Feeds

RTLinux patent treads a narrow path

And frankly, looks a little shaky anyway...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

A tricky situation has arisen over a Linux patent (US: 5,995,745) obtained by Victor Yodaiken of Real-Time Linux. Although he intends that users of RTLinux, as well as Linux users who label their application as being compatible with RTLinux and who release them under GPL will not have to pay royalties, it is a narrow path that he is walking. Already there are questions as to what the situation will be for non-Linux free products like BSD and Hurd. Those who wish to use his patent in commercial systems will have to pay a royalty. Yodaiken is apparently working out details with Linux International and Linus Torvalds. But there is another issue, raised by Greg Aharonian in his Patnews: he calls the patent "of low quality", suggests that "this patent wasn't validly sought", and draws attention to the considerable inadequacy of the prior art. Yodaiken quotes just four other patents and a paper on MERT, a Unix time-sharing system described in 1978. But as Aharonian points out, IEEE started its annual symposia on real-time systems in 1979 and they have continued to the present day, making several hundred papers. Quite apart from these, there have been thousands of other papers on the subject, and hundreds of patents, all of which appear to add up to the inevitable conclusion that the patent was not examined properly by the highly inadequate US patent office. It seems rather unlikely that in all this work there is no other mention of what Yodaiken claims to be his invention: preemption in a general purpose operating system for real-time tasks - and after all, even VMS did this. The wider issue of software patents generally, and defensive patents for the Linux community, needs much more attention. The only solution would appear to be some legislation to require a public comment period when prior art could be submitted, or comments made about the novelty. This would go a long way to removing the need for expensive legal procedures to strike down patents that should not have been issued. ®

Website security in corporate America

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.