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Posts tagged as “Patents”

Open Invention Network Helps Rid FOSS of Patent Lawsuits

Software patent issues aren’t in the news as much now as they were only a few years back, partly due to the Supreme Court’s 2014 Alice v. CLS decision. Another reason is the patent pool the Open Invention Network has amassed to discourage patent trolls.

The FOSS Force Video Interview

The Open Invention Network — OIN, as its friends call it — “is a defensive patent pool and community of patent non-aggression which enables freedom of action in Linux.” That’s what it says (among other things) on the front page of the organization’s website. Basically, if you join OIN (which costs $0) you agree not to sue other members over Linux and Android-related patents, and in return they promise not to sue you. Google, IBM, and NEC are the top three members shown on OIN’s “community” page, which lists over 2,000 members/licensees ranging from Ford to one-person Android app developers.

Robin "Roblimo" MillerRobin "Roblimo" Miller

Robin “Roblimo” Miller is a freelance writer and former editor-in-chief at Open Source Technology Group, the company that owned SourceForge, freshmeat, Linux.com, NewsForge, ThinkGeek and Slashdot, and until recently served as a video editor at Slashdot. Now he’s mostly retired, but still works part-time as an editorial consultant for Grid Dynamics, and (obviously) writes for FOSS Force.

India Nixes Software Patents, Linux Foundation Embraces Diversity & More…

FOSS Week in Review

India again shows sanity by doing away with “software only” patents, and the Linux Foundation continues to move towards diversity.

The old and the new both made big news on the FOSS front this week. Representing the old was what appears to be the ending of the SCO vs IBM case after something like 13 years, which means that Caldera/SCO now gets to go to its final resting place. For the new was the release of the Raspberry Pi 3, which comes wielding a 64-bit ARM processor with built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

But that wasn’t the only news of interest to the FOSS world this week…

Barely a month after putting an end to a Facebook supported scheme, “Free Basics,” in favor of supporting Net Neutrality, India has declared software to be not patentable. According to the Software Freedom Law Centre in India, the patent office will now use a three part test to determine patentability:

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Google & Microsoft Shake Hands in Patent Dispute

handshakehandshake
Photo by Tobias Wolter
Microsoft is full of surprises these days.

“Microsoft and Google are pleased to announce an agreement on patent issues,” Redmond has said in a joint statement with Google. “As part of the agreement, the companies will dismiss all pending patent infringement litigation between them, including cases related to Motorola Mobility.”

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Microsoft’s Linux OS & Open Source Cred

Microsoft has gone and built a Linux distro. Well, maybe it’s not a distro but some sort of Azure switch to use in the cloud. But anyway, Microsoft want’s you — meaning you open sourcers who never do anything but throw brickbats at the fine folks in Redmond — to know that it’s built on Linux. So there. Microsoft does love Linux, as if there was ever any doubt.

Microsoft logoMicrosoft logoGreat. Just great.

I’m sure they would’ve preferred to build their switch-masquerading-as-an-operating-system on Windows, but they couldn’t figure out how to pull all of the crap they didn’t need out of the Windows bloat. Of course, they could’ve used BSD and made the whole kit and caboodle proprietary, which would be more their speed, but that wouldn’t have given them any open source cred, which they’re so desperately trying to garner. Since there’s no need to make it proprietary as it’s going to be sitting on Azure where it can be used without ever having to show the source code, why not use Linux to prove their newfound love for open source?

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Deb Nicholson Talks (What Else?) Software Patents

The FOSS Force Interview

Back in June I had the opportunity to meet Deb Nicholson, a person who is well known to people who frequent open source and Linux conferences.

I was dog tired, having had only about four hours sleep. I’d gotten up at about five in the morning, much earlier than I think is civilized, in order to make it to Charlotte in time for the opening ceremonies at the SouthEast LinuxFest (SELF). I’d allowed for traffic jams in the morning rush hour traffic that didn’t happen and so arrived early enough to have time to try to catch a nap on an inviting and empty couch I found in the vendor hallway that turned out to be part of the booth space for Internet Systems Consortium.

Deb NicholsonDeb Nicholson
Deb Nicholson
Luckily for me, Chuck Aurora, who had driven up from Mississippi with his family to maintain the booth and try to grab a few contacts, was generous when he arrived with his teenage daughter in tow, and wasn’t perturbed that I’d mistaken his booth for a public rest area. I didn’t need to get up and find someplace else to sleep, he said, exhibiting the southern hospitality I’d been told to expect at SELF. I was free to go ahead and nap if I could.

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Patent Trolls Working Overtime

Unified Patents LogoUnified Patents LogoThe trolls are still at it. In spite of the fact that the Supreme Court was busy ruling against them last year — between January and June it ruled against patent holders six times — the number of cases being brought by non-practicing entities (NPE), which is one measure of a troll, continues to rise. According to a report published in June by patent defense organization UnifiedPatents, there will be about eight thousand tech related patent disputes this year, with over six thousand of these expected to go to trial.

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Newegg Goes Over Patent Judge’s Head

There’s been an interesting development on the patent front, which has been deceptively quiet for some time. Surprisingly, the latest news involves a case that went to trial nearly two years ago. It’s not a surprise, however, that the case was tried in the Eastern District of Texas, infamous for awarding verdicts in favor of patent holders. Also not surprising, the plaintiff is a non-practicing entity (NPE), a fancy term for “troll.”

East Texas Federal CourtEast Texas Federal Court
U.S. courthouse in Marshall, Texas
Back in November, 2013, a jury in Marshall, Texas found that online retailer Newegg infringed on a patent held by TQP Development because it mixed the use of SSL and RC4 on its websites. The jury awarded $2.3 million, less than half of the $5.1 million that TQP’s damage expert had said would be fair. At the time, TQP had sued more than 120 companies over the same patent, collecting $45 million in settlements.

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

2014’s Five Biggest Stories Affecting FOSS

Another year has come and gone, and as you might have guessed, 2014 still wasn’t the year of the Linux desktop.

Covering FOSS and Linux isn’t nearly as exciting as it was a decade or so ago — but that’s a good thing. Back then, we were at war with nearly every proprietary software vendor on the planet and faced threats from all directions, including up and down. To be sure, we didn’t start the wars we were fighting, as PROFAL (the People’s Republic of FOSS and Linux) only wished for peaceful coexistence.

The dust settled long ago and it appears as if we won most of these wars we didn’t start. Even our old arch enemy Microsoft is now waving the flag of peace and is seeking to normalize relations with us. And our old arch-arch enemy, SCO, doesn’t even exist any more — at least not in any form that we would recognize as the SCO of old. May Caldera rest in peace.

That doesn’t mean there’s not still news to be covered in the FOSS world. There is — and plenty of it. But these days, it’s mostly about advancements in technology, new start-ups and new alliances. We still face threats, to be sure, from crackers, spooks, politicians, the RIAA and the MPAA, but these forces threaten all of computerdom, not just FOSS, so we’ve been able to nurture some new strange bedfellows to join us in our struggles.

As years go, 2014 wasn’t the most boring year in the history of the free software movement, but it also wasn’t overly exciting. Again, that’s a good thing as it means there was no battening down the hatches and stuff. Still, there were many trends in the news this year which directly affect the purveyors and users of FOSS.

Here’s my top five list:

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

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