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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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

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