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Nokia Announces Patent Support to the Linux Kernel

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the lets-see-where-this-goes dept.

Patents 243

Mictian writes "In conjunction with the introduction of Nokia's Linux Handheld mentioned earlier today, Nokia Corporation announced today that it allows all its patents to be used in the further development of the Linux Kernel. Nokia says, that it believes that open source software communities, like open standards, foster innovation and make an important contribution to the creation and rapid adaptation of technologies. And that the investment made by so many individuals and companies in creating and developing the Linux Kernel and other open source software deserve a framework of certainty."

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Good game Nokia! (5, Interesting)

zoloto (586738) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637699)

Nokia, therefore, issues the legally binding Patent Statement, which has been posted on its website at www.nokia.com/iprstatements. The Patent Statement applies to Nokia's patents infringed by current official releases of the Linux Kernel and all future official releases of the Linux Kernel to the extent that Nokia has not declared new functionality embodied in such releases to be outside the scope of the Patent Statement. With respect to new functionality introduced into future Linux Kernel releases, Nokia reserves the right to declare that the Patent Statement shall not apply.

I'd like to be the first to applaud Nokia. This certainly will win many people over into development circles with their technology and without the fear of litigation that's obvious within OSS development, this will welcome innovation, change and support in ways that aren't available to the traditional software company.

The above statement made in bold is what worries me, however. What kind of allowance by way of announcement will be made for allowing certain new functionality? Is this a COA statement made so that they can keep their investors/company happy and alive or something else?

Re:Good game Nokia! (3, Interesting)

Triumph The Insult C (586706) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637833)

why give them credit? what about openbsd and freebsd? they borrowed heavily from them for ipso

sure, this is a step, but it's very small. i would give them a lot of credit if they came out and said "we're never going to sue anyone infringing on our software patents"

Re:Good game Nokia! (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637846)

Perhaps they want to CTA in case something gets into the kernel that they really can't allow (i.e. something that depends on something that was patented by someone else or protected by a contract)?

Re:Good game Nokia! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12637855)

Then I'll be the second :)

Seriously, though, I think this is a good thing for us all. I doubt they ever had any intention of litigating against Linux to begin with, they might be able to construe this as some form of donation (or just plain old goodwill on the balance sheet--I'm suddenly feeling more likely to choose Nokia products, all other things being equal), it allows the Linux developers access to more technology without so much worry about accidentally infringing some screwball patent no one has ever heard of, and by helping Linux, they help all users of it (including themselves).

Oh, and they get free publicity :) I wonder who else will join suit? Lots of major technology companies have already placed bets on Linux, so it's not like it makes sense for any company that actually produces products to litigate against Linux.

Actually, what would be really cool is if all code put under GPL-like licenses (e.g. this code may be freely used, and all derivatives of it must retain this freedom) were somehow immunized from patents. After all, what better promotes the advancement of Useful Arts & Sciences?

Re:Good game Nokia! (4, Informative)

AaronGTurner (731883) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637917)

As I read it it means that anything that is infringing now in the kernel is fine, and those same infringements in future kernels are also fine, but that new things introduced into the kernel may or may not be fine.

Is it irrevocably? (3, Interesting)

nietsch (112711) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637944)

yet to rtfa, but is thie just a statement or is it a irrevocable licence? It would be a very smart move of nokia to support linux at first, but revoke their licence because it makes more business sense for them to do so (nokia for some reason going bust SCO-stylee).

I have the impression that they made the mistake to let the PR droids announce this without letting technical and/or legal people have the last word.
Another thing is that they are silently pushing software patents, something that is still being debated in Europe (and it looks we might just not end up with some abomination like in the US). Without swpats, their move would have been without substance.

Re:Good game Nokia! (2, Interesting)

GoCoGi (716063) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637969)

I'm sure this is 100% correct, but they define linux kernel as "released from kernel.org, stable, GPL".
Any kernel modified by someone else (RedHat, gentoo-sources, ...) does not seem to match the definition.
If mainline includes patented ideas, they will go into the modified distribution-kernels as well.
They can (could) be sued.

Re:Good game Nokia! (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 9 years ago | (#12638037)

But Gentoo, for example, just automates downloading and patching the source. Unless they were using patented tech in the patch, it would seem that this should fall under the umbrella.

Re:Good game Nokia! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12638107)

To summarize (with a few simplifications):
1. Nokia gives up enforcement of all current patents against all current and past Linux kernels.
2. For new features in future Linux kernels, Nokia gives up those same patents unless it announces otherwise within 120 days of that kernel's release.
3. But, if some one else asserts their patents against the Linux kernel, then Nokia can use its patents to go after that person.
4. Nokia makes no promises about future patents (that are filed after the end of 2005).

YIIAPLBIANYPL. GYOGDPL. YMNO.

Re:Good game Nokia! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12638159)

Furthermore, what good is GPLed code that's covered by patents? Even if the kernel has a license to use a patent, doesn't that effectively prevent the GPLed code from being used elsewhere?

Probably people should be wary of this, and if anything only take it as a mild reprieve from lawsuits from Nokia. Don't go out of your way to incorporate Nokia's patents, because they could very well make your GPL licensing meaningless as nobody can reuse the code legally anyway.

Re:Good game Nokia! (4, Insightful)

RealAlaskan (576404) | more than 9 years ago | (#12638175)

Well, it's not so good as all that, I think.

You can't take a routine from the kernel and use it in some other GPL'd program, because Nokia's Patent Statement would not apply. That sort of defeats one (at least one!) of the purposes of the GPL, doesn't it? What about code that starts out in some other GPL'd program, like emacs or kde? It's definitely not covered by their Patent Statement, unless it's already in the kernel, and then only for use in the kernel.

As for their reserving the right to enforce patents against future kernel features, I'm sure that boils down to something like this: ``If Linux starts to cut into our revenues, watch out!''

As I've said in another post, what we need from them is an irrevokable license to use their patents in any GPL'd program. This isn't that, but it costs us nothing, so we should say thanks, and get on with what we were doing, because nothing has changed.

Before the announcement, they weren't suing anyone, though they might have chosen to in the future. After the announcement, they aren't suing anyone, though they might choose to in the future. It is a nice goodwill gesture, but nothing has changed.

Which patents is linux infringing upon? (5, Interesting)

Agelmar (205181) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637700)

According to the article, "The Patent Statement applies to Nokia's patents infringed by current official releases of the Linux Kernel..."

I'm personally wondering which patents they claim were being infringed upon. Are there legitimate patent concerns, or is this Nokia trying to position themselves for something else? Neither the liked article or the press release (http://www.nokia.com/iprstatements [nokia.com] ) mention any specific patents.

Re:Which patents is linux infringing upon? (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637854)

There need not be any either. Either way, if such are known, or if any should exist and be found, they are no longer any concern; that's the point of this statement.

Re:Which patents is linux infringing upon? (1)

MynockGuano (164259) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637953)

Sounds more to me like a blanket statement meant to cover any use whatsoever of their patented stuff, and not necessarily declaring that there is any in the kernel. Retroactive absolution, so to speak, to clarify that any and all currently Nokia-patented stuff in the kernel, whether its there already or put in in the future, is protected from litigation.

Re:Which patents is linux infringing upon? (3, Interesting)

Famatra (669740) | more than 9 years ago | (#12638028)

"Or is this Nokia trying to position themselves for something else?" I think that Nokia and Microsoft did not get a long , and are in competition for various operating system for mobile devices, esp. phones. I think Nokia's thinking, and IBM's too, is that they will do better if Microsoft is wounded or defeated, they'll all divide up the corpse among the players left standing. Plus since the Linux community is doing the work in developing it, it costs them little to lend their patents to Linux.

OH MY GOD (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12637707)

please cmdrtaco stop raping me

i hate you so much

Fantastic! (1)

coop0030 (263345) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637709)

This is some great news!

I'm sure Nokia has hundreds of patents that could be useful for open source developers!

Let's get working on those, eh?

(I'll help once I understand the patents)

Re:Fantastic! (3, Insightful)

JoshRosenbaum (841551) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637787)

I'm sure Nokia has hundreds of patents that could be useful for open source developers!

This will only be of use to open source developers of the Linux Kernel. It is not for all of Linux.

Re:Fantastic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12638120)

No it isn't great news, "no software patents" is great news. This is a token gesture that they leverage when lobbying in favour of software patents in Europe. A shrewd and cynical PR move that only suckers will lap up.

Capchas are BAD (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12637711)

Email pater@slashdot.org and tell him NO!

Re:Capchas are BAD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12638133)

Yeah, you have to type things like "fvwgkmd" to post anonymously! The horror, the horror!

Kind of vague first baby step (4, Interesting)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637716)

It doesn't say GPL, so it probably can't actually add any code to the kernel.

It only applies to current patents, and (IIRC) current interpretations of those patents.

But at least it sounds good enough to whack Redmond.

Re:Kind of vague first baby step (3, Insightful)

Prospero's Grue (876407) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637756)

It's a bold statement in principle, even if it hedges a little in practice... I still say they're deserving of some kudos from the Linux and OSS crowd.

Re:Kind of vague first baby step (2, Informative)

AaronGTurner (731883) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637881)

AFAIK the GPL refers to copyright on code, not patents. However code that contains an implementation of a patented process, method, etc., may run into problems, at least in certain jurdisdictions, that would make distribution under the GPL difficult or impossible. But the patent itself cannot be GPLed or anything like that.

Re:Kind of vague first baby step (2, Informative)

MynockGuano (164259) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637997)

Patents cover ideas, not code. The statement means that if Nokia has a concept patented that would be beneficial to have in the kernel, the developers can write it and include it without fear of litigation. The fact that this is a concern in the first place is the basis for the outcries against software patents.

Re:Kind of vague first baby step (1)

diakka (2281) | more than 9 years ago | (#12638193)

The kernel is GPL and licensing software under the GPL implies that you are granting the rights to any applicable patents to any GPL or derivative code.

So if you grant your patents to one GPL project, you're granting your patents to any GPL project.

IANAL, of course, so I may be falsly assuming that a logical argument would stand up legally.

The end of a Desktop! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12637719)

Way to go Nokia (1)

theskullboy (738616) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637726)

Now if only all other big corporations will follow its lead...

Re:Way to go Nokia (1)

m85476585 (884822) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637748)

Microsoft will be the last to.

Re:Way to go Nokia (4, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637763)

Please don't be such a sheep and read the Nokia blurb:

With respect to new functionality introduced into future Linux Kernel releases, Nokia reserves the right to declare that the Patent Statement shall not apply.

In short, Nokia says "we give you a new toy today, but we can always take it away from you later". Which means neither Linus or anybody else should touch it...

Re:Way to go Nokia (1)

PornMaster (749461) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637795)

Isn't that a way to say, "Hey, as far as we're concerned, anything of ours already in there is fine" as a way to put people at ease over possible infringement already in the kernel, and not so much a license to glom from them in the future?

Re:Way to go Nokia (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637995)

Exactly. All patent disputes up to this point - existing, nonexisting or otherwise - are hereby void. The future is still the same.

Re:Way to go Nokia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12637807)

Well, it's a great move from Nokia: they get to use F/OSS work designed around/with their patents, and they get PR time, but they don't actually *give* anything back. Nokia: 1, community: 0.

Re:Way to go Nokia (4, Informative)

RealAlaskan (576404) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637968)

In short, Nokia says "we give you a new toy today, but we can always take it away from you later".

I think that's not quite true. I think that Nokia has declared that all current infringements are ok, but future infringements are going to be looked at case by case, with the expectation (no guarantees!) that they'll be ok'd.

They lead off with: [nokia.com]

Nokia hereby commits not to assert any of its Patents (as defined herein below) against any Linux Kernel (as defined herein below) existing as of 25 May 2005.

This is a long way from what we need, which is a non-revokable license for use in all GPL'd software. Still, the little they are giving us is non-revokable (I think), and it's more than they had to give us.

... neither Linus or anybody else should touch it ...

There's really not much to touch. It boils down to: ``We won't sue Linus for anything he's done so far.'' There's no requirement for Linus (or anybody else) to reciprocate in any way.

Re:Way to go Nokia (1)

Oldest European (886715) | more than 9 years ago | (#12638115)

In short, Nokia says "we give you a new toy today, but we can always take it away from you later". Which means neither Linus or anybody else should touch it...

What else or better could Nokia do?

Nothing right now, I think, because they don't have any control about where the Linux development is going and so they need to protect themselves.

What is most interesting about this move is why did they do it?

To me it seems this might be an assault on software patent holders in general, and maybe even Microsoft specificaly.

Sure Nokia must hold thousands of patents. But they are still not a big player in the patent business and they know that they might find themselves in a bad position if software patent laws are introduced in the EU and strengthened elsewhere.

I just wished more companies would realize that if their name isn't Microsoft, IBM or Siemens that they have much more to lose from software patents than to win.

And of course OSS has almost nothing to gain from software patents.

Re:Way to go Nokia (1)

cortana (588495) | more than 9 years ago | (#12638210)

> What else or better could Nokia do?

Nokia could stop campaigning in favour of software patents in Europe.

> But [Nokia] are still not a big player in the patent business and they know that
> they might find themselves in a bad position if software patent laws are
> introduced in the EU and strengthened elsewhere.

Nokia's pro-swpat lobying efforts [slashdot.org] say otherwise.

Re:Way to go Nokia (1)

Albinofrenchy (844079) | more than 9 years ago | (#12638196)

So much paranoia!

It's an act of good-will obfuscated by legality. They reserve the right, but the spirit of the thing means they probably won't use that clause too much. It is a step in the right direction, and a very bold step at that.

Are we really going to be given an inch and demand a mile?

WOWZERS! (1)

sintacks (886546) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637732)

So we'll get a product that actually works?! WOW! I'm glad to see companies moving to more flexible solutions.

Wait... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12637740)

If they believe in open source so much shouldn't that be *any* open source project as opposed to just the linux kernel?

Re:Wait... (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637925)

That would be a ridiculously wide statement.

No. (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 9 years ago | (#12638035)

Hi! I'm Suckia! Nokia's compeditor!

Nokia won't let us use their super-duper patent that revolutionizes the industry, so we plan on creating a dummy FOSS project which just does enough to allow us to use their patent as a FOSS project but we plan on doing everything else as a closed source project!

*nelson*HA HA!*/nelson*

As Bruce Perens said about IBM's similar action: (5, Insightful)

Ubi_NL (313657) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637745)

Is this in writing?
Is it in lawyer-compatible writing?
Is it written in a way that they cannot duck out of it Rambus style?

asdf (4, Insightful)

mr_tommy (619972) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637747)

Of course, Nokia would have done this regardless of the Tablet they launched today [theregister.co.uk] , which, as if by coincidence, runs on Linux. And I'm even more certain it has nothing to do with a Nokia need to get some developer enthusiasm behind it's new software base. And it's got nothing to do with the lack of interest in the Symbian OS they've been running their other new phones off. And I'm sure Microsoft shouting about their new Mobile OS has even less to do with this.

Re:asdf (2, Interesting)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 9 years ago | (#12638009)

Of coarse, it is PR stunt. And I personally won't give a shit about it. It is GOOD to see that Nokia, the mighty gard of it's "intelectual property", trying to build something really USEFUL based on open source. And check out what kind of contributions they got it.

I hope it is some painful, but strong change in trend for Nokia. They won't change their attitude in one day, proposing software patents in EU, but let's cross fingers and hope for the best.

Re:asdf (2, Interesting)

Ochu (877326) | more than 9 years ago | (#12638050)

Hey, come on, they are a company, with their own interests. Sure, (software) patents suck, but since Nokia has them, they don't really need to give them away. In fact, they very probably would be sued by their shareholders if they just decided to give away a large part of the things that make them a special company...

Yay Nokia (3, Funny)

Hrodvitnir (101283) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637751)

So, that means today we like Nokia, right?

At least, until we find out that it's all a bunch of marketing doublespeak.

Re:Yay Nokia (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12638188)

No, we like Nokia when they start lobbying against software patents in the EU.

Thankyou,

Slashdot groupthink coordinator.

What I would like to know .. (1)

macaulay805 (823467) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637764)

What I would like to know is what if compainies like X-Stream decide to do what they have been doing and releasing their programs that were once GPLed code. Is Nokia going to go after them or sit by while the OSS community to do something?

Patents (4, Funny)

R.Mo_Robert (737913) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637769)

With all the talk of patents here lately, am I the only one who misread this headline and thought that Nokia patented supporting the Linux kernel? Now I've heard it all...

Re:Patents (1)

m85476585 (884822) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637785)

I misread it to.

Re:Patents (1)

uchi (534979) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637862)

You are certainly not the only one who misread the title. I read it as "North Korea announces Patent Support to Linux Kernel" as if North Korea wished to lure developers there by claiming that it was the first government to be fully "GPL compliant"

Oh, those crazy north koreans. I guess that is what 1 hour of sleep will do to you.

Re:Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12637919)

I guess that is what 1 hour of sleep will do to you.
Wow - I'd hate to see you after 8!

Re:Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12638027)

What? North Korea is patenting the Linux Kernel?

Re:Patents (1)

planetoid (719535) | more than 9 years ago | (#12638152)

No, but they are patenting the Rinuks Kelner.

Much ado about nothing (2, Interesting)

JakusMinimus (49854) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637770)

Linux is GPL'd code. Unless Nokia releases all of it's patents to everyone, this statement means nothing. The GPL does not allow for a sleeper patent attachment (one might say viral, oh the irony) such as this.

Re:Much ado about nothing (4, Informative)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637872)

Actually, it does, simply because the GPL does not say anything about patents at all - remember that copyright and patents are two *very* distinct things.

One might argue that the GPL's prohibition of "further restrictions" applies to patents, so maybe you can't take a piece of GPL'ed software and add code to it that you have a patent on (assuming that you release the new version at all, of course), but IANAL, and it's wholly unclear to me ATM whether that really would be true or not.

But outside of that, there's nothing in the GPL that deals with patents (unless I overlooked something important, of course, but that goes without saying).

Re:Much ado about nothing (1)

JakusMinimus (49854) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637941)

GPL's prohibition of "further restrictions"

This is exactly what I was getting at. The GPL does not allow for anything under it's copyright to propagate anything that would restrict anyone downstream (outside of GPL restrictions obviously!)

Re:Much ado about nothing (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12637989)

7. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.

If any portion of this section is held invalid or unenforceable under any particular circumstance, the balance of the section is intended to apply and the section as a whole is intended to apply in other circumstances.

It is not the purpose of this section to induce you to infringe any patents or other property right claims or to contest validity of any such claims; this section has the sole purpose of protecting the integrity of the free software distribution system, which is implemented by public license practices. Many people have made generous contributions to the wide range of software distributed through that system in reliance on consistent application of that system; it is up to the author/donor to decide if he or she is willing to distribute software through any other system and a licensee cannot impose that choice.

This section is intended to make thoroughly clear what is believed to be a consequence of the rest of this License.


Sounds to me like Nokia is complying with the license rather than making some grand gesture.

PS - Yes the GPL does talk about patents.

Re:Much ado about nothing (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12638068)

Please actually read the GPL before commenting on it.

And I quote:

If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.

If any portion of this section is held invalid or unenforceable under any particular circumstance, the balance of the section is intended to apply and the section as a whole is intended to apply in other circumstances.

It is not the purpose of this section to induce you to infringe any patents or other property right claims or to contest validity of any such claims; this section has the sole purpose of protecting the integrity of the free software distribution system, which is implemented by public license practices. Many people have made generous contributions to the wide range of software distributed through that system in reliance on consistent application of that system; it is up to the author/donor to decide if he or she is willing to distribute software through any other system and a licensee cannot impose that choice.

This section is intended to make thoroughly clear what is believed to be a consequence of the rest of this License.


And from the preamble (which is a required part of the GPL text for inclusion in programs, though I'm not sure whether it's considered a binding part of the contract):

Finally, any free program is threatened constantly by software
patents. We wish to avoid the danger that redistributors of a free
program will individually obtain patent licenses, in effect making the
program proprietary. To prevent this, we have made it clear that any
patent must be licensed for everyone's free use or not licensed at all.


That is, once a patent is freely licensed in accordance with the GPL, it must be possible to use that patent for derivative works as well, including future versions of the Linux kernel. This flies in the face of "With respect to new functionality introduced into future Linux Kernel releases, Nokia reserves the right to declare that the Patent Statement shall not apply." It is not a free licensing of the patents involved as required by the GPL.

Re:Much ado about nothing (1)

cyberlackey (771558) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637877)

Oh snap, it's a legal rootkit! They're installing now!!! Ahh!

Re:Much ado about nothing (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637901)

But this is Nokia saying this, not the kernel developers. Does this have no legal meaning simply because the target's licence doesn't allow for this?

Syncing (3, Insightful)

taskforce (866056) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637802)

I'd say this would be a step forward to greater device intergration - an open source of version of a program like iSync with compatibility with propretary methods and cables of syncing data. Maybe a plugin for the new Thunderbird/Lightning project which syncs contacts, dates and messages with Nokia phones?

Nokia: Bringing the power... (2, Funny)

Qinopio (602437) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637822)

So, now Linux will have all the gaming power of the N-Gage?

Where can I get an ISO, I'm switching now.

Just Linux? (3, Insightful)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637829)

What if Linux were to fork? Would the "non-Linux" version be able to use the patents? It just doesn't make sense to grant permission to one project when it's under a GPL license. The whole point of the license is that you can do as you like with the code so long as you offer the same freedom with you redistribution of said code. What if some driver uses their patent and someone rips it out and puts that driver into the Hurd? The GPL is supposed to allow that type of thing, granting permission to use a patent for a particular project isn't really playing nice.

Re:Just Linux? (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637866)

What if Linux were to fork?

The code concerned by Nokia patents will just have to use threads instead I guess...

My guess (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637990)

Excuse the self reply. My guess is that it's because they are using Linux in a product. They probably don't want people to interpret their distribution of code implementing their patents under GPL as giving permission to use those patents for other GPLed projects. IANAL, but I suspect there would be at least some merit to such an argument (for other use). By explicitly granting permission to use the patents just for the versions of Linux they want to use, it makes their intent regarding the patents clear.

These aren't the patent rights you're looking for. Nothing to see here, move along.

Re:My guess (1)

Lifewish (724999) | more than 9 years ago | (#12638142)

If they're the ones producing and distributing the code, the GPL's "no extra restrictions" clause may well come into play. Hope the GPL3 clarifies this stuff a bit.

Kernel module? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12637840)

So is this implemented as a kernel module? And will the kernel flunkies help me out if there is a bug in this? I mean, I don't want to become a patent pariah like I already am an nVidia pariah.

Also, is this going to require an active internet connection in order to connect to the patent database?

Plus, do I now have support for the JPEG patents in the kernel? That'd be cool.

Most interesting part to me (4, Interesting)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637841)

Nokia also believes that a party should not enjoy use of Nokia's patents and at the same time threaten the development of the Linux Kernel by assertion of its own patents. Therefore, Nokia's commitment shall not apply with regard to any party asserting its patents against any Linux Kernel.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that this means that if you are a Linux developer, use one of Nokia's patents as regards to this agreement, then turn around and try to sue LInux (or IBM, natch) for violating *your* patents, then you lose the ability to use Nokia's patents so Nokia can go after *you*.

If nothing else, it will make some companies who would sue Linux in a Rambus "We'll help develop the technology by committee then sue anybody who tries to actually use it without our permission" from (allegedly, like SCO) letting their technology be added into Linux, release a kernel, then start suing companies for violating their IP. With Nokia's clause here, they'll have to make certain that nothing of what they did includes Nokia's patents.

Phew. Interesting how complex things have to get just to cover your ass thanks to a exploitive lawsuit happy companies.

Uh... (1, Funny)

Fantasy Football (886971) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637858)

...people still use Nokia? Bummer.

Sorry but we have to reject this (5, Insightful)

Baki (72515) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637865)

As much good intentions Nokia may have at this time towards Linux and OSS in general, it is not acceptable to be at the mercy of such good will. Software patents need to be rejected on principle, and not be accepted because they happen to cause no damage AT THE MOMENT because of current good will.

Nokia is one of the main proponents of software patents in the European debate regarding this subject. The only answer is: we don't want your parents, we don't want any (software) patents in existance at all. Anything other would be very hypocritical.

Re:Sorry but we have to reject this (1)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637981)

I wonder about it too - it is strange that such large company can't take their act together. Come on, Nokia, you DON'T gain nothing much of software patents IF you act in market in good faith.

But let's be honest here - is good to see the change in trend. World won't change in one day, and software patents are here to stay for some time. But for Europe let's hope they simply won't go in serious action. Let's do our best.

Re:Sorry but we have to reject this (1)

RealAlaskan (576404) | more than 9 years ago | (#12638058)

Well, really, you can't reject it. It's a promise not to sue anyone for any hypothetical patent infringements which may have happened to date:

From Nokia's IP statement [nokia.com] :

Nokia hereby commits not to assert any of its Patents (as defined herein below) against any Linux Kernel (as defined herein below) existing as of 25 May 2005.
How do you plan to reject that? Are you going to take them to court and try to force them to sue kernel developers or Linux users? Since there is no quid pro quo required, there in nothing to refuse.

As I said in another post, what we need from any company which wants to be ``Linux friendly'' is irrevokable permission to use their patents in any GPL'd software. This isn't close to that, it isn't much, and it really isn't even a good start, but it's more than they had to do, and we should thank them nicely and go back to ignoring them.

Re:Sorry but we have to reject this (1)

Baki (72515) | more than 9 years ago | (#12638183)

let everyone know loudly that this public relations move is not going to change our mind regarding software patents.

especially some politicians might be fooled by such moves; one of their concerns regarding software patents is the damage they might do to open source software. PR stunts like this could make them think that this is not the case. that must be avoided. it must remain clear that software patents are, in the long term, of utmost danger to OSS.

Re:Sorry but we have to reject this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12638074)

Nokia is one of the main proponents of software patents in the European debate regarding this subject.

Source, please? I'm not disputing your claim but I just haven't heard it before (but I have heard the contrary).

Re:Sorry but we have to reject this (3, Informative)

cortana (588495) | more than 9 years ago | (#12638165)

Not difficult [google.com] .

Nokia seems absolutely pro-swpat. Their patent department has done lots of lobbying in conferences and in the European Parliament. We encountered the head of their IP department, Tim Frain, in Bournemouth in summer 2002. Participants at the conference easily demonstrated that his arguments are economic nonsense. http://swpat.ffii.org/gasnu/nokia/index.en.html [ffii.org]

Campaigners are opposed by representatives from large companies, including Nokia, which the FFII reports is engaged in energetic Pro-Patent Lobbying Efforts. Nokia argues that software patents "provide incentives to undertake research and development in Europe, and to promote licensing and technology transfer". http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/04/13/eu_patent_ protest/ [theregister.co.uk]

Meanwhile, lobbyists in favour of software patents are also gearing up
for the fight. FFII has obtained a copy of a round-robin letter being
circulated by Nokia's Tim Frain (Nokia/Southwood) and Dany Ducoulombier
(Nokia/Brussels) for pro-patent signatures before April 8th. The letter
calls on ministers to drop their objections, and to support a draft text
issued by the Irish Presidency on March 17th. http://lwn.net/Articles/79930/ [lwn.net]

Natch, they're a hardware company. (3, Interesting)

lheal (86013) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637894)

Why wouldn't they allow their patents to be used in an OS?

They reserve the right to snatch that back, such as if the Linux kernel suddenly acquires the ability to become hardware and run itself.

Or if they ever start to "see themselves as a software company" or believe they're "really about consulting" or some other such dreck, then they'll snatch back their patents. They'd also be on the road to corporate oblivion, but that would be independent of allowing FOSS use of their patents.

Keep making the neat gizmos, Nokia.

when is a kernel not a kernel? (3, Insightful)

acidrain (35064) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637903)

How much modification can I make to the linux kernel before it is not the linux kernel? E.g. if I made it into a user-space image manipulation program that ran under windows? Here is the crux of my concern: if you liscence something to a open source program, you have given a liscence to the whole world to use it but under ambiguous terms. The only real restriction that I can see here is that the code has to remian GPL and that you need to prove some ancestry to the kernel, which can be a total farce involving a few copy commands... Otherwise if the version with their code has to come directly from Linus then they have seriously encumbered the kernel and that fails their GPL requirement. To sum up, if you are going to open up your technology to one open source project you should really open it up to everyone. Not to slag Nokia here, what they have done is great, and to be lauded, just if you are going to bring a case of beer to the party, you shouldn't write your friends names on the box. It's not cool and people will snag a bottle if they feel like it anyhow.

Nokia and Torvalds... (5, Funny)

fbonnet (756003) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637914)

are both Finnish, which certainly is coincidental.

good for the wrong reasons (2, Interesting)

CAPSLOCK2000 (27149) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637932)

I'm afraid this statement is rather useless. Allthough the Linux kernel (the tree of Linus) is protected, derivatives are not. IMHO this means that anyone customizing the kernel (eg to run on a telephone) is not safe from them.

However, there is one very nice paragraph:

Nokia also believes that a party should not enjoy use of Nokia's patents and at the same time threaten the development of the Linux Kernel by assertion of its own patents. Therefore, Nokia's commitment shall not apply with regard to any party asserting its patents against any Linux Kernel.


In other words, if anyone starts threatening Linux with patents, they might find Nokia lawyers on their doorstep.

Read the small print before hyping (3, Insightful)

mjrauhal (144713) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637948)

The patent license seems to be purely a PR stunt without any real substance whatsoever.

First, they don't even assert that anything is covered by their patents.

Second, they assert a right to start acting up anyway if something that is covered by their patents ends up in the kernel.

Third, even if some patented thing in Linux was covered by this license, its use is only authorized in the Linux kernel as published on kernel.org (not even vendor- or self-patched versions), which is pretty useless.

Fourth, the above condition is incompatible with GPL's clause 7. It follows that if Nokia makes a credible patent claim on something that is in the kernel, then nobody has a valid license to distribute the kernel anymore until the patent issue is sorted out in the usual manner (that is, by getting a GPL-compatible license or working around it).

To sum it up, it seems they're just trying to shine their shield after bashing in some FFII heads here in the EU.

Nokia gives patents, does linux kern team want em? (2, Insightful)

benow (671946) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637949)

Nokia is giving patents (and relying on patent system), but should linux kernel team accept patented stuff to begin with? I mean, it's nice and all for Nokia to share, but shouldn't they be sharing equally regardless? The patent system is notoriously slow, imprecise and contains many erroneous/broad patents. I can't help but think that relying on such a system is like willingly introducing a bottleneck. The whole pantent structure is also resting upon enforcement, and the assumption that people cannot cooperate in the first place. Both consumers and producers must realize that there is more momentum and vitality thru cooperation than thru regulated/enforced proprietarianism... I'd stay away from the patented stuff to begin with. If they are well intentioned towards openness, let them go the whole way.

The Patent Statement (4, Informative)

MrByte420 (554317) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637960)



Legally Binding Commitment Not to Assert Nokia Patents against the Linux Kernel

Patent Statement

Nokia hereby commits not to assert any of its Patents (as defined herein below) against any Linux Kernel (as defined herein below) existing as of 25 May 2005. The aforesaid non-assertion shall extend to any future Linux Kernel to the extent that Nokia does not declare any new functionality embodied in such Linux Kernel to be outside the scope of this Patent Statement. Nokia shall issue such declaration through its website no later than one hundred and twenty (120) days after the official release of such Linux Kernel.

Both of the aforesaid non-assertion commitments are subject to the condition that the party relying on any such commitment and its Affiliates do not assert any of their patents, or patents they control or have a third party assert any patent, against any Linux Kernel.

Nokia's Patent Statement is not an assurance that any of its Patents validly covers the Linux Kernel, is enforceable, or that the Linux Kernel does not infringe patents or other intellectual property rights of any third party.

No other rights except those expressly stated in this Patent Statement shall be deemed granted or received by implication, or estoppel, or otherwise.

Definitions:

"Affiliate"
of a party means any legal entity greater than fifty percent (50%) of whose outstanding shares or securities representing the right to vote for the election of directors or other managing authority are, or greater than fifty percent (50%) of whose equity interest is, now or hereafter, owned or controlled, directly or indirectly by that party, but only as long as such ownership or control exists.

"Nokia"
means Nokia Corporation and its Affiliates.

"Linux Kernel"
means any version of the Linux kernel which (i) is released as "stable version", (ii) is licensed under the "GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE Version 2, June 1991 for the Linux operating system" and (iii) has been published by the Kernel.org Organization, Inc on its Linux Kernel Archive website at www.kernel.org.

"Patent"
means any such claims, including without limitation, method and product claims, of any and all patents and patent applications with a priority date of 31 December 2005 or earlier, now owned or hereafter acquired by Nokia, which are infringed by any Linux Kernel that exists as of 25 May 2005 or by any functionality embodied in any future Linux Kernel to the extent that Nokia has not declared as described hereinabove such functionality to be outside the scope of this Patent Statement. For the avoidance of doubt, Patent shall not include any claims for enabling technologies that are not themselves embodied in the Linux Kernel (e.g., without limitation, hardware or semiconductor manufacturing technology as such).

Re:The Patent Statement (1)

MrByte420 (554317) | more than 9 years ago | (#12638007)

I'll reply to my own post :)

This seems a little confusing/concerning. I think its well intentioned but if the code is licenseed as GPL how can it be under the restrictions that these claims only apply to the kernel. Suppose I want to go use kernel code in my own open source code and this code is covered by the patent, all of the sudden the GPL code is not GPL'able.

I really don't think this has alot of legal teeth - I think its more just them saying that in spirit, they're not going to sue us. Lets not foret that companies go down the dark path [sco.com]

OT: Correct your sig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12638099)

It's Jon Stewart.

Whats to keep Nokia... (2, Interesting)

doormat (63648) | more than 9 years ago | (#12637970)

from turning around in 10 years and demanding back-payments on all patent encumbered features and technology in the kernel? A la Rambus.

(for those that dont know, Rambus put in a bunch of ideas into the JEDEC council for DRAM (SDRAM, DDR, etc) and some got used. They then turned around later and submarrined the DRAM industry by demanding payment on SDRAM, DDR, etc. They sued and lost I believe, but have won or settled other cases regarding anti-competitive tactics by the rest of the industry to stamp them out.)

Nokia has an interesting view on patents (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12637980)

I attended a lecture on innovation management by an individual responsible for it at Nokia and he said that their view is pretty much that "we're in the business of innovation - not lawsuits" and said that their policy is to never take legal action against someone infringing their patents (i.e. the instructions to their lawyers is: If you start a patent lawsuit you're fired even if you're right). The reason why they use patents is only to protect themselves from lawsuits by others. And he had a quite good piece of advice for anyone considering patenting something: It's not worth it since by the time you've got twelve idiots deciding your fate you've got nothing left to win.

Cynical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12638000)

Pretty cynical from Nokia - we allow you to use code that you wrote and invented
(although only for Linux kernel that we use for free in our own products).

You showed us your Greatness, thank you very much, merciful Nokia !
You saved us from the evil of your patents !

There's one condition.. (1)

leathered (780018) | more than 9 years ago | (#12638019)

As soon as the sound system initialises it has to play that irritating Nokia theme tune.

Nokia and GSreamer == Patent issues ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12638034)

Patent issues with GStreamer ? How does it affect GNOME development and GStreamer ?

A major endorsement for the GNOME platform came today as Nokia announced their Nokia 770 Internet tablet device. This very cool device is linux based and used technologies such as GTK+, GStreamer, gnome-vfs, gconf and dbus. There is a developers page, maemo.org which have information on how you can write your own applications for the device. Be sure to check out the screenshots page.

People who want to know more about this device is recommended to come to GUADEC in Stuttgart starting this Saturday, where Nokia will do a presentation. The development of this device was done in cooperation with Fluendo, OpenedHand and Imendio.

"Framework of certainty" (1)

apathyonline (886926) | more than 9 years ago | (#12638042)

Nokia said that open source needed a framework of certainty. I'd have to agree with this... If everyone was uncertain about the future of opensource with regard to patents, people may shy away from it. This has not deterred open source software's growth, but it is an area of concern. With Nokia allowing oss developers to all their patents freely, one piece of the framework is set, which is great news!

Can OpenSolaris also use these patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12638076)

It'll be an interesting war. Looks like it'll be

IBM+Nokia+???+Linux

vs

Sun+MSFT+Solaris

in the ultimate patent showdown.

Re:Can OpenSolaris also use these patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12638119)

Isn't Sun + Solaris redundant?

I waive all my patents claims against Linux too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12638089)

Because I don't have any.

This seems odd? Possibly due to IBM patents? (2, Interesting)

linuxtelephony (141049) | more than 9 years ago | (#12638132)

I read the article and came away thinking I trust Nokia even less now. The news *seems* good on the surface, but several key sentences gave me pause.

For instance, it seems very clearly to me that Nokia is saying that the Linux kernel is currently violating one or more of their patents. I did not search deeper, but I, for one, would like to know what patents they claim are being infringed?

Sure, it seems nice of them to say it is OK to use those items, but something about this smells fishy. I think I'll wait for the other shoe to drop.

Another though occurred to me. Has anyone done an analysis to see if any of the 500 IBM patents are used in the kernel? Could this be in response to that usage (if it exists)? I mean, if they are going to rely on Linux (see the new 770 web tablet), and they think they found patent infringement, then they would be precluded from going after it, because to do so would rescind IBM's permission for Nokia to use IBM's patent(s) that may be in Linux as well. This could just be PR spin to try and make Nokia smell better.

Like I said, I'll wait for the other shoe(s) to drop. I think there is more to this story, and before I am willing to pat Nokia on the back, I want more details.

Deceivers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12638140)

Nokia is one of the leading active proponents of software patents in Europe. Don't trust these poisonous snakes.

I suggest that the OSS community tells them where to stick their patents.

In fact, it would be best if companies like Nokia were barred from using Linux or any OSS software by a clause in the GPL. Let them write their own software.

I'm happy to say that today I bought a Samsung phone, and the Nokia is going in the rubbish bin where it belongs, after I have smashed it with a hammer.

I for one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12638185)

I for one welcome our new Finnish overlords!

I thank You for your time (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12638195)

Implem3ntation 7o

They have already granted us this and more. (4, Insightful)

MartinG (52587) | more than 9 years ago | (#12638222)

By distributing linux with their new devices they are implicitly granting all recipients of these devices a license to patented code (if any) that may exist in linux under the terms of the GPL. This is because they have to distribute under the terms of the GPL or not distribute at all and the GPL makes it clear that no additional restrictions can be added (such as "we may revoke patent licenses at a later date" or "this is only for linux, not for other programs")

So because it is under the terms of the GPL, we are allowed to use patented code from linux (if any) in any other GPL programs. If they say we can not they are breaking the terms of the GPL and must stop distributing linux.

Of course it may be that they have no patents on any code in linux. In that case they can say what they want about how they can be used.

Also, if they do have patents on code in linux and they still impose their terms on it, as well as not being allowed to distribute it themselves they would be able to use their patents to prevent others distributing it unless they removed the patented code.

Software patents suck.

IANAL.
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