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posted by janrinok on Wednesday January 19, @02:03PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the umbrella++ dept.

Open Invention Network expands Linux patent protection:

Today, everyone -- yes, even Microsoft -- use Linux and open-source. It's been years since Linux was under attack by SCO for imaginary copyright violations, and then Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer claimed that Linux violated over 200 of Microsoft's patents. So over 15-years ago, the Open Invention Network (OIN) patent consortium was formed to defend Linux against intellectual property (IP) attacks. Even so, Linux and open-source software are still under attack from patent trolls and other attackers. That's where the Open Invention Network (OIN) steps up by expanding its patent non-aggression coverage by updating its Linux System definition.

The OIN, the world's largest patent non-aggression community in history, is adding the following programs and components to the Linux System: .NET, ONNX, tvm, Prometheus, Helm, Notary, Istio, Nix, OpenEmbedded, CoreOS, uClibc-ng, mbed-tls, musl, SPDX, AGL Services, OVN, FuseSoc, Verilator, Flutter, Jasmine, Weex, NodeRED, Eclipse Paho, Californium, Cyclone, and Wakaama, among others. Altogether 337 new software components are being added. This brings the total number of protected packages to 3,730.

Yes, that includes a programming environment, .NET, from Microsoft; Prometheus, the open-source time-series monitoring program; and Helm, the Kubernetes DevOps framework. In short, OIN's protecting parasol against open-source's IP enemies has grown ever wider, ever more protective.

"Linux and open source collaboration continue to thrive as they accelerate the pace of transformation across a spectrum of industries. With this update, we have addressed expansion in key software platforms and projects. Additionally, we have added protection for strategic packages that enable hardware design and embedded applications," said Keith Bergelt, the OIN's CEO.


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by DannyB on Wednesday January 19, @03:01PM (6 children)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 19, @03:01PM (#1213851) Journal

    Whereas, it is axiomatic that the US Patent system is primarily used for patent trolling,

    Whereas, corporations accumulate poor quality software patents for defensive reasons because of the preceding item,

    It is my considered opinion that Software should simply not be eligible for a patent in the US or anywhere.

    It is one thing to build a new invention. Or create a new chemical process, or a real advancement in a fabrication technique, for example. Software rarely does anything new or novel that is also a genuine improvement. A new algorithm might be an example. However, often a new algorithm is an improvement on lots of prior work and possibly a minor improvement at that. As for novelty, many items that would be patented are obvious to anyone skilled in the art.

    The best example of lack of Novelty (which is a requirement to get a patent!) is Amazon's famous 1-click patent. It is widely understood that, at that time, in the rapidly moving advancement of the WWW, if Amazon wouldn't have patented that, someone else would have within a short time. It's not that the idea was novel, it's just that Amazon was greedy enough to think they should patent this obvious idea. Anyone could have put a 1-click purchase button in their store, and someone would have.

    Rewind back to about 1988 or 89. I was a Mac developer. Every month there came a huge package of developer materials including many pages of tech notes or updates to existing tech notes. There was a tech note about the impending danger of software patents. This is back when the horrid idea of software patents first reared its ugly head. Engineers at Apple were obvious against this. They wrote about how if this were to ever happen that they (and every developer) would need lawyers in order to write software. Yes, really! And here we are now.

    --
    While in an airport, never use the word "balm".
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, @06:27PM (5 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, @06:27PM (#1213897)

      One idea behind patents should be that there is a large R&D cost to producing something and a low cost to duplicating it. While one may agree or disagree with this I can see the argument for it (not sure I agree but at least there is an argument to be had).

      The problem is that most patents are on general vague ideas and don't give any useful information that would save anyone any R&D costs whatsoever.

      While distributed computing (or whatever, this is just off the top of my head) may or may not be expensive to implement and may or may not require high R&D costs a general patent on the idea of distributed computing requires no R&D and even if the company did R&D on distributed computing they should not receive a patent on the general idea because no R&D costs are necessary to think up the idea itself.

      I guess the other idea behind patents is the idea that each individual is uniquely special and hence is uniquely capable of coming up with ideas that no one else would ever come up with. So to incentivize them to innovate and not worry about being copied they should receive a monopoly. I reject this idea wholly and think that no patent should ever be granted on this notion.

      • (Score: 2) by jimtheowl on Wednesday January 19, @07:33PM (1 child)

        by jimtheowl (5929) on Wednesday January 19, @07:33PM (#1213910)
        It seems that you claim to be against patents, yet make a lot of suggestions to the contrary. Pharma uses that R&D rhetoric as well.

        You say you can see the argument, suggesting the argument has merit, then follow by running distractions by saying that the problems is 'something vague' and instead it should be 'something vague'.

        More suggestions follow about incentives, then you claim to reject the 'idea wholly'. Do you really?
        • (Score: 3, Touché) by DannyB on Wednesday January 19, @07:38PM

          by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 19, @07:38PM (#1213913) Journal

          Pharma uses that R&D rhetoric as well.

          The amusing thing is that Big Pharma doesn't do that much R&D. The vast bulk of their expenditures are on advertising. They rely on the NIH to do basic research and develop new drugs. Then they capitalize on them. And find something that makes their process able to be patented.

          --
          While in an airport, never use the word "balm".
      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday January 19, @07:35PM (2 children)

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 19, @07:35PM (#1213912) Journal

        One idea behind patents should be that there is a large R&D cost to producing something and a low cost to duplicating it.

        I could go with that one. It would eliminate patents like "bouncy scrolling" and "slide to unlock" back when Apple was suing every smart phone and tablet manufacturer globally.

        Let's talk about "slide to unlock". Problem setup: you (and your competitors) are making a device that has very few buttons but is mostly controlled by a touch screen. You want to avoid the problem of "butt dialing" (where a phone gets a bunch of buttons pushed and does all kinds of whacky things like sending a text gibberish or dialing someone). Obvious solution: you push one physical button to "wake up", but to prevent "butt dialing", you put something on screen that requires the user to touch something and interact with it. It could be a slide. Or a pattern unlock. Or any kind of on screen widget. But any kind of simple slide would do. The basic problem constrains you to limited solutions.

        Let's not talk about "bouncy scrolling".

        Let's especially not talk about stupid "design patents" where Apple actually argued in a foreign court that "Samsung could have made their screen bezels wider and made their tablet not be so light weight as to infringe on our design".

        I guess the other idea behind patents is the idea that each individual is uniquely special and hence is uniquely capable of coming up with ideas that no one else would ever come up with.

        These ideas are actually solutions to problems. Problems that anyone would similarly face. Problems that others would similarly solve. If you're trying to design a submarine or spacecraft, there are certain problems you will encounter, and are likely to solve those problems in ways that are similar to ways other people would solve those same technical problems.

        --
        While in an airport, never use the word "balm".
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, @10:50PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, @10:50PM (#1213980)

          The point of, and justification for, patents is to encourage bringing valuable innovation to the public at large. It is based on the idea that many people would keep thier innovations secret and/or undeveloped if the patent system did not exist. The US patent system should be judged on how well it is accomplishing this. It appears to me that it is doing the opposite.

          • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday January 20, @03:22PM

            by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 20, @03:22PM (#1214178) Journal

            It is based on the idea that many people would keep thier innovations secret and/or undeveloped if the patent system did not exist.

            I think it is predicated only on the idea of monopolists and money.

            1. secrets. People already sometimes use secrecy. It is called trade secret and there is a body of law surrounding this concept. However it is easy to lose the secrecy. Your monopoly advantage may be short lived, so exploit it while the secret lasts.

            2. undeveloped inventions. I'm sorry, but I find this one laughable. The idea that someone realizes they could make a fortune for something genuinely new, yet refuses to do so because others might eventually copy it and take away their monopoly advantage.

            I'm not against the idea that an inventor should have some reasonable length of monopoly advantage to market their invention. It's the definition of reasonable that I have trouble with. In the software world, a twenty year monopoly is an eternity. Also the software world is willing to work about abusive monopolists. Remember Adobe suddenly realizing they had a patent that covered the GIF image format? Then extorting anyone and everyone that uses GIF images on web pages? Thus the PNG format was developed and has largely replaced GIFs. A lot of free and open source software dropped GIF support rather than pay the extortion license fee.

            --
            While in an airport, never use the word "balm".
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, @03:01PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, @03:01PM (#1213852)

    How many of these projects have Code of Conducts? How many have big corporate backers?

    I'm thinking this whole OIN thing is going to become the lastest E^3 with Microsoft eventually buying the key players outright before terminating the agreement.

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday January 19, @04:14PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 19, @04:14PM (#1213862) Journal

      What if there were a patent on a project having a Code of Conduct (CoC) ?

      Then projects wanting to have a CoC would have to license the patent. This would discourage projects from having a CoC.

      I still would like to see the development of a CoC which is a violation of the CoC. (a CoC that violates itself merely by adopting it)

      --
      While in an airport, never use the word "balm".
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @01:51AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @01:51AM (#1214024)

      I was contacted by OIN recently asking me to join. I've assembled and published a handful of small/niche Linux distros and it looks like they've contacted me over the one that was moderately popular. TBH my first read was spam and I junked it - I'm surprised to see this article with similar wording.

      RE buying em out and closing em down - that was one thought I had i.e. maybe Microsoft became a partner after Linux was patched (2009) [slashdot.org] to avoid the licensing costs (2003) [slashdot.org] that Microsoft wanted per their upheld FAT patent (2006) [slashdot.org]? Another thought was that their email only mentions Microsoft and their branding reads like a nuspeak for "freedom to innovate" [bbc.co.uk] in which case I assumed if it was legit then it was going to be another MS agency.

      If we assume that this is legit and has any real purpose in life then why even bother approaching the distro builders? I might have contributed 10-15k lines of code to my distro/s in the past 20yrs and my intentions can be readily identified by both the GPLv2 license included with that software and the lack of any patents that I hold. But that's a bee's dick of software compared to the tens of millions of lines that will touch on nearly every facet of patent-worthy computing, which was shared with the public/me as open source, meanining (a) that's code common to almost any/every distro and (b) I don't own that patent risk - some poor bastard like Linus does. So if they want to help, then how about the OIN just emails Linus, Tridge, the GNU, Apache and Electronic Frontier Foundations and tells them that there's some free patent lawyers available if/when they need 'em.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @07:54PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @07:54PM (#1214311)

        "So if they want to help, then how about the OIN just emails Linus, Tridge, the GNU, Apache and Electronic Frontier Foundations and tells them that there's some free patent lawyers available if/when they need 'em.
        "

        that doesn't sound like much of a business model to me. :)

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