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08.11.10

Open Invention Network (OIN) and Linux Foundation Still Legitimise Software Patents

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, OIN, Patents at 2:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Outside the court

Summary: The companies which make up the Linux Foundation are still predominantly supporters of software patents, so they continue to create a pool of such controversial patents rather than abolish them

LinuxCon Boston is making some big announcements this week. First of all, there is the license compliance program, which was covered by many journalists like Sean Michael Kerner and friends of the Linux Foundation (further discussion in LWN). There is even mainstream press coverage, not just coverage in GNU/Linux-oriented circles [1, 2, 3].

The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux, announced today the launch of the Open Compliance Program, a comprehensive initiative that includes tools, training, a standard format to report software licensing information, consulting and a self-assessment checklist that will help companies comply with open source licenses, increasing adoption of open source and decreasing legal FUD present in the marketplace.

Here is some good coverage from Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols and from Groklaw:

The Linux Foundation has announced a new compliance program to help companies that wish to use Linux and other Open Source software responsibly know how to comply with licenses. The Software Freedom Law Center is backing it, along with gpl-violations.org, the Open Invention Network, and OSI, as is pretty much every major electronics company, including Adobe, AMD, ARM Limited, Cisco Systems, Google, HP, IBM, Intel, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Novell, Palamida, Samsung, Sony Electronics, and more than 20 other companies and organizations — even the Codeplex Foundation supports it. Here’s the complete list.

The SFLC is a backer, which is a good sign. The Microsoft booster calls it “license vaccination”.

At the same time we learn that OIN (connected to the Linux Foundation) expands its membership with ForgeRock with Qualcomm [1, 2].

From the press release about ForgeRock:

Open Invention Network (OIN) today extended the Linux ecosystem with the signing of ForgeRock as a licensee. By becoming a licensee, ForgeRock, the official stewards of the ForgeRock I3 Open Platform project, has joined the growing list of organizations that recognize the importance of participating in a substantial community of Linux supporters and leveraging the Open Invention Network to further spur open source innovation.

Here is the press release about Qualcomm:

The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux, today announced that the Qualcomm Innovation Center Inc. (QuIC) is joining the organization as a Platinum member. It joins a short list of existing Platinum members that includes Fujitsu, Hitachi, IBM, Intel, NEC and Oracle.

Qualcomm is a far bigger company than ForgeRock. Qualcomm is a software patents proponent, so there is already heckling from Florian Müller, the Microsoft sympthiser (Müller still takes attention off Microsoft). “Qualcomm is working mostly on Android & Chrome OS,” Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols explained.

Techrights opines that OIN is the wrong solution to a real problem. The OIN legitimises software patents, which leads to companies like Samsung paying Microsoft for Linux and patenting software like no other company (Samsung is a huge patentor these days, almost challenging IBM’s numbers). Narendra Sisodiy says, “You sucks Samsung ! Samsung patents tablet with front+rear touch input” (said in reference to this news).

Samsung has filed for a US patent for a tablet that has a traditional touchscreen on the front but adds a touch panel on the rear of the device as well, in the same fashion as the Motorola Backflip. The idea is to let users control the device without touching the screen, and perhaps allow them to perform multi-touch inputs from the screen side and the rear side at the same time.

Come on, this cannot be a patent. Any kid could come up with the idea, which is a metaphor for what people do all the time with paper (and have done with centuries). Here are some new rants about Apple’s bad patents which were mentioned here some days ago:

Apple has apparently lifted the look-and-feel of an iPhone app from German developer FutureTap and used it in a software patent application, putting that developer in a sticky situation.

“I can’t really judge whether the inclusion of a 1:1 copy of our start screen in someone else’s patent is legal,” wrote FutureTap founder Ortwin Gentz in a posting on his company blog. “I just have to say, it doesn’t feel right.”

Does anyone still think that software patents are beneficial?

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