back to article Penguin chief: Linux patent and copyright FUD 'not relevant'

Fear ye not, Linux faithful. Thy software is no more susceptible to patent or copyright attack than any other piece of closed source software. That's according to Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin, who told penguins gathered as his group's annual Collaboration Summit on Wednesday not to believe the FUD - fear, …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Jim 59

    Angles with dirty faces

    "Google's Android contains legal landmines for developers and device manufacturers". This just sounds like a lawyer drumming up business. He would say that.

    "Rivals are indeed attacking Linux and open source." MS has been dishing the same Linux FUD for 10 years. It came to nought, but you can't blame them for trying. It's happening again with Android.

    Zemlin is right. Patent litigation is clearly an issue in the technology industry. Everybody is violating everybody else's patents. Part of the reason lies in the ease with which patents can be granted under US law. A patent can apply to almost anything. For example, having icons appear in drop-down menus. Nothing is too trivial, and it can be patented almost immediately.

    As a result, MS, which accuses Linux of patent violation, is itself probably violating thousands of "patents", as is Apple and the other big players. For the most part, they are reluctant to take action because nobody, except the lawyer above, wants an all-out patent war.

  2. Ray Simard

    Just a guess, but... it likely that Zemlin wanted to point out that foundation members were not a bunch of angels, rather than a bunch of angles?

    1. Just Thinking

      I thought it was a slang term

      If not, it should be. What a bunch of angles.

  3. John Tappin

    seems to me that...

    patent law is bad for innovation and bad for small businesses. But good for lawyers and stifling competition by throwing barriers in front of other products.

    Android/Linux etc are targetted because of the money involved perhaps thats becuase this is a product people want...

  4. djs

    If Linux Foundation members are "a bunch of angles"

    I'd like to nominate Oracle and Google for obtuseness.

  5. Robert E A Harvey

    This is not a title

    I am much more concerned about Google closing Android than I am about whether someone thinks they own the copyright on a few hundred lines of ascii text.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @Robert E A Harvey

      Every time you see some open source software with a license other than GPL, you must be convinced that the authors of that piece of software wanted to keep the option of closing the source....well, open!

      I wouldn't be surprised if Google will chose to close the Android source and it's not their fault if you fall for it. Heck, even MS Windows source code is open if you sign an NDA.

      1. Oninoshiko


        Uhh what?

        So the GPL is the only license that guarantees that all redistribution (by third parties) is under the same license? Of course, you do know that if you own all the copyrights in a piece of software, the GPL doesn't prevent you from closing future releases either. (HINT: if you own the code you don't have to have to comply with any terms.)

        Good to know the FUD comes from both sides.

  6. Tim Parker

    Dubious examples

    "the Linux Foundation arguably sets another dubious example by being home to IBM"

    Arguably ?.. perhaps - i'd personally suggest it's a short argument and the answer is 'no - they don't set themselves up as a dubious example'. I'm not sure what the authors angle (or angel) is here..

  7. Adam West


    "The point I was making was not whether or not the member of the Linux Foundation are a bunch of angles"

    Bunch of angles? What, like 30 degrees, 31 degrees, that kind of thing?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a plan

    So if I patent the process of patent-trolling does that mean I can sue all the patent trolls?

  9. Dr. Mouse

    Use it or loose it!

    "It's the kind of suit we're becoming too familiar with: a previously unknown company with no product, lassoing a bunch of fat tech companies and a couple of big-name end users, claiming damages plus injunction against sale of the companies products or services in the US."

    The only way I can see to stop things like this happening with patents is a "Use it or Loose it" clause: If the holder of a patent makes no effort to use said patent, they loose it and the patented material is released public domain.

    Noone should be allowed to hold back human advances by patenting something they never have any intention of using. Give them a reasonable amount of time, but if they sue down the line and cannot prove that they have been actively seeking to utilise the patent (whether by developing it, developing a product around it, or something similar), throw it out of court, invalidating the patent.

    1. lucmars
      Jobs Horns

      You're right but...

      Even the companies which develop some product around their patents, patent some ideas for the future or in case of. Because if a competitor release a similar product the ligation will be about how has patented the idea in first. So your clause will hit these companies as well. In the end, one better have to grant the company which release the product in first, not the patent(s) about it which could come after.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If they're a bunch of angles

    should we be expecting a load of saxons and jutes too?

  11. InsaneGeek

    I'd like to live in his alternate reality...

    As a Linux user for not quite 20 years (but getting there), he seems detached from reality. Linux people need to accept the reality that there is large quantities of patented items in Linux. All one has to do is use the slightest bit of critical thinking to realize that:

    Microsoft spends millions of dollars and man hours just on ways to avoid them from violating a patent and yet they constantly are. Why would open sourcepeople believe they match or even boast they don't have any and it's all "fud" the same level of violations as MS; when they have no where near the resources looking through their data (which if we are talking opensource as a whole has an order of magnitude larger codebase)? When someone says that it's FUD when MS says Linux is violating a patent, I roll my eyes and think they are simply blind morons. If companies with hundreds of people being paid just to make sure they don't violate patents aren't able to keep their noses clean what level of stupid do you have to be to think that joe schmoe contributing code would be able to?

    1. djs

      It is FUD when Microsoft says linux violates a patent or 370

      Particularly when they do not specify which patents they are referring to.

      The patents in question may be at the end of their lives.

      The patents in question may be trivial to avoid, once you know about them (see tridge's vfat patch, for example)

      The patents may be blindingly obvious, and unlikely to survive reexamination.

      The patent may not actually be infringed at all -- just because microsoft's opinion is that it is doesn't mean that anyone else sees it that way.

      If you can't see the patent, you just don't know. If end users and potential integrators cannot inspect the patent to decide for themselves, they are encouraged to assume that the claim is valid, cannot be worked around, and may make linux a liability.

      And THAT is why every microsoft patent claim to date has been FUD. They have served to create (some, minimal) Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt in the market. If they weren't FUD, Microsoft could just say "Patents X, Y and Z are infringed, mofo, now make your house clean." (or whatever the appropriate legalism is)

      They haven't, and this is very telling.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      You need to sort out ...

      ... your semi-literate rambling rant problem before you try anything as advanced as critical thinking.

    3. Oninoshiko


      A patent violation is something that is determined by a court. Experts need to look into it. Microsoft is a biased party, by definition you should not trust them on it. There my be a violation, it is true, it also may not achieve novelty on reexamination, there might be existing prior art on reexamination, the accuser may be just making stuff up too.

      To date no non-biased party has found a patent violation in Linux, Period. Microsoft claims to own some, but wont tell anyone what they are... sounds fishy to me. Let's lay down the cards and see who's holding what.

      Android, might violate the patents Oracle bought from sun, the jury's still out. But the "slightest bit of critical thinking" would show that onus is on the accuser to prove his/her case, and the defendant should get the opportunity to defend themselves.

    4. Ray Simard

      Ballmer FUD (siwwy pengwin)

      Why hasn't Microsoft divulged even a few of these alleged violations? If they had a leg to stand on you'd think they'd be quick to divulge some or all of them, even if only to try to instill the fear of the Wrath of Redmond in the Linux community. I suppose that in other cases, for much smaller and evenly-matched opponents, a patent-holder planning litigation might hold back on the details to minimize the time the opposition has to put together a defense, particularly if their position is shaky. I can't see that applying to this case.

      Maybe, as InsaneGeek maintains, Linux does tread on an MS$ patent or two. Perhaps they're assuming that the Fear of the Unknown will chill more hearts than visible evidence of a real infringement.

      Then again, I suspect that they regret having made that claim in the first place. The more time passes with no attempt to substantiate the claim, the more it looks like empty saber-rattling.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like