View Full Version : Linux violates over 278 patents...

05-08-2004, 20:56:53
...but they aren't going to say which ones.

A company that is selling "patent protection" and other forms of legal protection has declared that Linux violates over 278 patents. But, while they will give you a count of how many patents that are owned by what company (IBM owns 60, Microsoft 27, etc), they won't say WHICH patents, "to protect Linux".

Which is total BS. Patent laws work strange... if you indepentantly "reinvent" a patent, but don't know someone owns the patent, you are legally not culpable for making use of it without some form of agreement with the patent holder. But as soon as you are informed, you are culpable from that moment onward... and Linux has just been put on notice. As well as the patent holders (who are now investigating)...

Who does that benefit? The company offering to sell you the service of not being held legally responsible if you just license/subscribe their service.

But, it's no big deal, right? Torry boy has admitted in the past that all the original code was copied from real UNIX, so the whole thing is stolen IP anyways (just a question of whose's IP).

SUN, whose lunch is getting eaten by Linux, has already stated they intend to defend every patent they own that LINUX violates. HP has been deciding if they want to go after the Linux world, or wait until Microsoft does. IBM has stated it will leave the patents it owns that the KERNAL violates unchallenged, but has already in the past challenged other aspects of the various Linux packages and is preparing yet another one.

On top of that, legal scholars are all coming to the opinion that Open Source and Linux in particular violates the DMCA... and seeing as the DMCA is being spread around the world via various trade agreements (just got passed to Australia, bringing in Software Patents and No Rights for the End User for the first time to their shores), it looks like a tough ride for Open Source and Linux.

And considering Congress is now trying to out-law all forms of Open Source because it: a) "is just thievery of real companies code and products", and b) "it threatens all nations national and local security", now is definately time for Open Source advocates to not take their eyes off the legal balls for splashier events, like the presendential elections. (By the way, John Kerry's current position is the Open Source is just theivery (same as any P2P activity), but give him 3 days, and that will likely change.)

Just so you know... dark, ominous clouds continue to grow...

Sir Penguin
06-08-2004, 00:11:55
By "over 278", you actually mean 283, right?

And by "violates [283] patents" you mean that OSRM found 283 potential patent violations, right?


06-08-2004, 00:16:59
Oops. Yep.

Out of 283, since the *average* patent upheld ruling rate is 50%, it really isn't a good thing for Linux, SP. Part of the reason HP's executives thought Linux would be killed within 4 years back in 2002... patent attack would kill it. Just replacing the code with code that does the same thing won't save it in that case.

It's a mean game OSRM was playing. But IBM has acknowledged that they know Linux violates over 60 of their patents... they just won't ever challenge the patents used in the kernal. They need a basis for the OS, see? But everything else is fair game for them.

And Microsoft is going patent crazy. That's not just to defend themselves, you know.

Sir Penguin
06-08-2004, 01:13:50
What's up with that? Did Microsoft get bought by lawyers and I didn't hear about it?


06-08-2004, 06:34:54
I don't recall Torvalds ever saying that Linux was copied from AT&T UNIX. As far as I know, he wrote it on a Minix system until reaching some point where Linux was capable of hosting itself. He has been quoted advising people not to research patents before implementing things.

The SCO copyright suit is going to fizzle out, so the indemnity people need a new scare or they're toast. Not that the patent issue isn't a problem, but it isn't limited to Linux and OSS. A few days ago, word got out that id was approached by Creative due to patent concerns regarding the game's sound engine.

As for lawmakers, I don't have much faith in them. The companies that fought losing battles over DeCSS and Betamax might see legislation as a way to help them succeed where they failed in the past.

07-08-2004, 02:11:57
Sir Penguin, it's two-fold.

#1) Protect themselves
#2) Build a really big club to beat on others.

07-08-2004, 02:22:59

Torvs has changed his tune a few times on how he "created" Linux. The first versions was he copied MINX and then made it better. If he did copy MINX, that was a conscious stealing of IP... UNIX's IP. Whoever really owns that IP.

Torvs tells people to never look at where stuff comes from, and never look up who might have a patent. That's to "protect" Linux from becoming any other's people property. Which is what happens, when it's finally proven that any "IP" is in it. Eventually, since there is no checking (even though Torrie claims to check everything and investigate everything, whoops!), that will happen and be provable afterwards.

It is a messy thing. And eventually, its going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

07-08-2004, 07:11:42
It depends on who Tanenbaum copied when he created Minix. :)

If they make an issue of patent enforcement, it could curtail development and distribution of OSS in the US. The EU is also taking a step in this direction by having appoved of software patents. The degree of damage depends on who sues and how much.

Apparently it's much easier to have a patent approved than it is to throw one out. Reform is theoretically possible. :)

07-08-2004, 15:03:51
Tanenbaum had the legal right to copy UNIX when he created Minix. They were licensed to create a "teaching" version of UNIX, but not to further license or give the code out past that point.

Technically, half of all patent challenges are upheld. The other half, are invalidated in court or the defendant is found to be "not infringing". What that amounts to is... if there is a concentrated effort by the proprietary software/OS vendors (SUN, Microsoft, Apple, IBM, etc etc etc), Linux could suddenly find itself in the "Always illegal/pirate IP" category, and be dead, commercially speaking. Right now, SUN is the most likely guys to attack it next. Linux is literally putting them out of business. In a few years, expect to see SUN file against them. And SUN already has an agreement with Microsoft for Microsoft to buy a "share" of them if they get desperate for $$$. Just as Microsoft has taken a share in SCO (granting them funds to continue their legal efforts), you can expect Microsoft will effectively fund SUN for a few more years after that filing. Just to FUD Linux so it doesn't eat into Microsoft's server market too much. If everything continues as is, anyways. ;)

That's how it looks. SUN's top executives have repeatily hinted that they are thinking of sueing for patent infringements, IP theft, and general software stealing. Their top cat hasn't, as he realizes that they will then become more hated them Microsoft in the *Nix world if they do, but he is being pressured to do so from his underlings and external sources that profit when SUN profits. And he hasn't been running SUN well, so there's a building momentum to move him aside and let a less headstrong SUN crusader take the helm for a while. Then... well, it will be "Launch lawyers!"

07-08-2004, 21:02:18
The foot race with weakness never stops.... :)

The Sun suit is plausible, since SCO was failing before they started sueing people. Desperate times calling for desperate measures and all.

09-08-2004, 20:15:57
Very true. Litigation is the wheezing on the death bed and all that sort of thing...