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Re: nomarch-1.2 - Problems with RLE patent 4,586,027

On Thu, 16 May 2002 21:45:17 -0700
Joseph Carter <knghtbrd@bluecherry.net> wrote:

> On Thu, May 16, 2002 at 08:03:11PM -0500, Steve Langasek wrote:
> > > I have just done some further investigation of the IP behind this
> > > thing, and the RLE decoding is covered by a Hitachi patent
> > > 4,586,027 (filed 08/07/84, granted 04/29/86) that is due to run
> > > out in July 2004 I believe.  

-sheesh-. it could be argued that forward relative branch machine
instructions are also covered under the patent, since it would look
precisely like run-length encoding.

> > Patents have not generally been regarded as rendering software
> > non-free. If the license on the software itself meets the DFSG, I
> > believe it's sufficient to move the package to non-US/main, rather
> > than to non-free.(Note also that tagging the package as 'non-free'
> > doesn't grant anyone the right to distribute it in countries where
> > doing so infringes on a patent-holder's rights.)
> I haven't seen Hitachi threatening anyone with a lawsuit over RLE.  Of
> course, I also haven't seen Microsoft threaten anyone with a lawsuit
> over a Save As feature.  (YES, they have a patent on Save As -
> ridiculous but true..)

Agreed. And Apple has had prior art the whole time (see any of their
apps, and Apple Human Interface Guidelines for proof of this).

> I think Debian suffers from patent paranoia.  If Hitachi has not gone
> out of their way to be annoying with their patent as Unisys has, and
> the patent is otherwise obvious and ridiculous, why the hell should we
> cripple Debian for it?
> Other things that use RLE:
> 	SDL_image
> 	Quake 2
> 	Just about any graphics viewer
> 	imlib
> 	gdk-pixbuf

       pascal strings
       forth strings

> Shall we also remove abiword and the new openoffice packages because
> they include a Save As feature?  How about removing emacs and vi?

Instead, the fact emacs has had a "write to" which is functionally
equivalent to save as, is probably support for the above prior art

> If Debian hasn't got the balls to stand up for itself in the face of
> even a ridiculously obvious patent like RLE, we may as well all go
> home now because there's not a damned thing we can do for our users -
> even apt and GNU fileutils infringe a pair of other Microsoft patents.
>  That's right, they've got patents on symlinks (a new feature added to
>  Win2k) and on upgrading over the network.  Oh we've got years of
>  prior art for either, but I can promise you that people were using
>  RLE compression back as far as 1956.
> This project needs a backbone.

OK. Hire the lawyers necessary to support the claims you're making 
rather than suggest that debian should just go ahead and break the
law without thinking. It looks like every one of these patents you've
mentioned have prior art. The backboney thing to do is get those patents
recinded, all of them. BTW, maybe the symlink patent could stand up
if microsoft owns unix and unix invented symlinks... you would need art
prior to unix.

(btw... is anyone besides me wondering what could happen if microsoft
buys redhat (and therefore cygnus and arsdigita)? Now that redhat is
publically traded, it could happen)

> -- 
> Joseph Carter <knghtbrd@bluecherry.net>          If this sig were
> funny... 
> <WildTHing> ok guys .. so whens the next commit :PP
> <taniwha> when they come to get me

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