[Mono-list] Java, Mono, or C++.. by HP

Pavlica, Nick Nick.Pavlica@echostar.com
Thu, 18 Mar 2004 08:33:56 -0700

An idea I wanted to share:

Once the internal legal review is done, do you think that it would be a
good idea to openly ask other parties like Microsoft to review Mono and
verify that it isn't violating any of there patents?  I think that this
would show good faith by the Mono project and Microsoft etc. 
Ultimately, all of these legal documents could become part of the
standard Mono documentation that people could use as a research point
when they need more concrete information/details than what would be
provided in something like an FAQ.  


On Wed, 2004-03-17 at 20:53, Miguel de Icaza wrote:
> Hello,
> > Let's face it. Only voicing ourselves is not going to help. Havoc has
> > brought out some very solid points and a stark reality too. Mono (as of
> > now) is not clear of legal doubts and Sun won't open source Java. If you
> > follow some latest news on Sun/Java, you'll find some interesting
> > things. Sun and M$ are competing for market-hold through Java/.NET
> > because that's their way to big money. What remains as options now are:
> > (1) GCJ or (2) Mono/IKVM. It's really a tough decision to take at this
> > juncture. Significant portions of both Java and .NET are still
> > proprietary, which have no open-source alternatives. This is what gives
> > Sun and M$ the impetus to wield managed-platforms monopoly.
> > 
> > The ideal solution might be open-source community having its own
> > managed-platform which is adaptive of Java and .NET. Or maybe some kind
> > of standard through which multiple managed-platforms can co-exist and
> > inter-operate. But that's far from realistic and in all likelihood, that
> > is not going to happen (at least anytime soon).
> The fear that people have on Mono's legal issues apply equally as well
> to everything else.  Let me explain.
> Sun owns various patents on Java, and they might just feel at some
> point threatened enough to use them as a weapon against open source. 
> In the same way people feel that Microsoft might pull that trigger.
> Just to put things into a different perspective: Sun has litigated over
> Java in the past (against Microsoft) over a contractual dispute and has
> done threatening legal moves against JBoss at some point (which I do
> not claim to understand) over bits of J2EE.
> If Java on Linux became a threat to Sun, would they use their patents? 
> I do not know, and I hope not.  Am only illustrating the point, just
> like other people have vehemently illustrated the Microsoft patent risk
> before.  
> There is nothing in Java that makes it any safer than Mono at this
> point.  We do not have any guarantees, any written statements, any
> guarantees that Java on Linux will not be sued under certain
> conditions.
> Microsoft has granted RAND+Royalty Free licenses to any patents they
> might own that are required to implement the ECMA 334/335 standards. 
> So at least our core VM, classes and compilers are safe from any
> litigation from *Microsoft*.  
> Now, pay attention to the above, because it is important.
> The fact that Microsoft has given access to any patents they might hold
> on .NET does not mean that a third party that has a patent that is
> required to implement ECMA (or Java) will grant that license.
> Why does this matter?  Because we just do not know if someone has a
> patent on pieces that Java and .NET implement.  There might very well
> be one that we are not aware of.  The patent might remain sleeping for
> a few years before someone decides to profit from it.
> And the above is important.  It is important because even with a fully
> re-engineered virtual machine, runtime system and the rest, we do not
> know if you will not be infringing on a Sun, Microsoft or third party
> patent.
> With the current patent situation, it is probably impossible to ask
> small startups or individual developers to do a patent review before
> they make decisions on how to implement their software, only very large
> companies might afford it, and believe me, even with vast resources,
> you might be taken to court by an unknown (Eolas patent for example) or
> by a law firm who focuses on purchasing dormant patents and litigate
> them.
> Nat used to say "If you write a thousand lines of code, you are
> violating someone's patent today".  
> The picture is not pretty for anyone in the software industry.  
> But this is similar to what happens to biology students: on their first
> four semesters as they learn about all the dangers, infections, vectors
> for infections and bacteria, they stop eating everything, they start
> washing their hands with special products, they double clean their
> utensils, they wash their fruits ten times a day.
> Two years later they are eating food with their bare hands again. 
> So at this point, you might want to consider a career switch.  Growing
> corn and pigs seems to be a fairly safe industry.
> Miguel.
> _______________________________________________
> Mono-list maillist  -  Mono-list@lists.ximian.com
> http://lists.ximian.com/mailman/listinfo/mono-list