Feeds

IBM promises no patent assault on Linux

Unless forced to defend itself

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

IBM has promised it will not use its stockpile of patents against Linux unless it is "forced to defend itself". The company made its announcement at LinuxWorld, where it laid down the gauntlet to other software companies, challenging them to follow its lead.

In a speech at the conference, Nick Donofrio, senior vice president for technology and manufacturing said: "IBM has no intention of asserting its patent portfolio against the Linux kernel, unless of course we are forced to defend ourselves," ZDNet reports.

According to Open Source Risk Management (OSRM), IBM holds 60 patents on which the Linux kernel potentially infringes. Given that any one patent suit will cost millions to defend, IBM could wreak havoc on Linux, and on the open source community in general if it chose to pursue the patents.

The news will no doubt also be welcome in Munich" where city authorities have postponed their plans to migrate to Linux over concerns about the new European directive covering software patents.

IBM's record on filing patents is impressive: it files more patents every year than any other tech company, a cultural tradition that owes a lot to patent lawyer Marshall Phelps. Phelps is now working with Microsoft, which OSRM estimates holds 27 patents covering ideas and techniques used in the Linux code. The Redmond-based software giant has not indicated whether or not it will be taking any such action.

For its part, Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), the Linux consortium that now employs Linux inventor Linus Torvalds, said that if it was challenged, it would issue workarounds for code in Linux that infringes on "the legitimate legal rights of others", a promise it has extended to patented material.

IBM's promise is a good one, as far as it goes. The company has only promised not to go after Linux, not the open source movement in general, and has said nothing about changing the way it approaches its patent collection. ®

Related stories

Novell takes SuSE Enterprise Linux to the next kernel
Neutered SCO no longer on the offensive
Patent fears halt Munich Linux migration

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
Microsoft: Windows version you probably haven't upgraded to yet is ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of Windows 8.1 will no longer support patches
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Windows XP still has 27 per cent market share on its deathbed
Windows 7 making some gains on XP Death Day
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
US taxman blows Win XP deadline, must now spend millions on custom support
Gov't IT likened to 'a Model T with a lot of things on top of it'
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.