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12.21.08

The Threat of Mono as Basis of Applications (or: “Why GIMP is Different”)

Posted in Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents at 9:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GIMP threatened with a software patent lawsuit

FURTHER TO YESTERDAY’S discussion about Mono, it is worth pointing out a comment which was made there about Mono being a threat because it sits at the bottom of candidate applications. This means that removing Mono or changing a feature can have a ‘tidal wave’ effect on many applications that are built upon Mono.

As a case of point, consider news that came up very quietly. Not many people know about GIMP being litigiously threatened, but it’s there in PUBPAT. It’s fairly recent news.

he Public Patent Foundation (“PUBPAT”) announced today that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted its formal request to review a patent relating to photomosaics (large pictures made up of many smaller pictures) assigned to Mr. Robert Silvers, who has been aggressively asserting the patent against many individuals, small businesses, and even against an important open source software program (GIMP).

FFII caught the response to this, which can be found here in a low-visibility page.

The image mosaic plug-in for the GIMP is no longer supported or distributed. Mr. Robert Silvers, the holder of a patent related to the technology that was used in the plug-in, argued that the software would directly infringe his patent rights. It is not clear if the patent is applicable in this case. But I have neither the time, interest or money for legal action. So I complied with the cease and desist request.

PHOTOMOSAIC® is a registered trademark of Runaway Technology, Inc. The photomosaic process is patented (US Patent No. 6,137,498) and protected by the patent, copyright, and other intellectual property laws of the United States and other major countries.

Benjamin Henrion tried to raise the issue in the GIMP IRC channel, without much success.



20:15 < zoobab> hi
20:15 < zoobab> http://www.digitalmajority.org/forum/t-114601/kirchgessner:the-gimp-plug-ins
20:15 < zoobab> mayeb you could add a news about the patent s* on gimp.org?

[...]

20:16 < zoobab> http://www.digitalmajority.org/forum/t-114600/pubpat:government-finds-sunsta...
20:18 < zoobab> does someone has a copyf of this plugin?
20:19 < zoobab> http://www.kirchgessner.net/photo-mosaic.html

[...]

20:35 < rubikcube> zoobab: there's none at registry.gimp.org at least


Going back to Mono, imagine having to change something in its behaviour in order to dodge an explicit patent threat. It would not be merely a plug-in. It would be a whole stack that many other applications depend on. Moreover, the patenter is most likely to be Microsoft, which constantly attacks GNU/Linux. Even a cease and desist request, as in the case above, would be hugely problematic as it would disrupt development of many applications at the same time. Microsoft prefers to choke just one throat .

Ostrich
Keeping one’s head out of the sand

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9 Comments

  1. aeshna23 said,

    December 21, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Gravatar

    Ostriches actually never put their head in the sand. In this way, they are smarter than mono developers. I just don’t get people who refuse to see obvious threats, the crowds who clapped for Chamberlain at the airport when he returned from selling out Czechoslovakia, or the people who fantasize that George Bush, not the Islamic terrorists, is the enemy of freedom. I just don’t see how denial on this level could be selected in an evolutionary process. Sorry to rant!

  2. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 21, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Gravatar

    If the threats are so obvious, why can’t you provide any patents that Mono actually infringes? You shoot your mouth off daily, yet you are unable to find any patents that Mono might even remotely infringe – and it’s not like you guys haven’t tried.

  3. Diamond Wakizashi said,

    December 21, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Gravatar

    Mono is poison. Novell is a masochistic company, so it’s not surprising that they like it.

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Gravatar

    …you are unable to find any patents that Mono

    We never tried. I once put in “winforms” into Google Patent Search and presented the results page. That doesn’t count as studying the domain.

  5. Dan O'Brian said,

    December 21, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Gravatar

    But then you argued relentlessly that it was proof that Mono infringed patents.

    So you admit, now, that you were simply FUDing?

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 21, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Gravatar

    I was showing that patent searches come with some appropriate matches.

  7. Jo Shields said,

    December 21, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Gravatar

    Except it wasn’t remotely appropriate, and your lack of understand on the actual topic you protest was revealed

  8. England said,

    December 22, 2008 at 4:43 am

    Gravatar

    In the UK, you could ask a judge to provide a “declaration of non-infringement” regarding Mono and all Microsoft patents granted in the UK.

  9. twitter said,

    December 23, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Gravatar

    Dan, M$ is a company with a record of non specific patent extortion against free software. You have to be crazy to think they won’t pull the same tricks with mono.

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