Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Cynthia Dunlop, Yeshim Deniz, VictorOps Blog

Related Topics: Linux Containers, Java IoT, Industrial IoT, Microservices Expo

Linux Containers: Article

Java Patents: "Software and Patents Don't Belong Together"

Java Patents: "Software and Patents Don't Belong Together"

Related Links:
  • Kodak Wins vs Sun: Java Infringes Kodak Patents
  • "Happy First Birthday, Groklaw!" Say Linux & GPL Lovers Everywhere
  • Linux Viewpoint: Sun Shows Its True Colors, Says Groklaw's "PJ"

    It's not often, recently, that the editor of Groklaw.net, Pamela Jones - a.k.a. "PJ" - has expressed much sympathy for Sun.

    Normally she is at the forefront of those criticizing Sun's management for their settlement with Microsoft, which she argues is nothing more than a pact to fight off the enterprise Linux challenge represented by Red Hat:

    "Sun and Microsoft evidently have figured out from the SCO wars...that attacking the FOSS community is suicide. So they have a new strategy: they will isolate Red Hat from the GNU/Linux herd, and they are now stalking it with the clear intent to destroy it." (Groklaw.net, September 28, 2004)

    But this week Jones is singing a different tune, because - compared to what she sees as the "truly disgusting" iniquity of Kodak's patent-infringement suit against Sun Microsystems - the Sun-Microsoft pact dwindles in significance.

    Referring to Friday's decision in Kodak's favor by the federal jury in Rochester, NY, Jones aserts that "Kodak won, thanks to a patent system spinning out of control, one that is destroying creativity and innovation in the software industry."

    "Sun, for all its faults," PJ writes, "developed Java. Sun is a tech company that cares about excellence, and they have put their heart and soul into developing Java. A community formed around Java too, and many, many individuals also contributed to its development."

    Contrast this, she implies, to the low-down tactics of the Eastman Kodak Co.

    "Kodak now says it will seek, in the damages part of the trial, $1.06 billion in past royalties, which they calculate represents *half* of Sun's operating profit from the sales of computer servers and storage equipment between January 1998 and June 2001. Why do they feel that is fair? Because Java provides 'the engine for such computer equipment.' Puh-lease. This is their workaround. You can download Java free, so I gather they wish to grab their royalties loot from Sun's hardware sales instead. I would expect them to also try to work out some kind of ongoing royalty deal as well, until the patent runs out. What kind of an upside-down, irrational Alice-in-Wonderland world do we live in, where such a result is possible?" (Groklaw.net, October 3, 2004)

    The current patents laws "reward the Kodaks of the world," Jones continues, "and penalizes Sun for years and years of expense and sweat and toil and creativity by robbing them of their due reward, not to mention removing any motive to ever do such innovative things again as long as they live."

    Strong language indeed.

    Oddly, and by a strange coincidence, Sun's own president and COO, Jonathan Schwartz, blogged on Friday - the very same day the federal jury handed down its decision that the Java programming language infringes on patents held by Eastman Kodak - that, on the contrary, software and patents were not just strange bedfellows, but necessary room-mates.

    Friday's entry, entitled "I believe in IP," began in resounding Schwartzian style:

    "I believe in intellectual property. In my view, it's the foundation of world economies, and certainly the foundation upon which Sun Microsystems was built. Copyright, trademark, patent - I believe in them all. I also believe in innovation and competition - and that these beliefs are not mutually exclusive."

    "If you look at Sun's business," Schwartz continued, "all we really are, like most of our peers in the technology industry (and the media and entertainment industries with which we're converging), is an intellectual property fountain. Pour money in the top, some of the world's most talented people go to work, intellectual property falls out the other end. We happen to turn our IP into storage and servers and software and services - but realistically, that's what our manufacturing and service partners do for us. All Sun ultimately does is create ideas, design systems and engage communities."

    So what, more specifically, is his stance on patents? Here is what Schwartz wrote:

    "A few weeks ago, the CEO of one of the more popular open source companies called and asked me to support their stance on the invalidation of software patents. I listened closely, I respect the guy and his company. But this was the same CEO who forbade Sun from shipping his open source technology with Solaris based on a curious interpretation of the GNU Public License. And based on rabid enforcement of copyright. He was looking for broadscale support for invalidation of software patents - not spurious patents, not the kind that are acquired for litigation, but the whole concept of software patents.

    And so I asked - 'I'm not sure why you're asking my support to invalidate what Sun's stockholders have invested tens of billions of dollars to create, when you'd cringe if I told you to give away your largest asset, your copyright and brand.' His answer, 'You just don't understand.' He was right, I didn't and don't. And we're going to agree to disagree.'"

    What goes for Sun presumably goes for Eastman Kodak, which purchased the disputed patents from Wang Laboratories in 1997 when it bought Wang's imaging software business for $260 million and is now looking for restitution in the damages part of the trial to the tune of $1.06 billion in past royalties, which Kodak's lawyers calculate represents half of Sun's operating profit from the sales of computer servers and storage equipment between January 1998 and June 2001. So are we to assume that Sun won't be protesting the federal jury decision?

    We are not. Sun's lawyers will on the contrary, be mounting "a vigorous defense" in the damages phase of the trial, they say. 

    Their argument to date has been that Java does not violate the Kodak patents, and that - even if it does - they are invalid.

    This may be difficult to reconcile with Schwartz's spirited blog. "I continue to believe in the protection of ideas conveyed by patents," he writes. "From drug discovery to academic work, the protection of IP is part and parcel of what incents inventors to invent, and investors to invest."

    As they say: in this life, timing is everything.


    Related Links:
  • Kodak Wins vs Sun: Java Infringes Kodak Patents
  • "Happy First Birthday, Groklaw!" Say Linux & GPL Lovers Everywhere
  • Linux Viewpoint: Sun Shows Its True Colors, Says Groklaw's "PJ"
  • More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

    Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

    Comments (14) View Comments

    Share your thoughts on this story.

    Add your comment
    You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

    In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


    Most Recent Comments
    OS Solaris? 11/01/04 06:42:31 AM EST

    Talking of patents, hasn't The SCO Group Inc. consistently has said Sun does not have the rights under its contracts to open-source Solaris. So, how does Sun propose to open-source Solaris 10?

    Dat Guy 10/05/04 09:04:10 PM EDT

    PS: I want 15 cents from anyone that reads my last comment out loud. Seriously, I'll sue your *** if you don't send me money now!

    Dat Guy 10/05/04 08:59:57 PM EDT

    I just got a patent on the audibale frequency pattern produced by linear occiliscopic filters using cross parabolic scopular programming algorithms, created when someone utters the word "Kodak".

    I am now suing Kodak for 15 cents for every time they answer their phone. They claim my use of the patent is an underhanded abuse and money grab! They will pay for my stupidity!!

    me_mybusiness 10/05/04 01:31:04 PM EDT

    Datastalker has hit the nail in the head.

    In North America (America and Canada), the way to pursue the American\Canadian dream used to be to build something or provide a service, work hard and do it better than the other guy. The quality of the product or service one provided would determine whether one succeed.

    At that time, people who wanted to "get in on the action" would invest in your endeavour. For a small investment, they could share in the profits. It was a passive thing - stockholders were along for the ride, they didn't drive the bus.

    Enter accountants whose only concerns are "profit centers", "cost centers", and the bottom line.

    Now companies no longer make their money providing products or sevices, they make it by selling stock, and the driving force is not innovation or quality, but "Maximizing Stockholder Value", which seems to be accomplished by cutting costs, producing cheaply, and forcing stock price higher by any means possible, including frivolous lawsuits, patent grabbing, outright deception, etc.

    Maybe it's time someone in this part of the world started a company where the quality of its products and\or services were the focus, not whether you can sell your stock for more, whether you can manipulate the courts to stifle competition, or whether you can save a few bucks by sending the work to Bangalore...

    JavaMan 10/05/04 09:06:00 AM EDT

    I'm an advocate for open source and the sharing of ideas that make this world a better place to both live and work. I truly believe that two people can have the same idea and formulate the same type of solution. The question then becomes "Whose idea was it in the first place?" In our world it would seem to be the person who makes it to the patent office first.

    Kodak "happened" to acquire these patents from Wang. Bottom line, the idea and the solution behind them weren't theirs to begin with. Kodak stands to reap fruit from trees they didn't plant.

    We all need to grow up a little a share like good boys and girls. If money is the only thing that drives our creativity (or pursuit of someone elses patents) then, as a society, we have much deeper issues.

    moojin 10/05/04 08:49:34 AM EDT

    Isn't "one program calling another program for help" the whole idea behind object oriented programming? And even before object oriented programming was defined, one program calling another program can be found in almost any operating system or complex application.

    thewiz 10/05/04 08:16:53 AM EDT

    Unfortunately, IMO it will take some software companies being litigated out of existence before the patent laws change. Like healthcare in America, changes to law are ALWAYS a reaction to something being really out of whack.

    Think about how long it has taken for Americans to get a clue about how bad things like McDonalds food are for your health. Our healthcare system reacts to things, like people having a heart attack, instead of the person taking preventative measures (exercise, diet) before the heart attack happens.

    It's going to take several major software companies having legal "heart attacks" because of software patents before the rest of the industry gets a clue and quits dining at the trough of patents and IP.

    madstork2000 10/05/04 08:12:05 AM EDT

    Kodak is yet another company that has been bleeding badly, and thus turns to litigation to survive. Hopefully soon a judge and the judges above them will get a clue and realize software patents are ridiculous, and should not be allowed to survive.

    tabdelgawad 10/05/04 07:38:43 AM EDT

    I don't see how patents have fostered software innovation in the US; copyrights seem to be sufficient protection for that. On the other hand, where is the *evidence* that patents have choked-off software innovation? What developer did not pursue an idea for fear of a patent-infringement lawsuit?

    If we're going to argue against patents, then let's see the evidence that they actually choked-off innovation.

    LordK2002 10/05/04 07:36:20 AM EDT

    Given that this lawsuit is a threat to Sun, Microsoft and IBM, anybody want to take bets on how long Kodak will prevail?

    bartman 10/05/04 07:26:23 AM EDT

    If Kodak owns a patent which describes a way for a piece of software to "ask for help" from another application, then aren't technologies like RPC and CORBA at risk?

    datastalker 10/05/04 07:04:12 AM EDT

    It seems that today, companies don't produce products, they produce lawsuits, and that's how they get their money. How long can this continue?

    Furthermore, since $1.06B is about 1/3 of Sun's cash on hand, what will that mean for Sun? It's 7% of their total value, so this can't be good for them.

    In the end, it's only the lawyers who win.

    rollingcalf 10/05/04 07:00:43 AM EDT

    Software is the only thing in the world that can be patented, copyrighted, and be a trade secret at the same time (because source code in usually not revealed). That definitely makes it different, and that sort of multi-level IP protection is excessive.

    eamacnaghten 10/05/04 06:59:31 AM EDT

    This epitomizes the case against software patents. They are too open to abuse. The purpose of patents is to encourage inovation, I do not think this is the case with software ones. The vast majority of software is written by employees of non-software companies for those companies. Software patents are irrelevant there. Copyright performs as good a protection where needed regarding software as ever is required.
    Even if you think patents are a good thing (as I do), there is no room for Software Patents. The only people they benefit are the Lawyer IP-Land-Grabbers. The vast amount of the proffessionals in the industry I know are against them (includiong me).

    @MicroservicesExpo Stories
    IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? How do you coordinate the diverse moving parts that must come together when developing your IoT product? What are the key challenges addressed by Data as a Service? How does cloud computing underlie and connect the notions of Digital and DevOps What is the impact of the API economy? What is the business imperative for Cognitive Computing? Get all these questions and hundreds more like them answered at the 18th Cloud Expo...
    SYS-CON Events announced today the Docker Meets Kubernetes – Intro into the Kubernetes World, being held June 9, 2016, in conjunction with 18th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Register for 'Docker Meets Kubernetes Workshop' Here! This workshop led by Sebastian Scheele, co-founder of Loodse, introduces participants to Kubernetes (container orchestration). Through a combination of instructor-led presentations, demonstrations, and hands-on labs, participants learn ...
    SYS-CON Events announced today the How to Create Angular 2 Clients for the Cloud Workshop, being held June 7, 2016, in conjunction with 18th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified. Now it’s a component-based well-performing framework. The immersive one-day workshop led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and...
    Agile teams report the lowest rate of measuring non-functional requirements. What does this mean for the evolution of quality in this era of Continuous Everything? To explore how the rise of SDLC acceleration trends such as Agile, DevOps, and Continuous Delivery are impacting software quality, Parasoft conducted a survey about measuring and monitoring non-functional requirements (NFRs). Here's a glimpse at what we discovered and what it means for the evolution of quality in this era of Continuo...
    Last week I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel at Sapphire Ventures Next-Gen Tech Stack Forum in San Francisco. Obviously, I was excited to join the discussion, but as a participant the event crystallized not only where the larger software development market is relative to microservices, container technologies (like Docker), continuous integration and deployment; but also provided insight into where DevOps is heading in the coming years.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC Software has been named "Siver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. BMC is a global leader in innovative software solutions that help businesses transform into digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive advantage. BMC Digital Enterprise Management is a set of innovative IT solutions designed to make digital business fast, seamless, and optimized from mainframe to mo...
    Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
    In the rush to compete in the digital age, a successful digital transformation is essential, but many organizations are setting themselves up for failure. There’s a common misconception that the process is just about technology, but it’s not. It’s about your business. It shouldn’t be treated as an isolated IT project; it should be driven by business needs with the committed involvement of a range of stakeholders.
    You might already know them from theagileadmin.com, but let me introduce you to two of the leading minds in the Rugged DevOps movement: James Wickett and Ernest Mueller. Both James and Ernest are active leaders in the DevOps space, in addition to helping organize events such as DevOpsDays Austinand LASCON. Our conversation covered a lot of bases from the founding of Rugged DevOps to aligning organizational silos to lessons learned from W. Edwards Demings.
    Earlier this week, we hosted a Continuous Discussion (#c9d9) on Continuous Delivery (CD) automation and orchestration, featuring expert panelists Dondee Tan, Test Architect at Alaska Air, Taco Bakker, a LEAN Six Sigma black belt focusing on CD, and our own Sam Fell and Anders Wallgren. During this episode, we discussed the differences between CD automation and orchestration, their challenges with setting up CD pipelines and some of the common chokepoints, as well as some best practices and tips...
    When I talk about driving innovation with self-organizing teams, I emphasize that such self-organization includes expecting the participants to organize their own teams, give themselves their own goals, and determine for themselves how to measure their success. In contrast, the definition of skunkworks points out that members of such teams are “usually specially selected.” Good thing he added the word usually – because specially selecting such teams throws a wrench in the entire works, limiting...
    SoftLayer operates a global cloud infrastructure platform built for Internet scale. With a global footprint of data centers and network points of presence, SoftLayer provides infrastructure as a service to leading-edge customers ranging from Web startups to global enterprises. SoftLayer's modular architecture, full-featured API, and sophisticated automation provide unparalleled performance and control. Its flexible unified platform seamlessly spans physical and virtual devices linked via a world...
    Automation is a critical component of DevOps and Continuous Delivery. This morning on #c9d9 we discussed CD Automation and how you can apply Automation to accelerate release cycles, improve quality, safety and governance? What is the difference between Automation and Orchestration? Where should you begin your journey to introduce both?
    SYS-CON Events announced today TechTarget has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TechTarget is the Web’s leading destination for serious technology buyers researching and making enterprise technology decisions. Its extensive global networ...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
    As AT&Ts VP of Domain 2.0 architecture writes one aspect of their Domain 2.0 strategy is a goal to embrace a Microservices Application Architecture. One page 9 they describe how these envisage them fitting into the ECOMP architecture: "The initial steps of the recipes include a homing and placement task using constraints specified in the requests. ‘Homing and Placement' are micro-services involving orchestration, inventory, and controllers responsible for infrastructure, network, and applicati...
    Many banks and financial institutions are experimenting with containers in development environments, but when will they move into production? Containers are seen as the key to achieving the ultimate in information technology flexibility and agility. Containers work on both public and private clouds, and make it easy to build and deploy applications. The challenge for regulated industries is the cost and complexity of container security compliance. VM security compliance is already challenging, ...
    A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Tintri Inc., a leading producer of VM-aware storage (VAS) for virtualization and cloud environments, will exhibit at the 18th International CloudExpo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    Just last week a senior Hybris consultant shared the story of a customer engagement on which he was working. This customer had problems, serious problems. We’re talking about response times far beyond the most liberal acceptable standard. They were unable to solve the issue in their eCommerce platform – specifically Hybris. Although the eCommerce project was delivered by a system integrator / implementation partner, the vendor still gets involved when things go really wrong. After all, the vendo...