Feeds

IBM claims patents promote open-source love

Hits factory spin

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

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.

The next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Intel: Hey, enterprises, drop everything and DO HADOOP
Big Data analytics projected to run on more servers than any other app
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.