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09.13.11

Intel Likes Its Own Software Patents, Doesn’t Want Others to Have Any

Posted in Hardware, Patents at 10:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Classic example of how monopolists view patenting

Samuel Johnson by Joshua Reynolds

Summary: The monopolistic company whose grossly-inflated prices and extortion of rivals depend on patents says that it is wrong for others to have them

THERE IS THIS article which we have found linked in some places after it was published yesterday, under the headline “Intel to Universities: No Patents, Please, Just Open Source”. Our wiki has a page that explains some of Intel’s crimes, so Intel/x86 apologists can get up to scratch.

“Intel wishes to see R&D with no strings attached to it (so that Intel can take it) and at the same time it wants to harm rivals using its own patent monopolies.”“But wait,” says the article, “there’s A Catch: the company has made it a condition that in order to receive the millions, your university must open source any resulting software and inventions that come out of this research funding. Yes, open source. Your university cannot stake claim to any patents. There will be no intellectual property clauses, no negotiations, no… nonsense.”

Really? Well, other than Intel’s openwashing of its image, there is a problem here because Intel is a hypocrite. We must not forget that Intel is lobbying for software patents even outside the US and the company has a huge number of patents it uses anti-competitively. Intel wishes to see R&D with no strings attached to it (so that Intel can take it) and at the same time it wants to harm rivals using its own patent monopolies. How is that reasonable or even commendable?

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15 Comments

  1. Michael said,

    September 13, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Gravatar

    Intel is putting millions into open source research. How dare they!

  2. Jose_X said,

    September 14, 2011 at 6:04 am

    Gravatar

    The idea sounds good, but that Intel would use patents offensively makes it kind of dirty.

    Patents have a very low inventiveness bar (“non-obvious” to a person having “ordinary” skill in the art), and they give a lot of power to the first to the patent office. It seems Intel wants to be that first.

    I would hope they follow up that with a pledge that they will not take patents out either.

    Michael Reply:

    Your comments show no understanding of the concept of what it means to be open source.

    Jose_X Reply:

    What makes you say that?

    I recognized this would be a good move by someone who was not going to exploit the patent system.

    How does that show I don’t understand open source?

    Michael Reply:

    By making the fruits of this labor open source, Intel is making it so they cannot easily use this in any patent wars (though they can in force the open source license).

    Frankly I think Intel should be commended for infusing the open source community with such resources. This is a good thing. This does not imply that I think everything Intel does is good.

    Jose_X Reply:

    Well, it does sound good on the surface and Intel has been mostly a friend of FOSS (I say this last part potentially out of blissful ignorance, I don’t know).

    Given the reality of patents to a large firm, perhaps I would change the last sentence of that initial comment to read, “I would hope they follow up that with a pledge that they will not then take patents out to use offensively.”

    Michael Reply:

    Since the fruit will be open source it would be hard to do that anyway. Right?

    Jose_X Reply:

    >> Since the fruit will be open source it would be hard to do that anyway. Right?

    Can’t figure out what you meant, but I’ll take a guess at an answer.

    Probably, Intel would not be in a comfortable position to take out patents on such FOSS and use the patents offensively.

    Michael Reply:

    How can you tell others to not use OSS within the terms of the IP license it falls under (GPL, BSD License, etc.)?

    Jose_X Reply:

    Patent attacks do just that. They go around copyright.

    That the people writing the software don’t take out a patent doesn’t mean someone else can’t easily do so (especially if they know where the sw is going).

    Michael Reply:

    Wait: you can patent GPLd software? According to: http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html

    “To prevent this, the GPL assures that patents cannot be used to render the program non-free.”

    This assumes, of course, the OSS is licensed under the GPL. I would have to check into that to be sure.

    Jose_X Reply:

    I guess I was assuming there would be more to the story.

    Eg, if Intel would own the copyrights and if they ask for assignment for contributions, then they can do whatever they want because the GPL license can’t limit the copyright owner (by law that is out of scope).

    If Intel is not going to use the software, then they can certainly sue.

    If Intel strikes deals or works closely with proxy patent trolls (and I know this is not the same thing), then these others could provide the threats.

    There is also the fact they could fatten their arsenal for exacting royalties from others (including from FOSS companies) under broad terms based on the size and strength of their overall portfolio.

    Intel could also use the patents to attack GPL projects competing with that software.

    Michael Reply:

    If the software is released under the GPL I do think most of those things are likely… or even legal.

    But Roy wants you to think there is more to the story. If there was, though, why not mention it. As it stands, what we know is that Intel is putting a lot of resources into developing OSS. This is great.

    If they abuse this somehow then of course they should be called on it… though frankly any claims I see Roy make I would want to double and triple check elsewhere. He simply is not honest.

    Jose_X Reply:

    >> frankly any claims I see Roy make I would want to double and triple check elsewhere. He simply is not honest.

    OK, I will guess at two trouble spots.

    “other than Intel’s openwashing of its image, there is a problem here because Intel is a hypocrite. We must not forget that Intel is lobbying for software patents even outside the US and the company has a huge number of patents it uses anti-competitively. ”

    “Intel wishes to see R&D with no strings attached to it (so that Intel can take it) and at the same time it wants to harm rivals using its own patent monopolies. How is that reasonable or even commendable?”

    In think the first quote makes a reasonable claim of hypocrisy and antisocial behavior based on past and present behavior (or belief of such behavior) by Intel of actions that can very seriously threaten the original and largely independent creation of many (with its implied threats to liberties and its stifling of progress), lead to higher prices for consumers, and generally are a spit in the face of society that gives you much (no one intents in a cave for 20 years).

    The second (again, based on current and past experiences) expresses a belief of what are some of Intel’s main motivations today. Then perhaps assumes these really are Intel’s motivations today in condemning Intel. The way this part was worded does sound like condemning Intel already and not giving any benefit of the doubt. To the extent it is written as a statement of fact, it appears unsupported. To the extent it may come across as a strong opinion (pre-judgement), then the reader may or may not sympathize.

    Goodness, why did I just write this comment? I must be bored.

    Michael Reply:

    :) +1

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