Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Stackify Blog, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Matt Lonstine, Glenda Sims

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

Software & Patents: "Linus Is Wrong," Says UK Lawyer

"Any talk of..a floodgate of spurious patents is nonsense," contends John Collins

John Collins, a partner at UK firm Marks and Clerk, which describes itself as "the UK's leading firm of patent and trade mark attorneys," has issued a statement in response to the public letter signed by Linus Torvalds in November 2004 which called on the EU Council to refrain from adopting its Software Patent Agreement of May 2004.

"Linus Torvalds...has recently made a statement claiming that the Directive would broaden the area in which patents would be granted. This is simply a false assumption," Collins says in the statement.

"The original [EU] proposal was solely designed to clarify and unify existing practice in the EU," explains Collins. "However, the current version - as a result of amendments made by the European Parliament - will result in patent holders in certain areas losing a significant element of protection meaning that some existing patents will become worthless."

According to Collins, Torvalds and his supporters - the letter to the EU was co-signed by Monty Widenius, the CTO of MySQL, and Rasmus Lerdorf, the original author of the PHP scripting language - lack a fundamental understanding of intellectual property rights "as they seem to be unaware that copyright can only protect software code, and not software inventions."

Allowing for patent protection on software inventions is a requirement of the World Trade Organisation's TRIPS agreement which states that patents must be available in all fields of technology, says Collins.

He continues:

"Moreover, the open source community believes that software can be entirely separated from mechanical and electronic inventions. In reality there is no neat dividing line and the Directive seeks to provide as much clarity as possible. For instance, there are many digital processing innovations which lie at the heart of technology such as digital television or MRI scanners, or where software has made improvements to existing technologies such as X-ray imaging.

Few would argue that these applications of software innovation do not qualify as a 'technical contribution' - one of the basic principles for patent protection.

It has been possible to register software patents in the UK and Europe for over 20 years and so any talk of a potential liberalization which would allow for a floodgate of spurious patents is nonsense."

The Directive, Collins adds, "was originally proposed to provide uniformity in the EU and ensure that all member states took the same approach to the patentability of software inventions so that innovators could be certain that their patents are valid throughout the EU."

Contrary to Torvalds, Widenius and Lerdorf, Collins is adamant: "We should not allow this objective to be undermined."

More Stories By Linux News Desk

SYS-CON's Linux News Desk gathers stories, analysis, and information from around the Linux world and synthesizes them into an easy to digest format for IT/IS managers and other business decision-makers.

Comments (6) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Follow the money 12/04/04 10:55:23 PM EST

Of course he wants sotware patents. He's an IP Lawyer, he wants the opportunity for lawsuits to increase.

anonimous 12/04/04 07:20:09 PM EST

Software is not music ! People who preachs for patented software are dreaming of a model (to make big money) that is not aplicable to software world. Music is a very static thing, eg: Beethoven's 5 symphony. Great, but static.

Software is a dinamic thing. Photoshop's code of today is not the same whem 10 years ago. You can not patent things like these!

What do they think ? Today they patent software, tomorrow they will go to patent the alphabet ?

Collins is wrong 12/04/04 10:37:49 AM EST

Tovalds is right. Collins is wrong. Software innovators live under a Damocles sword of software patents applied by players alien to their market. They never requested patents for software from the European Commission because no one needs them.

Alex H. Horn 12/04/04 10:17:58 AM EST

There is little to add to Mr. Collin's assessment. However, it should be pointed out that the term "open source developers" might be a bit fuzzy or even inexact within this context - there are also open source developers employed by companies exercising an active patent policy.

Moreover, the patentability of computer-implemented inventions is also challenged by representatives of companies not creating open source software but perhaps wanting to have a free ride with regard to valuable inventions of third parties.

Guy Inchbald 12/04/04 10:14:24 AM EST

The thrust of John Collins' criticism is that, in considering the proposed EU software patent directive, Linus does not take on board that "copyright can only protect software code and not software".

This means you cannot copyright the functionality of a piece of software, only the exact code sequence (text character or binary strings).

So if I write a piece of code to do exactly what someone else's copyrighted code does, provided my source and compiled code sequences do not significantly duplicate the copyrighted ones, I am street legal.

Well, that's all very fine and (correct me if I'm wrong) I don't think Linus is upset about normalising EU-wide copyright laws. This will if anything strengthen the GPL (The copyright license agreement under which he releases Linux).

I'm quite impressed that the corporate camp have managed to find a lawyer who can't tell the difference between a copyright and a patent!

D Hamill 12/04/04 10:11:34 AM EST

Torvald's comment is legally spot on. You cannot copyright software (ie functionality) but you can copyright code (ie sequences of numbers).

The fact that this is confusing to the industry it is meant to protect suggests that the whole thing needs reviewing. (And don't get me started on whether or not software is goods or services!)

@ThingsExpo Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.