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Linus Torvalds Thinks Microsoft Going To Court is a Sign That Its Business is Dying

Linus Torvalds



Summary: A new interview with the lead developer of Linux covers the issue of patents, bringing to the surface some important viewpoints

Linus Torvalds has always been quite outspoken in his stance against software patents. In a new interview he emphasises this view and explains his own patents, which he says are on hardware. To quote:



I have filed at least 3 patents during Transmeta times. They were about hardware so I am happy about them. It was an interesting experience. I am not saying they were wonderful patents--I am saying it was interesting to see the crazy patent language you have to have and that's the reason you have to have a patent lawyer because the language makes no sense. In US it’s technically English but it’s not really English. It’s like using English words but there are different meanings to them. There is a whole different set of rules about what things mean when they do a patent application. As I said it was a very interesting experience and I am not unhappy about that. It's not as horrible as many patents.

I think patents probably work better in certain areas than they do in ours. Software patents? No. Process patents? No. They just don't make sense.


"Personally," he added, "I am of the opinion that going to court is a sign of a business that is dying. I am not saying that Microsoft is dying, it's a sign, not a complete indicator."

Let's remember that companies are able to have patents also without being racketeers. IBM, for example, does not tend to sue companies using patents. Now that it applies for a patent on GPU-accelerated databases (partly hardware) we are reminded that IBM cannot be ignored either. "IBM is a heavy supporter of software patents," adds the FFII's president, who links to this article which says:

IBM has an idea how database access and data processing can be accelerated. IBM wants to take advantage of graphics processors to launch and execute database queries. Instead of traditional disk-based queries and an approach that slows performance via memory latencies and processors waiting for data to be fetched from the memory, IBM envisions in-GPU-memory tables as technology that could, in addition to disk tables, significantly accelerate database processing. According to a patent filed by the company, “GPU enabled programs are well suited to problems that involve data-parallel computations where the same program is executed on different data with high arithmetic intensity.”


Our goal is to get rid of those patent monopolies altogether. One step at a time we might get there.

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