IBM Patents

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linux-os

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Jan 17, 2005, 8:50:10 AM1/17/05
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Tue Jan 11 07:07:40 EST 2005

IBM has announced that it will provide free access to about
500 of its existing software patents to users and groups
working on open source software.

http://www.ibm.com/news/us/

Many of these patents relate to interoperability, communications,
file-export protocols, and dynamic linking.

Cheers,
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Bernd Petrovitsch

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Jan 17, 2005, 9:50:13 AM1/17/05
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On Mon, 2005-01-17 at 08:44 -0500, linux-os wrote:
> Tue Jan 11 07:07:40 EST 2005
>
> IBM has announced that it will provide free access to about

No, they only promise now to not sue anyone given the following
criteria. No one knows what happens in 5 years.

> 500 of its existing software patents to users and groups

They have ca. 40000 AFAIK. So 500 is 1,25 %.
And IBM is actually lobbying for patents so this is only a marketing
thing.

> working on open source software.
>
> http://www.ibm.com/news/us/
>
> Many of these patents relate to interoperability, communications,
> file-export protocols, and dynamic linking.

And almost all of them are pure software-patents and probably prior art.
Thus they are - at least in Europe - not relevant and actually illegal
if you believe in the current European patent law as defined by the
European Patent Convention (see §52(2) for details).

Bernd
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Bernhard Schauer

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Jan 18, 2005, 3:40:10 AM1/18/05
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> And almost all of them are pure software-patents and probably prior art.
> Thus they are - at least in Europe - not relevant and actually illegal
> if you believe in the current European patent law as defined by the
> European Patent Convention (see §52(2) for details).

Hopefully nothing will change in future! Except the European Patent
Office should stop to give away software patents (even if they have no
legal basis).

regards

Bernhard

Bernd Petrovitsch

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Jan 18, 2005, 4:30:16 AM1/18/05
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On Tue, 2005-01-18 at 09:37 +0100, Bernhard Schauer wrote:
> > And almost all of them are pure software-patents and probably prior art.
> > Thus they are - at least in Europe - not relevant and actually illegal
> > if you believe in the current European patent law as defined by the
> > European Patent Convention (see §52(2) for details).
>
> Hopefully nothing will change in future! Except the European Patent

In terms of above statement, yes. It actually needs means to seriously
control the EPO and national POs - there absolutely no independent
justice (similar to other democratic systems) there.
Nevertheless the evil propaganda was working since years to get the
decision makers (read: law and politics folks with (almost) no knowledge
of "programming", "software" and/or copyright/author's rights) to
believe in "monopolies on ideas are good for small companies".
And there are other forces pushing in that direction but without prove
I won't speak about it ....

> Office should stop to give away software patents (even if they have no
> legal basis).

>From a juristical point of view (and "they" are actually saying that)
they are "legal" (since they are granted) - even there are severe
concerns (read: there are not fulfilled in any way) about the
preconditions.
However the POs get more money from granted patents than from not
granted ones (for actually less work - for the patent proving person it
is more work to seriously explain a declined patent instead of - more or
less - simply accepting it) and the POs have absolutely no risk. Guess
what will happen .....

Bernd, stopping now since it is quite off-topic here


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James Bruce

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Jan 18, 2005, 6:10:11 AM1/18/05
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I believe that IBM is simply responding to the recent study that "Linux
violates more than 283 patents". Regardless of the truth to that study,
this is IBM's way of stating that the 60 that they hold will not be used
against Linux or other open source projects.

Bernd Petrovitsch wrote:
> On Mon, 2005-01-17 at 08:44 -0500, linux-os wrote:
>>Tue Jan 11 07:07:40 EST 2005
>>IBM has announced that it will provide free access to about

>>500 of its existing software patents to users and groups
>
> No, they only promise now to not sue anyone given the following
> criteria. No one knows what happens in 5 years.

Yes we do "know what happens"; From the first page of IBM's pledge:
"... the commitment not to assert any of these 500 U.S. patents and
all counterparts of these patents issued in other countries is
*irrevocable* except that IBM reserves the right to terminate this
patent pledge and commitment only with regard to any party who files a
lawsuit asserting patents or other intellectual property rights against
Open Source Software." (emphasis added)

They also state that the pledge is intended to be "legally binding".
So, unless you plan on suing an open source developer over intellectual
property you should be fine. That includes five years from now. It
could however, have negative effects on Jeff Merkey's plans to buy a
copy of the kernel code.

> They have ca. 40000 AFAIK. So 500 is 1,25 %.
> And IBM is actually lobbying for patents so this is only a marketing
> thing.

I wouldn't expect them to change overnight. Patents have made IBM (and
many other companies) a lot of money. The ones who's interests are not
served by patents are citizens and small companies. Not surprisingly,
they are the ones fighting the EU initiative. Thus everyone is doing
what's in their best interests, which is hardly unexpected. I am of
course hoping that citizens' interests win out in the EU.

However, given the patent system already present in the US, IBM's action
is a step in the right direction. It strikes me as a lot like how
Copyleft used copyright law to effect the opposite of the intended
result. While "no software patents" is desirable, if there is a way to
work within the existing system to get some freedom back for developers,
I don't think that's a bad thing.

>>working on open source software.
>> http://www.ibm.com/news/us/
>>
>>Many of these patents relate to interoperability, communications,
>>file-export protocols, and dynamic linking.
>
> And almost all of them are pure software-patents and probably prior art.
> Thus they are - at least in Europe - not relevant and actually illegal
> if you believe in the current European patent law as defined by the
> European Patent Convention (see §52(2) for details).

I'm can't comment on every patent in the list, but many of the ones
regarding image processing (my area of expertise) are novel enough under
the current legal system to stand up in court. Even if only 1 in 10 of
the patents are valid in the overall list, those that remain represent
new things that can now be released as open source, without fear of
reprisal. I for one hope this grows and other companies see the benefit
of adding patents to the list. Given that the EU will quite possibly
get software patents within the next year, this could quickly become
important for all of us.

- Jim Bruce

Chris Lingard

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Jan 18, 2005, 6:30:15 AM1/18/05
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On Tuesday 18 January 2005 11:04, James Bruce wrote:
> I believe that IBM is simply responding to the recent study that "Linux
> violates more than 283 patents". Regardless of the truth to that study,

The study said that it may violate patents; but that those patents may
not be enforceable due to prior art. Only a court of law; and only in
the USA could your statment be tested.

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