Microsoft's Response to .NET Patents
Standards, yes, but licenses required. And they're nice enough to offer it royalty-free... for now. Somehow this is called going a step further than the standard organizations require. Maybe Jim Miller from Microsoft doesn't understand that open standards organizations will never charge money for implementing a standard (by definition), yet corporations can change licensing terms at any time. Microsoft already changes license agreements quarterly and each stipulates that users must adhere to any changes in the future or the license is automatically revoked.
RE: [Dotnet-sscli] Microsoft applies for .Net patent From: "Jim Miller \(.NET\)" <[email protected]> Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2003 09:57:39 -0800 Subject: RE: [Dotnet-sscli] Microsoft applies for .Net patent To: "Giuseppe Attardi" <[email protected]>, <[email protected]> List-archive: <http://mailserver.di.unipi.it/pipermail/dotnet-sscli/> List-help: <mailto:[email protected]?subject=help> List-id: SSCLI research list <dotnet-sscli.di.unipi.it> List-post: <mailto:[email protected]> List-subscribe: <http://mailserver.di.unipi.it/mailman/listinfo/dotnet-sscli>, <mailto:[email protected]?subject=subscribe> List-unsubscribe: <http://mailserver.di.unipi.it/mailman/listinfo/dotnet-sscli>, <mailto:[email protected]?subject=unsubscribe> Thread-index: AcLYFOa5MDhyOAXkQ0ad3orCqQ0qPQAKjk+w Thread-topic: [Dotnet-sscli] Microsoft applies for .Net patent
As one of the inventors on that patent as well as the person heading up the standardization efforts for the CLI, I'd like to explain why I've never felt the two are in conflict.
The ECMA process requires that all patents held by member companies that are essential for implementing its standards are available under "reasonable and non-discriminatory (RAND) terms" for the purpose of implementing those Standards. This is the normal condition used in all
International Standards organizations, including both ECMA and ISO.
But Microsoft (and our co-sponsors, Intel and Hewlett-Packard) went further and have agreed that our patents essential to implementing C# and CLI will be available on a "royalty-free and otherwise RAND" basis for this purpose.
Furthermore, our release of the Rotor source code base with a specific license on its use gives wide use to our patents for a particular (non-commercial) purpose, and as we explicitly state we are open to additional licenses for other purposes.
From: Giuseppe Attardi [mailto:[email protected]] Sent: Wednesday, February 19, 2003 4:34 AM To: [email protected] Subject: [Dotnet-sscli] Microsoft applies for .Net patent
News has been published (http://zdnet.com.com/2100-1104-984052.html) that Microsoft applied last year for a patent that covers .Net:
http://appft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF& d=PG01&p=1&u=/netahtml/PTO/srchnum.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1='20030028685'.PGNR.& OS=DN/20030028685&RS=DN/20030028685
This is quite broad claim, including all the architecture, the API, the set of types, etc.
It concludes like this:
Although the invention has been described in language specific to structural ii features and/or methodological acts, it is to be understood that the invention defined in the appended claims is not necessarily limited to the specific features or acts described. Rather, the specific features and acts are disclosed as exemplary forms of implementing the claimed invention.
I feel quite surprised by this news and I would like to hear your reactions. I had had the impression that Microsoft wanted to follow the path of standardization for .NET as the submission to ECMA seemed to prove.
I have been supportive of the .NET approach, as a means to raise the level of support for applications from basic OS primitives to a powerful cross-language OO platform.
I am afraid however that a patent in this area will stifle developments, since it will be difficult for researchers to undertake projects whose results can only benefit a single, albeit large, company.
I understand the need for Microsoft to protect their investments in
.NET, and I was willing to accept patents on specific techniques (e.g. the write barrier for GC), but an overall patent for the whole architecture seems too broad.
I would like comments from Microsoft people on this issue and in particular how this is going to affect Rotor and other initiatives based or related to .NET.
I am afraid that this initiative might split researchers in two camps, and only Microsoft funded projects will attract people working on .NET technologies.
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