Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 12th Jun 2017 20:31 UTC, submitted by dionicio

You'd expect with Microsoft adding x86 emulation to its upcoming ARM-based windows 10 PCs all the possible licensing issues would be sorted. As ubiquitous as x86 is, it's easy to forget it's still a patent minefield guarded by Intel. And surprise, surprise, with the chipmaker under pressure from AMD and ARM, it felt the need to make that very, very clear. Dangling at the end of a celebratory PR blog post about 40 years of x86, Intel writes:

However, there have been reports that some companies may try to emulate Intel's proprietary x86 ISA without Intel's authorization. Emulation is not a new technology, and Transmeta was notably the last company to claim to have produced a compatible x86 processor using emulation ("code morphing") techniques. Intel enforced patents relating to SIMD instruction set enhancements against Transmeta's x86 implementation even though it used emulation. In any event, Transmeta was not commercially successful, and it exited the microprocessor business 10 years ago.

Only time will tell if new attempts to emulate Intel's x86 ISA will meet a different fate. Intel welcomes lawful competition, and we are confident that Intel's microprocessors, which have been specifically optimized to implement Intel's x86 ISA for almost four decades, will deliver amazing experiences, consistency across applications, and a full breadth of consumer offerings, full manageability and IT integration for the enterprise. However, we do not welcome unlawful infringement of our patents, and we fully expect other companies to continue to respect Intel's intellectual property rights. Strong intellectual property protections make it possible for Intel to continue to invest the enormous resources required to advance Intel's dynamic x86 ISA, and Intel will maintain its vigilance to protect its innovations and investments.

I'm assuming Microsoft has all this stuff licensed nice and proper, but it's interesting that Intel felt the need to emphasize this as strongly as they do here. Which companies is Intel referring to here? Maybe Apple?

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Like Oracle/Google over Android
by FunkyELF on Tue 13th Jun 2017 18:52 UTC
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... just a couple more layers down.

Without arguing one way or the other about whether implementations should be patented, clearly specifications like the ISA should be treated like the Java API or .h files. Let anyone implement a compatible version. Good for competition.

License the name "Intel-compatible"

Reply Score: 2

Alfman Member since:


Without arguing one way or the other about whether implementations should be patented, clearly specifications like the ISA should be treated like the Java API or .h files. Let anyone implement a compatible version. Good for competition.

This case has gone back and forth in the courts it's hard to keep track of the events and reasoning.

"Google wins crucial API ruling, Oracle’s case decimated"

"Oracle wins copyright ruling against Google over Android"
The case examined whether computer language that connects programs - known as application programming interfaces, or APIs - can be copyrighted. At trial in San Francisco, Oracle said Google's Android trampled on its rights to the structure of 37 Java APIs.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup ruled that the Java APIs replicated by Google were not subject to copyright protection and were free for all to use. The Federal Circuit disagreed on Friday, ruled for Oracle and instructed the lower court to reinstate a jury's finding of infringement as to 37 Java API packages.
Programmers could still craft interoperable programs if the opinion stands, but lawyers will have to be more involved in signing off on what is permissible, said Eric Goldman, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law.

"That's really expensive and lawyers are not going to give yes or no answers, and that's going to be stressful for everybody," Goldman said.

"Oracle denied new trial in copyright dispute with Google over Java"
A jury had cleared Google of copyright infringement in May this year, upholding the company’s stand that its use of 37 Java APIs (application programming interfaces) in its Android mobile operating system was fair use, thus denying Oracle up to US$9 billion in damages that it was seeking.

To be honest I didn't like the outcome because now courts have to apply the standards for copyright to APIs, in other words they are copyrightable in the US. This precedent means that we cannot assume APIs can be reimplemented without infringement, instead we must go to court to fight for a fair use exception on a case by case basis. Google's final case was a narrow win that only applied to google's case. This really sucks for software developers because APIs exist to serve a functional purpose rather than an expressive one and we can't know whether or not our re-implementing of an API will infringe - it will depend on the technicalities/judge/lawyers/etc.

Edited 2017-06-13 19:57 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2