[Mono-list] Re: [DotGNU]Re: Collaboration on alternatives to the US-patent-endangered APIs?

Paolo Molaro lupus@ximian.com
Sun, 12 Oct 2003 12:06:23 +0200

On 10/11/03 Miguel de Icaza wrote:
> > That's out of line and you should apologise.  It was based on a careful 
> > analysis of the API's and other similar API's in the past (MFC of 10 years 
> > ago does everything that you listed as "massive departures").
> > 
> > In any case, it has already been made clear in this thread that we are hedging 
> > our bets: we'll switch to Qt# or Gtk# in a heartbeat should Microsoft 
> > disagree with our analysis.  What?  We can't have it both ways?
> Nobody said that.  All I am saying is that Norbert's position on
> `everything is tainted except ECMA and Windows.Forms' is wrong.  Either
> everything above ECMA might be tainted or none of it is.  Thats what you
> cant have both ways.

Me, speaking as a free software developer.

There's more. Code based on ECMA is safe _only_ from the possible MS
patents. Like any other piece of software, it is not safe against patent
claims by other companies (and I guess Sun, IBM, HP, Intel have more
patents in the area than MS will ever have), unless they are bound by
other ECMA rules.
So, saying that S.W.Forms is not possibly tainted by patents is
misleading. Even if a review has been done, it doesn't matter one bit:
we (mono developers) believe it is not patentable anyway. But we're not,
unfortunately, the people that decide that, it is the US patent office.

Obviously the issue is not limited to SWF or, indeed, to implementing
the .net framework with free software: the issue is software patents
and there are a number of ways mono is going to deal with them.

First, for example, in a proactive manner by fighting the introduction of sw 
patents in Europe: I know many mono developers participated in the recent 
push at the european parliament to limit software patentability. We also
obscured the mono home page to support the effort. We plan to do the
same if any such initiative is pursued by the US citizens. We hope the
dotgnu people will do the same in the future as well.

Second, as detailed in our FAQ, we plan to:
	(1) work around the patent by using a different implementation technique
	that retains the API, but changes the mechanism; if that is not
	possible, we would (2) remove the pieces of code that were covered by
	those patents, and also (3) find prior art that would render the patent

We welcome any help from DotGNU in these activities and our efforts, as
you know, are already available for DotGNU to use, since we publish our
code with a license that permits that.
I also want to reiterate that, since the issue is not limited to the
.net framework, but to any software implementation, we will collaborate
with all the true efforts to limit sw patentability as we have done in the

Rhys, Norbert, it's not clear from your mails what kind of collabaration you're
looking for. For example: would you want the large mono developer
community to do API reviews and patent searches as you've done for SWF? 
I think that would be a massive waste of time and resources until an
actual patent is granted and someone tries to extort^Wclaim money for
it. Linus Torvalds says it better:

	I do not look up any patents on _principle_, because (a) it's a horrible
	waste of time and (b) I don't want to know.

	The fact is, technical people are better off not looking at patents. If
	you don't know what they cover and where they are, you won't be knowingly
	infringing on them. If somebody sues you, you change the algorithm or you
	just hire a hit-man to whack the stupid git.

(Well, except we won't fisically hit anyone:-)
I'd like better if programmers spent their time designing, documenting
and implementing code than wasting time on patent searches: it is
dangerous both for their health and for their possibility to contribute
untainted code.
On the other hand, if you want to attract non-technical people to the
effort, I think the best way is to join existing anti-patents efforts in
the US, Europe or wherever you live, for example, see

If you have other forms of collaboration in mind, please elaborate:
we're certainly going to consider any effort that is legal, effective
and based on facts.


lupus@debian.org                                     debian/rules
lupus@ximian.com                             Monkeys do it better