[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Xfstt and Sampo Kaasila's patents

> I am morally oposed to Software patents

It's not a moral issue for me, but I too oppose them strongly as bad for the
industry and the public.

> I will contact the FreeType people and see what they know of this.

I've been told here was some discussion on freetype-dev and nobody
understood the issue clearly enough to take it seriously.  I didn't read the
discussion, so I don't know how accurate that is.

> I have not been served with any formal notice or whatnot from the patent
> holder (who is the patent holder btw?)

Sampo Kaasila, one of the main developers of the TrueType format while he
was at Apple.  The patents were assigned to Apple.

As far as I know, Apple has never gone after anyone.  The issue first came
up when Bitstream (I think) boasted on some discussion list that their TT
rasterizer used hints, and that FreeType couldn't do so without infringing
the patent.

> I don't plan to take any action until I am convinced that xfstt violates
> the patent.

It is my understanding that any implementation of the TrueType hinting
machinery violates the patent, since the specification of the hint-related
"instructions" directly mirrors the claims of the patents.

> I will then contact the patent holder and inform them of the situation and
> ask if there is any possibility of them allowing the distribution
> of xfstt as it is Free Software and not a comercial effort.

We have been trying for something like 2 years to get Apple to license their
rasterizer for *commercial* use -- i.e., pay them money -- and every time
the same thing happens: we don't hear anything for months, and then when we
contact them again, the person we were talking with has left and we have to
start all over with someone else.  But they have also indicated serious
interest in the Open Source community, so maybe they will listen to you.

> (I may also see if there is any way that I can make it work without
> violating the patent)

Kaasila's new company offers a TT rasterizer that relies on auto-hinting.  I
would love to see a free TT rasterizer that uses that approach.  It would
take some reading in the literature to find the state of the art.

> I thank you for informing me of this, and I hope that this turns out to be
> a false alarm or at worst a fixable situation. Who knows...maybe there
> could even be found some prior art which will invalidate the patent? We
> can always hope.

That would be wonderful....

> Do you know the number of the patent offhand? Do you know who holds the
> patent?

The USPTO patent search home page is

If I remember correctly that Sampo Kaasila is the inventor on all the
relevant patents, they are:

The first and third relate directly to the TT hinting mechanism.  The second
appears to be more general and might cover some possible implementations of
Type 1 hinting as well.

Good luck, and please keep me posted -

L. Peter Deutsch         |       Aladdin Enterprises :::: ghost@aladdin.com
203 Santa Margarita Ave. | tel. +1-650-322-0103 (AM only); fax +1-650-322-1734
Menlo Park, CA 94025     |        http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/index.html

Reply to: