11.19.20

Dolby Patents Are Being Used in Patent-Trolling Activity Against GNU/Linux, But Dolby is Said to Be a GPL Violator

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Patents at 12:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We call you a violator because that's what we are

Summary: Dolby’s serial litigation strategy [1, 2] seems to have come into conflict with Free-as-in-freedom software — the very same software Dolby is happy to exploit without complying with the copyleft licence

SOMETIMES we sit on important stories for weeks, months, and even years (earlier this year we published a story more than a year after we had received it, purely for source protection reasons). Many things we expose about the patent system are also strategically timed and belatedly disclosed. Maximising the effect of a publication while minimising risk to a source is just the right thing to do.

StopEPO examiners who read this site (there are thousands of them) very well know we had been condemning software patents in Europe and berating autocrats who promoted this agenda almost a decade before we wrote about workplace scandals. We ridiculed bogus and abstract patents that ought not be granted, anywhere. In recent years we reduced the focus on patent policy somewhat; that’s a good decision in retrospect. This was mostly strategic and the same trend can be seen across patent blogs, the EFF, and various technology news sites. Patents, as a topic, seem to be waning, and it’s easily measurable using a number of different criteria (e.g., number of lawsuits, number of articles, and so on).

“Let Dolby understand that if it contributes to blackmail against GNU/Linux, there will be public shaming and maybe GPL enforcement as well.”Our growing concern about software patents in Europe wasn’t in vain. Earlier this year we wrote about developers of GNU/Linux distributions who had contacted us, having found and read our articles. They wanted to tell us about what kept them awake at night. They’re European, but somehow they’ve been receiving threatening letters regarding software patents they allegedly infringe. Some of those patents are Dolby’s. We think it’s safe to name the original recipient of these patents, even if they’re being asserted through parasites and proxies — not out of the ordinary in recent years. Dolby itself can be sued (counter-suits), proxies cannot, especially when they produce nothing at all.

Dolby is a parasite. The name “Dolby” may be visible in some frames in some films (a glorified brand), but Dolby isn’t actually doing or producing very much. The GPL violation angle might also be of interest, as we’re being told that they’re serial violators. As one developer told us:

I’m waiting for another email / message before doing so, as we have found a few GPL violations from Dolby, which seems to suggest some prior art.

If or once we have evidence of those violations, for we have no reason to believe otherwise, we can do a separate article about that. Let Dolby understand that if it contributes to blackmail against GNU/Linux, there will be public shaming and maybe GPL enforcement as well. What goes around comes around. Stay tuned.

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