Linux possibly infringes 283 patents
Linux potentially infringes 283 patents, including 27 held by Microsoft but none that have been validated by court judgments, according to a group that sells insurance to protect those using or selling Linux against intellectual-property litigation.
Dan Ravicher, founder and executive director of the Public Patent Foundation, conducted the analysis for Open Source Risk Management. OSRM is like an insurance company, selling legal protection against Linux copyright-infringement claims. It plans to expand the program to patent protections.
Of the 283 patents, 98 are owned by Linux allies, OSRM said, including 60 from IBM, 20 from Hewlett-Packard and 11 from Intel. The months-long review examined versions 2.4 and 2.6 of the kernel, or heart, of Linux, Ravicher said.
It only infringes if the owner of the patent raises a fuss. So far, I've heard of SCO as about the only ones to do so. There may be others, but I've not heard much from them.
MS may very well have the who had prior art backwards, though. We'll see.
i wonder how many of these issues are really Linx infringements. I doubt the kernel really can be blamed. Some distros, like Fedora Core, come without MP3 support, and DVD decoding b/c of such issues.
i'd like to see if microsoft has violated any patents/copyrights. perhaps we can ask Sun. ;)
IBM says it won't assert patents against Linux kernel
Big Blue exec challenges IT to establish procedures to avoid infringement claims
By Ed Scannell August 04, 2004
SAN FRANCISCO -- In his keynote address on Wednesday at LinuxWorld, IBM Senior Vice President of Technology and Marketing Nick Donofrio assured the Linux nation his company would not assert its formidable patent portfolio against the Linux kernel and strongly advocated others to promise the same.
Donofrio's remarks were in response to a statement earlier this week from the Open Source Risk Management organization based on its research and initial analysis of patents that might affect the Linux kernel. A number of those patents were identified as being owned by several larger companies with strategic Linux-based strategies including IBM.
"I can say that as an ally that believes in the positive power that the Linux community is having on collaborative innovation, I can assure you we have no intention of asserting our patents against the Linux kernel, unless, of course, we are forced to defend ourselves," Donofrio said.
Donofrio threw out a challenge to the IT community to join together to establish procedures that avoid infringement claims and to also try to resolve them as they come up.
"When more people have access to the building blocks of innovation, it can inject a richer perspective to the creative process. When you combine all the diversity of the world in the open environments, it's a rather humbling thought," Donofrio said.
Donofrio said collaborative innovation figures to play a significant role in the future of IT and that Linux, various grid technologies, and the Internet will continue to be an influence there. He contended that countries around the world will have to find the right balance between collaborative innovation along with the respect for intellectual property as it applies to IT.
"For IBM's part, we pledge to do everything in our power to help stroke that balance. I can promise you that," Donofrio said.
The open movement, which Donofrio sees happening in many industries outside of computer software, is forcing people to rethink their various intellectual property models and to rethink where it is they can offer the most value to their respective users.
He contends this overall open movement has encouraged and enabled competition to continue thriving. Donofrio then made an open plea to governments and private businesses to "collectively sharpen" their focus on policies and practices that would serve to encourage and to support innovation.
"Why does innovation matter? Well, consider one issue that has been at the center of discussion for some time: job growth," Donofrio said.
He cited a recent economic study that stated some 91 million new jobs would be created in the coming years, but that it is yet to be determined in which countries most of those jobs would be based.
"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that many of the best jobs will go to those countries that create the most fertile environments for innovation," Donofrio said.
Donofrio then started preaching to the Linux choice saying that Linux and the open source community in general holds the potential to spark remarkable innovation because the technology is at once owned by no one but yet by everyone. It is this concept that will give it a major advantage compared with those still espousing proprietary platforms.
"The forces that cling to closed ways of doing things are doing nothing to advance innovation. When you box people in and create these artificial barriers to solving problems, you can't have [innovative] solutions spring forward," Donofrio said.
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