[JDEV] [DotGNU]Linus: Kernel Development No Longer Legal (fwd)

Peter Saint-Andre stpeter at jabber.org
Wed Aug 21 18:43:15 CDT 2002

Thought JDEVers might find this of interest given recent discussion about
the ActiveBuddy patent filing.


Peter Saint-Andre
Jabber Software Foundation

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2002 18:22:46 -0400
From: Seth Johnson <seth.johnson at RealMeasures.dyndns.org>
To: C-FIT_Community at RealMeasures.dyndns.org,
     C-FIT_Release_Community at RealMeasures.dyndns.org,
     fairuse-discuss at mrbrklyn.com
Cc: developers at dotgnu.org
Subject: [DotGNU]Linus: Kernel Development No Longer Legal

(Forwarded from Patents list)

-------- Original Message --------
Date: 22 Aug 2002 00:32:45 +0200
From: PILCH Hartmut <phm at a2e.de>
To: news at ffii.org
CC: patents at aful.org


> http://lwn.net/Articles/7001/

Memory management and patents

Linux VM hackers are engaged in ongoing discussions on both
large page support (covered last week) and improving the
performance of the new reverse mapping mechanism. That
conversation slowed down, however, when Alan Cox pointed out
that a number of the techniques being discussed are covered
by SGI patents. In fact, a closer look by Daniel Phillips
shows that a number of existing Linux technologies,
including reverse mapping in general and the buddy
allocator, are covered by these patents. This is a problem,
he said, that we can't ignore.

That was Linus's cue to jump in with his policy on software
patents and kernel code:

I do not look up any patents on _principle_, because (a)
it's a horrible waste of time and (b) I don't want to know.

The fact is, technical people are better off not looking at
patents. If you don't know what they cover and where they
are, you won't be knowingly infringing on them. If somebody
sues you, you change the algorithm or you just hire a
hit-man to whack the stupid git.

Linus followed up with a note that the above "may not be
legally tenable advice." But he sticks by his point that,
anymore, it's impossible to write an interesting program
without running into somebody's patent. Rather than worry
about it, it's better to just proceed and deal with any
problems as they emerge.

This is probably the only rational approach; otherwise
kernel hackers would go nuts trying to find and avoid all of
the applicable patents. It's probably only a matter of time,
though, until one of these patents bites the kernel in a big
way - at least in the U.S. Those are the times we live in,

Unfortunately the times are the same in Europe.  There are
hundreds and thousands of EPO patents on basic memory
managment calculus with the same claim scope as their USPTO
counter parts, and the European Commission as well as some
leading people in the European Parliament's Legal Affairs
Committee (Lord Inglewood and Arlene McCarthy) seem
determined to legalise these patents and make an even bigger
flood of similar patents unavoidable in Europe.

Hartmut Pilch, FFII & Eurolinux Alliance              tel.
Protecting Innovation against Patent Inflation	    
120,000 signatures against software patents     

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