Re: IBM asserts patents against open source software

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by David Goodwin, Apr 7, 2010.

  1. On 7 Apr, 11:56, "impossible" <> wrote:
    > It's no secret that IBM has the largest patent portfolio of any software (or
    > hardware) maker in the world. And for 15 years running it has amassed more
    > new patents than any company.


    IBM is a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, as long as they
    are hanging around Linux I doubt Microsoft (or anyone else who isn't
    either stupid or desperate) will openly attack the platform for fear
    of those very patents. On the other hand, the open source community
    isn't entirely immune to them either. I think long as its in IBMs best
    interests to continue pushing alternatives to Windows and Office they
    don't pose a major threat. Of course IBM might attack a project or two
    but right now Microsoft is a larger problem.

    > But COLA trolls have turned a blind eye to that fact, only to discover now
    > that IBM isn't quite the friend to open source they'd imagined.
    >
    > "IBM has sent a nastygram to the company TurboHercules, with a
    > 'non-exhaustive' list of US patents that it believes 'will be infringed' by
    > TurboHercules' code....To add insult to injury, the list of patents with
    > which IBM tries to intimidate the Hercules project even includes two of the
    > 500 patents IBM originally 'pledged' to the open source community."
    >
    > http://www.computerworlduk.com/community/blogs/index.cfm?entryid=2891...
    >
    > Cue the Larry D'Loserite excuse train in....one, two......


    Of course, the product we are talking about (a mainframe emulator) is
    not really in IBMs best interests. Its not terribly surprising that
    they would do something to stop it. Thats what they have the patents
    for.

    While its not a nice thing that they've done I wouldn't consider them
    any more of a threat now that they've done it. They have no reason to
    start suing random projects - it would be very bad PR and they have
    nothing to gain by it.
     
    David Goodwin, Apr 7, 2010
    #1
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  2. In message
    <>, David
    Goodwin wrote:

    > Of course, the product we are talking about (a mainframe emulator) is
    > not really in IBMs best interests.


    Why wouldn’t it be? It makes it much easier to develop and test software for
    IBM’s mainframes without actually spending precious time on one. With more
    software, wouldn’t they sell more mainframes?

    IBM did something quite strange with regard to Hercules: at one time they
    had a manual which had lots of descriptions of using it precisely for this
    sort of testing purpose. Then one day they quietly released an updated
    version of the manual, without changing its product code in any way
    (contrary to normal practice), from which all mentions of Hercules had been
    removed.
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Apr 7, 2010
    #2
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  3. David Goodwin

    victor Guest

    On 7/04/2010 1:13 p.m., David Goodwin wrote:

    >
    > Of course, the product we are talking about (a mainframe emulator) is
    > not really in IBMs best interests. Its not terribly surprising that
    > they would do something to stop it. Thats what they have the patents
    > for.
    >
    > While its not a nice thing that they've done I wouldn't consider them
    > any more of a threat now that they've done it. They have no reason to
    > start suing random projects - it would be very bad PR and they have
    > nothing to gain by it.




    The pool of patents which OIN has from Sun IBM Redhat Novell etc
    provides more protection to open source solutions than closed source
    vendors not covered by the OIN agreements, which is a good incentive for
    projects to choose the open source path, but the non assertion of those
    patents is voluntary. If software is patented then this situation can
    happen no matter what the source code license is.
    The only thing which restrains it is the payoff where IBM gets to use
    the patents of the other patent holders in the pool along with their
    source code contributions.
    Tit for tat reciprocal altruism.
    Its not about being a "friend to open source".
    The patents disputed in this case wouldn't be available to a closed
    source vendor either.
     
    victor, Apr 7, 2010
    #3
  4. On 7 Apr, 14:48, Lawrence D'Oliveiro <l...@geek-
    central.gen.new_zealand> wrote:
    > In message
    > <>, David
    >
    > Goodwin wrote:
    > > Of course, the product we are talking about (a mainframe emulator) is
    > > not really in IBMs best interests.

    >
    > Why wouldn’t it be? It makes it much easier to develop and test software for
    > IBM’s mainframes without actually spending precious time on one. With more
    > software, wouldn’t they sell more mainframes?


    because people could just use the emulator instead? I'm sure the
    emulator is a whole lot cheaper to obtain than a real mainframe.

    > IBM did something quite strange with regard to Hercules: at one time they
    > had a manual which had lots of descriptions of using it precisely for this
    > sort of testing purpose. Then one day they quietly released an updated
    > version of the manual, without changing its product code in any way
    > (contrary to normal practice), from which all mentions of Hercules had been
    > removed.


    That did seem odd to me. Perhaps they decided it was eating into their
    business? Or maybe it got in there without management noticing for a
    while.
     
    David Goodwin, Apr 7, 2010
    #4
  5. On 7 Apr, 15:23, "impossible" <> wrote:
    > "David Goodwin" <> wrote in message
    >
    > news:...
    >
    >
    >
    > > On 7 Apr, 11:56, "impossible" <> wrote:
    > >> It's no secret that IBM has the largest patent portfolio of any software
    > >> (or
    > >> hardware) maker in the world. And for 15 years running it has amassed
    > >> more
    > >> new patents than any company.

    >
    > > IBM is a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, as long as they
    > > are hanging around Linux I doubt Microsoft (or anyone else who isn't
    > > either stupid or desperate) will openly attack the platform for fear
    > > of those very patents. On the other hand, the open source community
    > > isn't entirely immune to them either. I think long as its in IBMs best
    > > interests to continue pushing alternatives to Windows and Office they
    > > don't pose a major threat. Of course IBM might attack a project or two
    > > but right now Microsoft is a larger problem.

    >
    > Not that you have any actual basis now for making that claim. But ok, I get
    > it -- given a choice, you'd prefer to see an open source competitor ruined
    > by IBM instead of Microsoft. That makes perfect sense (?)


    No no no. Thats just silly and, as your question mark implies, makes
    no sense.

    I was referring to IBM as a deterrent. At this stage IBM makes money
    from Linux - if someone tries to interfere with that I doubt IBM would
    just stand back and watch.

    You yourself said "IBM has the largest patent portfolio of any
    software (or hardware) maker in the world" - only a fool would try to
    fight a patent war against them. Microsoft would have to be fairly
    desperate to try it.

    > >> But COLA trolls have turned a blind eye to that fact, only to discover
    > >> now
    > >> that IBM isn't quite the friend to open source they'd imagined.

    >
    > >> "IBM has sent a nastygram to the company TurboHercules, with a
    > >> 'non-exhaustive' list of US patents that it believes 'will be infringed'
    > >> by
    > >> TurboHercules' code....To add insult to injury, the list of patents with
    > >> which IBM tries to intimidate the Hercules project even includes two of
    > >> the
    > >> 500 patents IBM originally 'pledged' to the open source community."

    >
    > >>http://www.computerworlduk.com/community/blogs/index.cfm?entryid=2891...

    >
    > >> Cue the Larry D'Loserite excuse train in....one, two......

    >
    > > Of course, the product we are talking about (a mainframe emulator) is
    > > not really in IBMs best interests. Its not terribly surprising that
    > > they would do something to stop it. Thats what they have the patents
    > > for.

    >
    > Exactly. But let me get this stright: So long as a company that is waging a
    > patent war against open source competitors is defending its vital interests,
    > that's ok with you?


    No. Its not ok with me. As I said straight after it "its not a very
    nice thing they've done". I'm just saying I'm not surprised they've
    done it - thats what they have the patents for.

    > > While its not a nice thing that they've done I wouldn't consider them
    > > any more of a threat now that they've done it. They have no reason to
    > > start suing random projects - it would be very bad PR and they have
    > > nothing to gain by it.

    >
    > And yet that is exactly what IBM has done. Go figure!


    No. They haven't really. I doubt they just searched for an open source
    project that was infringing on their patents - if they were there are
    probably many more obvious choices. They've sued one group that was
    writing an emulator for one of their mainframe platforms. Its not like
    they are secretly plotting to destroy Gnome, GCC, the Linux Kernel or
    Qt next.
     
    David Goodwin, Apr 7, 2010
    #5
  6. In message
    <>, David
    Goodwin wrote:

    > On 7 Apr, 14:48, Lawrence D'Oliveiro <_zealand>
    > wrote:
    >
    >> In message
    >> <>,
    >> David Goodwin wrote:
    >>
    >>> Of course, the product we are talking about (a mainframe emulator) is
    >>> not really in IBMs best interests.

    >>
    >> Why wouldn’t it be? It makes it much easier to develop and test software
    >> for IBM’s mainframes without actually spending precious time on one. With
    >> more software, wouldn’t they sell more mainframes?

    >
    > because people could just use the emulator instead? I'm sure the
    > emulator is a whole lot cheaper to obtain than a real mainframe.


    But it’s not a mainframe. It doesn’t offer any of the characteristics that
    people buy mainframes for.
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Apr 7, 2010
    #6
  7. David Goodwin

    peterwn Guest

    On Apr 7, 3:47 pm, David Goodwin <> wrote:

    >
    > No. They haven't really. I doubt they just searched for an open source
    > project that was infringing on their patents - if they were there are
    > probably many more obvious choices. They've sued one group that was
    > writing an emulator for one of their mainframe platforms. Its not like
    > they are secretly plotting to destroy Gnome, GCC, the Linux Kernel or
    > Qt next.


    Microsoft dished out fairly similar treatment to one of its 'partners'
    a few years ago.

    Microsoft offered a 'lite' version of some software with an intended
    'deficiency'. The partner recognising a 'deficiency' produced a plug-
    in to overcome the deficiency and got stomped on by Microsoft.
     
    peterwn, Apr 7, 2010
    #7
  8. David Goodwin

    victor Guest

    On 07/04/10 17:22, Lawrence D'Oliveiro wrote:
    > In message
    > <>, David
    > Goodwin wrote:
    >
    >> On 7 Apr, 14:48, Lawrence D'Oliveiro<_zealand>
    >> wrote:
    >>
    >>> In message
    >>> <>,
    >>> David Goodwin wrote:
    >>>
    >>>> Of course, the product we are talking about (a mainframe emulator) is
    >>>> not really in IBMs best interests.
    >>>
    >>> Why wouldn’t it be? It makes it much easier to develop and test software
    >>> for IBM’s mainframes without actually spending precious time on one. With
    >>> more software, wouldn’t they sell more mainframes?

    >>
    >> because people could just use the emulator instead? I'm sure the
    >> emulator is a whole lot cheaper to obtain than a real mainframe.

    >
    > But it’s not a mainframe. It doesn’t offer any of the characteristics that
    > people buy mainframes for.
    >




    The Ars Technica article is informative
    http://arstechnica.com/open-source/...patent-promise-targets-mainframe-emulator.ars

    So is the Reg
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/26/ibm_turbohercules_response/
     
    victor, Apr 7, 2010
    #8
  9. David Goodwin

    peterwn Guest

    On Apr 8, 12:32 am, Collector_NZ <> wrote:
    > impossible wrote:
    >
    > > "David Goodwin" <> wrote in message
    > >news:....
    > >> On 7 Apr, 15:23, "impossible" <> wrote:
    > >>> "David Goodwin" <> wrote in message

    >
    > > Isn't the point of holding the largest software patent portfolio in the
    > > world to put the fear of god in all would-be competitors?

    >
    > Well my view is that most of its portfolio of patents describe abstract
    > ideas rather than actual developed and proven things.
    >
    > I support protection of real things not just abstract ideas that might
    > become real when the technology exists to make it possible.


    Patenting abstract ideas makes a mockery of the whole patent system.
    It was set up to patent *real* inventions such as the steam engine,
    not the collective brain farts of think tanks.
     
    peterwn, Apr 8, 2010
    #9
  10. In message
    <>, peterwn
    wrote:

    > Patenting abstract ideas makes a mockery of the whole patent system.
    > It was set up to patent *real* inventions such as the steam engine,
    > not the collective brain farts of think tanks.


    So who do you think deserved the patent on the steam engine? Newcomen, who
    was the first to exploit the power of steam on an industrial scale? The
    brewers who developed the high-pressure boilers that he copied? Darby, who
    was able to make cylinders for Newcomen that were cheaper than brass ones?
    Watt, who improved the efficiency by adding a cooling cylinder? Wilkinson,
    whose technique for accurately machining cannon barrels was adapted to
    improve the efficiency of the engine even more?

    Which of these was the crucial step that makes you say “he deserves the
    patent on the steam engine�
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Apr 8, 2010
    #10
  11. David Goodwin

    victor Guest

    On 7/04/2010 10:57 p.m., peterwn wrote:
    > On Apr 7, 3:47 pm, David Goodwin<> wrote:
    >
    >>
    >> No. They haven't really. I doubt they just searched for an open source
    >> project that was infringing on their patents - if they were there are
    >> probably many more obvious choices. They've sued one group that was
    >> writing an emulator for one of their mainframe platforms. Its not like
    >> they are secretly plotting to destroy Gnome, GCC, the Linux Kernel or
    >> Qt next.

    >
    > Microsoft dished out fairly similar treatment to one of its 'partners'
    > a few years ago.
    >
    > Microsoft offered a 'lite' version of some software with an intended
    > 'deficiency'. The partner recognising a 'deficiency' produced a plug-
    > in to overcome the deficiency and got stomped on by Microsoft.



    Here's why the Microsoft rep is reposting this story.

    http://boycottnovell.com/2010/03/23/turbohercules-and-microsoft/

    TurboHercules is the latest in a line of Microsoft stalking horses.
     
    victor, Apr 9, 2010
    #11
  12. David Goodwin

    peterwn Guest

    On Apr 8, 11:09 pm, Lawrence D'Oliveiro <l...@geek-
    central.gen.new_zealand> wrote:
    > In message
    > <>, peterwn
    > wrote:
    >
    > > Patenting abstract ideas makes a mockery of the whole patent system.
    > > It was set up to patent *real* inventions such as the steam engine,
    > > not the collective brain farts of think tanks.

    >
    > So who do you think deserved the patent on the steam engine? Newcomen, who
    > was the first to exploit the power of steam on an industrial scale? The
    > brewers who developed the high-pressure boilers that he copied? Darby, who
    > was able to make cylinders for Newcomen that were cheaper than brass ones?
    > Watt, who improved the efficiency by adding a cooling cylinder? Wilkinson,
    > whose technique for accurately machining cannon barrels was adapted to
    > improve the efficiency of the engine even more?
    >
    > Which of these was the crucial step that makes you say “he deserves the
    > patent on the steam engine”?


    From my reading some years back Watt had many technological hurdles to
    overcome to develop a usable steam engine for the intended purposes.
    He also negotiated a patent for a longer period than was normal. In
    those times patents were issued as 'letters patent' approved by the
    King / Queen on the advice of officials. Letters Patent have a wider
    scope than patenting inventions, for example the New Zealand cities
    that have Anglican Cathedrals were declared 'cathedras' (Bishops'
    seats) and cities by letters patent signed by Queen Victoria.

    If James Watt had failed to produce a suitable working steam engine
    then AFAIK he would have lost (or not had approved) the patent and
    someone else given the chance.

    The point I was making is that an invention should only be patented if
    a significant amount of effort was required to bring the invention to
    fruition - ie it had to be significantly more effort than merely a
    brain fart.
     
    peterwn, Apr 9, 2010
    #12
  13. In message
    <>, peterwn
    wrote:

    > On Apr 8, 11:09 pm, Lawrence D'Oliveiro <_zealand>
    > wrote:
    >
    >> In message
    >> <>,
    >> peterwn wrote:
    >>
    >>> Patenting abstract ideas makes a mockery of the whole patent system.
    >>> It was set up to patent *real* inventions such as the steam engine,
    >>> not the collective brain farts of think tanks.

    >>
    >> So who do you think deserved the patent on the steam engine? Newcomen,
    >> who was the first to exploit the power of steam on an industrial scale?
    >> The brewers who developed the high-pressure boilers that he copied?
    >> Darby, who was able to make cylinders for Newcomen that were cheaper than
    >> brass ones? Watt, who improved the efficiency by adding a cooling
    >> cylinder? Wilkinson, whose technique for accurately machining cannon
    >> barrels was adapted to improve the efficiency of the engine even more?
    >>
    >> Which of these was the crucial step that makes you say “he deserves the
    >> patent on the steam engine�

    >
    > From my reading some years back Watt had many technological hurdles to
    > overcome to develop a usable steam engine for the intended purposes.


    So did everybody else in that chain of invention.

    > If James Watt had failed to produce a suitable working steam engine
    > then AFAIK he would have lost (or not had approved) the patent and
    > someone else given the chance.


    But there were already working steam engines before him.

    > The point I was making is that an invention should only be patented if
    > a significant amount of effort was required to bring the invention to
    > fruition ...


    And Newcomen’s accidental discovery, when one of his water jackets leaked,
    that spraying water into the cylinder made for better cooling than simply
    running it around the outside? Was that a “significant amount of effortâ€
    worth patenting, or not?
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Apr 9, 2010
    #13
  14. David Goodwin

    victor Guest

    On 09/04/10 19:45, Lawrence D'Oliveiro wrote:
    > In message
    > <>, peterwn
    > wrote:
    >
    >> On Apr 8, 11:09 pm, Lawrence D'Oliveiro<_zealand>
    >> wrote:
    >>
    >>> In message
    >>> <>,
    >>> peterwn wrote:
    >>>
    >>>> Patenting abstract ideas makes a mockery of the whole patent system.
    >>>> It was set up to patent *real* inventions such as the steam engine,
    >>>> not the collective brain farts of think tanks.
    >>>
    >>> So who do you think deserved the patent on the steam engine? Newcomen,
    >>> who was the first to exploit the power of steam on an industrial scale?
    >>> The brewers who developed the high-pressure boilers that he copied?
    >>> Darby, who was able to make cylinders for Newcomen that were cheaper than
    >>> brass ones? Watt, who improved the efficiency by adding a cooling
    >>> cylinder? Wilkinson, whose technique for accurately machining cannon
    >>> barrels was adapted to improve the efficiency of the engine even more?
    >>>
    >>> Which of these was the crucial step that makes you say “he deserves the
    >>> patent on the steam engine�

    >>
    >> From my reading some years back Watt had many technological hurdles to
    >> overcome to develop a usable steam engine for the intended purposes.

    >
    > So did everybody else in that chain of invention.
    >
    >> If James Watt had failed to produce a suitable working steam engine
    >> then AFAIK he would have lost (or not had approved) the patent and
    >> someone else given the chance.

    >
    > But there were already working steam engines before him.
    >
    >> The point I was making is that an invention should only be patented if
    >> a significant amount of effort was required to bring the invention to
    >> fruition ...

    >
    > And Newcomen’s accidental discovery, when one of his water jackets leaked,
    > that spraying water into the cylinder made for better cooling than simply
    > running it around the outside? Was that a “significant amount of effortâ€
    > worth patenting, or not?


    He was forced into a partnership with some other bloke who already held
    the patent wasn't he ?

    Patent laws have changed quite a lot since then.
     
    victor, Apr 9, 2010
    #14
  15. In message <hphp9k$do2$-september.org>, victor wrote:

    > The Ars Technica article is informative
    > http://arstechnica.com/open-source/...patent-promise-targets-mainframe-emulator.ars
    >
    > So is the Reg
    > http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/26/ibm_turbohercules_response/


    Groklaw, as usual, takes a pro-IBM position
    <http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20100408153953613>.

    They were fine to do this when SCO was generally regarded as the bad guy.
    The trouble is, IBM is now going after someone trying to make money off
    open-source software. Whether they are legally in the right to do this or
    not, whether their original promise not to sue was sufficiently full of
    weasel words that technically they are not reneging on any promise at all,
    the PR fallout from this lawsuit is not going to be good for them.
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Apr 10, 2010
    #15
  16. David Goodwin

    victor Guest

    On 10/04/10 14:04, Lawrence D'Oliveiro wrote:
    > In message<hphp9k$do2$-september.org>, victor wrote:
    >
    >> The Ars Technica article is informative
    >> http://arstechnica.com/open-source/...patent-promise-targets-mainframe-emulator.ars
    >>
    >> So is the Reg
    >> http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/26/ibm_turbohercules_response/

    >
    > Groklaw, as usual, takes a pro-IBM position
    > <http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20100408153953613>.
    >
    > They were fine to do this when SCO was generally regarded as the bad guy.
    > The trouble is, IBM is now going after someone trying to make money off
    > open-source software. Whether they are legally in the right to do this or
    > not, whether their original promise not to sue was sufficiently full of
    > weasel words that technically they are not reneging on any promise at all,
    > the PR fallout from this lawsuit is not going to be good for them.


    What lawsuit ?

    The anti-trust investigation is what will hurt them
     
    victor, Apr 10, 2010
    #16
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