On Tuesday, Novell Inc. announced that it will use its patent portfolio to protect its open-source software offerings. In a policy statement, Novell said it will utilize its patent portfolio to defend against potential intellectual property attacks on its open-source products.
Novell to Use Its Patents to Protect Open-Source Programs
2004-10-12 Novell and Ximian 10 Comments
Does anyone think this will truly work, I am not for or against patents as they had their time, and in the age of computers and other technology patents seem to stifle innovation; and as you know innovation is a key to success?!
Novell would of course protect its own paying customers who use linux from its own patents but there is nothing to stop it from making others who use linux who do not pay Novell from being sued.
Ditto for IBM or any other company.
Linux would therefore effectively become owned by the collaboration of patent holders. As no one else could use it without getting sued.
Patents seriously cut competition and are bad for the consumer.
Of course, Novell has to do something in response to the patent threats on Linux. Really its hand is forced by other companies slathering greedily over the prospect of suing for profits after the fact on the “Linux hype.” Until software patents are erased from the equation I see Novell and other companies as having little choice but to either pay for patent rights or exercise their own…
I wish one of these companies would just announce one of these days: we are only acquiring patents as a pre-emptive, preventative measure (from having uncsrupulous companies like M$, etc. grab patents first) and will continue to rally for the abolishment of software patents (therefore guaranteeing a more innovative future where all can share).
You’re right, its the law that is at fault. Or I should say not at fault but cetainly doesn’t create the best world for most of its people.
Patents destroy competition and innovation in many cases (whilst it can help investment in other areas).
Its not a simple matter.
But now that patents can be claimed on trivial things that people have been doing for many years then it is right that they should use the law to protect themselves.
But ultimately the law on Patents as it stands now is not the best for the people and for innovation and the pursuit of progress.
Its mainly used by big business to destroy competition and stop future competition from emerging.
Any country with a competitive economy will win in the end. The USA showed that to the Soviets, and if the US Patent law remains, then China will show that to the USA.
Remember though, that the any GPL’d code effectivly grants a patent license for any patents contained in the GPL’d code. So if Novell GPLs any code related to one of the patents they are essentially giving away blanket use of the patent and thus can’t sue for infringement.
Yes not even MS. If Novell, IBM, Sun or MS where to start a patent war it would just snowball into a big orgy of lawsuits left and right and alter the landscape of the software industry.
IBM has $50 Million invested in Novell. Why wouldn’t they share patents?
IBM and Novell sharing patents would easily be the largest collection of patents under one agreement. Both say in public they are committed to Open Source. If this agreement is not for Open Source licensing, it could be a bad thing for Red Hat, Microsoft, HP and Sun.
If this could be even wider then that, and remain Open Source, this could be a very good thing.
Novell people are stated as saying “we want to use patents the way they were intended, to promote innovation”. That sounds like a good sign.
Red Hat, HP, Sun, Apple, SGI, Real: they are all contributing to Open Source right now. That seems like a lot of innovation possible to me.
They have ‘Shared Source’, wonder how far they will go with that?
Not very far currently… but the idea is there it would seem…
If they don’t join in, they are doomed.
Before people start throwing themselves off buildings, and slashing wrists; lets just wait and see. It depends on HOW these patents are exercised. I wouldn’t worry too much about Novell, I would be concerned about IBM, however, with that being said, it depends on where IBM wishes to go in the future.