[Mono-list] Legal status of Mono

Simon Waite simon@psionics.demon.co.uk
Tue, 30 Jul 2002 04:27:59 +0100

Apologies if this sounds ranting/trolling/top posting it's 4am here  :-)

Hmm, it sounds like you're being a troll and or spreading FUD. I shall bite
however, and offer the following opinions:

The way I see it:

 .NET Common Language Runtime/IL,
 C# The Language
 System.* namepace

Are all ECMA drafts/standards (I'm not sure on the official status)

1. There can be no patents on CLR/IL as there has been plenty of
   examples of prior art. Corewars, Mix, p-system, Java Virtual Machine etc.

   C# I doubt that any part of C# can be patented. Prior art C++/Java :-)
   Also submitting to a standards body is IMHO releasing it into the public

   System.* - APIs cannot (IMO) be patented, as they have been re
   Also submitting to a standards body is IMHO releasing it into the public

2. As far as I can tell there are M$ Developers in contact with Miguel et al
   and I should think the project would get a swift notification of any
   infringments. M$ Seems rather amicable towards this project in
   M$ has issues with the GPL, as do many other open source people. I don't
   want to start a huge flame war about GPL etc, but needless to say I don't
   think some projects should be GPLed (libraries etc) my personal favorite
   is LGPL (ie. yes use it, link to it, change it and you must release at
   least your patches to it) Remember mono isnt totally GPLed - only the
   C# compiler is. Miguel definatly took the correct path (IMO) with LGPLing
   the runtime libraries, and MIT X11ing the class libs.

3. I can't comment on this.

4. I can't really comment, except to off the following opinion. "I doubt
   they will do this"

5. M$ does not like the GPL specifically. Yes, many people (including
   do not like the common mistake of inappropriatly GPLing everything, and
   resultant viral licensing mess. as I said in #2 I think Miguel chose
   with his licensing scheme.

6. This is pure FUD. Sure there will always be a level of incompatability.

   I doubt that VS.NET C++ managed code will ever work if it references
   any standard libraries. I however do expect any future mono C++
   compiler code to run cross platform.

   The jury is still out for VB.NET, as I'm not sure what hooks are needed
   but I expect that carefully written VB.NET code should run in the future.

   JScript.NET - I've tried this myself, it apparently references some
   Microsoft.* classes which are not included with mono, but again I don't
   think anyone has done any work in this area too.

7. Right, time for a small rant here.

   SAMBA != M$

   "Windows File Sharing" = NETBEUI = extended NETBIOS

   NETBIOS/NETBEUI was "invented" by IBM

   NETBIOS over TCP/IP is a standard detailed in RFC1001/1002

   I refer you to my horendous formatted rant on /. for the rest
   as I've probably bored everyone here about this.


   As for "patented features" I think the samba team will/can find
   prior art in them all. It wont stop a samba server begin accessed
   by a w95/98/nt/2K/XP/.net machine - it just wont have all the
   "features" - I belive samba has been 'feature complete' for basic
   CIFS and NETBIOS over TCP/IP for quite a while now (since 95? :-).

8. OKAY, more FUD here ... The project is open source, M$ is quite
   welcome to examine the mono implementation, and "borrow" bits of it
   from appropriatly licensed parts of the code. If they do, all the
   better for the project. Unless of course they decide to call it
   "theirs" and claim that mono used it after. CVS logs will probably
   be evidence enough in a court of law (IANAL)

   I belive a certain subset of mono classes will be used in the
   Portable .NET project - again reducing duplicated effort. This is
   what open source is all about. (Code Communism - heh.)

8.1 I can't comment on this
8.2 I've answered this in #3 and #7
8.3 I can only offer the following opinion, that it will probably
    be (reverse) engineered in such a way that the runtime can run it
    or ignore it as appropriate, but any compilers will not generate it.
8.4 Define "shutdown" ? Will they also pull the plug on Portable .NET and
    Rotor too? Unlikely, but lets take a scenario which the mono team has
    to pull the plug.

    1. Everyone moves to Portable .net
    2. Everyone moved to Rotor.
    3. Everyone throws away .NET and goes back to java and php :-)
       (I have read rumors of a JVM runtime/converter of .net too
        but I cant think where I've seen it)

I'm not a member of the core team, and as such the above comments
should be taken as my own personal opinions, and not those of
the mono team.


Simon Waite

----- Original Message -----
From: "Rusty" <rustydstone@yahoo.com>
To: "Paolo Molaro" <lupus@ximian.com>; "mono-list" <mono-list@ximian.com>
Sent: Tuesday, July 30, 2002 2:32 AM
Subject: Re: [Mono-list] Legal status of Mono


As it was suggested by some people, I've read the FAQ (again) and
searched the archives for related materials. The following is the
summary of what I was able to find:

1) Bigger part of .Net is MS's proprietary intellectual property (IP),
which is not covered by any standards and is protected by MS's patents
and copyright.

2) Mono was trying to get the list of patents that MS owns with
reference to .Net but that list could not be obtained. As a result, it
not known what patents MS hold with reference to .Net.

3) MS warned Mono not to infringe on its IP.

4) MS can sue (and/or threaten to sue) Mono and anyone who uses Mono if
MS's IP is infringed upon

5) MS does not 'like' Linux and Open Source:

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO:
  "Linux Is Top Threat To Windows"
  "[Linux is] a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual-property
sense to everything it touches."

Jim Allchin, Microsoft's Group VP (Windows OS chief)
  "Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer, I can't imagine
something that could be worse than this for the software business and
the intellectual-property business."

6) At any time MS can introduce a new patented feature into the
standardized part of .Net to make any implementation, including Mono,
to be incompatible with the one provided by MS.

7) MS has recently introduced a new, patented feature into SAMBA,
potentially making any future open source implementations of SAMBA
impossible (without infringing on MS's patent that is).

8) Recent changes to the Mono license allow MS to hijack certain parts
of Mono, if so desired.

With reference to the above:
1) Has Mono consulted with a competent legal advisor to make sure that
it does not *currently* infringe on MS's IP?

2) How does Mono plan to ensure that MS does not introduce a new,
patented feature into the standardized part of .Net, which would make
Mono implementation incompatible with one by MS?

3) How does Mono plan to implement the bigger portion of .Net that is
not covered by the standard and is protected by MS's patents and

4) What options will Mono users have if Mono is sued and then shutdown
by MS?

PS: For simplicity, I'm using term Mono all over the place. It should
be clear though that MS cannot, e.g., sue the 'project', threfore the
company, the users, the people etc. are meant instead of Mono where


--- Paolo Molaro <lupus@ximian.com> wrote:
> On 07/29/02 Guenther Roith wrote:
> > What I thought about a while ago:
> > Can MS patent fundamental things like the IL code??
> >
> > If they have patents on, let's say something in the class lib, it's
> not a
> > _big_ problem.
> > But if basic things like IL is patented...
> >
> > Anybody, who knows something about this topic?
> Anything in IL is already covered by prior art since possibly
> decades.
> The paragraph in the FAQ above the one I posted covers the issue,
> read the FAQ.
> lupus
> --
> -----------------------------------------------------------------
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