[Mono-list] Re: Sleepless at Patentland...

Michael Lambert michaellambert@email.com
Thu, 9 Aug 2001 19:33:23 -0400

> Subject: Re: [Mono-list] Re: Sleepless at Patentland...
> From: Miguel de Icaza <miguel@ximian.com>
> How can you work around things?  Well, whenever you are implementing
> something new, you go and check for example if this has existed
> before.

I think it is a great idea for people who want to volunteer to go and do this.
It might be a good idea, if there was an xml comment tag for this <prior-art
url='some link' description='blah blah' />.  I believe the correct term is
'preriot' and not 'prior-art' but I don't really care what the tag is.

If your worried about the patent issue and have to write an algorithm go find
some other GPL code that implements your routine and use it.  There is the gcc
and plenty of GNU libs to work from.  The older the better. Personally, I not a
big thinker and am trying to be selective about the pieces I take on so as to
not get myself in a bind.  I'm looking for pieces that come straight from the
ECMA standard or are a tight fit over an existing APIs.

I try and act in good conscience when submitting code.  Heck, I don't even look
the code for that other GNU dotnet implementation (dotGNU?).  If a new algorithm
is needed then do a little due diligence before submitting the algorithm.  Think
of it as another part of testing your code. Hopefully, we test code around here.

Once the foundation is written the code can be optimized.  If a new algorithm is
need it should involve smaller and smaller pieces of the code base.  If it turns
out some years down the line someone has inadvertently infringed on a patent
your code is going to be removed.  Some other engineer will have to re-work that
bit of source code. The GPL aspect of the project will survive and the removal
should only affect a small part of a rather large library.

If people are afraid to use the project because of the quality of the code base
then we are going to have to go in and check everything anyway.  If you want to
live forever and keep your name from being removed from the source code then do
your due diligence now.  Wouldn't that be a terrible thing that when were all
famous and legends in our own minds that your name would need to be removed?  IP
litigiousness is a big fear in GPL right now and its just a big part of FUD.
Doing your best to do a good job is all we can ask.

When worrying about patents a company like Microsoft is worried that the time
and money that they've put into their memory manager optimization, garbage
collector efficiency, compiler speed, etc are retained.  Trying to use patents
to control whether we release the project is not going to be real efficient use
of money on their part. If our code is 90% as good and it doesn't infringe on
.Net then all it really does is allow them to sell more .Net.  Over time our
code will get faster, they'll invent new patents, and the API will change.
C'est la vie.

Michael Lambert