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01.27.10

Let’s Not Forget Apple’s Patent Threat to Linux

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 1:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Many reminders from the past week’s news of Apple’s unhealthy obsession with patents, which are the #1 threat to Free software

THE PREVIOUS post addressed the words of Jeremy Allison, who had warned about Microsoft at last week’s LCA 2010 [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. He also warned about Mono [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. Allison’s colleague, Andrew Tridgell, made similar points regarding software patents last week [1, 2]. Here is new coverage of the subject:

Patents biggest threat to free software

Samba developer Andrew Tridgell reckons the open source community is poor at fighting patent attacks, but says things could improve with a change in strategy.

Samba developer and Australian open source legend Andrew Tridgell has had plenty of experience dealing with interesting legal issues while trying to get Linux servers communicating with Windows, but he now sees the exploitation of patents as the biggest threat to the open source movement.

It is rather telling that software patents are probably the #1 barrier to the success of Free software. Linus Torvalds seemingly feels similarly. This is what makes the Novell deal such a considerably dangerous and serious step against Free software. It is also the reason Boycott Novell has been so focused on the subject of software patents over the years.

“We have already given many examples in this Web site where Apple too harmed standards, Free software, and GNU/Linux using patents.”No company other than Microsoft has resorted to Linux extortion using patents (Microsoft later sued, so the threats were not empty). One might argue that Microsoft is therefore the only threat to GNU/Linux, but it’s not. We have already given many examples in this Web site where Apple too harmed standards, Free software, and GNU/Linux using patents.

Apple is a company of branding, marketing, and fake hype. It is like Disney in the sense that it creates fantasies and it is sad to see Apple proponents clamouring for more patents from their beloved hardware (and software) vendor. The very latest examples are mostly hardware based [1, 2, 3, 4], but they restrict the market of mobile/embedded Linux. We have already seen Apple threatening Palm’s Linux phones using patents [1, 2, 3]. With its patents (whether asserted or not), Apple is harming Free software and software in general (including proprietary). Moreover, this new article indicates that Apple has already castrated another Linux-powered phone:

According to sources, Google was forced to remove multitouch functionality from the Nexus One because Apple owns patents covering its use in mobile devices.

With its lamp/genie effect and other ridiculous patents (e.g. [1, 2]), Apple also harms GNU/Linux desktops, not just gadgets. Here is a new post on the subject:

Compiz, Patents, and Ubuntu

No, this isn’t about the stupid max_waves conflict with Apple’s patent that everyone has been ranting (and working around) for the last few years. From what I hear the future 0.9.0 release won’t be hampered by it, but how does Compiz fare with patents? Who made Compiz, and who’s working on it today?

It is time to formally recognise that Apple is a huge nuisance when it comes to software patents (and other classes of patents too). This ought to be brought up when Apple is posturing as an Open Source-friendly company.

“FSF did some anti-Apple campaigns too. Personally I worry more about Apple because they have user loyalty; Microsoft doesn’t.”

Bradley M. Kuhn (SFLC)

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