Search for Bilski scapegoats targets IBM

Search for Bilski scapegoats targets IBM

Summary: IBM is an enemy because its brief seems to be what the Roberts court followed most closely in making its decision.

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TOPICS: Open Source, IBM
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Given the failure of the Bilski case to change the status quo regarding software and business method patents, the search is on for scapegoats, for weak sisters in the anti-patent fight who can be made open to criticism.

It is similar to what happens after a losing political campaign. Those most committed to the cause argue that it's weak supporters, those willing to do business under the given circumstances, who are responsible for their political failure.

So it is that Florian Mueller of Fosspatents has seized upon IBM.

IBM has supported open source, it has arranged its business model to support open source, it contributes people and money to programs like Eclipse, but it has a lot of patents and continues to accumulate them.

It does business with the other side, in other words, and acknowledges reality.

To Mueller this makes IBM anathema. Just as business Republicans are seen as anathema by members of the Tea Party, Mueller sees IBM's acceptance of reality as threatening the movement he believes in. IBM is John McCain, and Mueller supports J.D. Hayworth.

For evidence, Mueller points to IBM's own friend of the court brief in the Bilski case, which while friendly toward open source did not demand that courts make worthless the hundreds of millions it has spent over the years securing patent rights.

Specifically he objects to the third section of the brief, headlined "Software inventions that make technological contributions are patentable." What brings him to the boil is this sentence:

"Patent protection has promoted the free sharing of source code on a patentee’s terms---which has fueled the explosive growth of open source software development."

This is IBM's position, and appears to be the position of the court as well. It's not Mueller's position. It is, in fact, directly contradictory to his position.

But let's be clear about where people stand. IBM does not put out its code under the GPL. It prefers the Eclipse license. Mueller, by contrast, is a FOSS advocate. FOSS and open source are different.

Thus Mueller calls IBM's brief "the worst lie ever in the software patent debate," calling IBM's stand "a mockery of freedom." In other words, IBM is an enemy because its brief seems to be what the Roberts court followed most closely in making its decision.

What say you? Can IBM still be a friend to open source, or are you for joining the Florian Mueller Tea Party?

Topics: Open Source, IBM

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9 comments
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  • RE: Search for Bilski scapegoats targets IBM

    Mueller is a nut.
    rrogacki@...
    • RE: Search for Bilski scapegoats targets IBM

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      musdahi
  • "FOSS and open source are different."?

    Now, I understand what Free Software is (as in Richard Stallman's stance), and I understand what Open Source is (as in Eric Raymond's stance). And isn't the definition of FOSS is the union of Free Software and Open Source Software - i.e., F/OSS.

    Dana - what do you mean by FOSS? Are you confusing FOSS with Open Source?
    NetArch.
    • RE: Search for Bilski scapegoats targets IBM

      Stupid spam filters. I edited the last sentence of the post from "confusing FOSS with Open Source" to "confusing FOSS with Free Software".

      Moderators - feel free to delete this once someone's reviewed the flag on my previous post...
      NetArch.
    • RE: Search for Bilski scapegoats targets IBM

      @NetArch. No. This is precisely the point. Open source does not require the fourth freedom -- the software's freedom to grow is another way of looking at it.

      The difference between open source and FOSS is that between any BSD-type license and the GPL.
      DanaBlankenhorn
  • RE: Search for Bilski scapegoats targets IBM

    While I am not so naive as to believe IBM will not reap benefits from releasing Linux source, they still are helping the overall community. So I don't begrudge them the right to play both sides of the line. I enjoy free software for now, but I was willing to pay when that was required, too, even when there were plenty of people offernig me bootleg copies.

    In the political arena, I'm not for the business Republicans, because they make decisions for the wrong reasons and find themselves beholden to business. I want conservatives that will do what's right, regardless of what it may mean for them personally. Let's hope we can find some. Unfortunately, the current administration is changing the stuff that was right and keeping the stuff that was wrong.
    JimboNobody
  • RE: Search for Bilski scapegoats targets IBM

    "Free", "Open Source" or whatever it's called has to exist in an economic system that sustains the participants. People who do the work have to be paid, or the system stagnates and dies. The currency may or may not be money, but there has to be some currency.

    Since most Open Source users are freeloaders -- do not contribute to the code -- the efforts of companies like IBM and Oracle are necessary to keep most Open Source code viable. And, companies have to make money to exist. The business physics are really quite simple.

    Big companies like IBM are easy targets, but Tea Partying about some conjured ideal like Mueller's is not useful.
    dsonnen@...
  • The Tea Party in perspective

    Oddly enough, the Tea Party has become exactly what the Communist Party was to an earlier generation; a way to register discontent without bothering to actually grasp the ideology.
    rt@...
  • RE: Search for Bilski scapegoats targets IBM

    I'd like to point out that just as there are ways to reward open source development besides giving someone a "job" that there are ways to contribute to projects besides slinging code. Many projects are in desperate need of things such as good documentation and tutorials, translation help, and evangelism. I think that the lack of these sorts of involvement is often what puts open source projects behind many of the commercial ones. The focus on the technical avoids many of the areas where users live. If the goal is to spread the project to many users, then those areas have to be addressed by someone... and the ones most talented in those areas are usually not coder types. Don't feel like you can't do something useful because you don't crunch code. Any time spent improving the position of an open source project is a contribution.
    cmwaldenatx