Feeds

IBM claims patents promote open-source love

Hits factory spin

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Open source and software patents are generally regarded as two things that go together like peanut butter and a punch to the face*.

Open-source advocates talk of vague, badly written US patents lurking in the system, waiting only to pounce on unsuspecting devs and condemn them to 1,001 years litigation. Open sourcers actively fear patent trolls, and many go through great pains to avoid getting jumped by them.

But a recent nugget buried in IBM's amicus brief for the Bilski case takes a novel slant on the issue. Big Blue told the US Supreme Court that software patent lockdowns are actually the secret to open source's success.

Here's the quote (actually a footnote in the paper) that has some internauts hot under the collar. The emphasis here is our own:

"Given the realities that software source code is human readable, and object code can be reverse engineered, it is difficult for software developers to resort to secrecy. Thus, without patent protection, the incentives to innovate in the field of software are significantly reduced. Patent protection has promoted the free sharing of source code on a patentee's terms - which has fueled the explosive growth of open source software development."

To follow the dots here; patent protection lets the creators of proprietary software share their source code without the fear of getting copied, which allows open source - which is entirely based on relaxed or non-existent copyright restrictions - to prosper… somehow.

It's a strange, unsubstantiated comment coming from a company that's clearly working both ends of the argument. After all, IBM is each year awarded more US patents than anyone else around - all the while being one of the industry's biggest backers of Linux.

Perhaps IBM means the US patent system promotes open source in the same way a tour of the slaughterhouse promotes vegetarianism.

Bootnote

The Linux 2.6.31 kernel has been released, sporting support for new hardware and a new performance subsystem.

Topping the new features lineup is support for USB 3.0, improved performance tracking, and memory leak detection.

Other goodies include new drivers for Creative's Sound Blater X-Fi cards, ATI Radeon KMS support, and upgrades to the ext4 and btrfs file systems.

Check out the full list of improvements here. ®

*Alternatively: a colonoscopy and jelly.

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
DARPA-derived secure microkernel goes open source tomorrow
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
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.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.