Newsgroups: fa.linux.kernel From: Alexander Viro <email@example.com> Subject: Re: patent on O_ATOMICLOOKUP [Re: [PATCH] loopable tmpfs (2.4.17)] Original-Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Fri, 24 May 2002 21:57:40 GMT Message-ID: <email@example.com> On Fri, 24 May 2002, Andrea Arcangeli wrote: > Now dropping this feature from tux is a matter of a few hours and it > cannot make difference if your vfs working set fits in dcache, but > that's not the problem. I wonder what's next, should I apply for a > patent for the classzone algorithm in the memory balancing or is Ingo > going to patent the O1 scheduler too? Ingo, Alan, Arjan, DaveM are so much > worried about binary only modules, Alan even speaks about the DMCA all > over the place, this is an order of magnitude worse, this even forbids > you to use this tequnique despite you may invented it too from scratch > and it's your own idea too. To make the opposite example despite IBM is > a big patent producer IBM even allowed the usage of their RCU patents in > the linux kernel (I've the paperwork under my desk and Linus should have > received too), and other stuff donated to gcc and probably much more > that I don't know about, IMHO exactly to avoid linux to be castrated by > patents. So this news is totally stunning from my part. For once I have to agree with Andrea. Software patents do not magically become better if you allow GPLed software to make use of them. It's one thing to put your _code_ under whatever license you like. That defines what you consider acceptable use and what - inexcusable plagiarism. "Using what I'd learnt from your work" and "lending the book I've bought to a friend" are equally old and respectable things. Hell, the former might very well be older, for all we know. Both may be inconvenient to, ahem, producers of intellectual property. It doesn't make attempts to limit them morally acceptable. Don't get me wrong - I despise the "let's abolish IP rights" crowd. Plagiarism is Wrong and author has absolute right to choose the conditions for use of the things he'd written. However, there is a line between "you are using my code" and "you had learnt something from my code". Patenting crosses that line - it puts restriction on the way one could use the things he'd learnt from your code. Yes, mere putting your code under GPL doesn't stop somebody from using the results of your efforts in the ways you don't approve - he still can learn from your work and use what he'd learnt in a work of his own. Yes, I can see the attraction of prohibiting that. Just as I can see the attraction of bribery that had created DMCA - with fairly close motivations behind it. Both DMCA and software patents may be legal, but that doesn't make use of either of them morally acceptable from my point of view. YMMV. It's sad to see Ingo pulling that crap - I believe that he has reasons that sound good to him, but... reasons don't make results smell any sweeter. I've heard an excuse for playing these games (not from Ingo, so I have no idea whether it has any relation to this case). It goes along the lines "commercial companies are doing that anyway and that poses a threat; having patents of our own gives ammo for defence against that threat". That sounds nice, but... there's an old saying - "don't play games with the devil". It's not that you can't win - devil is a piss-poor player. But those who do win tend to find the rules suddenly changed under them. And then there are bystanders caught in crossfire...
Newsgroups: fa.linux.kernel From: Linus Torvalds <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: large page patch (fwd) (fwd) Original-Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.email@example.com> Date: Sun, 11 Aug 2002 23:08:00 GMT Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> On Mon, 12 Aug 2002, Daniel Phillips wrote: > > It goes on in this vein. I suggest all vm hackers have a close look at > this. Yes, it's stupid, but we can't just ignore it. Actually, we can, and I will. I do not look up any patents on _principle_, because (a) it's a horrible waste of time and (b) I don't want to know. The fact is, technical people are better off not looking at patents. If you don't know what they cover and where they are, you won't be knowingly infringing on them. If somebody sues you, you change the algorithm or you just hire a hit-man to whack the stupid git. Linus
Newsgroups: fa.linux.kernel From: Linus Torvalds <email@example.com> Subject: Re: large page patch (fwd) (fwd) Original-Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Sun, 11 Aug 2002 23:08:54 GMT Message-ID: <email@example.com> On Sun, 11 Aug 2002, Linus Torvalds wrote: > > If somebody sues you, you change the algorithm or you just hire a > hit-man to whack the stupid git. Btw, I'm not a lawyer, and I suspect this may not be legally tenable advice. Whatever. I refuse to bother with the crap. Linus
Newsgroups: fa.linux.kernel From: Larry McVoy <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: large page patch (fwd) (fwd) Original-Message-ID: <20020811161501.E17310@work.bitmover.com> Date: Sun, 11 Aug 2002 23:17:20 GMT Message-ID: <email@example.com> On Sun, Aug 11, 2002 at 03:55:08PM -0700, Linus Torvalds wrote: > > On Mon, 12 Aug 2002, Daniel Phillips wrote: > > > > It goes on in this vein. I suggest all vm hackers have a close look at > > this. Yes, it's stupid, but we can't just ignore it. > > Actually, we can, and I will. > > I do not look up any patents on _principle_, because (a) it's a horrible > waste of time and (b) I don't want to know. > > The fact is, technical people are better off not looking at patents. If > you don't know what they cover and where they are, you won't be knowingly > infringing on them. If somebody sues you, you change the algorithm or you > just hire a hit-man to whack the stupid git. This issue is more complicated than you might think. Big companies with big pockets are very nervous about being too closely associated with Linux because of this problem. Imagine that IBM, for example, starts shipping IBM Linux. Somewhere in the code there is something that infringes on a patent. Given that it is IBM Linux, people can make the case that IBM should have known and should have fixed it and since they didn't, they get sued. Notice that IBM doesn't ship their own version of Linux, they ship / support Red Hat or Suse (maybe others, doesn't matter). So if they ever get hassled, they'll vector the problem to those little guys and the issue will likely get dropped because the little guys have no money to speak of. Maybe this is all good, I dunno, but be aware that the patents have long arms and effects. -- --- Larry McVoy lm at bitmover.com http://www.bitmover.com/lm
Newsgroups: fa.linux.kernel From: Linus Torvalds <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: large page patch (fwd) (fwd) Original-Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.email@example.com> Date: Mon, 12 Aug 2002 01:39:40 GMT Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> On Sun, 11 Aug 2002, Larry McVoy wrote: > > This issue is more complicated than you might think. No, it's not. You miss the point. > Big companies with > big pockets are very nervous about being too closely associated with > Linux because of this problem. The point being that that is _their_ problem, and at a level that has nothing to do with technology. I'm saying that technical people shouldn't care. I certainly don't. The people who _should_ care are patent attorneys etc, since they actually get paid for it, and can better judge the matter anyway. Everybody in the whole software industry knows that any non-trivial program (and probably most trivial programs too, for that matter) will infringe on _some_ patent. Ask anybody. It's apparently an accepted fact, or at least a saying that I've heard too many times. I just don't care. Clearly, if all significant programs infringe on something, the issue is no longer "do we infringe", but "is it an issue"? And that's _exactly_ why technical people shouldn't care. The "is it an issue" is not something a technical guy can answer, since the answer depends on totally non-technical things. Ask your legal counsel, and I strongly suspect that if he is any good, he will tell you the same thing. Namely that it's _his_ problem, and that your engineers should not waste their time trying to find existing patents. Linus
Newsgroups: fa.linux.kernel From: Larry McVoy <email@example.com> Subject: Re: large page patch (fwd) (fwd) Original-Message-ID: <20020811220545.C5314@work.bitmover.com> Date: Mon, 12 Aug 2002 05:08:32 GMT Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> > Ask your legal counsel, and I strongly suspect that if he is any good, he > will tell you the same thing. Namely that it's _his_ problem, and that > your engineers should not waste their time trying to find existing > patents. Partially true for us. We do do patent searches to make sure we aren't doing anything blatently stupid. I do agree with you 100% that it is impossible to ship any software that does not infringe on some patent. It's a big point of contention in contract negotiations because everyone wants you to warrant that your software doesn't infringe and indemnify them if it does. -- --- Larry McVoy lm at bitmover.com http://www.bitmover.com/lm
Newsgroups: fa.linux.kernel From: Linus Torvalds <email@example.com> Subject: Re: [PATCH] Updating real-time and nanokernel maintainersy Original-Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Mon, 22 Dec 2003 06:06:39 GMT Message-ID: <email@example.com> On Sun, 21 Dec 2003, Karim Yaghmour wrote: > > If there is, then it should definitely be taken out. First, as Linus > has stated recently (and as has been the policy for a while), the > kernel should avoid having any patented code That's not true. The kernel should have no patented code THAT DOESN'T HAVE A LICENSE. There are several cases where this came up: RCU is one obvious one, but there were also issues with Intel's initial submissions of some of the networking drivers where they didn't want to originally release under the GPL because of worrying about patents they owned. The email you quote expressly says "unless you can get the patent holder to grant a license". And the RTLinux patents were licensed to GPL'd projects. See the RTLinux "open patent license". I don't understand why people continually complain about the RTLinux patents. I bet it's because Victor has all the easy charm of Larry McVoy, but I don't see why people still continue to spread obvious mis-information about the situation. It's doubly discgusting with some of the people who were trying to spread all the FUD and mis-information were doing so because they were themselves doing a non-GPL microkernel, and they complained about how the patents were somehow against the GPL and wanted to get community support by trying to make out the situation to be somehow different from what it was. I'm not a supporter of software patents, but while I dislike them, I don't dislike them _nearly_ as much as I dislike dishonest people. Linus
From: Theodore Tso <firstname.lastname@example.org> Newsgroups: fa.linux.kernel Subject: Re: Open letter to Linux kernel developers (was Re: Binary Drivers) Date: Tue, 02 Jan 2007 12:58:04 UTC Message-ID: <fa.J7QEf1MYkeS/Eknc3k4HscAfGv0@ifi.uio.no> On Tue, Jan 02, 2007 at 09:26:14PM +1000, Trent Waddington wrote: > The list of features which the driver supports is going to be > sufficient evidence for 99% of patents that relate to computer > graphics hardware. Nope, not necessarily. Recall that Patent Office has issued a patent on the concept of using "XOR" in graphics operations (for dealing with a cursor that's moving around). There are plenty of patents involving optimizations that can't be proven unless you have access to the low-level source code or are willing to spend a huge amount of money disassembling megabytes of binaries. In fact, there are rumors floating around that pthe reason why no one is willing to release source code is that both sides are almost certainly violating each other's trivial patents, and defending against a patent lawsuit can take years, millions of dollars, and even if the patent is completely and totally bogus, can put a company out of business. Witness what happened with Research in Motion and the patents allegedly covering the Blackberry. Even though the USPTO had already provisionally ruled that there was prior art (the patent troll still had appeals to file), the judge wasn't willing to wait for the USPTO process to finish, and was prepared to issue a ruling that would put a 23 BILLION dollar company out of business. So RIMM ended up paying over half a billion dollars of blackmail money to settle a patent lawsuit where the patents may end up getting ruled completely bogus a year or two from now anyway. In any case, the rumor that was going around was that the reasn why neither side is willing to release sources is because whoever did would be committing potential corporate suicide first.... I can very easily believe it. The US patent system and "justice" system in the US is completely and totally insane, and companies often feel they have to act accordingly. Remember this is the country that has issued multi-million dollar awards to people who spill hot coffee in their lap and my favorite, to an idiot who lifted up a lawnmover to trim their hedges, dropped the lawnmover on his foot and lost his foot as a result. The lawn mover company had to pay $$$ because they hadn't thought to put in a idiot switch to stop the lawnmower blade from spinning when it was lifted off the ground.... - Ted P.S. The opinions expressed in this e-mail are completely my own; I'm not important enough to decide the corporate position of my employer. :-)