Feeds

RTLinux patent treads a narrow path

And frankly, looks a little shaky anyway...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

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. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Premier League wants to PURGE ALL FOOTIE GIFs from social media
Not paying Murdoch? You're gonna get a right LEGALLING - thanks to automated software
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
XBOX One will learn to play media from USB and DLNA sources
Hang on? Aren't those file formats you hardly ever see outside torrents?
Class war! Wikipedia's workers revolt again
Bourgeois paper-shufflers have 'suspended democracy', sniff unpaid proles
'Aaaah FFS, 'amazeballs' has made it into the OXFORD DICTIONARY'
Plus: 'EE, how shocking, ANOTHER problem I face with your service'
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.