Bonum Certa Men Certa

Novell's Michael Meeks Gets Software Patent from the UK

“Software patents are a huge potential threat to the ability of people to work together on open source.”

--Linus Torvalds



IT IS worth re-emphasising that while Novell purports to be an advocate of open source software (not Free software), its mixed-source claims [1, 2, 3, 4] take such ambition to task and Novell's business is still overwhelmingly reliant on proprietary software. Moreover, Novell is not against software patents. In fact, it's actively obtaining quite a few.



In recent days we have been writing about Symbian's destruction of a saner legal system in the UK [1, 2, 3]. It is therefore interesting to find that Novell's Michael Meeks, despite being based in the UK, is pursuing software patents in the USPTO, for Novell's benefit and on their very own behalf.

Optimized decompression using annotated back buffer, patent No. 7,439,882, invented by Michael Meeks of Newmarket, U.K., assigned to Novell Inc. of Provo.


It's a software patent. Bad stuff. Anyway, here is this new patent's abstract:

A system and method for decompression optimization employing a data input and a dedicated back buffer and data parser. The system and method also relate to accelerating the parsing process during decompression of a block of data by taking advantage of those naturally occurring redundancies within the block of data identified at compression time. The system of the invention includes a parser and an annotated back buffer which operate collectively to optimize the parsing process during decompression.


Meeks is not alone, however. There is also this new patent:

System and method of associating objects in search results, patent No. 7,440,948, invented by Jon Eric Trowbridge of Chicago, Ill., and Nathaniel Dourif Friedman of Boston, Mass., assigned to Novell Inc. of Provo.


As suggested and later reported to us by a reader with inside information, Novell's patent portfolio by all mean matters. Speaking of Meeks, Novell is still trying to grab control of the 'Open Office' from Sun Microsystems (Novell already has its own fork). Thus far, it hasn't worked out too well for Novell, perhaps with the exception of GNU/LInux distributions.

Microsoft's and Novell's patents should not be ignored. They do matter because the companies might intend to use them, especially amidst difficult times. In response to apathy from Matt Asay, our own Shane Coyle wrote:

Wow, it's been a while since anyone has tried to paint Novell as the party of advantage in their MS deal. My question is, if Novell's patent portfolio is so great, how come there is no ongoing royalty from MS to Novell, as their certainly is on open source software shipped under the agreement by Novell?


The same type of unjustified apathy was noted by wallclimber, a respected lady in the Digg community), who wrote:

This really puzzles me. Matt Asay says he likes and respects Gutierrez and thinks he really does understand the issues. Yet, if that's true, how can he justify respect for someone that still, apparently willingly (willfully?), grants an interview for the main purpose of spewing Microsoft's insidious patent and IP FUD to the world?

I think Mr. Asay is being much too kind in assuming that an IP lawyer, employed by Microsoft, actually has a heart to begin with, much less knows where "the right place" is to put it.


Software patents are horrible. Yet it's impossible to pretend they do not exist. Pretending alone does not make them go away. Protesting is more effective.

"I'm always happy when I'm protesting."

--Richard Stallman

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