Sunday, January 30, 2011

Florian Mueller on Android Round 2

A few days ago I reported that Florian Müller had found some proprietary code in the Android code base and various bloggers from ZD Net and Ars Technica had disputed his claims.

Müller has now published a rebuttal of the ZD Net rebuttals. His claims broadly are
  • He did find proprietary Oracle code with licences altered in the Android code,
  • He did find this Oracle code in more than one Android device,
  • He did not claim it was in every Android device,
  • The counter arguments against his discovery are largely straw men.

 Müller has given links to where he found the code he considers infringing, so anyone wanting to verify his claims is able to do so.

The Oracle Android suit is about both patents and copyright. Müller is known as a software patent commentator, but Müller is only addressing the copyright issues in his post.  (That's not a criticism, just an observation).

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Declining to have your name put on a software patent?

Interesting question over at Stack Exchange by Chase Seibert:
legal - How would you decline to have your name put on a software patent? - Programmers - Stack Exchange: "Your company wants to patent something you implemented. You do not agree with the concept of patenting software. How do you proceed?
  • Would it be acceptable to file the patent, but keep your name off it?
  • Would you attempt to convince your company to NOT file the patent?

Are there any downsides to having your name on a patent? "Read More
There's been a few answers so far, more showing opinion than anything else.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Florian Mueller on Android Patent Case

The blogs are all abuzz this morning on this blog posting by renown software patent expert and campaigner Florian Müller. The standard statement seems to be that his findings seriously weaken Google's defence against Oracle's patent claims over Android's Dalvik not-really-a-jvm jvm.

Müller himself doesn't seem to go that far. My reading of his blog posting is that what he has done is compare a number of source files and shown that Google's source files appear to be direct copies of Sun Java source files that were not  released by Sun / Oracle under an open source license that permits Google's use or relicensing. He also reports that it looks like someone has attempted to disguise this copying.

Oracle are suing Google over both patent and copyright for Android.  The facts  Müller reported would certainly have a bearing on the copyright claims. I can't see where Müller makes claims that his analysis could be directly relevant to the patent claim.

Update (23 Jan 2011 16:34 NZT)

Müller's analysis isn't uncontested. ZD Net blogger Ed Burnette has posted disputing the importance of the file copying Müller reported.  While fellow ZD Net blogger Adrian Kingsley-Hughes has updated his earlier posting to include a rebuttal from Android Central.

Meanwhile Müller through his twitter page @FOSSpatents has said that he he intends to post a follow-up article addressing points made by these articles. I'm not sure which of the articles he was referring to when he said "That article attacks strawmen put up by its author, and contains factual errors"

This looks like there is more to be said by both sides of the argument.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

More details on Novell's software patents sale

Novell have filed this proxy statement with the US Securities and exchange commission, included in it are some details of the patent sale to CPTN (Microsoft, Apple, EMC Corporation and Oracle).

The issued patents and patent applications to be sold to CPTN pursuant to the Patent Purchase Agreement relate primarily to enterprise-level computer systems management software, enterprise-level file management and collaboration software in addition to patents relevant to our identity and security management business, although it is possible that certain of such issued patents and patent applications read on a range of different software products. Approximately 43% of these are US issued patents; approximately 30% are US patent applications; approximately 22% are foreign issued patents, and approximately 5% are foreign patent applications.

Historically, the issued patents and patent applications included in the patent sale have been used to facilitate and protect our current and planned business activities, and to reduce the risk of potential infringement claims against us. We do not currently license any of these issued patents and patent applications on a royalty-bearing basis, but the patents are subject to specific non-royalty bearing licenses granted by Novell during the period of its ownership of the patents.
There is a lot more detail in the filing surrounding the sale but precious little detail on the sold patents.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Quora Do software patents help or hurt innovation?

There's an interesting discussion at Quora, the question is "Do software patents help or hurt innovation?" and there are 7 substantive replies, many from IP lawyers and the majority view is that software patents are only advantageous for litigation lawyers. Well worth a read

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Reply to "depth first search"

Software Patents : depth first search: "That the people behind the standard get (relatively low) fees seems both fair and a reasonable price to pay in terms of aligning incentives with the need to innovate in order to develop technologies for new markets. It’s hard to square these obvious benefits against somewhat nebulous objections of open source developers."
The problem isn't that open source developers don't like software patents. The problem is that open source developers are effectively unable to use patented technology. If you give your software away and allow other people to give away copies of your software and modify your software and give that away there
  • Is no revenue stream to pay licence fees, no matter how small (on a unit basis)
  • Is no central register from which a count of numbers of deployments can be made
  • The end users of the software with whom you have no relationship may be exposed to patent claims
There are licences that allow the patent owner to offer free use of their patents, but they have to agree to waive all hope of an income from the patents to do that.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Seeking Stupid Software Patent Examples

Over on Google Groups, Linux advocate Kari Laine has posted a request for examples of stupid software patents, preferably from Microsoft, to be referenced in a paper opposed to software patents and the cross-licencing mania that leaves Open Source Software out in the cold.