if you've got 'em. (1)

ethereal (13958) | more than 13 years ago | (#536709)

Wow, too bad you weren't advizing Unisys or Fraunhofer - then they wouldn't have neglected enforcement of their patents (on LZW compression and mp3 encoding, respectively) only to turn around and begin enforcement just as those techniques are widely embraced. That sure was a poor investment on their part :)

On a more serious note, I believe you're thinking of trademarks, which you can lose if you neglect to enforce them and your trademark becomes "common usage".

Slashdot Creator gets Trolled. (5)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 13 years ago | (#536710)

Rob, please visit the fucking links before you post a story. This is complete bullshit, but, since you didn't do even a cursory fact-check, you didn't know. Now we've got a bunch of people here posting pissed-off drivel, and the rest of us shaking our heads in awe of the complete and utter breakdown of slashdot's submission system.

- A.P.

* CmdrTaco is an idiot.

Pull this story (1)

Platinum Dragon (34829) | more than 13 years ago | (#536711)

There's no mention of this on the Freetype page or LinuxToday.

CmdrTaco appeas to have fallen for a troll submission. Note to Taco: check the link, like you encourage submitters to do.

Re:Freetype necessary (2)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 13 years ago | (#536712)

This would be a worthwhile comment except for the fact that This story appears to be a hoax. If you had bothered to read the link in the story (or the other comments for that matter), you would have discovered that this story does not exist on Linux Today or any other news site.

It's sad to see how many people obviously don't read the the story before posting.

Go ahead, and keep reading.. (1)

GMC-jimmy (243376) | more than 13 years ago | (#536713)

While all of you are doing that, I`m busy achiving the Freetype Project download page, before it gets /.`ed.

Re:Clean rooming (1)

RoninM (105723) | more than 13 years ago | (#536714)

Ok, so they claim they "clean-roomed" it. Is that supposed to be something close to illegal in the patent world?

No. A clean room implementation is one done in an environment without other code or sources. That is, you wrote it completely yourself, without reference to anything (aside from the standard in this case). This reduces the likelihood of you purposefully or accidentally violating a copyright by inclusion of others' code. This is sort of the opposite of reverse engineering (but not really). With reverse engineering you take a product or component and by fiddling with it, you determine how it works. A lot of people will reverse engineer a protocol, and then go to a clean room to implement it (which is why it's not really the opposite of clean room implementation: they're not mutually exclusive and reverse engineering does not imply copyright violation).

Re:Bad linkage (2)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 13 years ago | (#536715)

It all depends on the society/form of government/economic system. I guess, in a pure free market, yes necessity=money. But in a lot of places, where people might just get by without totally commoditizing themselves, I can concieve that people might actually invent stuff for the sole purpose of wanting to, or fulfilling a personal need, other than generating money. Of course if you are *dependent* on selling your services, you will only provide services that actually sell!

I don't think the patent system is totally evil. I think it is necessary, but in its current incarnation has just far overreached it's original purpose (giving *incentive* but no more!). Safety-net is more like guaranteed-profit-net.

Re:IS this documented anywhere? (5)

MartinG (52587) | more than 13 years ago | (#536716)

Give it 15 mins or so. Linuxtoday probably WILL have a story, but it will most likely be:

"Slashdot: Apple sues freetype"


Re:Use the source, but don't help (1)

Pedersen (46721) | more than 13 years ago | (#536717)

As an aside: everyone talks about how Linux is open source and free. If Linux is so free then why do I have to pay Debain, Red Hat, LinuxPPC for a free program?

Funny, but I haven't paid a dime to get even Debian installed and working on my system. The closest I've gotten is download time. Since that can happen without my bothering with it, that doesn't count (ie: I kick off the download, and walk away for a while).

Re:Bad linkage (1)

marnanel (98063) | more than 13 years ago | (#536718)

Freetype was written not for money, but to be able to show TrueType fonts without paying Apple money to use their interpreter.

Sure? Granted, this may be a motivation for using FreeType under Windows or the Mac-- but can people who want TrueType on X11 and the Amiga really pay money to use Apple's interpreter, or are they stuck without any TrueType at all unless a free implementation comes along?

This sounds like a confusion of free-as-in-speech with free-as-in-beer to me. Though if you can get Apple-backed TrueType for X and the Amiga, please do correct me.

Re:Clean rooming (2)

Enry (630) | more than 13 years ago | (#536719)

Patents cover an idea, and not a specific implementation (copyright). Because of that, you can reverse-engineer a copyright, but you can't reverse engineer a patent, since the idea is built into it.

The Freetype gang's notice about patents say that they got their documentation from Apple, and there was nothing in their documentation that said the technology was being covered or going to be covered by a patent.

Re:Clean rooming (1)

MotownAvi (204916) | more than 13 years ago | (#536720)

Clean rooming might be a defense against copyright infringement, but it's not against patent infringement.

And actually, MS had nothing to do with the invention of TrueType. This was way back when Apple was feeling screwed by Adobe, so they decided to do a cross-licensing pact with Microsoft. Apple gave MS a license for TrueType, and MS gave Apple (IIRC) some PostScript clone (TrueImage, was it?). TrueType took off on Windows, since it was way better than anything the average PC-er had ever seen, but the clone that Apple got from MS never made it out the door.

Apple's font people haven't been standing still; take a look at [] for a whole bunch of nifty font toys.


You don't want a VAIO. (2)

dangermouse (2242) | more than 13 years ago | (#536721)

I have a VAIO Z-505R. Have had it for almost a year now. Its hard drive clunks, the ethernet dongle is (of course) shot to hell, as is the battery. Lately, its favorite trick is to randomly lose power (when plugged into a perfectly good power source).

A new battery from Sony is several hundred dollars, I didn't even see ethernet dongles available, and taking apart another VAIO laptop to replace its hard drive was a quite painful experience.

Needless to say, I'll not be purchasing another Sony computer, and I hope that others heed my warnings and go with a more solid machine.

Re:worst case scenario (1)

Pope Slackman (13727) | more than 13 years ago | (#536722)

Already this is happening ... most designer-y fixed-column-width web pages look like a huge amount of suck on X platforms.

Oh, come on. *Everything* looks like a huge amount of suck on X.
Well, everything except Xterms, of course.
X was not designed for pretty graphics...And it shows.


BS Article - ./ers are suckers again! (1)

dogzilla (83896) | more than 13 years ago | (#536723)

This is clearly aimed at - once again - making fools out of Slashdot readers. Doesn't *anyone* verify anything before posting a submission or posting a rant? What a bunch of buffoons. This place has gotten worse than the Usenet.

I especially like the ass who says that based on this article he's buying a Vaio over a PowerBook. Excellent research on which to base your tool.

What would make a good replacement? (1)

Lover's Arrival, The (267435) | more than 13 years ago | (#536724)

That is the question that must be answered before patents are abolished. If you abolish the patent system, then you must prove at least one of two things:

1)The patent system is so incerdibally bad, we would be better without one at all.

2)Here is a patent system that is better than the one we have currently. Lets use it.

Until either of these points is proved, then it is wrong to abolish the patent system we have currently. Considering the advances we have made this century, and that are being made every day, it doesn't seem to be doing to badly, does it? ;)

also (1)

xpenguin dude (251686) | more than 13 years ago | (#536725)

available in pdf format []

Re:Cool! (1)

tssm0n0 (200200) | more than 13 years ago | (#536726)

The irony involved in buying a Sony project because you want to avoid manufacturers who unfairly prevent interoperability for their own advantage is just sickening...

Hahaha... good point. I think you forgot about one thing, a company (or person, or government...) is only doing something wrong if the people know about it/haven't fergotten it.

Re:Freetype necessary (2)

British (51765) | more than 13 years ago | (#536727)

If stock prices change because of this story, could Slashdot get in hot water?

Next headline... (1)

Whizard (25579) | more than 13 years ago | (#536728)

Apple Sues Slashdot for Libel

IMHO (2)

Auckerman (223266) | more than 13 years ago | (#536729)

It may actually suprise some of you, but there are valid innovations in the software industry. Patents like One Click are NOT innovations because they have direct parrallels to daily life, a really nice resturant might keep the CC# of a good customer on file so that he never has to show it again. Apple INVENTED it font technology from scratch when Adobe wanted to charge an arm and a leg for Post Script. If you don't license it from Apple, you can use it. If GNU kids, as smart and clearly innovative as they can be (Sendmail, Apache, Who knows how many scripting languages), can even come up with their own fonts, it merely attacks the coders credibility.

In light of this, for crying out loud Apple, if you are really sueing (since ./ didn't bother to actually check the link which has NOTHING to do with Apple sueing)....IT'S A FONT TECHNOLOGY. I can understand going after ColorSync violators, thats your baby, buy Fonts....thats just being a greedy corporation.

TrueType Patents from Freetype's webpage (5)

Maldivian (264175) | more than 13 years ago | (#536730)

TrueType patents

STATUS UPDATE (31-12-1999):
We are finally in contact with Apple's legal department. However, we'll be unable to comment our discussion until they take an official position regarding the patents. This could take some time so don't expect anything soon.

This page will shortly be updated with more detailed information on the patented "inventions" and what can be done meanwhile.

--> STATUS UPDATE (12-mar-2000):
There are sadly no news on the patent front. However, we have started working on a new auto-hinting module, that will ultimately replace the TrueType bytecode interpreter for those builds that cannot accept the patent issue.

Please go to the FreeType Auto-Hinting Resources Page [] for more information.

What is this page about ?

This page is an attempt to sum up various information which recently emerged on the FreeType mailing lists after the discovery that Apple owns several US patents on TrueType. Its purpose is to explain what the patents are, how they can affect us and what can be done.

Who are we ?

We are the developers of the FreeType engine, a free and portable TrueType rasterising library. FreeType was written from scratch from the TrueType specification published by Apple and Microsoft, and thus qualifies as a "clean room" implementation of this standard. It is distributed with a BSD-like license, which allows any kind of developers to include it in their products, be they commercial or not.

What are the TrueType patents involved ?

We recently discovered that Apple owns several patents related to TrueType. A simple advanced search on IBM's Intellectual Property Network website ( [] ) shows that Sampo Kaasila, who were the original TrueType architect at Apple, was granted 5 patents for Apple related to digital font technology. Three of them seem to relate directly to the TrueType specification :

Do the patents affect FreeType ?:

Apparently yes, it affects the bytecode interpreter used to hint TrueType outlines. It also affects any other similar engine that render TrueType fonts per se the specification.

Note that the TrueType specification used to write FreeType doesn't mention any patent, nor any pending patents. We used the "TrueType Font Format Specification" document, version 1.0, published in 1990 and available from Apple under the reference "ADPA M0825LL/A". None of the successive releases of this paper document, be they in paper or electronic forms mentioned them either. (And yes, we're speaking of the documents produced by both Apple and Microsoft).

In case of violation, how would it affect FreeType ?

It's hard to tell, as this depends mostly on Apple's response to the situation. We can imagine having to modify some parts of the code in order to not use the patented "invention". Depending on the patents' peculiarities, this may come at the price of inferior rendered quality, if we're unable to find an alternate algorithm producing the same results.

Another deep question is to know what to do about the currently released versions of FreeType (from 1.0 to 1.3.1). Because of its huge success, FreeType has been succesfully used in a great variety of products like graphics libraries, font servers, printers, web browser plugins, server-side web plugins and more... It is also heavily distributed through the Internet, and the library comes on the latest RedHat and Caldera CDs for example.

We do not reference all the projects that use our library, simply because there are too much and too changing. Many of them are open source and freely distributed, updated and integrated into other products. Clearly, a patent violation would have more than hairy consequences.

We are very concerned that this affair doesn't become a PR disaster for both of Apple and FreeType, as nobody would gain from public backlash. What are patents ?

Strictly speaking, when a patent is granted, it permits its owner to excludemembers of the public (those members can be real people or simply companies) from making, using or selling the claimed invention.

Note that a common misconception is that the patent gives its owner the right the make, use or sell its invention. It only gives the owner the ability to exclude others, though he may himself/herself be forbidden from using the invention due to the existence of another patent or other legal restrictions. For example, person A is allowed to patent an improvement over an invention patented by person B. In order to use his/her invention, person A will need the permission from person B. If person C wants to use the improved invention, he/she will need permission from both person A and B !

In practice, a patent owner usually sells limited rights to the invention to customers who want to use its invention. The amount of "permission", i.e. the licensing fees determined by the vendor and customer and can vary enormously. However, nothing prevents a patent owner from excluding any use of its invention, wathever the amount of money proposed by the customer.

On the other hand, patents cover implementations, and not ideas. If someone comes with a different "apparatus" that produces the same results than a patented invention, he/she shall not fall under the patent protection and ask for "permission".

Patents were introduce to encourage inventors to publish their work, in exchange of increased intellectual property protection. A US patent runs for 20 years from the date it is filed to the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). A US Patent only applies to making, using and selling the invention in the US .

Finally, here is an extract from the US PTO brochure on patentability :

  • In order for an invention to be patentable it must be new as defined in the patent law, which provides that an invention cannot be patented if: ?(a) the invention was known or used by others in this country, or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent,? or ?(b) the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country more than one year prior to the application for patent in the United States . . .?

    If the invention has been described in a printed publication anywhere in the world, or if it has been in public use or on sale in this country before the date that the applicant made his/her invention, a patent cannot be obtained. If the invention has been described in a printed publication anywhere, or has been in public use or on sale in this country more than one year before the date on which an application for patent is filed in this country, a patent cannot be obtained. In this connection it is immaterial when the invention was made, or whether the printed publication or public use was by the inventor himself/herself or by someone else. If the inventor describes the invention in a printed publication or uses the invention publicly, or places it on sale, he/she must apply for a patent before one year has gone by, otherwise any right to a patent will be lost.

    Even if the subject matter sought to be patented is not exactly shown by the prior art, and involves one or more differences over the most nearly similar thing already known, a patent may still be refused if the differences would be obvious. The subject matter sought to be patented must be sufficiently different from what has been used or described before that it may be said to be nonobvious to a person having ordinary skill in the area of technology related to the invention. For example, the substitution of one material for another, or changes in size, are ordinarily not patentable.

Note that the second paragraph makes it hard to understand why patent #3 was granted, given that the TrueType specification was fully published by Apple in 1990, two years before the patent was filed.

What about software patents ?

In the US, software patents are considered as normal patents. Moreover, it is possible, through careful use of legal language in the patent application, to patent software algorithms. This is well known from the infamous LZW compression algorithm used for the GIF graphics file format. Another case is the RSA algorithm for prime computations used in many security products.

In Europe, software and algorithms _cannot_ be patented, which means that a european developer is free to develop, use, distribute and market in Europe any software he/she wants, even if it uses algorithms patented under US laws. However, the US patent will apply as soon as he/she wants to distribute, sell or use its software in the US. Moreover, any other person who wants to use, distribute or sell its software in the US will fall under the patent "protection". It is clear that a US patent is also much an issue for any european developer.

The same applies to other countries where the US patent doesn't apply, and where the invention wasn't protected under the local patent office administration, when there is one.

Note that some countries have some aggreements with the US that make any US patent localy effective. Details of such countries are welcomed for updates on this page

Links []

IBM's Intellectual Property Network []

US Patent and Trademark Office Brochure on Patents []

Re:Use the source, but don't help (1)

Chuck Bucket (142633) | more than 13 years ago | (#536731)

Check my ping, I don't pay for Linux, I dnld it and use it for free. Yes I do have to burn it on to an .88 cent cdr, but I used my last copy to install Linux on five machines. Maybe you should think before you drink.

Chuck Bucket

Re:Go ahead, and keep reading.. (1)

xpenguin dude (251686) | more than 13 years ago | (#536732)

For people who are clueless about how to download the Freetype Project, just type: wget --recursive

Metafont? (2)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 13 years ago | (#536733)

Wouldn't TeX demonstrate prior art, and hence the invalidity of this pathetic patent? What does the patent specify that Metafont did not do a decade before it? It still blows away most systems for representing and rendering fonts.

Re:Freetype necessary (2)

ajs (35943) | more than 13 years ago | (#536734)

Is the LinuxToday link bad, or is the story a hoax?

I've seen no data either way. I'd alreay known about the bad link, but assumed that that's all it was.

Re:Use the source, but don't help (1)

marnanel (98063) | more than 13 years ago | (#536735)

everyone talks about how Linux is open source and free. If Linux is so free then why do I have to pay Debain, Red Hat, LinuxPPC for a free program?

"Free" is the free as in "free speech", "free citizen" or "free country". It doesn't refer to price. (The usual way of explaining the distinction is by contrasting free speech with free beer [] .

However, since Red Hat, Debian and so on are free (as in "not enslaved"), you don't have to pay anyone for them. Go and find a friend who has a copy, and take a copy from them. Give it to all your other friends! Read the code so you can find the problems; improve it if you can, and pass it on! This is what the freedom of software's about.

RE: MS? (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 13 years ago | (#536736)

Because when you buy a Viao, you are buying a Windows licence.

Re:Clean rooming (3)

bluGill (862) | more than 13 years ago | (#536737)

Clean room applies to copyrights, not patents.

Copyright applies to one particular implimentation and derivatives. Clean room works in copyrights because your code is different.

Patents apply to a way of doing something, no matter how it is implimented.

If I build a mechanical machine to decode LZW I've violated the LZW patent even though (to my knowlege) LZW has currently only been implimented in software. After the LZW patent expires all the code is protected by copyright, but my mechanical implimentation is now legal. Note that I can patent my mechanical LZW implimentation if I so desire today, I just can't build it without permission of Unisys.

Apple's New Business Model (1)

Puck3D (126287) | more than 13 years ago | (#536738)

Is this Apple's new business model? Sue everyone they can for any minisucal infringment they can?

Re:Bad linkage (1)

Mr. McGibby (41471) | more than 13 years ago | (#536739)

People have to commoditize themselves to eat. We need money to buy food.

Re:Freetype necessary (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 13 years ago | (#536740)

Anyone stupid enough to base stock buying decisions on Slashdot headlines deserves to lose all their investments...

I take it back: the fact that people don't read the linked stories before posting isn't sad, its hilarious.

And to think... (1)

Gendou (234091) | more than 13 years ago | (#536741)

I know it sounds kind of cheesy, but I was actually putting away funds to buy a G4 Mac this summer so I could play with MacOS X. I thought Apple was actually becoming a serious innovator. I thought Apple placed technology advancement as the #1 priority item on their list. I really thought that they were trying to change from their closed, dead-end ways.

But as we clearly see, any company that sues a non-profit organization over a technology related patent issue doesn't have technology as their top priority. The priorities in this case simply go from money to just being assholes.

In closing, I want to say "Great going, Mr. Jobs". I'd also like to encourage everyone else who was considering becoming an Apple customer in the near future to reconsider. FreeType is one of the more important projects in the Linux community right now (I've been pulling my hair out over X fonts for years). How could any of us possibly support a company like Apple after they do something like this?

new slashdot only acronym (5)

rebelcool (247749) | more than 13 years ago | (#536742)

RTFS - read the fucking story.

This will hurt my karma but it had to be said.

Re:Freetype necessary (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 13 years ago | (#536743)

The point is that you started suggested that people "call up your distributor and ask if the lawsuit will affect your ability to run X with Freetype under Linux on the boxes" before you knew if the lawsuit even existed. Think of how foolish someone will look if they take your advice.

"Lawsuit? What lawsuit? What makes you think that Apple is suing the Freetype project?"

"Well, this guy on Slashdot told me...."

Re:Use the source, but don't help (1)

Mister Black (265849) | more than 13 years ago | (#536744)

you don't have to, so keep your fucking mouth shut unless you actually know what you are talking about.

I ask a legitimate question and thank fully get some useful responses but unfortunately you answered. You are the worst kind of linux advocate. It's no wonder that linux hasn't moved into the main stream (the "can i buy it on my machine at best-buy" main stream and not the "option on Dell's website" kind of main stream) - who would want to come to you for help?

Re:Bad linkage (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 13 years ago | (#536745)

"We need money to buy food."

Yes, if you buy food then by definition you need money. There are other ways to get food, but buying does require money. (And to avoid a long thread of comparing barter, money, and other systems...I do recognize the great convenience of using money to represent the value of things, particularly because a dozen chickens would make of mess of my back seat.)

interesting responses to troll (1)

kartis (67433) | more than 13 years ago | (#536746)

This is clearly a troll, as others have pointed out--but the troll set up the anti-Apple fanatics in the crowd, who have gleefully jumped all over Apple. Typical of the press, which usually dumps on Apple at every turn, but I expected more from Slashdotters. Are we turning the open source movement into another "Windows rules, Mac's suck" dogma? The knee-jerk response that this story elicited may be helpful to recognize as with the case of religions, an uninformed opinion is just prejudice.

Re:Use the source, but don't help (1)

daniell (78495) | more than 13 years ago | (#536747)

Apple needs to make money so that it can (repeat after me) continue to stay in business.

That's absolutely correct. And for that we like 'em as much as any other for profit company, tempered of course be the quality of their software.

Hence, we hate MicroSoft because its product sucks and its profit is unfair to a number of nations; we liked Bungie because their products were great and their profit was acceptable; and we're abivolent to Apple because their products in hardware are good, their software is good but slow moving, and their profits used to not exist but are hell bent on getting larger.

But this has nothing to do with the issue at hand, which is that Apple isn't making money from freetype by sueing them (although its costly for all, more so for freetype), but rather apple is enforcing a patent that excludes people from using truetype. This is more an issue of it being rediculous because its not a copyright infringement, and truetype has been around for 5-6 years now. So it comes down to the fact that there shouldn't be patents on such things.

Perhaps apple is scared it will loose whatever it gets from MS for their use of TrueType if they end up managing to do the same as FreeType with a clean-room implementation, or if they figure out how to incorporate FreeType.


Hmmm (1)

acomj (20611) | more than 13 years ago | (#536748)

This story seems to indicate that back in March the creators knew they were headed into patented waters....

Also I can't find anything that indicates that the posted story is true.

If it is true..Then its ironic because Apple just finished defending itself from a frivolous 2 billion dollar patent suit over color sync..

Re:Cool! (1)

Spyder (15137) | more than 13 years ago | (#536749)

Sony has a pretty cool Cursoe based laptop [] not to be off topic or anything. Smite congigated: Smite - Smote - Smitten?

Re:Bad linkage (1)

porky_pig_jr (129948) | more than 13 years ago | (#536750)

yes, bad linkage is evil. but quoting beasty boys is even more evil.

Re:Go ahead, and keep reading.. (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 13 years ago | (#536751)

Oh, great. Recursive slashdotting. (Will I hear from the /. lawyers about altering the Slashdot mark?)

Re:This will help (2)

interiot (50685) | more than 13 years ago | (#536752)

But no pages on Linux Today at all? (search for freetype resulted [] in 4 old hits)

Re:(sigh) (2)

mr (88570) | more than 13 years ago | (#536753)

They take (BSD allows this though), but they don't give back.
Here [] they talk about Net and FreeBSD getting code back from Apple.
How about [mailto] who works for Apple and has committ privilage to FreeBSD? (as per [] FreeBSD's own web site.

Looks like Apple money *IS* being used to support BSD.

Re:What would make a good replacement? (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 13 years ago | (#536754)

> 1)... 2)...

Or (USA): show that the existing system does not do what The Constitution says the US patent system is supposed to do.


Re:Freetype necessary (1)

interiot (50685) | more than 13 years ago | (#536755)

Searched [] on LinuxToday, no relevant hits.

LeTaco didn't check the link before posting?

I can just see it now... (1)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 13 years ago | (#536756)

The conversation in Job's office...

Jobs- "Earnings are in the toilet people! Nobody wants to buy our overpriced machines anymore! Microsoft won't bail us out this time, and if we get too cheap Larry Ellison will buy us just to piss off Gates! What are we going to do?"

Hapless Apple employee- "Well sir, we could always produce a reasonably priced model and stop pushing these machines as entry level computers..."

Jobs- "Kill him. Now."


Hapless Apple employee- "AUGGHHHHH"

Legal- "Well, we could always sue someone who doesn't have any money to begin with."

Jobs- "Good idea! Why the hell can't the rest of you be that fucking smart? No wonder Rambus is worth so much more than we are. (To lawyer) How soon can you get started?"

Lawyer- "Oh, I already have a certain open source project in mind, so I can start flushing money down the... I mean, litigating, any day. Of course I'll need some money to get started. One million dollars should get things rolling..."

Other Font Types? (2)

KoReE (4358) | more than 13 years ago | (#536757)

I don't have much experience with fonts myself, but wouldn't it be a good idea for someone to come up with a "free", high-quality font format? I don't know the programming implications of this. If anyone has any info, I'd be happy to look into it to see if I can maybe get started on something like this. Is there any reason that TrueType fonts are the only way to go?

Re:Pull this story (1)

Bob McCown (8411) | more than 13 years ago | (#536758)

Avoid the drivel, read SlashDUH []

Re:Where's the story? (1)

Primer 55 (263965) | more than 13 years ago | (#536759)

How is this for an idea:

Anyone who attempted to make a comment RE: said article as if they had read it gets a bitchslap. Bye, bye +1 bonus...

Bottom Line: Is there a shred of truth to this? (2)

FreeUser (11483) | more than 13 years ago | (#536760)

Has anyone, anywhere, found a shred of evidence that this story is more than vaporous misinformation?

I am considering the purchase of a powerbook for the dual purposes of NLE video editing under MacOS and as a Linux ppc laptop. However, if (and from the looks of it this is a big if) Apple is indeed suing free software projects for any reason whatsoever I do not wish to support them and will forego that particular toy indefinitely.

On the other hand, I do not wish to unfairly penalize Apple for unfounded rumors which they can hardly be faulted for.

As others have said, what gives? The broken link on such an inflammatory story (and an apparent absence of corraborating information anywhere) is truly a new low in slashdot editorial standards.

Re:Hacked? (1)

Moritz Moeller - Her (3704) | more than 13 years ago | (#536761)

My thoughts exactly.

I don't like most stories CmdrTaco posts and I don't think he is very objective (I have read too many KDE stories he twisted in a very negative way), but this is soo stupid.

OTOH it (apple being jerks) is highly plausible, maybe the hackers are smart enough and are laughing their asses off?

I'm going to sue apple. (1)

AlgUSF (238240) | more than 13 years ago | (#536762)

I actually copyrighted the apple with the bite taken out of the side logo that they use. In order for them to use my "apple bites" logo I must be paid the sum of $1 (one dollar) per machine sold. So I should make about fifty bucks over the next ten years!!!

Is Slashdot slandering Apple? (4)

molog (110171) | more than 13 years ago | (#536763)

Please excuse the trollish subject. I thought that journalists can be held responsible if they print something with no backing evidance. With Taco not even checking if the story was valid make /. guilty of slandering Apple seeing how there is no real indication of any case being filed against Freetype?

So Linus, what are we doing tonight?

Re:Bad linkage (4)

nyet (19118) | more than 13 years ago | (#536764)


"If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility, but this may or may not be done, according to the will and convenience of the society, without claim or complaint from any body. Accordingly, it is a fact, as far as I am informed, that England was, until we copied her, the only country on earth which ever, by a general law, gave a legal right to the exclusive use of an idea. In some other countries it is sometimes done, in a great case, and by a special and personal act, but, generally speaking, other nations have thought that these monopolies produce more embarrassment than advantage to society; and it may be observed that the nations which refuse monopolies of invention, are as fruitful as England in new and useful devices."

- Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Isaac McPherson, August 13, 1813

Re:Protect 'em if you've got 'em. (1)

Mawbid (3993) | more than 13 years ago | (#536765)

Maybe some of us old timers can get together and make a Frequently Repeated Inaccuracies list (FRI -- it could be the greatest thing since FAQ!). Instead of wasting time correcting people all the time, a link could be posted. Maybe there could even be a -1, FRI moderation.

Re:Protect 'em if you've got 'em. (1)

Pedersen (46721) | more than 13 years ago | (#536766)

Jeez, I'm not even a lawyer, and I know the differences between them. For the unknowning masses, here's the basic differences (more, though, are undoubtedly there):
  1. Copyrights: Protect a specific version of something, and it's derivative works. Rewrite (from scratch) something which does the same thing, and you are free from copyright infringement. Duration: Until Congress decides to stop extending copyrights, plus a few years.
  2. Tradmarks: Protect a specific item (logo, emblem, catch phrase, etc) in your industry, so that nobody else may use it in your industry. Hence, we could have Ford Motors, and Ford Music, legally. But not two Ford Motors. Duration: Until you stop protecting it (this may be wrong, but I don't think so).
  3. Trade Secrets: No protection whatsoever (except for possible breaking and entering, contract law, and the like). If somebody figures out how to do the same thing that you have done, you are screwed. They can do it as much as they want. Duration: None.
  4. Patents: Protect a specific implementation of an idea. If someone needs to do the same thing you have done, in the same way you have done it, they must get your permission to do so. Alternately, if they can find another method for doing it, you have no legal recourse against them. Duration: 17 years.

As you can see, the only pieces of IP which you must protect are trademarks and trade secrets. The rest will stay active whether you do anything or not.
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