Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 17th Jul 2011 20:58 UTC, submitted by fran
Linux It's strange. Microsoft has been patent trolling the heck out of the Linux kernel for a long time now, and is still using these patents against Android today in its protection money scheme. However, as LWN.net illustrates, Microsoft makes quite a few contributions to the Linux kernel. Shouldn't this invalidate their patent claims?
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Patents
by malxau on Sun 17th Jul 2011 21:24 UTC
malxau
Member since:
2005-12-04

Shouldn't this invalidate their patent claims?


The Linux kernel is licensed under GPLv2.

GPLv2 does contain a clause to ensure redistributors do not obtain a patent license that cannot be reapplied to every user receiving a copy.

It does not contain the GPLv3 patent license requirements (section 11) that are applied to contributors. Those provisions are attempting to give effect to what you describe, where a contributor must implicitly be granting a patent license to any applicable patents they hold that would cover their contribution.

Notwithstanding that, if a GPLv3-style patent license did exist covering the Linux kernel as a result of contributions, it does not mean that any patent claims over a larger work (eg. Android) would entirely be invalidated; only those relating to the kernel contributions. Many of the patents being argued about are much higher level than that.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Patents
by Delgarde on Sun 17th Jul 2011 21:49 UTC in reply to "Patents"
Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

I don't think Thom was implying that their patent claims would be running afoul of GPL patent provisions.

Rather, it's that they can't seriously complain about patent infringement by the Linux project when they themselves are a major contributor to that project. Their contributions may not be related to the areas in question, but it's still bad for the credibility of any patent claims they might make...

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Patents
by Laurence on Mon 18th Jul 2011 10:42 UTC in reply to "RE: Patents"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

I don't think Thom was implying that their patent claims would be running afoul of GPL patent provisions.

Rather, it's that they can't seriously complain about patent infringement by the Linux project when they themselves are a major contributor to that project. Their contributions may not be related to the areas in question, but it's still bad for the credibility of any patent claims they might make...

If credibility of patent was an issue, then the US patent system wouldn't be in half the mess it is now.

* You wouldn't have Apple suing over evolutionary patents which have stacks of prior art.
* You wouldn't have HTC buying other companies for their patent portfolio.
* ...and You wouldn't have patent trolls trying to cash in on others successes.

The problem with the patent system -and to a lesser extend, laws in general- is it's not about credibility and hasn't been for some time. It's about clever posturing of legal and technical jargon to manipulate a legal broken system into favoring yourself over your opponents.

Edited 2011-07-18 10:42 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Patents
by vitae on Mon 18th Jul 2011 20:30 UTC in reply to "RE: Patents"
vitae Member since:
2006-02-20

It's a further tacit acceptance of the existence of Linux which is a farcry from the days of this kind of melodrama:

http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/Have_You_Longed_To_See_Bill_...

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Patents
by CaptainN- on Tue 19th Jul 2011 15:23 UTC in reply to "RE: Patents"
CaptainN- Member since:
2005-07-07

Thom also implied that logic should have something to do with the law - and of course it doesn't. Lawyers and the legal system (at least in the US) are all about argument. Argument is all about who can best appeal to the confirmation bias of the Jury and Judge.

Logic has got absolutely nothing at all to do with it.

Reply Score: 2

say what
by fran on Sun 17th Jul 2011 21:48 UTC
fran
Member since:
2010-08-06

i'm all confused now.
almost like seeing Lex Luther helping an old lady cross the street.
This is really messing up my stereotypes.

Reply Score: 9

RE: say what
by anevilyak on Sun 17th Jul 2011 21:53 UTC in reply to "say what"
anevilyak Member since:
2005-09-14

That's quite possibly the most awesome analogy I've read all week.

Reply Score: 4

RE: say what
by Delgarde on Sun 17th Jul 2011 21:54 UTC in reply to "say what"
Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

If it makes you feel better, imagine the old lady is a hostage. Because Microsoft *isn't* doing this to be nice and community-minded - they're doing it to ensure compatibility with their HyperV products. They obviously believe that even if people are going to run Linux servers, MS can still make money if those servers are VMs on top of a MS virtualisation infrastructure.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: say what
by lucas_maximus on Sun 17th Jul 2011 22:44 UTC in reply to "RE: say what"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

Because Microsoft *isn't* doing this to be nice and community-minded - they're doing it to ensure compatibility with their HyperV products. They obviously believe that even if people are going to run Linux servers, MS can still make money if those servers are VMs on top of a MS virtualisation infrastructure.


How is this any different than Redhat and Oracle contributing patches? Their motivations are selfish as well.

Edited 2011-07-17 22:45 UTC

Reply Score: 6

RE[3]: say what
by _txf_ on Sun 17th Jul 2011 23:01 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: say what"
_txf_ Member since:
2008-03-17

How is this any different than Redhat and Oracle contributing patches? Their motivations are selfish as well.


For starters RedHat and Oracle patches tend to contribute to Linux itself and not act as a virtualization shim. Yeah, the motivations are similar but the end result is vastly different.

And it should be noted that RedHat also funds a lot of development of software that has no direct bearing on it's business and as a result enriches the linux ecosystem.

Edited 2011-07-17 23:10 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE[4]: say what
by lucas_maximus on Mon 18th Jul 2011 00:12 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: say what"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

" How is this any different than Redhat and Oracle contributing patches? Their motivations are selfish as well.


For starters RedHat and Oracle patches tend to contribute to Linux itself and not act as a virtualization shim. Yeah, the motivations are similar but the end result is vastly different.
"

So you don't think it is a good thing in general that any Linux distros can benefit from having HyperV support?

Apparently anything that microsoft does it bad ...

Seriously ???

And it should be noted that RedHat also funds a lot of development of software that has no direct bearing on it's business and as a result enriches the linux ecosystem.


Like what?

Redhat sell both Desktop and Server versions so enriching the Linux ecosystem actually helps them to.

Anything that they help to develop goes directly towards Red Hat Enterprise Linux, even Fedora.

Oh and lets not forget redhat were obfuscating their patches not long ago, and probably still are ...

http://lwn.net/Articles/430098/

Red Hat is making things harder by shipping its RHEL 6 kernel source as one big tarball, without breaking out the patches. Your editor has downloaded the 2.6.32-71.14.1.el6 source package and verified that this is the case.

...

Distribution in this form should satisfy the GPL, but it makes life hard for anybody else wanting to see what has been done with this kernel. Hopefully it is simply a mistake which will be corrected soon.


From the same article in comments

It's not a mistake; I have confirmation from RH developers that it is a deliberate policy.


HMM ... Redhat are helping the linux ecosystem by making it difficult to decipher kernel patches ... I see ...

Edited 2011-07-18 00:21 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: say what
by Rahul on Mon 18th Jul 2011 01:45 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: say what"
Rahul Member since:
2005-07-06

Yes, because you overlook the fact that typically all Red Hat patches get send upstream by the developers and merged with the Linux kernel. What Red Hat does to its product only affects vendors like Oracle trying to rip off Red Hat. It doesn't affect the community.

Reply Score: 5

v RE[6]: say what
by lucas_maximus on Mon 18th Jul 2011 07:59 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: say what"
RE[7]: say what
by Rahul on Mon 18th Jul 2011 08:03 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: say what"
Rahul Member since:
2005-07-06

Anti GPL FUD really considering Red Hat is edging towards a billion dollars a year on revenue with software primarily around GPL. GPL is by far the most popular free and open source software.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: say what
by UltraZelda64 on Mon 18th Jul 2011 04:17 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: say what"
UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

Apparently anything that microsoft does it bad ...

I would have to say that yes, everything they do to help MICROSOFT and MICROSOFT'S PRODUCTS only, at the epxense of their competition is bad. Is there a Hyper-V for Linux yet? I bet not--but they sure do want to run on the bare metal of servers, and put everything else under them where they cannot control. They already are known as an abusive monopoly, are they not? They're less of a monopoly, but I wouldn't give the bastards a chance. They've proved time and time again that everything they do, no matter how nice it seems, always ends in backstabbing and bloodshed... to their competitors. And often unfairly, and even flat-out illegally... in their own f***ing home country.

Reply Score: 7

RE[5]: say what
by _txf_ on Mon 18th Jul 2011 09:52 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: say what"
_txf_ Member since:
2008-03-17

So you don't think it is a good thing in general that any Linux distros can benefit from having HyperV support?

Apparently anything that microsoft does it bad ...

Seriously ???


Never said it was bad, just irrelevant for most people that care about linux itself (as opposed to what it can do for their business etc.)

Linux users will not be virtualising on top of windows. Only windows users that need something from linux will be using hyper-V.

I would however commend Microsoft if they improved something like say...the kinect driver.

Reply Score: 4

RE[6]: say what
by cmchittom on Mon 18th Jul 2011 16:17 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: say what"
cmchittom Member since:
2011-03-18

Linux users will not be virtualising on top of windows. Only windows users that need something from linux will be using hyper-V.


I understand what you're trying to say, but I think it's a false dichotomy. Just because somebody is running Linux in a virtual machine doesn't mean they're not a "Linux user."

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: say what
by Lennie on Mon 18th Jul 2011 00:21 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: say what"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

Selfish ?:
1. Just as selfish as any contributor to any open source project. RedHat and Oracle don't want to keep their own patches in a separate kernel that takes a lot of work to keep porting it.

2. Microsoft has contributed a bunch of drivers. That is what this is. They are just as selfish as any hardware vendor in trying to get their drivers accepted.

3. Major contribution ? Not really, yes there are a lot of changes. But that doesn't mean it is a lot of code (it isn't very little code either).

They changed pretty much every single line of the patches as Microsoft submitted them at first.

Because the style of the code in Windows as very different from the style in the Linux-kernel.

A lot of changes needed to be made and they all are separate commits and thus counted as changed.

Just read this blog-post on the first attempt by Microsoft to get their code accepted:

http://www.unixwiz.net/techtips/review-hv-patches.html

Reply Score: 5

RE[4]: say what
by lucas_maximus on Mon 18th Jul 2011 00:51 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: say what"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

Selfish ?:
1. Just as selfish as any contributor to any open source project. RedHat and Oracle don't want to keep their own patches in a separate kernel that takes a lot of work to keep porting it.

2. Microsoft has contributed a bunch of drivers. That is what this is. They are just as selfish as any hardware vendor in trying to get their drivers accepted.


What is your problem with the comments exactly ... You just supported what I had just said ???


3. Major contribution ? Not really, yes there are a lot of changes. But that doesn't mean it is a lot of code (it isn't very little code either).


I didn't comment on that at all ???

They changed pretty much every single line of the patches as Microsoft submitted them at first.

Because the style of the code in Windows as very different from the style in the Linux-kernel.

A lot of changes needed to be made and they all are separate commits and thus counted as changed.

Just read this blog-post on the first attempt by Microsoft to get their code accepted:

http://www.unixwiz.net/techtips/review-hv-patches.html


There was one dev tasked with porting it ... probably had a learning curve to progress through. This is how things work, you build something get feedback and change accordingly ...

Development is an evolution process. You don't get stuff any where near right the first time.

Edited 2011-07-18 00:55 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: say what
by Lennie on Mon 18th Jul 2011 07:39 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: say what"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

You just supported what I had just said ???


Well, maybe my comment kinda sucked, but I wanted to let you folks see that the Microsoft code is drivers. Not features. With Redhad and Oracle atleast they contributed features.

Development is an evolution process. You don't get stuff any where near right the first time.


99% of this was style, this isn't about learning how to do it right. Othen than Microsoft just dumping their code out there and hoping it gets integrated.

Then when the Linux developers said no they had to give an other Micorosoft developer the task to change it all.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: say what
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Mon 18th Jul 2011 02:55 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: say what"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

The microsoft patches only help lnux users that use Hyper VM a microsoft product.

The Redhat patches help anyone using Linux for a variety of purposes.

I think its good that Microsoft is working to make it easier to use linux when working with their software, but its not as good as just general purpose Linux work.

But, this is probably all the help one could expect Microsoft to give. And, how suspicious would developers be of Microsoft's code if they moved to more mainline kernel development? Would they be doing it for the good of the kernel, or to sabotage development by introducing code that looks good but leads to a dead end path?

Reply Score: 6

RE[4]: say what
by JPisini on Mon 18th Jul 2011 13:39 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: say what"
JPisini Member since:
2006-01-24

The microsoft patches only help lnux users that use Hyper VM a microsoft product.

In a mixed environment this is not a bad thing. Would it be better if they helped out more and contributed to things that don't specifically benefit their customers yes it would, it is not going to happen and at least they are trying to fix bugs that affect users of their products.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: say what
by MollyC on Mon 18th Jul 2011 19:23 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: say what"
MollyC Member since:
2006-07-04

Linux is RedHat's main product. Of course they'd contribute more code that affects more functionality than Microsoft would. Good grief.

Reply Score: 2

RE: say what
by ronaldst on Sun 17th Jul 2011 21:59 UTC in reply to "say what"
ronaldst Member since:
2005-06-29

i'm all confused now.
almost like seeing Lex Luther helping an old lady cross the street.
This is really messing up my stereotypes.

Or a better analogy in this case: normal people contributing to the church of Scientology.

I prefer interoperability so it's all good. ;)

Reply Score: 4

RE: say what
by somebody on Mon 18th Jul 2011 12:18 UTC in reply to "say what"
somebody Member since:
2005-07-07

i'm all confused now.
almost like seeing Lex Luther helping an old lady cross the street.
This is really messing up my stereotypes.


well, if that old lady would be vital for his plan... why not? same with microsoft and kernel contributions. those are meant to help them either selling their clients in virtual environments or their servers as hypervisors for linux.

what would be strange with that? i'd be surprised if contributions would be in form of some hardware driver. but it would be same kinda strange as if intel would publish optimization fixes for amd drivers

Reply Score: 3

I bet it's all about HyperV
by JAlexoid on Sun 17th Jul 2011 21:56 UTC
JAlexoid
Member since:
2009-05-19

I bet it's all about HyperV, so it's not surprising.

The whole mantra of Microsoft is that if it helps to sell Windows licenses, then they are happy to help out. I mean, they were helping Firefox and I know for a fact that they helped bringing PostgreSQL Windows port into existence.

Reply Score: 6

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Well, that's their mantra post Anti trust Case. If their profits start to sink, they may rethink their philosophy.

Reply Score: 2

The Changes That M$ made
by drcoldfoot on Sun 17th Jul 2011 22:22 UTC
drcoldfoot
Member since:
2006-08-25

Wouldn't those changes be made so that Linux would run competitively under MS Hyper-V? If this is the case, it would make sense to me since VMWare and Citrix are their main Competition in this area.

*** Update ***

Comments regarding Hyper-V were already mentioned.

Edited 2011-07-17 22:24 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Well...
by galvanash on Sun 17th Jul 2011 22:30 UTC
galvanash
Member since:
2006-01-25

I have to say even though I am against software patents I don't agree with your logic here.

Let's use an analogy. A 3rd part group is set up that allows contribution of code by software companies into a sort of code commons - code that all contributors (or anyone else) can use freely. I'm Microsoft - I contribute some code. Someone else contributes code which I claim patent on, and another party (my competitor) uses that code.

I didn't provide the code which my patent covers - someone else did. Just because I also provided code to the 3rd party group, that doesn't invalidate my claims - whoever contributed that code did not have the right to do so (based on my patent)

This is hardly an analogy, it's basically what happened here. If I were to claim patent rights to the code I DID contribute, that would be different (both legally and morally). But as a contributor I don't give up any rights except what the license stipulates.

The best way to make this kind of thing go away is to eliminate software patents entirely, not trying to point out "bad" behavior. Bad!=Illegal, and patent law has no basis in morality. As long as software patents are legal, corporations will use them as leverage - they really don't have much choice in the matter. It's unfortunately a system set up so that it is very very difficult not to play without getting burned badly.

Edited 2011-07-17 22:32 UTC

Reply Score: 7

Comment by Drumhellar
by Drumhellar on Sun 17th Jul 2011 23:36 UTC
Drumhellar
Member since:
2005-07-12

Well, Microsoft is attacking handset makers for their use of Linux on smartphones. They are not attacking Linux developers over the contents of the kernel.

Also, their contributions are related to Hyper-V, and are completely unrelated to mobile phones.

However, if their Hyper-V related changes were adapted to make the Linux kernel run better on competing virtualization platforms, and they sued companies that distributed Linux for use on competing platforms, then, yes, their contributions should invalidate their patent claims.

Not that any claims on software patents should be valid in the first place.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by Drumhellar
by Slambert666 on Mon 18th Jul 2011 04:36 UTC in reply to "Comment by Drumhellar"
Slambert666 Member since:
2008-10-30

However, if their Hyper-V related changes were adapted to make the Linux kernel run better on competing virtualization platforms, and they sued companies that distributed Linux for use on competing platforms, then, yes, their contributions should invalidate their patent claims.


Maybe morally, but not legally.
There are no patent indemnification requirements in GPL v.1 and v.2.

Reply Score: 1

Hooks
by PatrickQuinn on Mon 18th Jul 2011 08:37 UTC
PatrickQuinn
Member since:
2010-06-08

This makes me think that its simply a case of Microsoft getting their hooks into Linux.. i don't like this, i think its time to make a BSD licensed fork of Linux...

Reply Score: 1

RE: Hooks
by cmchittom on Mon 18th Jul 2011 10:53 UTC in reply to "Hooks"
cmchittom Member since:
2011-03-18

Forgive me if that was a joke, but if it wasn't, you apparently don't understand licensing at all. The GPL has more restrictions[1] than the BSD/MIT/X license, restrictions which, presumably, those who contributed code to Linux want on their code. In order to fork Linux under a new license, you'd have to get permission from every single copyright holder who's contributed even a one-line patch.[2] Good luck with that.

[1] Not trying to start a "BSD vs. GPL: Which Is More Free?" argument. By "restrictions," I just mean that the GPL requires you to do more stuff if you redistribute the code, which is demonstrably factual.

[2] The reverse, of course, is not true. As I understand it, you could, for example, quite legally fork FreeBSD under the GPL (since the BSD license essentially says "You can do whatever you want with this except claim you wrote it"). Practically speaking, such an effort would probably fail, but there'd be no legal difficulty.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Hooks
by lemur2 on Tue 19th Jul 2011 02:14 UTC in reply to "Hooks"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

This makes me think that its simply a case of Microsoft getting their hooks into Linux.. i don't like this, i think its time to make a BSD licensed fork of Linux...


The authors of the code in Linux have not given anyone permission to do that.

The permission of the aithors of the code is required, under copyright law, for anyone to take the code, modify it and re-distribute it (under any license). The authors of Linux have only granted permission if their code is re-distributed as GPL.

Reply Score: 2

Logic
by unoengborg on Mon 18th Jul 2011 08:53 UTC
unoengborg
Member since:
2005-07-06

If patent law had anything to do with logic, we would not have software patent in the first place.

- Software is already protected by copyright, patents are not needed.

- Software is algorithms and as such part of mathematics, and mathematics is discovered rather than invented and should thus not be patentable.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Logic
by Almafeta on Mon 18th Jul 2011 10:01 UTC in reply to "Logic"
Almafeta Member since:
2007-02-22

Software is algorithms and as such part of mathematics, and mathematics is discovered rather than invented and should thus not be patentable.


I always wonder who is promoting the idea that mathematics is discovered, not created. I'd love to ask that person to show me these places where abstract equations and functions that just happen to model things we are interested in modeling are lying about in the wild, just waiting on some intrepid mathematician to discover them.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Logic
by siride on Mon 18th Jul 2011 15:50 UTC in reply to "RE: Logic"
siride Member since:
2006-01-02

You make this statement so matter-of-factly, as if it is obviously true that math is invented, when in fact many (perhaps most) think the opposite. It's certainly not easy to argue one case or the other and AFAIK, the problem is unresolved.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Logic
by lemur2 on Tue 19th Jul 2011 02:17 UTC in reply to "RE: Logic"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"Software is algorithms and as such part of mathematics, and mathematics is discovered rather than invented and should thus not be patentable.
I always wonder who is promoting the idea that mathematics is discovered, not created. I'd love to ask that person to show me these places where abstract equations and functions that just happen to model things we are interested in modeling are lying about in the wild, just waiting on some intrepid mathematician to discover them. "

They are probably to be found in a similar-in-some-ways place to that place where authors of books and stories discover sentences and paragraphs.

Did you realise that authors of books and stories cannot patent sentences and paragraphs?

Edited 2011-07-19 02:18 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Logic
by Almafeta on Thu 21st Jul 2011 00:30 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Logic"
Almafeta Member since:
2007-02-22

Did you realise that authors of books and stories cannot patent sentences and paragraphs?


No, but neither do they need to, considering they have an automatic copyright. You know, ownership of your own creations being an innate human right and all.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Logic
by lemur2 on Thu 21st Jul 2011 09:06 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Logic"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"Did you realise that authors of books and stories cannot patent sentences and paragraphs?


No, but neither do they need to, considering they have an automatic copyright. You know, ownership of your own creations being an innate human right and all.
"

Did you realise that original authors of works of software also have an automatic copyright?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Logic
by MollyC on Mon 18th Jul 2011 19:49 UTC in reply to "Logic"
MollyC Member since:
2006-07-04

Most software is more process than "math". Where'd you get the ideat that "algorithms = math"? I have an algorithm for tying my shoes; that doesn't mean that that algorithm is "math".

As for invented vs discovered, who cares? Hell, I could argue that ALL inventions already exist in the abstract, just waiting to be "discovered", whether those inventions are made out of bits or made out of atoms. Which would mean that no inventions could be patented, period, according to your theory (which you state with mere assertion, with no elaboration or explanation).

You guys are caught up too much in the "bits" thing, where things made of bits must be treated differently than things made of atoms.

-------------------------
P.S.
I maintain that if the universe had no intelligent beings, then math would not exist, for it takes such beings existing for the abstract realm to even exist. Things like Math, Music (not particular songs, but the very concept of Music), etc aren't just sitting out there waiting to be discovered; it takes intelligent beings to ponder on those concepts. I add this as a P.S. because it's not pertinent to my main points, above.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Logic
by vitae on Mon 18th Jul 2011 20:14 UTC in reply to "RE: Logic"
vitae Member since:
2006-02-20

You have an algorithm for tying your shoes?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Logic
by lemur2 on Tue 19th Jul 2011 02:01 UTC in reply to "RE: Logic"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Most software is more process than "math". Where'd you get the ideat that "algorithms = math"? I have an algorithm for tying my shoes; that doesn't mean that that algorithm is "math". As for invented vs discovered, who cares? Hell, I could argue that ALL inventions already exist in the abstract, just waiting to be "discovered", whether those inventions are made out of bits or made out of atoms. Which would mean that no inventions could be patented, period, according to your theory (which you state with mere assertion, with no elaboration or explanation). You guys are caught up too much in the "bits" thing, where things made of bits must be treated differently than things made of atoms. ------------------------- P.S. I maintain that if the universe had no intelligent beings, then math would not exist, for it takes such beings existing for the abstract realm to even exist. Things like Math, Music (not particular songs, but the very concept of Music), etc aren't just sitting out there waiting to be discovered; it takes intelligent beings to ponder on those concepts. I add this as a P.S. because it's not pertinent to my main points, above.


The fact that software is math is actually a whole topic of study, called computational theory.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_computation

There is even a corresponding (and far less well-founded) theory that a mind is actually a computer:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computational_theory_of_mind

Anyway, it is an ovious truism that computers manipualte bits of information stored in their memory and/or digitised measurements of real-world signals (aka input/output). It is also true to say that these bits are only numerals (aka digits ... which is the very root of the word digital). It is also true that the central component of any computer is the CPU, and the functional core of a CPU is its APU (aka Arithmetic Processing Unit). Arithmetic is the manipulation of numerals.

Therefore, the way that a digital computer is built means that all it can do is transform real-world signals into numbers (made up of binary digits) and them manipulate them using ... math. The results of these math calculations are then often turned back into real-world signals.

Ergo, all that a computer can do is math.

Ergo, software is math.

PS: It does take an intelligent mind to write mathematics processes to follow, just as it does take an intelligent mind to write a book to tell a story. Authors should enjoy the fruits of their creations, no argument. The most suitable form of IP protection for both of these types of original works of authorship is copyright.

Edited 2011-07-19 02:04 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Logic
by saynte on Tue 19th Jul 2011 04:40 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Logic"
saynte Member since:
2007-12-10

To say that software is math doesn't really tell the whole story, though. In this sense, the word "Math" is being used in two different ways. The "Math" that is discovered (and thus not patentable) is the kind that tells us things about orders of infinity, and the countability of natural numbers.

The math that is used for software construction isn't discovering anything, it's constructing something. I think no one would argue that anyone "discovered" Linux, or Office. These things were built to fulfill a purpose, and serve a useful function. This also separates them from a story-book. That's why the patent question for software is so interesting, I think.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Logic
by lemur2 on Tue 19th Jul 2011 05:13 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Logic"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

To say that software is math doesn't really tell the whole story, though. In this sense, the word "Math" is being used in two different ways. The "Math" that is discovered (and thus not patentable) is the kind that tells us things about orders of infinity, and the countability of natural numbers. The math that is used for software construction isn't discovering anything, it's constructing something. I think no one would argue that anyone "discovered" Linux, or Office. These things were built to fulfill a purpose, and serve a useful function. This also separates them from a story-book. That's why the patent question for software is so interesting, I think.


I don't see how making a software program is essentially different from writing a book or composing a musical piece. Each activity is remarkably similar in that the author takes small "building block" components, being words & rules of grammar, notes & chords, or maths operations and computing language syntax, and one builds up a "work" from there.

In the case of a book, the work tells a story or conveys a message. In the case of a musical composition, likewise. In the case of a software program, signals or information are trasnformed from one form to another. Then there are other creative works of authorship such as making a statue, painting, artistic photography, poetry, film-making, playwright, songwriting and so on. Even things like carpentry and furniture polishing can be considered as a work of authorship.

There are very, very strong parallels here. I can see no reason at all why computer software, just because its working medium is mathematics operations and not words or musical notes, should be the only type of work of authorship that is patentable. Everything else of similar creative ilk is protectable by copyright only.

It makes no sense at all.

What is worse, having patents on software is arguably ruining the entire IT industry in America.

http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20110717140031881

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvOHEA_xd2A

Seven ways to ruin a Technological Revolution indeed.

Edited 2011-07-19 05:21 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Logic
by saynte on Tue 19th Jul 2011 05:29 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Logic"
saynte Member since:
2007-12-10

What you say holds for anything that is constructed out smaller parts. I can construct a new car engine out of parts, but the difference is that it actually does something. A new engine would also be patentable. Computer programs "do" things, a story doesn't "do" anything.

In terms of the machine or transformation test, software transforms input into output.

Being a software engineer, I think most software patents are bad because they are obvious, trivially extending on prior work. However, I could be persuaded of their utility if I saw one that represented significant ingenuity on the author's part.

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Logic
by lemur2 on Tue 19th Jul 2011 06:02 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Logic"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

What you say holds for anything that is constructed out smaller parts. I can construct a new car engine out of parts, but the difference is that it actually does something. A new engine would also be patentable. Computer programs "do" things, a story doesn't "do" anything. In terms of the machine or transformation test, software transforms input into output. Being a software engineer, I think most software patents are bad because they are obvious, trivially extending on prior work. However, I could be persuaded of their utility if I saw one that represented significant ingenuity on the author's part.


A new engine isn't patentable unless it is innovative, and uses entirely new methods.

A new model of a gasoline-burning internal combustion engine isn't patentable. Because it uses entirely different principles, a fundamentally new engine design like this might, however, be patentable:

http://www.cyclonepower.com/
http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1023924_cyclone-waste-heat-engin...
http://www.cyclonepower.com/comparison.html

"Cyclone engines do not require a transmission, starter motor, catalytic converter, muffler, radiator or oil pump."

Fundamentally different. Innovative. Arguably, a new invention (even though it is essentially a steam engine!).

Android is a touchscreen-based mobile phone OS, as is Android. Palm OS beat them both to it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treo_650

Neither Android nor iOS are fundamentally new designs. Hence Microsoft should be free to write WP7 if they want to.

Virtually ALL software written today is just "new models" ... a re-telling of a old story using different words, a new arrangement of an old song, a re-make of an old movie.

There is no real innovation here, there are no new inventions, just new bells and whistles. Software should NOT be patentable.

Copyrights ... OK, no problem, people should do their own work. Software patents? no way. Just say no.

Edited 2011-07-19 06:20 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[7]: Logic
by saynte on Tue 19th Jul 2011 06:13 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Logic"
saynte Member since:
2007-12-10

I agree that most software written isn't new content, just small extensions. However, I wouldn't let that stand in the way of a patent being filed for a real innovation in software.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Logic
by Finalzone on Tue 19th Jul 2011 05:25 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Logic"
Finalzone Member since:
2005-07-06

To say that software is math doesn't really tell the whole story, though. In this sense, the word "Math" is being used in two different ways. The "Math" that is discovered (and thus not patentable) is the kind that tells us things about orders of infinity, and the countability of natural numbers.


Computer Science 101: software is just multiple binaries (0 and 1) i.e. abstract in this case therefore part of math. For example, show a word processor, a music, a movie in palpable form without any medium.

Edited 2011-07-19 05:26 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[5]: Logic
by saynte on Tue 19th Jul 2011 05:36 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Logic"
saynte Member since:
2007-12-10

Software is an arrangement of 0s and 1s; a car is just an arrangement of metal and rubber. I think the question should be: was the arrangement found, or built?

Proper mathematics is found, but software is most definitely built.

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Logic
by lemur2 on Tue 19th Jul 2011 06:05 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Logic"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Software is an arrangement of 0s and 1s; a car is just an arrangement of metal and rubber. I think the question should be: was the arrangement found, or built? Proper mathematics is found, but software is most definitely built.


Anything which requires an author or other type of artisan is "built". Why on earth should software alone be patentable, just because it uses math as its working medium?

Reply Score: 3

RE[7]: Logic
by saynte on Tue 19th Jul 2011 06:12 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Logic"
saynte Member since:
2007-12-10

Software is NOT alone in being patentable, many things are patentable.

I could argue the same way in the opposite direction: why should software NOT be patentable just because it uses math as its working medium, not metal and rubber?

My point here is that it should be on some property other than the "material" with which something is built that the decision of patentability is made.

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Logic
by Alfman on Tue 19th Jul 2011 06:23 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Logic"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

saynte,

"Software is an arrangement of 0s and 1s; a car is just an arrangement of metal and rubber. I think the question should be: was the arrangement found, or built? Proper mathematics is found, but software is most definitely built."

I don't agree with your distinction.

You may not be aware of this, but in computer science discrete mathematics courses, we do study how to apply mathematical concepts like induction towards computer algorithms.

If an algorithm is patented, and a developer can prove that the algorithm is mathematically derivable, then would you say the algorithm patent should be invalidated? It is sort of a trick question, since every algorithm is mathematically derivable, given adequate specification.

I'd go as far as to say a genuine distinction between mathematical and computer algorithms is blurred to the point of non-existence seeing as one can clearly be translated to the other (within physical constraints of the machine).

Could you elaborate on a fundamental difference?


Given the same problem, many developers will come up with overlapping algorithms. You may say "oh just use a different algorithm", but now developers are wasting their time in search for algorithms with less desirable properties in order to satisfy a patent holder's monopoly. Considering that many patent holders deliberately file dozens of variations on the same idea to deliberately block other implementations, it's no wonder honest developers are pissed off with software patents.

Edited 2011-07-19 06:24 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[7]: Logic
by saynte on Tue 19th Jul 2011 11:46 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Logic"
saynte Member since:
2007-12-10

A trick question indeed ;) I'm aware that programs can be proven with techniques like induction, axiomatic semantics, etc. Then again, I can also prove properties of physics using mathematics, and physics are at the heart of many "solid" inventions.


I will dodge your question slightly with my motivation for such an underlying "feeling": I have some discomfort with the notion that if I write down an algorithm in software it's not patentable, but if I write it down in VHDL and drop it onto a circuit, it is.

An analogue filter using resistors and wires may be patented (let's assume), but a software based one cannot? To me, this would seem to be a rather arbitrary distinction, the key innovations are in the clever arrangements!

I don't have an answer for you about the fundamental difference, unfortunately, but maybe if I thought on it a while longer ;)

Reply Score: 1

Comment by vermaden
by vermaden on Mon 18th Jul 2011 10:16 UTC
vermaden
Member since:
2006-11-18
RE: Comment by vermaden
by Doc Pain on Mon 18th Jul 2011 10:36 UTC in reply to "Comment by vermaden"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08



You mean http://www.mslinux.org/ already available since November 2003? :-)

Reply Score: 2

Well, duh.
by Wafflez on Mon 18th Jul 2011 10:57 UTC
Wafflez
Member since:
2011-06-26

This is why I love Microsoft - they care about consumer - me. And they must care because their http servers run Linux. Because if they didn't - they would lose money. And they care about the money very much..

While bullshit open source community monkeys just go "well, we don't sell anything so we don't effin care - heres NO collaboration in GNOME 2 with other similar projects and here's GNOME 3!".

Yeah, 2xxx will be the year of Linux when pigs fly.

Edited 2011-07-18 11:01 UTC

Reply Score: 0

If we like lawncare analogies...
by Jaktar on Mon 18th Jul 2011 19:07 UTC
Jaktar
Member since:
2011-06-03

If we like lawncare analogies, it's more like Microsoft is receiving runoff of rainwater on a neighbors property. That neighbor doesn't care where the water goes as long as it's not on their property. Microsoft installed a ditch and some drains to keep their property dry instead of continuously getting flooded out.

Now, without the silly analogies...
MS does software. It's in their best interest to make their systems inter-operate with others. I really don't understand why everyone has their panties in a bunch, this is win-win for all involved.

Reply Score: 1

Is it slavory ?!?
by dulac on Tue 19th Jul 2011 17:23 UTC
dulac
Member since:
2006-12-27

K. Y. Srinivasan, the man in question, made the contributions on his spare time.

I wonder, assuming he is own by Microsoft... if his children are Microsoft contribution to the population.
Who's daddy then?

Anyway, since he is a regular Linux contributer, and real person what Microsoft is not (just a virtual entity)... It would be more sense to state that Linux community helps Microsoft. (and in other ways).

Why the present view of Microsoft owing everything?
Including one who's payed for "giving" his merits, so Microsoft may patent them as his own (slavery again)

But maybe this is all wrong, and "right" is what is the modal view because modal and "accepted".

This might be a chance to be requested a long desire of many:
- The reduction of Pi to 3.0 (to ease calculations)...
- And lowering the value of gravity "g" value to maybe half.

---

Make your vote by calling...
3321 for Pi=3.0
3325 for G= 4.9

(Each call is 60 cents)

Edited 2011-07-19 17:28 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Internal development
by Almafeta on Thu 21st Jul 2011 00:48 UTC
Almafeta
Member since:
2007-02-22

In all the huff and puff and FUD over whether or not this can be used to yank Microsoft's property away from them, something important seems to be overlooked:

This was Microsoft making the submissions, not Microsoft hiring a third party to do it. That's distinctly different from even a few years ago, where Microsoft did all their Windows and Mac development in-house but hired third parties to do their *Nix work.

It's not a cataclysmic change ... but it's a sign that we may want to be alert to further developments in this diection.

Reply Score: 2