Bonum Certa Men Certa

Eclipse Foundation Director: “Software Patents Are Basically a Bad Idea”; IBM Still Celebrating Patents

Eclipse 3.6 Helios



Summary: Mike Milinkovich is unhappy about software patents and at IBM it's business as usual (more software patents)

UNREST over the issue of software patents is growing. Developers are as mad as Hell as they're not gonna take this anymore. OK, maybe it's not that serious, but very few developers actually support software patents. Support for this curse comes mostly from lobbyists of large companies such as Microsoft, as well as their lawyers, who simply profit from software patents. In the next post we'll cover some developments around the world and in this post we'll present some opinions of developers who speak out.



OMG!Ubuntu, which typically avoids anything 'political', has just made an exception. There is an unusual story from this site, courtesy of Dave Lane from Christchurch, NZ. "Why Software Patents are worse than useless" is the headline of the post which also dares to criticise Microsoft (yes in OMG!Ubuntu, believe it or not!):

But here’s the clincher: MS had tried to submit the same patent in New Zealand after the applications were denied by the US, Europe, South African, and Japanese patent offices for being obvious and subject to prior art. They thought they could count on the incompetence of the NZ patent assessors – and they would’ve been right had it not been for our challenge! It was a disgusting and highly unethical move by Microsoft. But if we had only caught one, how many other trivial software patents (or those subject to prior art) had already been passed? How many were waiting for some unethical kiwi patent troll (or worse yet, one of the multinational corporations who hold approximately 90% of NZ patents) to decide to start sabre rattling?

The Microsoft Patent FUD Threat Bomb

And then in May 2007, it began: Microsoft accused Linux and open source software of infringing on 235 of its patents.

Not only did Microsoft not bring a lawsuit against anyone, Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith and licensing chief Horacio Gutierrez simply stated didn’t even mention which patents Linux and other FOSS software infringed.

Microsoft, with the best lawyers money can buy, felt that they could derail the entire FOSS software movement simply by threatening the possibility of suing for patent infringement. Clearly their goal with the statement was to strike fear into businesses with deep pockets (who, surprise surprise, are most often the targets of patent infringement suits) who were toying with the idea of investing in and/or adopting FOSS. Of course, similar threats could be just as effective against proprietary software users.

To me, not only was that unethical – and exceeding immature (I would’ve been embarrassed to death if I was either of those two Microsofties making that claim on the record): “yes, we think you’re infringing on our patents… but we won’t tell you which ones! Nee nar nee nar.” It also illustrated for me the fundamental wrongness of software patents. Let me try to explain.

If I, or my colleagues, are cutting code to solve a problem, it was almost certain that the use case we were codifying had been seen by someone else, somewhere in the world. And perhaps some component of it was patented. The odds were almost 100% that software we were incorporating into our customer’s solutions from the cornucopia of FOSS could arguably been seen to infringe on someone’s software patent somewhere. How could we ever hope to know?

The answer is: we wouldn’t. Not until we (or, more likely, our customers) received an infringement notice.


Despite IBM's influence over Eclipse, Mike Milinkovich slams software patents (IBM is in favour of software patents). Watch what he says in response to the questions: "Are you worried about the Red Hat settlement with Acacia? And what about patent trolls in general?"

I’m not worried about the Red Hat ruling. Software patents are basically a bad idea. There might even be an occasional software patent that is a good idea, but the pace at which software has been patented over the last 15 years and the sheer number of patents tells you that the implementation of software patents is bogus. There is no excuse for the software patents that are out there, and most of the patents I have read do not strike me in any way as innovative. We have a problem, and there is no way the open source community can stick its head in the sand and pretend it does not exist. I think Red Hat coming up with a solution is actually important for them. Yes, it would be lovely if we could make the US government agree that software patents should just go away. The companies which are big supporters of the open source community… I’m not sure it’s fair to criticise them for making the best of a bad situation. It’s up to them to make the best of a bad hand. I don’t fault Red Hat for resolving the suit. None of us knows what’s in that agreement, but I would not be surprised if they managed to write the agreement with some protections for their downstream consumers.

It’s an incredibly complex issue. I don’t think it’s going to go away. I don’t think somehow pretending open source is somehow immune from patent trolls or patents in general is a very wise course of action.


That's a bold thing to say. One must remember the shadow of IBM, which is the largest patentor. There is more of that baggage from IBM but none from Novell in this new roundup of Utah patents, which starts with:

Risk assessment within an aircraft, patent No. 7,885,908, and risk assessment between airports, patent No. 7,885,909, invented by Robert Lee Angell of Salt Lake City, Robert R. Friedlander of Southbury, Conn., and James R. Kraemer of Santa Fe, N.M., assigned to IBM Corp. of Armonk, N.Y.


Despite the mischiefs of Samsung, IBM has also just signed a patent deal with it. Among the early articles about it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] we found out that the patent lawyers community called it "[t]he biggest cross-licensing deal the world has ever seen" (yes, Samsung too is one of the top patentors). With a deal like this they are leaving everyone else outside, uncovered by a massive pile of patents. Here is how they puts it in their press release:

Over the past several decades, IBM and Samsung have built strong patent portfolios covering a wide range of technologies including semiconductors, telecommunications, visual and mobile communications, software and technology-based services. This cross-licensing agreement enables the two companies to innovate and operate freely while using each other's patented inventions to help keep pace with sophisticated technology and business demands.


Well, these two companies could also "innovate and operate freely" without having patents at all. Creating all these market barriers is simply a way of impeding small companies. IBM can be selfish about it as long as it serves shareholders' interests, i.e. as long as it causes no PR damage.

Recent Techrights' Posts

1901 Days in High-Security Prison (and 8 More Years in Severe Confinement) for the 'Crime' of Exposing War Crimes and Corruption
Julian Assange clip
Opensource.org = Microsoft Lobbying (Openwashing)
Here's the latest pair of blog posts
In Northern Mariana Islands, Where Julian Assange Pled Guilty 4 Weeks Ago, Windows Remains Second to Android, and GNU/Linux Still Grows in Oceania
It was the first month ever that statCounter saw more Web requests there from Android than from Windows
Good News About GNU/Linux, Geminispace, FSF, and Backlash Against Microsoft
here are a few quick takes
Backlash and Negative Press After Microsoft Tells Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) People to DIE
Follow-up stories
Red Hat's Official Site Yesterday: Promoting 'Secure' Boot in Machines You Don't Own or Control Anyway
"To be clear, CentOS Linux no longer exist"
 
UEFI 'Secure Boot' Once Again Bricking PCs and Fake Security Models Are Perishing in Geminispace
Let's Encrypt has just fallen again
[Meme] Conservative (and Fake) Nuclear Physicist Bill Gates
Didn't even graduate from college, media treats him like a world-renowned expert in nuclear energy
The Gemini Capsule of Tux Machines Turns 2 in Six Days
Many people actually use Gemini, some participate in it by creating their own capsule (or capsules)
GNU/Linux Rises to 4% in Saudi Arabia, Says statCounter, Windows Has Fallen to 11% (Android Exceeds 60%)
Microsoft might soon fall below 10% in KSA (Saudi Arabia)
IRC Proceedings: Thursday, July 18, 2024
IRC logs for Thursday, July 18, 2024
GNU/Linux news for the past day
GNU/Linux news for the past day
If GitLab Gets Sold (Datadog and Google Named Among Potential Buyers), It'll Prove Our Point About GitLab
Beware the bait on the hook
Hot Summer: Microsoft Flirting With the "5% Windows" Club in Afghanistan
The share of Windows in Afghanistan has fallen to almost 5% (1 in 20 Web requests)
[Meme] Nothing Says "Independence Day" Like...
Firing DEI on Independence Day period
Links 18/07/2024: Hardware, Conflicts, and Gemini Leftovers
Links for the day
Links 18/07/2024: Retroactively Pseudonymised Litigant and Alberta’s Energy ‘War Room’
Links for the day
Gemini Links 18/07/2024: A Welcome to Gemini and Politics of Assassinations
Links for the day
Fabian Gruenbichler & Debian: former GSoC student added to keyring
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Links 18/07/2024: ORG Complaint to ICO About Facebook, Korean Double Agent Unmasked
Links for the day
Joel Espy Klecker & Debian on Joe Biden's health and Donald Trump's assassination
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, July 17, 2024
IRC logs for Wednesday, July 17, 2024
Links 18/07/2024: Hostname Pedantry and Retro Coding
Links for the day
Fedora Week of Diversity (FWD) 2024 Attracting 0.01% of the IBM Staff "Was a Success"
They expect volunteers (unpaid slaves) to do the PR for them...
African's Largest Population (Nigeria) Approaching 80% Android "Market Share" Amid Steady Monthly Increases While Microsoft Has Mass Layoffs in Nigeria
Microsoft- and Apple-sponsored Western (or English-speaking) media chooses to ignore that or treat it as irrelevant (a racist disposition in its own right)
[Meme] The Warlord's Catspaw
Thugs that troll us
Microsoft Misogyny Will be the Fall of Microsoft (Covering Up for Misogynists is a Huge Mistake and Highly Misguided Short-term Strategy)
Microsoft's undoing may in fact be its attitude towards women
Microsoft's Bing Falls to Fourth in the Europe/Asia-Based Turkey, Share Halved Since LLM Hype, Now Only 1% (Sometimes Less)
Turkey (Eurasia) is another example of Microsoft failing with LLM hype and just burning a lot of energy in vain (investment without returns)
Red Hat Keeps Behaving Like a Microsoft Reseller (for Proprietary Stuff!), Microsoft Employees as Authors in redhat.com
In some ways this reminds us of Novell
Links 17/07/2024: New Attacks on the Press, European Patents Squashed Even at Kangaroo Court (UPC)
Links for the day
Gemini Links 17/07/2024: Proponents of Censorship and New Arrivals at Gemini
Links for the day
Links 17/07/2024: School Budget Meltdown and Modern Cars as Tracking Nightmares
Links for the day
This Should Certainly be Illegal, But the Person Who Helped Microsoft Do This is Still Attacking the Critics of It
perhaps time for an "I told you so post"
Censorship as Signal of Opportunity for Reform
It remains sad and ironic that Wikileaks outsourced so much of its official communications to Twitter (now X)
[Meme] A Computer With an Extra Key on the Keyboard Isn't Everyone's Priority
(so your telling me meme)
The World Wide Web Has Been Rotting for Years (Quality, Accuracy, and Depth Consistently Decreasing)
In the past people said that the Web had both "good" and "bad" and that the good outweighed the bad
Comoros: Windows Plunges to Record Low of About 6% in Country of a Million People (in 2010 Windows Was 100%)
Many of these people earn a few dollars a day; they don't care for Microsoft's "Hey Hi PC" hype
Africa as an Important Reminder That Eradicating Microsoft Doesn't Go Far Enough
Ideally, if our top goal is bigger than "get rid of Microsoft", we need to teach people to choose and use devices that obey them, not GAFAM
Billions of Computers Run Linux and Many Use Debian (or a Derivative of It)
many devices never get updated or even communicate with the Net, so exhaustive tallies are infeasible
The Mail (MX) Server Survey for July 2024 Shows Microsoft Collapsing to Only 689 Servers or 0.17% of the Whole (It Used to be About 25%)
Microsoft became so insignificant and the most astounding thing is how the media deliberate ignores it or refuses to cover it
[Meme] Microsoft is Firing
Don't worry, Microsoft will have some new vapourware coming soon
More DEI (or Similar) Layoffs on the Way, According to Microsoft Team Leader
What happened shortly before Independence Day wasn't the end of it, apparently
Windows Down From 98.5% to 22.9% in Hungary
Android is up because more people buy smaller mobile devices than laptops
Microsoft Windows in Algeria: From 100% to Less Than 15%
Notice that not too long ago Windows was measured at 100%. Now? Not even 15%.
[Meme] Many Volunteers Now Realise the "Open" in "OpenSUSE" or "openSUSE" Was Labour-Mining
Back to coding, packaging and testing, slaves
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, July 16, 2024
IRC logs for Tuesday, July 16, 2024
Microsoft Windows "Market Share" in New Zealand Plunges to 25%
Android rising
[Meme] Ein Factory
A choice between "masters" (or "master race") is a false choice that results in mass exploitation and ultimately eradication (when there's little left to exploit)
Links 17/07/2024: Open Source Initiative Lies and Dark Net Thoughts
Links for the day
SUSE Goes Aryan: You May Not Use the Germanic Brand Anymore (It's Monopolised by the Corporation)
Worse than grammar Nazis
Media Distorting Truth to Promote Ignorance
online media is rapidly collapsing
Gratis But Not Free as in Freedom: How Let's Encrypt is Dying in Geminispace
Let's Encrypt is somewhat of a dying breed where the misguided CA model is shunned