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OSDL Says Patent Threat to Linux is Receding

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the receding-good dept.

Patents 70

blacksilver writes "The chief executive of the Open Source Development Labs (ODSL) has said that the threat facing Linux from software patent-infringement claims has receded. From the article: 'Lots of people who hold a lot of patents have looked at this issue, and nothing's come of it ... There's always been a suspicion that some of them [the alleged infringing patents] were held by Microsoft, so this could be an issue ... our customer advisor people speak to people, including major customers who run both Windows and Linux, and they say it's not an issue,'"

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70 comments

frost pist? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14056100)

did I get it?

Re:frost pist? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14056322)

You don't get it, else you wouldn't be doing stupid stuff like you did.

OSDL is crazy (-1, Troll)

Hamilton Publius (909539) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056110)

A newspaper headline -- "Lawmakers Struggle to Define Gasoline Price 'Gouging'" -- shows how phony the current Congressional jihad against the oil companies is. "Price gouging" is one of those phrases that evoke strong emotions but have no definition.

Where particular states have passed laws against "price gouging," their different definitions reveal how slippery and arbitrary the concept is.

Kansas attempts to define price gouging as selling at prices more than 25 percent higher than they were before some disaster. Georgia makes it illegal for prices to rise after the state government has declared a state of emergency, unless the seller can prove that his costs have gone up.

What all this boils down to is that prices higher than what observers are used to are called "gouging." In other words, prices under normal conditions are supposed to prevail under abnormal conditions. This completely misunderstands the role of prices.

Why do prices exist at all? To cause things to be produced and made available to the public -- and to cause consumers to limit how much they consume. Why then do prices suddenly shoot up? Because there is either less of a supply available or more of a demand, or both.

When hurricanes knocked out both oil drilling sites and refineries around the Gulf of Mexico, there was suddenly less supply of oil. That meant higher prices and higher profits.

What do higher prices do? Force people to restrain their own purchases more so than usual. What do higher profits do? Cause more money to be invested in producing whatever is earning higher profits, and this in turn expands output. Isn't a larger supply of oil and a reduced consumption of it what we want?

Whenever there have been sharp rises in gasoline prices, whether nationwide or locally in California, Senator Barbara Boxer has loudly demanded an investigation of the oil companies. These repeated investigations over the years have repeatedly failed to turn up anything other than supply and demand.

The real irony is that it has been precisely liberals like Barbara Boxer who have been the chief obstacles to increasing the supply of oil because they are dead set against drilling for oil in more places and against building more refineries.

When you refuse to let supply rise to meet rising demand, why should you be surprised -- much less outraged -- when prices rise?

Yet there was Senator Boxer on nationwide TV, decrying the high salaries of oil company executives, who are making perhaps half of what a number of baseball players make or a tenth of what movie stars make. The insinuation is that their salaries and oil company profits are what drive up gasoline prices. But there were no hard facts to back up either insinuation.

Given the enormous sums of money involved in the production of oil, even if all the oil company CEOs worked for nothing, there is no hard evidence that this would be enough to reduce the price of gasoline by even one cent per gallon. As for oil company profits -- representing "greed," as the Barbara Boxers call it -- these profits per gallon of gas are much less than federal taxes per gallon of gas. But the government is never called "greedy" by liberals.

These political circuses have a cost that can be even greater than the high cost of gasoline.

We went through all this before, back in the 1970s, when oil company executives were also hauled up before Congress and denounced on TV by politicians. Inflammatory but vague and unsubstantiated charges went flying hither and yon on Slashdot.

This demonization of oil companies made it politically inconvenient to remove price controls on oil when other price controls from the Nixon administration years were repealed.

The net result was that the shortages which price controls produce disappeared for other things but remained for gasoline. Motorists had trouble finding gasoline and sometimes spent hours waiting in long lines at filling stations. This was the hidden cost of political demagoguery.

Anyone nostalgic for those days of waiting in gasoline lines, which sometimes reached around the block, can jump on the bandwagon for gasoline price controls or other laws to crack down on "Big Oil." Just be aware that there is a cost. There is no free lunch -- and no free demagoguery.

Thomas Sowell

I don't see how there could be a patent threat (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14056117)

Nothing on my Linux machine seems to be functional. Trying switching to LDAP, it will give you so many headaches....

Re:I don't see how there could be a patent threat (2, Funny)

b3x (586838) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056191)

what color LDAP are you using?

Re:I don't see how there could be a patent threat (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056315)

Firstly i think you confuse OpenLDAP with Linux. OpenLDAP runs on Windows amongst other things.

LDAP on linux isnt as hard as many think. Ive just installed Open Enterprise for the first time and i find it very easy to use and setup into a functional network. It took me two days until i had everything working, not to shabby considering most time was spent on fighting the Windows machines into submission. Skolelinux has a nice setup with LDAP thats very neat. RedHat has their offering as well wich i look forward to try later on.

SONY EMPLOYEE ADMITS VOTE RIGGING (0, Offtopic)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056127)

http://forums.station.sony.com/swg/board/message?b oard.id=swggpdiscussion&message.id=25107&view=by_d ate_ascending&page=1 [sony.com]

Sony Online Entertainment Community Relations employee admits to spamming online votes in order to place SOE games in a better light.

Customer Responses? (5, Interesting)

RoadDogTy (921208) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056169)

But, our customer advisor people speak to people, including major customers who run both Windows and Linux, and they say it's not an issue

Are customers who run Windows and Linux really the right people to be asking these kinds of questions? Shouldn't they be commenting on Microsoft (and other companies') actions instead of random customer opinion? Seems kind of random.

Re:Customer Responses? (1)

Chr0nik (928538) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056194)

That was my impression as well, this seemed like a non-story that was trying really hard to be a story, and almost got there, but didn't quite make it.

Re:Customer Responses? (2, Insightful)

typical (886006) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058775)

Also, it's not like OSDL (geek haven central) is particularly free of bias. I'm sure that OSRM would probably have a very different take on things.

Frankly, I don't think that patents are a big threat to Linux. Linux is clearly beneficial enough and important enough to enough people now that there are some heavyweights that would be willing to help support legal issues (IBM and Novell, for example, are probably not going to sit and watch as someone tries to claim that a primary product of theirs is illegal).

Linux is an exceedingly unattractive target for litigation for *anyone* other than maybe Microsoft (which has a competitive motive). The core Linux community is bone-dry WRT money relative to similarly influential non-OSS software offerings. There are a large number of large companies who would probably commit to defend Linux if their products were at risk (and a challenge to the legality of the kernel would certainly do so). Linux has a cute mascot and is made by a lot of smart, nice, dedicated volunteers, and is really mediagenic. SCO started out with the Wall Street Journal running articles like "This is One Time You'll Want David to Lose to Goliath" (David being SCO, Goliath being Linux) and wound up with their CEO universally disliked, suffering death threats and a steady stream of negative commentary, more dirt-unveiling background research than I've *ever* seen a politician have to undergo, scads of folks (armed with legal degrees and otherwise) volunteering to find every loophole in SCO's claims and undermine their attacks...it was Not Fun to be SCO. I can't imagine many companies who would want to do this.

The final issue is that while copyright is pretty well respected by most developers out there (it's what lets most of them make a living), software patents are a whole different store. A software patent lawsuit against Linux, given the *huge* number of people involved in the European effort to defend the software world against software patents, might actually be the spark that would prevent people in the US from filing software patents in the future.

Just to be clear.. (4, Funny)

sedyn (880034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056174)

Copyright threats against linux are still alive and strong, right?
We wouldn't want the OSDL to spread such FUD among SCO investors!

Just of the phone with Darling MacBribe (2, Funny)

jurt1235 (834677) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056574)

According to his Software COmpany, they are still going strong. Just remember, they already demanded the 2.7 linux kernel code from IBM. They will soon go after other companies working on this secret code branch:
- Novell, you know, the compagny who actually owns the patents SCO is sueing IBM about.
- slackware: Infringing on it since the previous millenium, so more than 1000 years already
- Users: What the RIAA can do, we can do too! You run linux at home, we will sue you!

Anyway, Darling was at it again.

Re:Just of the phone with Darling MacBribe (1)

rm69990 (885744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056628)

Not sure if you did this on purpose, but SCO never sued IBM over patents. It is merely a contract case. SCO hasn't even sued IBM over copyright infringement in regards to Linux, only over their continued distribution of AIX after the license termination (which is doubtful because of Novell's waiver). SCO speaks out of 3 corners of their mouth (one for the public, one for the courts and one for the SEC).

What would have been the result? (0)

JoeShmoe950 (605274) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056221)

If a company claimed infringement over a patent which the open source movement had prior art on, what would the ramifications have been? Are there any lawyers out there?

Re:What would have been the result? (3, Interesting)

alexfromspace (876144) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056355)

I am not a lawyer, but I can make a good guess that if enough of such cases (prior art in open source for existing patents) are handled by courts, it will go on to tell the legal and the lawmaking branches of government that the patent system is obsolete. It will create legal precendents for favoring open source over patents in the future, as the open source is actually effective in promoting innovation, unlike software patents.

Re:What would have been the result? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14056374)

Are there any lawyers out there?

Yes, there are many. That's the problem.

Re:What would have been the result? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14056617)

If there indeed was prior art from the open source community, which another company had a patent on, the patent would go under review (well, only if anything was brough up about the patent being invalid). If the patent is found invalid (I will list how below), it will be removed, and the lawsuit would be dropped.

You can get a patent if:
1. The idea is novel and nonobvious (IE there is no prior art)
2. There is prior art, but you apply for a patent within 1 year, and have been diligent.
I hope this explains you question.

Perceived threat is still a threat. (4, Interesting)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056222)

For the most part, the patent and other IP stuff is just FUD. However, it can be a highly disruptive force as our friends at SCO have shown us. A threat does not have to be legally enforcable or binding to have its desired effect. A perceived threat is just as effective.

When people eat the FUD, they don't necessarily believe it. Instead they just add this to the risk pile: "Aww heck I don't want to have to possibly go to court...".

Re:Perceived threat is still a threat. (2, Interesting)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056330)

*cough* *cough* NSA licenses GF(p) curves from certicom.

What the fuck is that about? [hint: there are no patents on GF(p) point operations or DH/DSA].

Sometimes if you talk fast enough and have a classy enough suit you can convince people of anything. At the ceritcom ECC con- [can't say convention cuz that would be giving them too much credit] this year it was all about how "certicoms ECC technology was leading the way" etc cough cough gag!

All I have to say is this

"250,000 patents filed every year, and still no microwavable safe metals." :-)

Most patents are just nuisance pointless bragging patents. Oh we "invented" a way to do something trivially different from what you are doing. Or fuck, let's just patent something other people do but word it up all in our own lingo.

Like the MSFT patents on cron jobs...

The reason why no patent suits have been brought against Linux is because they wouldn't hold ground in court. I'm sure on paper there are patents that Linux somehow violates. I just wouldn't count on them being legitimate.

Tom

Re:Perceived threat is still a threat. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14057516)

Yup. I definitely agree. I have approx 10 patents (lost count). Of these over half are crap, IMHO.

Linux does violate some patents (eg. MSFAT), but most (eg. MSFAT) are crap. A patent is still a patent until it is thrown out by a court of law. If is easier for MS to use this as a bit of heat on smaller players than to make a BigIssue of it and take on the Linux elephant (inc. IBM etc). If they do that then the MSFAT patent gets taken away from them and they lose leverage.

Re:Perceived threat is still a threat. (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059855)

I too have a patent [well application filed, it'll probably be granted knowing the state of affairs]. I too think it's crap. It was part of my work at my former $EMPLOYER. But whatever, occasionally I got to do a cool hack or two.. It was an ok job.

In my work [crypto development] I just ignore them. Any of the protocols I use are either freely available or possible patents are so fucking ludicrous that they would never be brought against my public domain projects. :-)

Tom

Issues With Issues (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056224)

Is "threat receeding" == "not an issue"? Maybe "no threat" == "not an issue". Maybe we've just euphamized "problem" to "issue" so much that now we can't even distinguish between "no problem" and "no issue".

Re:Issues With Issues (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056810)

Moderation -1
    100% Redundant

TrollMod has irony, if not a sense of it.

Butt Kisser (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14056225)

Way to kiss ass Zonk!

You are a real company man!

283 Patents? (3, Informative)

thebdj (768618) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056275)

So they say that Linux potential violates 283 software patents? Now I do not know that they went through every software patent, but that is WELL below the number of issued software patents I am sure, so was there really much of a threat anyway? Besides that there is always the potential of any patents being invalidated in court even if it ever happened.

I do not see why a corporation would be scared from Linux by this potential though. You are talking about a patent infringement that would affect the companies and people distributing Linux and not the people using it. I really think everyone sort of got scared about this at first, but realized the threat was not as bad as everyone was originally stating.

Re:283 Patents? (2, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056592)

"You are talking about a patent infringement that would affect the companies and people distributing Linux and not the people using it."

It could definitely affect users as well as distributors. Should licensing to a distributor be denied, those users could get screwed by not having any support for their distro.

Not only that, but IP rights can be enforced on the end user as well as the distributors, since they are also using the IP without a license.

Re:283 Patents? (1)

thebdj (768618) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056927)

So on your argument NTP can sue every user of one of RIM's Blackberry devices?

EOLAS can sue everyone using M$ Internet Explorer.

I do not think the courts would much agree with you on this one. The companies are not infringing the patent, the producer/distributor of the software are by making products that infringe on the patent.

Re:283 Patents? (3, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14057135)

Yes, actually, they could. But it's not worth the cost of doing so, both in terms of litigation and in terms of collection. It's also hard to prove damages when the end user is not involved in reselling the technology.

US Code, pulled from the wikipedia article on patent infringement (emphasis mine): "A person directly infringes a patent by making, using, offering to sell, selling, or importing into the US any patented invention, without authority, during the term of the patent. 35 U.S.C. 271(a)"

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent_infringement [wikipedia.org]

Re:283 Patents? (2, Informative)

nsayer (86181) | more than 8 years ago | (#14057172)

So on your argument NTP can sue every user of one of RIM's Blackberry devices?

EOLAS can sue everyone using M$ Internet Explorer?

Yup. You'll recall that SCO sued an end-user of Linux. This caused at leasat one outfit to offer to indemnify their customers (that is, to pay for their defense and any damage judgements should they be sued).

Good PR! (3, Insightful)

NCraig (773500) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056285)

Mueller has published an opinion piece on popular tech news blog Slashdot, in which he argues that companies who pledge not to use their patents against Linux are guilty of 'cheap PR plays'.
As opposed to the not-at-all-cheap PR play at hand? But hey, Mueller's "customer advisor people speak to people." Very comperehensive.

Among the companies that don't support the Patent Commons initiative are Microsoft, HP, and Oracle. The article mentions the claim that Linux potentially violates 283 patents. Unfortunately the list of infringements was not released, but wouldn't the OSDL be wise to do some research in order to determine the validity of the claim? Then they would know for certain if any of the supposedly sullied patents belong to the above corporations.

But hey, his people speak to people.

Receding, like before a tsunami (3, Funny)

praedictus (61731) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056287)

The deepsea floor cracks with the rumbles of Microsofts declining sales as software becomes "good enough". As the developers wander out into the seabed picking up the flopping fish of patent infringing code, the wave of lawsuits builds out of sight, until it crashes in with its weighty force, SCOuring all in its path. Stick to high ground and be safe!

Re:Receding, like before a tsunami (1)

jesterpilot (906386) | more than 8 years ago | (#14081211)

Or, move to Europe. There have been few tsunamis in Europe in the last centuries. Maybe that would make the US-gvrmnt think about their patent law.

Pantents usage.. (-1, Troll)

bubulubugoth (896803) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056288)

We know that patenting something is 'generally speaking' a good idea.

Patentes, were made to create a protection for Innovations, but rigth now, to define what is an innovation and what is not, is hard, even for experts...

Maybe you shoudl be able to patent, the hole source code of a program, but not the idea that implements the code.

Almos any problem, can be solved in many ways. The particular way of solving particular problem, is what should be patented.

Not the general description of the problem, and this is what is seems happening at the Patents Office...

And since, there are many problems "patented" and may solutions addressing the problem, mostly at software designing, then, trying to enforce patents at Sotfware Industry create this patent agony we are living, were patents are used as weapons, not as shields...

What and How, shoudl be specifically patented, not the idea...

Re:Pantents usage.. (4, Informative)

Rattencremesuppe (784075) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056390)

Maybe you shoudl be able to patent, the hole source code of a program,

Why? The whole source code is already protected by copyright

Re:Pantents usage.. (2, Insightful)

bubulubugoth (896803) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056504)

Then, there is no need for software patents...

Re:Pantents usage.. (2, Informative)

bdcrazy (817679) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056805)

Two separate entities can copyright the same thing, as long as it was made independantly, there is no copyright violation. There can be only one patent holder for that thing, and the first to file usually wins
and can rake in the money from the other. (Look up Alexander Graham Bell vs Elisha Gray)

I'm not making a judgement on whether software patents are good or bad,
just a way of looking at the difference between them and why some companies
think they are better.

Re:Pantents usage.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14056832)

Please don't use commas in the, wrong place. It, makes it very hard, to read your, sentences.

Only "commercial" Linux ever worried... (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056293)

The entire boogeyman of some company destroying Linux via a patent suit never really threatened most of us in the first place.

Why, you might ask?

Because most of us don't really care. Patents count as a silly abstract nuissance for business-folk, not for hobbyist developers. Treble damages? 3 * $0 = $0. No doubt some lawyer will point out that other dangers exist, but really, I (and I doubt most of us) really lose sleep over the idea that our use, or even code contributions, of Linux may violate some obscure submarine patent waiting to spring out at us.


Or to look at it another way: If the USSC banned Linux tomorrow due to it infringing some patent - How many of you would run out and buy XP to "fix" all your now-illegal machines?

Sort of but different reasons (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 8 years ago | (#14057595)

You can't easily destroy Linux via a patent. To do so would require that the patent was very broad and very hard to work around. It would also have to be something core to the kernel or other core packages.

So if a patent infringement allegation was made, I bet that the patent would be worked around well before it would even make it to court. Yes, there would be FUD but that would be it. The rate of response to the issue would probably eventually become a selling point of the OS and give it an advantage compared to Windows.

So the SCOTUS is not going to ban Linux. It might ban specific code from Linux.

Re:Only "commercial" Linux ever worried... (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14060411)

The entire boogeyman of some company destroying Linux via a patent suit never really threatened most of us in the first place.

The goal of those companies is not to destroy Linux, it is to make money. Linux is a threat to their income producing activities, so they will attack it to reduce the threat and maximise their income.

A head-on attack using patents is counterproductive because it would result in the patent process being tested in court. Whatever the outcome, that bullet would have been fired. This way, whenever Linux (or any other FOSS competitor) starts gaining traction, the FUD can be rolled out for as long as it takes to slow down adoption.

They'll lose in the end, but it doesn't matter because every day they delay is millions more dollars in the bank. Actual litigation consumes resources (money, influence) that are valuable to the company. FUD just requires a compliant media and plenty of cheap shills.

Re:Only "commercial" Linux ever worried... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14061464)

Because most of us don't really care. Patents count as a silly abstract nuissance for business-folk, not for hobbyist developers. Treble damages? 3 * $0 = $0.

On a general basis, just because you are doing something for free does not mean there are no damages. If that was the case, all those free warez copies of WinXP would be ok too. It is more likely because there is little or no money to be had by suing anyone.

A delicate balance (3, Insightful)

dcavanaugh (248349) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056303)

The patent threat is held in check because of a deadlock of sorts. MS has some patents, but then again so does IBM, Oracle, etc. The first use of patents by MS against Linux will trigger retaliation from MS competitors. If all of the patents were enforced simultaneously, the IT industry would grind to a halt.

The best we can hope for is a massive proliferation of patents. The more, the better, so as to create gridlock. USPTO likes it this way -- more power to 'em.

Imagine that patent as the paper equivalent of a handgun. They can be used for crime or defense against crime. Armed criminals are a real problem -- they can rob people at-will. But if EVERYONE is packing a .44 Magnum, armed robbery becomes nearly impossible. Some people might want to take all the guns away, but it's easier (and almost as effective) to make sure everyone has one.

Re:A delicate balance (2, Funny)

ThosLives (686517) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056351)

"How about a nice game of chess?"

Re:A delicate balance (1)

_the_bascule (740525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056797)

A very interesting point, you have clearly highlighted that the current patent situation in global IT basically amounts to the same thing as MAD [wikipedia.org] did/does. You used a handgun analogy though :)

One uncomfortable question.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14057497)

Why build a society based on fear?

why have an internet connection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14058766)

where you use a firewall? What are you afraid of?

Oh, you aren't afraid of going on the net now, because you have an appropriate self defense tool and the skills to use it? That maybe it's better to have and maybe not need, than not have and possibly need?

It was a good analogy, and actually a good literal philosopy and policy.

Re:A delicate balance (1)

mbk6 (922702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058768)

This is an american philosophy, I'm SO thankfull that this isn't the mentallity in Europe! Patent infrigment isn't an issue either really. I know some guys who has taken a patent in the US. while living here in Denmark, they get a shitload of money, and the patent only works in the US. The american situation is laughable.

Re:A delicate balance (2, Insightful)

dcavanaugh (248349) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058966)

Having no software patents is certainly preferable. But to do that, you have to keep the cat in the bag. Indeed, the Europeans have it right (so far). My description of patent gridlock is a distant second to preventing them in the first place. Once the cat is out of the bag, gridlock is the next best option.

Re:A delicate balance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14061642)

I don't like that analogy. The right to self defense is a natural human right (god-given right if you prefer) that every individual is entitled to. It is a product of human nature, not government. Government may attempt to secure the right to self defense, or it may attempt to oppress that right, but it cannot grant that right because it was derived from human nature (god if you prefer) long before organized rule was invented.

By contrast, patent law is a product of government. Patent law is not found in nature, or granted by god. It came about through an initiation of force (government), not human nature (voluntary association) as human rights do. Before government, the concept of somebody "owning" an idea could not exist.

While it would be possible to have some form of IP in the theoretical voluntary society (where coercion is the only thing prohibited), it would be limited to what can be achieved through voluntary contract. What we know as IP today is not achieved through voluntary contract; it is achieved through the force of government.

Re:A delicate balance (1)

jesterpilot (906386) | more than 8 years ago | (#14081380)

If everyone carried a .44 Magnum, there would be no less armed robbery, only the scenario would be different: as a robber, make sure you shoot first, and aim better. Then take the money. That's not so hard, since a normal citizen has better things to do than holding a gun pointed at anything that moves. After a few hits, it will become more easy, since you've learned to shoot from the back, at a moment the victim doesn't expect it, and shoot well. So instead of robbery, we get kills-for-robbery.

However, in the case of patents, it's not that friendly. The robber can shield himself from the gun of his victim, by not producing anything. These robbers exist. One day, some big corporations might outsource their warfare-patents to a small company, which doesn't produce anything, but holds a lot of trivial patents and has a bunch of lawyers skilled in shooting from the back, at a moment least expected...

Back to the drawing board... (1)

NaijaGuy (844212) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056327)

It was a dark and stormy night for the enemies of Linux...their last great hope dashed, they moaned about the dearth of weapons at their disposal. Even though Microsoft tries to hire creative people, they realized too late that this criteria had not been applied to the hiring of their legal department, and SCO had never even heard of creativity, so they decided that maybe learning more about creativity would be the best next step. But someone pointed out that this would be counter to their ultra-secret missional mantra, so that was nixed right off the bat. Any other suggestions?

Re:Back to the drawing board... (3, Interesting)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056615)

From a recent interview experience I had, it is my opinion that Microsoft isn't interested in true creativity, they want C.S. degreed weinees who can recite definitions of low-level development constructs... This left such a sour point to me, that I am now moving my servers *away* from Windows, even though my software is properly paid for, and licensed... they won't be getting *more* money from me...

I also won't be recommending any more 6 figure purchases based on their technology.

Harder to kill Linux with patents (3, Interesting)

external400kdiskette (930221) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056340)

Linux is de-centralized so it cant ever be killed like other companies can by patents and other lawsuits, just ask SCO, you'd literally have to win against hundreds of companies worldwide and even then people are always going to be modifying the source on an individual level. It's everywhere.

Not troll-proof (5, Interesting)

PMuse (320639) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056343)

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.

Patent pools are no defense against trolls. Linux companies are no safer than anyone else when the troll demands a piece of their profits.

Re:Not troll-proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14057065)

"Linux companies are no safer than anyone else when the troll demands a piece of their profits"

Linux companies are fairly safe because by and large their profits are much less than the profits of some of the companies using Linux. Patents cover "make, use or sell" and a troll would much rather go after a big company without much underlying knowledge of the workings of Linux than a small company with intimate knowledge of what makes Linux tick. Trolls don't care about competition just how big your pockets are.

Yes they are (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 8 years ago | (#14057614)

You might be able to allege that all the software they use is infringing on your patents and therefore they are barred from using this software....

Patens cover use, don't forget.

translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14056347)

Our software patent supporting corporate backers have told me to say that these patents are no longer an issue.

In other news, the man pointing a loaded gun at your cranium is no longer a threat.

IBM's Big Stick? (1, Interesting)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056397)

Maybe a lot of patent holders know IBM, or other companies holding a lot of patents and have an interest in Linux, could fight fire with fire.

This just in... (1, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056429)

Dateline the Mediterranean: the estates of Plato and Aristotle are claiming that Linux infringes on their patents for "logic", since logic is an intrinsic part of the operating system. There is no word on whether suits will be filed with the World Court.

I say this a lot -- the idea of the software patent is absurd, as much so as patenting genes. Patents in the United States were originally thought of as a means to allow Federal support of science [m-cam.com] . The idea was to stimulate creativity and industrial innovation and allow inventors to reap the benefits of their inventions. The patent process was meant to be strictly controlled and only the most original ideas and variants on common ideas were granted patents.

Software is generally a commodity, not an invention. If I come up with a novel way of parsing files, storing data, or even creating better processing throughput, perhaps that may be thought of as unique, but the fact is I'm using a programming language that others have access to as well as systems others have access to, and there's every possibility that someone else may have had the same idea.

It comes down the fact the ideas are not proprietary -- anyone can have them. What you choose to do with them is your business. Frankly, I like the Open Source approach, simply from the standpoint of it being a sharing-the-wealth system, that avoids a lot of reinventing-the-wheel that goes on in this world. It gives everyone the opportunity to advance systems and apply new ideas to technology. It is the complete antithesis of the patent model, as it presupposes that developments in software are to be shared, not hoarded.

This whole linux patent business is not over by a longshot, especially since Microsoft has not enterred the fray.

Re:This just in... (1)

PhysicsPhil (880677) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056837)

Software is generally a commodity, not an invention. If I come up with a novel way of parsing files, storing data, or even creating better processing throughput, perhaps that may be thought of as unique, but the fact is I'm using a programming language that others have access to as well as systems others have access to, and there's every possibility that someone else may have had the same idea.

Modifying your statement slightly:

If I come up with a novel widget, perhaps that may be thought of as unique, but the fact is I'm using the laws of physics that others have access to as well as systems others have access to, and there's every possibility that someone else may have had the same idea.

It's not clear you're arguing against software patents so much as all patents. It's a legitimate case, but not one that I agree with. If someone makes a nontrivial advance in the sciences, software or not, patent protection should be available. Imagine someone creating an O(ln N) sort, a new encryption algorithm or a program for ultra-fast prime factoring. These are serious software advances, exactly the kind that the patent system should encourage.

"It hasn't killed me yet" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14056466)

I love the logic of that statement. You can engage in any stupid life threatening activity, and as long as it hasn't killed you yet, you can always say "It hasn't killed me yet".


So Linux can blissfully ignore the patent infringment problem, and as long as Linux isn't sued into non-existence, we can say it's not a problem.

My second favorite saying is "Remember lingerie?" from the movie Road Warrior. Maybe one day we'll be sitting around and saying "Remember Linux?"

I don't think so... (0, Flamebait)

null etc. (524767) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056479)

When asked if this meant he had no fears about a company claiming that Linux violated some of its patents, Cohen replied: "what was once a fear has now gone".

However, as the alleged 283 patents were never named, it's impossible to say whether they are all included in Patent Commons.

That's an incredibly short-sighted opinion. "Hey, we could potentially have problems, but since no one said anything for a few months, we must be okay. Danger averted!"

...at least until two years from now, when prior to Microsoft releasing Vista, they launch a volley of 500 patent infringement lawsuits in partnership with SCO and other vested interests.

US campaign (4, Interesting)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056533)

What is needed now is no protection shield against software patents.

What is needed now is an American equivalent to the European campaign effort. It is possible to abolish software patents and this is the way to go.

So where is the US campaign?

Re:US campaign (1)

Skiron (735617) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056683)

"So where is the US campaign?"

MS are backing that buying the politicians 'campaign'.

Phew! (1)

tdvaughan (582870) | more than 8 years ago | (#14056610)

Urge to license rising... Rising... receding... receding... rising... receding... gone...

I've just patented... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14056907)

...my dick : "Automatic injection apparatus for seemen".
Any of you dudes are now owing me $100 for each ejeculation...
If you are married you may just pay $300 a month if you only fuck with your wife...
I am preparing an EULA together with my lawyers, look for it in your mailbox.

What, Me Worry? (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 8 years ago | (#14057197)

I think everyone knows that illustration from Mad Magazine?

I used to be certain it would be some kind of frontal assault on distros regarding a codec or something like that, but I've gotten a little older and am certain I don't know. I just know it's going to come as a surprise and be extremely effective.

"Chilling effect" is the phrase that sums it up.

Threat level (1)

prurientknave (820507) | more than 8 years ago | (#14057515)

Soooo would you say the patent threat level is orange? or yellow?

mod Up (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14057986)

Dece8tra7ized [goat.cx]

So long M$ Lawyers! (1)

Bushido Hacks (788211) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059439)

Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!
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