[Mono-list] Re: Ask Microsoft: Mono support

David Waite David Waite <dwaite@gmail.com>
Thu, 28 Oct 2004 10:04:00 -0600

On Thu, 28 Oct 2004 10:45:40 -0400, Ed Burnette <ed.burnette@sas.com> wrote:
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Paolo Molaro <lupus@ximian.com>
> > IMHO, if they decide to attack Mono, as detailed in the FAQ, if they
> > have patents that can stand in court, we'll remove the features or
> > work around the patents. This may break compatibility, but we have our
> > own code and we'll adapt it.
> I read that in the FAQ. Why not do it now and make mono completely unencumbered? You say that compatibility isn't the primary concern. An IP-free implementation would eliminate any legal doubt that is slowing down commercial adoption. More adoption means more users and developers and a better environment, right?

Thats not really how it works. If there were four active patents
total, and they were all by Microsoft about things within the .Net
Framework - then sure, it would make sense to avoid it. But patents
are a horrible reality of the software engineering environment today.
You really cannot tie your own shoes without violating someone's
patent anymore - and at that point, it really becomes a business and
legal problem.

In addition. the penalties for patent infringement skyrocket if you
knowingly violate a patent. It is far better to just not look, play
ignorant to the whole issue, and be reactionary.

Or to summarize, in response to the 'why not switch now' question, my
follow-on question would be 'to what?' What is there in any software
engineering vertical which is not potentially patent-encombered in the
US? _Every_ open-source project has an equal potential for patent
infringement. Mono just gets a much larger amount of FUD over it
because villifying Microsoft is so easy and fashionable.

> I think you underestimate the paranoia of lawyers, especially at big companies. Although you and I can recognize FUD for what it is, lawyers take more convincing.

When there are enforced patents on ideas like 'plugins' and 'having
one program help another', lawyers really need to change their outlook
on what is the best outlook on patents.

-David Waite