04.11.17

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PAX Means Peace, But It’s Making Peace With Software Patents Rather Than Destroy Them

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, OIN, Patents at 6:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Whether it’s called “PAX” or “SuperPAX”, it does not solve the issue but merely exacerbates the patent thicket problem

Jeremy Paxman
Jeremy Paxman

Summary: One last take on the whole “PAX” brouhaha, which is far from a solution to problems we’re all facing in the software world

THE announcement of “PAX” made a lot of headlines/press last week, e.g. in the financial press1. Well, Android-centric sites covered that quite a lot and to a lesser degree GNU/Linux-centric sites did too (like SJVN2). We wrote several articles about that, e.g. [1, 2]. We believe that as long as the USPTO grants software patents there is room for things like “PAX”, but they are not a solution to the underlying problem, which is the patents themselves (on software).

“We believe that as long as the USPTO grants software patents there is room for things like “PAX”, but they are not a solution to the underlying problem, which is the patents themselves (on software).”Jeff Roberts‏, a writer whom we respect for his firm grasp of these issues, published the article “Google-Backed Patent Network LOT Adds Cisco, Slack” and separately added: “Patent folks: Google-backed LOT adds Slack & Cisco to its non-aggression pact. (how long till @IBM joins too?)”

Well, IBM has already fed some patents into Android OEMs for defensive purposes (at great cost). It would not be shocking if it joined “PAX” sooner or later, even if it has OIN. Maybe there will even be some bridging between OIN and “PAX”, as one defends GNU/Linux (not just the kernel anymore) and another Android, which uses the Linux kernel and some Free software projects that are covered by OIN.

“Well, IBM has already fed some patents into Android OEMs for defensive purposes (at great cost).”“Collective shields don’t work against trolls,” Benjamin Henrion rightly reminded them. This is why we prefer different approaches. We don’t think that patent pools, even if advertised as “defensive”, will ever lead to eradication of deprecation of software patents.
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1 Google Creates Community License to Unify Android Makers (GOOG, MSFT)

Alphabet Inc. subsidiary Google (GOOG) is attempting to create peace in patent litigation.

The Mountain View company launched Android Networked Cross-License or PAX (Latin for Peace), a community license between manufacturers of Android devices that makes their collective patents available to each other minus royalties. “ We call it a community license because all members grant licenses to one another on a royalty-free basis, thereby promoting patent peace within the Android ecosystem,” the company wrote in a blogpost. (See also: Patents Are Assets, So Learn How To Value Them).

Signatories to the patent license include prominent makes of Android phones, such as the likes of Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd (SSNLF) and HTC. Collectively, they hold more than 230,000 patents. According to Google, the agreement “materially reduces patent risk.” In other words, this means that members will not sue each other for using Android-related patents in their devices.

2 PAX: Android patent protection consortium formed

OIN was formed in 2005 when Linux was under legal siege from SCO for imaginary copyright violations and then Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer claimed Linux violated over 200 Microsoft patents. So, IBM, Sony, Phillips, Red Hat, and Novell formed Open Invention Network (OIN) to defend Linux against IP attacks. Since then, many major companies have joined OIN from both inside the technology business, such as Google and manufacturing companies like Damiler.

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