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Five Linux Companies Buy Software Patents

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the giving-back dept.

Patents 89

An anonymous reader writes "In order to protect themselves against patent grabbing 'trolls,' major Linux companies are buying software patents through a nonprofit company called Open Invention Network. This nonprofit company will then offer royalty-free licenses to companies and individuals that agreed not to assert their own patents."

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Do you have to have patents to join? (3, Insightful)

RandoX (828285) | more than 8 years ago | (#14006956)

Or can you agree not to assert future patents?

A Tale of Two Dudes (3, Interesting)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007443)

Dude A is a MicroSoft sales rep. He was foaming at the mouth about new workflow solutions pouring out of Redmond. I asserted that there haven't be any new ideas in computer science in decades; the real issues are organizational, not technical.
Dude A loudly protested that there was constant innovation.
So I asked Dude B, who is among the hardest-core propeller-heads I've ever met. Dude B thought that packet switched networks were probably the last genuinely new idea.
Clearly, as a working stiff, I have no idea about these things. The fact that the PTO keeps puking new patents for these ideas must mean that there is some basis for them, no?

Re:A Tale of Two Dudes (2, Funny)

sukotto (122876) | more than 8 years ago | (#14008067)

no :-)

Re:A Tale of Two Dudes (1)

Burgerman851 (929182) | more than 8 years ago | (#14008889)

Have you seen the use to which Amazon.com has put the patent office [around.com] ?

I think I'll patent a "procedure for simultaneously walking and chewing gum"

-- if it hasn't already been patented.

Sony is the patent killer! (1)

NightFears (869799) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007523)

Sony is the patent killer!

*Gets some chips and coffee, preparing to watch Sony committing suicide*

But, seriously, I also wonder what the requirements for membership in this group is. This is a "if you don't sue me, then I won't sue you" club. But what if a corporation wants to join without holding any patents? They would get a lot out of joining, but not really have anything to contribute. Would they still be allowed to join?

So much for (1)

w.p.richardson (218394) | more than 8 years ago | (#14006959)

principles...

I guess what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Re:So much for -- IT'S FOR DEFENSE (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14007083)

This is for DEFENSE. It's like having an agressive neighboring country that wants your land and spends a lot on weapons. If you don't defend yourself, you might get overrun (many, many examples throughout history).


If the current business climate includes tons and tons of dubious patents which can threaten your livelihood, your best defense is to get as many of your own as you can so when they come after you, you go after them -- a kind of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction). IBM has been doing this for years and most companies (except for SCO) seem to not try to assert IP issues with IBM.


I think the real reason for software patents was the LEA -- Lawyer Enrichment Act. (Attorneys are the main ones getting rich of of these BS patents.)

Re:So much for -- IT'S FOR DEFENSE (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14007348)

I bet if Microsoft was the subject of discussion, you wouldn't be saying that.

Re:So much for -- IT'S FOR DEFENSE (1)

Shanep (68243) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007564)

This is for DEFENSE.

This nonprofit company will then offer royalty-free licenses to companies and individuals that agreed not to assert their own patents.

Actually, it seems a bit silly to me. I assume they mean, "agreed not to assert their own patents based on our patent". If so, is that not absurd, since you probably should not get a patent granted when it is based off of someone elses patent anyway?

Isn't this almost a good idea which falls short when it comes to the final method of defence (you can't patent a derived idea)? Wouldn't it be better that the idea just simply be patented full stop and then carefully granted? Why not use patents for the way they were designed in the first place? Then perhaps an optional added agreement to use the patent be that it can be used for free in OSS or with royalties which came back to OSS for use in commercial software.

It just seems to me that a demand is being made for something you would get out of the patent system anyway. Why not extend it with something worthwhile?

Or am I missing something here?

Re:So much for -- IT'S FOR DEFENSE (1)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14008616)

You can quite well patent an invention that builds on other patented inventions. The one problem here is that the holder(s) of the patented inventions you build upon can prevent you from actually using your own invention.

Re:So much for (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007459)

The principle is: goose or gander, somebody gets eaten.

Re:So much for (1)

AlgebraicSpore (590915) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007463)

Yes, but look what happend with MAD. We now have tons of nukes that are always that still serve some threat even though the Soviet Union has fallen. What happens when the good guys win? These patent holders have nothing from denying new small companies, who may not want to join on ethical grounds, from not using the patents, but perhaps everyone will end up joining and the absurdity of software patents will be shown, but this definetly seems like a situation where a backlash to the patent buying could become very harmful to the computer community.eh...

Re:So much for (1)

dslauson (914147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007532)

People seem to think that the idea of a patent goes against the idea of open source software. It doesn't have to, though.

Compare it to having a license. Before the GPL and other open-source software licenses, traditional software licensing wouldn't have fit into the open source world. However, it was incorporated the license in a way that maintained the ideals, while protecting the best interests of the movement.

That's what this is. They're adapting, but they're adapting in a way that maintains their ideals. Yeah, they're adopting the practice of aquiring patents, but they're not going to horde them away and not let anybody use them. Anybody can use them, as long as they agree to follow the principals. Just like the GPL allows people to do with their software.

Maybe necessary (2, Insightful)

external400kdiskette (930221) | more than 8 years ago | (#14006965)

Whilst frivolous patent are inherently bad and shows the system doesn't work in the real world it might be a necessary defence to avoid future legal problems. So just hope they can stay non-profit :)

Re:Maybe necessary (1)

heatdeath (217147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14010721)

Is this necessary? Shouldn't prior art be enough for other companies to not be able to file the patents that they're filing? I thought patents were only necessary if you wanted to leverage them.

It sounds to me like the patent system is broken. =P

dupe... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14006971)

Here comes dupe of the day..

Re:dupe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14006984)

I gave up even caring about dupes long ago. I'm now waiting for the day when an editor dupes his own story. I'm putting my money on Zonk for that one. Or maybe it has happened already, and I missed it because dupes are now just part of the /. background noise.

Want to make software patents go away (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14006973)


then dont do business with countries that uphold patents on software

The five companies are :- (2, Informative)

wongqc (555152) | more than 8 years ago | (#14006979)

The five companies are :

1) International Business Machines Corp. (IBM)
2) Sony Corp
3) Philips Electronics NV
4) Novell Inc. (SUSE)
5) Red Hat Inc

Re:The five companies are :- (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14007018)

Well done those software patent promoting companies, this is like stamping down on pedophillia by abusing kids.

Seriously, the world needs to be rid of software patents and this isn't helping!

Re:The five companies are :- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14007086)

this is like stamping down on pedophillia by abusing kids

Umm, no it's not. It's not in the least. What the hell is wrong with you?

http://linux.slashdot.Re:The five companies are :- (1)

Gherald (682277) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007413)

> Well done those software patent promoting companies, this is like stamping down on pedophillia by abusing kids. Seriously, the world needs to be rid of software patents and this isn't helping!

If you are going to make a sensational comparison, at least make one that is within reason:

Imagine that the whole world is comprised by e.g. only the USA, or only the EU. Now imagine that the corporations within this world are "countries". Stocking up on software patents for defensive purposes is like stocking up on nukes. Ergo, Mutually Assured Destruction.

The main differences are that instead of victims you have settlements, and instead of nuclear scientists you have lawyers doing what lawyers do best: billing a shitload of money.

Re:The five companies are :- (1)

destuxor (874523) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007101)

Sony?! I'd have never expected them to be happy to help OSS. I've never spoken to someone about putting Linux on a Sony computer, and I realise their hardware is nice and all, but Sony hardware is known for being engineered to work only with other Sony hardware. This means that if the power supply in your Sony PC goes out you may have to get a new one from Sony and nowhere else. Proprietary hardware is bad for other hareware companies, and Sony is the worst for this kind of vendor lock-in. You'll understand my surprise that Sony would be willing to participate in a patent-sharing organization.

Re:The five companies are :- (1)

Bootvis (913169) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007114)

Dudes he's kidding... And which madman modded that informative. It is (sort of) funny

Re:The five companies are :- (1)

thebdj (768618) | more than 8 years ago | (#14008423)

actually it is true...RTFA and you'll see in the second or third paragraph those five companies putting money into the group...IBM and Sony have reason to join in on the fun because big companies are the target of trolls, and that is the real goal of this group is to protect corporations from patent trolls.

Re:The five companies are :- (2, Funny)

TrappedByMyself (861094) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007462)

2) Sony Corp

Hmm... since we've already had today's Sony DRM article... lemme check my Slashdot manual...
flip, flip, flip... ahhh here it is...
Yes, since we've alreay had today's Sony DRM article, the newer Sony "Defender of Freedom" article means that we must express undying love for Sony until the posting of tomorrow's Sony DRM article.

Re:The five companies are :- (2, Interesting)

oolon (43347) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007761)

Actually this could be very good for the 5 companies involved, it kind of a devils bargin, as anyone who signs up for it can never use patents of their own again, however the founders are not so limited aways giving them an edge on you. I would also wonder if it is acceptable under the GPL, as patents require a non conditional/royalty free grant (for the GPL) to be used. It would have been better for them to say all the patents could be used in GPL programs and if you give up your right to enforce patents also in non GPL ones. This would drive alot more programs to become GPLed, and perhaps otherwise would have been overlooked as it would give them (the program) an added edge/protection.

James

I knew I recognised this (4, Informative)

myspys (204685) | more than 8 years ago | (#14006987)

Fresh from yesterday/a [slashdot.org]

Re:I knew I recognised this (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007468)

Yeah, me too. [slashdot.org] ;p

Re:I knew I recognised this (1)

The Darkness (33231) | more than 8 years ago | (#14008622)

Fresh from yesterday

Good! I'm glad it was re-posted. I didn't have computer access while
this article was posted yesterday so I'm glad I have a chance to see
it today.

I was actually out and about instead of sitting in front of the computer all day.

(awaits shocked replys)

Gentlemen, start your engines (3, Informative)

gringer (252588) | more than 8 years ago | (#14006991)

Okay, so the way to get modded up for comments to this post, is to pick a +5 comment from the following post, then give it a slightly different spin to account for the 23 hours passed since then:

http://linux.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/11/10/ 1321238&tid=136&tid=233&tid=106 [slashdot.org]

I guess it's not a complete dupe... the linked article for this post is different.

Re:Gentlemen, start your engines (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14007064)

Looks like you've got a choice of eight posts. To summarise:

1. It's odd that Sony is one of the companies
2. Sony is a big company
3. Sony is a big company
4. Sony is a big company
5. It's surprising to see so many heavyweights in an anti-patent trust
6. "Fuck you Sony" gets misspelled on occasions
7. Sony will help with cross-platform root kits
8. We shouldn't treat software patents as acceptable

That Didn't Take Long (2, Informative)

campaign_bug (815908) | more than 8 years ago | (#14006993)

The story [slashdot.org] the other day seemed to indicate they were just going to try to protect their customers from litigation. I read that as "providing legal backing" etc., as opposed to actually buying all the patents!

Patents are not a defence (4, Insightful)

Gopal.V (532678) | more than 8 years ago | (#14006997)

Mutually assured destruction with patents work when the other company you are dealing with is a technology company shipping real software which could violate one of your own. It just doesn't work when you are dealing with the modern lawyer companies which hold patents merely to sue the pants off the big/little/<whatever> guy who comes under their sights

IBM, Sony, Phillips and Novell aren't really Linux companies - they know that Free/Open/Libre software is the only way they are going to utilize the vastly under-utilized creative urges of the hackers of the world to fight their own enemies. GNU/Linux is just a primary weapon in their arsenal and they just want to keep it sharp.

Even more sadly, the more we use patents to fight patents, the less backing the fight against software patents is going to get. To quote:
They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither.

Re:Patents are not a defence (3, Insightful)

xigxag (167441) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007269)

^ True, but this may accomplish two things:

1) Keep the alliance members in bed with one other, similar to the way that royal families throughout time have used marriage bonds to create extended relationships and maintain peace among kingdoms.

2) Dissuade Microsoft from exercising its "nuclear option" in a desperate measure to fend off the rise of Linux.

Re:Patents are not a defence (1)

Cyno (85911) | more than 8 years ago | (#14011450)

It would be very costly for any corp to use their "nuclear option" against hundreds or thousands of Linux startups. Proving a patent violation is not trivial, especially when we're dealing with software patents. There's several decades of prior art to look through, for example. And not all countries have the same laws regarding software patents.

Re:Patents are not a defence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14012002)

and maintain peace among kingdoms.

At first, I read this as klingons... must... sleep...

What a fantastic idea! (1)

Hey Pope Felcher . . (921019) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007001)

So are there any safeguards built in to prevent the holding company from charging for the licences in the future?

One certainly hopes so.

Re:What a fantastic idea! (1)

MissP (728641) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007171)

RTFA (it's really short) and you'll see the the answer to your question.

No, no answer. (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14008136)

TFA only says that they pay undisclosed amounts of money to that organization. But where's the legal stuff? The company's policies?

In any case, this initiative, with the appropriate safeguards, is exactly what the patent system needs.

Hmmmm ... (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007004)

The company will buy Linux-related patents and offer royalty-free licenses to companies and individuals that agreed not to assert their own patents, the paper said.

I wonder what this new company's policy is relative to individuals and companies that *DO NOT* agree "not to assert" their own patents [ed note: this sentence should be taken out and shot]. Note that 2 of the "investors" are IBM and Philips - two companies with massive patent portfolios. Do they, by virtue of being investors in this group get special privileges relative to the formed company's patent holdings? Or, are they waiving their current patent rights (I seriously doubt it)? Interesting ...

OMG!!!11!!!1111 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14007012)

Doesn't that mean that IBM, Sony and Novel are socialists now????

OMG, they're taking over!!!11!!!1111

In other news (5, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007019)

King Aethelred of Wessex announced that he had purchased protection from the Viking raiders that have plagued our shores. "It was really easy," announced Aethelred, "all I had to do was pay money to another bunch of pirates to protect us from the first bunch. Now the problem is solved for ever, and I can't see any potential downsides." On the news, shares in PlunderCorp rose 35% in anticipation of a rich and ongoing new revenue stream.

anti-patent (2, Interesting)

doyoulikegoatseeee (930088) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007036)

The idea of an anti-patent patent trust is as old as the hills, but to see this much corporate clout behind it was unthinkable not five years ago. It feels like there's been a sea-change and I like it. More important than helping IBM and Sony fight Microsoft, if this idea gained momentum it could seriously roll back a lot of the current technical stagnation on account of software/algorithm patents.

Color me cautiously hopeful.

Re:anti-patent (1)

dogwelder99 (896835) | more than 8 years ago | (#14009808)

Too late... I just patented the business model for an anti-patent patent trust. Licenses are available for $10 million a pop.

Slashdot needs to snag the patent... (1)

toupsie (88295) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007042)

...for preventing dupe posts!

Re:Slashdot needs to snag the patent... (1)

karlto (883425) | more than 8 years ago | (#14022831)

Wouldn't it be kinda hard to patent that when you have no idea how to go about it?

Not an effective counter to threat of swpats (2, Insightful)

Sanity (1431) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007054)

What about all the non-linux open source projects, or the small companies that create innovative closed-source software?

Additionally, patent trolls are immune to this kind of patent pool since they tend not to create any software themselves and are therefore not vulnerable to software patents.

The real fix here is to wrestle the patent system back from the "intellectual property maximalists" and get rid of patents on software which do not motivate innovation (just try to name one useful innovation in software we wouldn't have were it not for software patents - they are occasionally a by-product of innovation, but never a motivator for it).

Re:Not an effective counter to threat of swpats (1)

danharan (714822) | more than 8 years ago | (#14010605)

When the only companies using software patents to litigate don't produce software themselves, we'll have come to a whole new level of absurdity.

Congress-critters may still ignore this, but the asurdity will come into clearer focus for most non-techies. That's not a bad thing.

Exsqueeze me... (1)

poptones (653660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14010908)

(just try to name one useful innovation in software we wouldn't have were it not for software patents - they are occasionally a by-product of innovation, but never a motivator for it).

Wasn't OGG created specifically as an open (and free) alternative to the mpeg variants?

Weren't Free BSD and linux created as a response to their closed, proprietary and heavily licensed competitors?

Re:Exsqueeze me... (1)

danharan (714822) | more than 8 years ago | (#14010974)

I don't think that response was meant for me?

So how many open source projects have been sued (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14007104)

for patent infringement?

Well?

...

Looks like a non problem to me.

Re:So how many open source projects have been sued (1)

jfourier (842358) | more than 8 years ago | (#14009426)

How many FLOSS projects have never begun or have less features because developers are afraid of patent lawsuits?

Re:So how many open source projects have been sued (1)

CapnGrunge (233552) | more than 8 years ago | (#14012217)

Blade Encoder [mp3.no] comes to mind.
MPlayer [mplayerhq.hu] is at stake as well.

Novell sees a future for KDE SUSE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14007145)

In other Novell news:
Novell Vice-President for their Linux Platform now said that future Novell enterprise products would have the option to choose to install and use KDE. While Gnome will be the default option KDE will now continue to be supported.

http://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/66011 [heise.de]

And it they refuse ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14007146)

This nonprofit company will then offer royalty-free licenses to companies and individuals that agreed not to assert their own patents.

And if they refuse, the nonprofit will have to assert its own patents thus disbarring it from ever dealing with itself ever again.

It's like what the GPL did for copyright, except ... broken.

PPL moving towards GPL3 (0, Troll)

coolphysco1010 (920388) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007149)

this looks like so called open source is moving towards GPL3

Two wrongs don't make a right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14007151)

I have seen so-called open source presentations by several of these companies. These people have no interest in open source idealism, except as a way to promote their profits. These companies are doing what they have always done, they are simply colluding with their marketing department to present this under the rubric of "protecting open source". Bullshit. They only thing these people are protecting is themselves. If these people really cared about FOSS ideals, they would be lobbying for patent reform. Where is the hew and cry from these folks for modernizing our intellectual property laws to bring them in line with the epic changes wrought by the always connected internet? Right. Complete silence.

If you think what these people are doing is good for FOSS, congratulations, you have just swallowed on big load of horse shit. Taste good?

Fried air market (2, Interesting)

Nuffsaid (855987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007186)

Patents aside, I wonder how much of current global economy is fueled by this kind of nonsense. $A_COMPANY gettin money from $ANOTHER_COMPANY, as long as $A_COMPANY's lawyers don't do $LEGAL_ACTION to $ANOTHER_COMPANY's lawyers while they are litigating $YET_ANOTHER_COMPANY about what they shouldn't have done to $A_COMPANY according to an agreement which wasn't to be disclosed except in front of $REGULATOR_BODY's lawyers... and so on ad nauseam. Maybe a lawyer could find a sense (wrong, of course) in the previous sentence, but it was intended as an example of the insanity of an out-of-control system where wealth is exchanged on the basis of what one doesn't do.

Re:Fried air market -- Is Nonpolluting! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14014467)

Patents aside, I wonder how much of current global economy is fueled by this kind of nonsense. $A_COMPANY gettin money from $ANOTHER_COMPANY, as long as $A_COMPANY's lawyers don't do $LEGAL_ACTION to $ANOTHER_COMPANY's lawyers while they are litigating $YET_ANOTHER_COMPANY about what they shouldn't have done to $A_COMPANY according to an agreement which wasn't to be disclosed except in front of $REGULATOR_BODY's lawyers... and so on ad nauseam. Maybe a lawyer could find a sense (wrong, of course) in the previous sentence, but it was intended as an example of the insanity of an out-of-control system where wealth is exchanged on the basis of what one doesn't do.
Think about it, though. Getting paid for work in the fried air market is a pure win for the world! It doesn't pollute, it doesn't use resources. Fried air is necessary because high productivity in the production of real necessities has made it so a few people produce real necessities and the rest of us either do our bit in fried air, or we do our bit in converting the earth to broken toys in landfills -- or make BIG toys to break everything, which is more of the same make-work necessary because no one can figure out how to share the work in making an oversupply of necessities and just take it easy. And then work extra because you want something extra. Or learn to play an instrument. Or do slashdot.

There could be serious free time, which is serious freedom, which opens a path to enlightenment, if you're ready to pursue it.

So here's to fried air. May the fried air folks take time to think.

Oh yeah. One thing to think about. That part about fried air that interferes with freedom needs to be modified. IP is a failure of imagination.

oh-oh ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14007199)

ibm is in there, good!
sony's in there, bad!
-
not to troll, but it might not "only" be good ...
maybe they're geeting "scared" of all the
open-source creativity?
anyway ... almost anything 30 years into
computing has a prior-art analogon somewhere /me thinks?

USTPO never wanted to grant software paten (4, Informative)

MECC (8478) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007219)

The patent office never wanted to grant patents for software. They were forced to do so by the supreme court in the 1981 Diamond v. Diehr. [bitlaw.com] [bitlaw.com]

Re:USTPO never wanted to grant software paten (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14007296)

Why has that ruling never been challenged?

Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

Sony? Teh Rootkit company? (1)

noamt (317240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007220)

It looks like Sony is in it just for some positive PR, to cover for the DRM mess they made.

There's not "one" Sony. (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14008252)

IANASE (I Am Not A Sony Employee), but I think Sony has many divisions, their videogames (PS2) division, their hardware (CD players, radio, etc - ever heard of Xplod?) division, and of course, their evil music division.

These have very different goals and their methods may vary. And this is interesting - Sony Xplod plays MP3 CD's, how can you explain that, if Sony is a member of the EVIL anti-mp3 anti-sharing RIAA?

Anyway if you want some heads to roll, blame these guys [sonybmg.com] for the rootkit.

One company is missing from the list... (1)

noamt (317240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007247)

Google - here's your chance to support open-source even more.

Or maybe they don't want to touch software patents, because these are evil.

Re:One company is missing from the list... (1)

lightyear4 (852813) | more than 8 years ago | (#14011207)

Actually, google just filed for a patent: see this recent slashodot thread [slashdot.org]
 
and as was observed [slashdot.org] , the motto may have just become...Do no evil. Unless you have shareholders?

The Best Way to Fix Things... (1, Interesting)

TheZorch (925979) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007289)

It is to rewrite current Copyright Laws into a system that diferenciates between different forms of Intellectual Property, and restrict Patants to actual physical objects and not abstract things like software.

I know this is just a pipe dream, they'd sooner be selling parkas in Hades before this happens but hear me out.

Restructure the Copyright Laws into different sets of rules that effectively protect each different variety of IP:

* Print Published Copyrights - These rules and laws would over only cover printed materials; ie. magazines, newspapers, books, etc.
* Digital Media Copyrights - These rules and laws would only cover digial media like videos, audio, and images, but not software.
* Software Copyrights - There rules and laws would cover software, and allows similar software to be written in competition as long as its different enough from the original product. Thus protecting innovation.
* Name Copyrights - Would replace the current Trademark system.
* Public Domain Bylaws - These would be a set of rules that determine if and when a certain IP becomes Public Domain, and enforces that status to prevent a company from cashing in on a Public Domain item in the future. Basically, if MS stops supporting an OS like it has with Win95/98 and soon ME then by the rules in the Bylaws that software would become Public Domain and MS cannot enforce any copyright protection on those products. Adding a provision that requires all Public Domain software to become Open Source would be wonderful.

Administering these new Copyrights in a way that mimicks the GPL would also be a good way to fix things. That way a vendor/publisher would be able to select the kind of copyright they need. Current laws are too narrow for the broad range of products out there today.

Re:The Best Way to Fix Things... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14009085)

So you want to force companies to be open-source with things that they have developed.

Yay for freedom!

Re:The Best Way to Fix Things... (1)

Cal Paterson (881180) | more than 8 years ago | (#14009359)

* Public Domain Bylaws - These would be a set of rules that determine if and when a certain IP becomes Public Domain, and enforces that status to prevent a company from cashing in on a Public Domain item in the future. Basically, if MS stops supporting an OS like it has with Win95/98 and soon ME then by the rules in the Bylaws that software would become Public Domain and MS cannot enforce any copyright protection on those products. Adding a provision that requires all Public Domain software to become Open Source would be wonderful.

You really couldn't enforce the GPL on everything ever created. You have to allow people the freedom to use and maintain closed-source software. You can't just rewrite the laws to favour us. We have to rewrite the laws to be fair, and to favour no one artificially (currently, I consider closed-source companies to have a significant advantage through the law).

So how long will this last? (2, Interesting)

mothas (792754) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007305)

What concerns me about this is what happens when a company changes its mind.
There have historically been no shortage of bad actors (ex: SCO, Rambus, MSFT, etc). I can envision a scenario where a company might join until their encumbered tech gets into the guts of Linux, then change hands/die off/spin off divisions/etc. so that the entity bound by the agreement is no longer the one holding the patent rights.
Even IBM's affection for Linux is unlikely to be eternal - are they equipping themselves with a big 'off' switch to use later?
This plan looks to have some nasty ethical & financial failure modes. Of course, I'm not a lawyer and haven't seen the details in any case, so my fears may be groundless.

Re:So how long will this last? (1)

Valafar (309028) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007950)

I'm guessing that this model is actually a lot like the ATT / BSD dabacle in the early 90s:

ATT: You're stealing our IP; We're suing you.
Berkley: You're taking our code and removing the copyright so you can resell it.
ATT: Oh, right. Nevermind.
Berkely: No problem; Let's not discuss this again.

If there is enough cross polination of patents between the various participating vendors, it will be impossible to untangle it without destroying their own products. I'm guessing it would go something like this:

SCO-type: We're suing your because you're using our patents.
IBM: (to other participants) Hey, these hanyaucks are suing us for patent infringment.
Everyone else: Well, that's not going to do, I guess we'll have to counter sue.
IBM: Right, let's get them.
SCO-type: Uhh... nevermind. Can't you guys take a joke?

Re:So how long will this last? (1)

pintpusher (854001) | more than 8 years ago | (#14008604)

They can always invoke the infamous playground rule of "no takebacks". There is no known way to defeat "no takebacks" unless you first utter "opposite day" or some other general protection clause ("I am rubber, you are glue" etc). But it is a matter of strict timing. Uttered too late and, well its too late. Too soon, and the enemy will withhold the "no takebacks" or worse turn it into an "all takebacks" or "1 2 3 NOT IT".

Does anyone else get the feeling that all these guys are rats trying to grab whatever they can while the ship goes down? This whole thing has gotta collapse at some point. I hope.

Here's my plan: (1)

Hosiah (849792) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007490)

First, print out all the patents. Wrap them around all the lawyers. Then burn the patents.

I'm fed up with this stupidity. I'm ready for the abolition of all patents. Let businesses try to compete based on their own merits for a change. Clearly, the potential to abuse the system in the name of playing stupid games with our courts has far out-weighed the benefit of securing one company's exclusive right to manufacture a given design.

I anticipate that this will not sit well with two classes of people: Microsoft shills/stockholders, and lawyers. But those two weren't my favorite groups already.

Re:Here's my plan: (1)

john83 (923470) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007683)

So, it goes thusly:

1. Burn all patents/lawyers.
2. ???
3. Profit!

I can see how some vested interests might want to throw money at defeating this.

Won't work (2, Interesting)

Flyboy Connor (741764) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007491)

The problem is, of course, that this will not work against patent trolls. Patent trolls have no use for the patents themselves, they are only interested in sueing others. So the OIN might hold off Microsoft, but it won't hold off sleazy extortionists whose only business is patent litigation.

Business Method Patents (1)

frogstar_robot (926792) | more than 8 years ago | (#14008255)

Perhaps there is a way to fight fire with fire when faced with a troll. You can't counter a troll with yet another software patent but what about a business method patent? These things are just as obvious and trite as most software patents. Surely some of these could be brought to bear against one aspect or another of the troll's firm. Just ratchet the fees such that every dime the troll squeezes from you comes right back. Make it crystal clear that this is what will happen. In addition prior art and invalidation can brought against the troll as defenses in addition to the business method offense.

In Solvat Russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14007696)

Software Patents buy you!

Sweet (1)

Nazo-San (926029) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007818)

Unless they are lying and plan to change that to selling royalty-full licenses later, I'm very glad to see this. This is very nice of them and will ensure that companies such as MS who just love to snatch up every little thing won't be able to slow down the linux developers from many potential innovations. Always a nice thing to hear. Let's just hope it's completely true and that they don't decide to start selling them instead a year or two in.

Remembers me of... (1)

tenco (773732) | more than 8 years ago | (#14007923)

...Manfred Macx from Accelerando! [accelerando.org] .

fi8s7 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14008035)

You'll have to do better than that, shit4brains!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14008283)

hey dumbass, you don't think we can see the goat.cx in brackets? I've heard enough about this site to never want to click there. mwahahah...

nice try, numbnutz! (you get the obligaytory Gong Show "whah whah whah whaaaaaaah" as I finish typing )...

Sony & Philips - the usual patent suspects (1)

4r0g (467711) | more than 8 years ago | (#14008313)

Don't let them fool you! Don't you find it even just a little bit freightening that it's those two companies who have been milking every cent from their IPR in the past are now "acquiring" Linux related patents?

Google search [google.com]

The have patents on CD, DVD, DRM, FireWire, Video coding (MPEG-4 was effectively killed by licensing fees) etc, and they have been litigating the hell out of those.

Just something to think about.

Political positions of those companies on swpats (1)

FlorianMueller (801981) | more than 8 years ago | (#14008345)

Just for some non-judgmental information, here's some information about the roles of those five companies in the legislative process on the EU software patent directive:

IBM: I was at a roundtable hosted by the German ministry of justice where IBM's Fritz Teufel was radically in favor of software patents. Toward the end of the legislative process, IBM distanced itself a little bit from Microsoft's position, at least to an extent that annoyed MSFT, but there's no indication whatsoever that they really were politically on the side of the FOSS community.

Sony: I never saw or heard of any Sony lobbying activity concerning the EU software patent directive. However, they're a corporate member of EICTA, an organization that pushed for software patents all the way.

Philips: Radically in favor of software patents, even threatened to kill all of its European jobs in software development unless software were patentable in Europe.

Novell: Didn't do anything meaningful against the EU software patent directive, only some vague criticism. Recently a Novell spokesperson was quoted in the Economist with a pro-swpat statement.

Red Hat: Supported my NoSoftwarePatents.com campaign and took various initiatives on its own, including that Red Hat spent money on advertisements in EU-specialized publications shortly before the decisive vote in the European Parliament. The fact that they're involved with this Open Invention Network is, potentially, a good sign despite the political track record of the others.

Not Troll-proof (1)

PMuse (320639) | more than 8 years ago | (#14008387)

Patents are not a shield. They are a sword. When a competitor tries to stab you with his patent, you draw out your own and, all else being more or less equal, he may agree to leave you be rather than risk you killing his business.

Patent "trolls" are not competitors. They are file-drawer companies that don't make anything and don't sell anything. You cannot kill a troll's business with your patent sword because they have no business.

OIN is a fine idea, but it is no defense against trolls.

Obligatory movie quote... (1)

benjaminchoate (593966) | more than 8 years ago | (#14010463)

"I hate trolls!" ~ Willow Ufgood

I think this is great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14010539)

We, the staff of Spinpress.com believe that this is great, we have also posted an article, and would like opinions of this... Please help support us

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frightening? (1)

mpfife (655916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14012021)

So, I get a patent and these nice folks hold all legal rights to it. Fast-forward 10 years when they run out of cash and get bought up for 1c/patent at a some judge's bankruptcy sale run by the latest/greatest SCO or lawsuit hungry company. Congratulations, you now own the innovations of open source. I think this is about as bad a move as I've seen in a long time - better to NOT have a 'repository' company that can get sued, assets siezed, etc. Remember the guy 2 days ago that got tricked into giving MS his program name? Open source strength is in its distributed writing. One hit doesn't knock the house down. I sure hope these guys are really good and smart lawyers to protect you - they all working for an open source community with no income and all...
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