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    SubjectRe: [OT] use of patented algorithms in the kernel ok or not?
    Arjan van de Ven wrote:
    > On Fri, 2003-12-19 at 00:11, Lennert Buytenhek wrote:
    > > However, I am aware that there is a patent on this algorithm, exclusively
    > > licensed to a major manufacturer of networking equipment.
    >
    > a patent in which country ?
    >
    > Maybe we need a CONFIG_USA so that we can enhance the kernel for
    > non-unitedstatians while keeping it safe to run in that one country with
    > the patents as well.

    Seriously, I am working on code which would potentially infringe a
    good number of patents in the USA, if it were used there, but I do not
    know which ones. It is a guess.

    Where I live most of those patents are not relevant. So I do not make
    a point of studying them. I do not live or work in the USA, and my
    code is more useful to people in the rest of the world anyway. But I
    would still like to share it without bias to people in all countries.

    One or two of the patents may be relevant due to a problem of
    ambiguity from allegedly illegally granted patents in the country
    where I live. Even if those patents in this country could be shown to
    be invalid (not the same as illegal), I am not large enough
    economically (i.e. I'm a small business, not a large business) to
    afford the risk or legal costs of assuming that. Therefore I must
    hope for some clarity in the law here regarding their illegality,
    which may come.

    I know that equivalent code, which is covered by most if not all of
    the patents, is sold by some software companies to product developers
    _in the USA_ without prelicensed patents. The problem of acquiring
    suitable patent licenses is left to the purchasers.

    Rationally I would expect that if someone is able to sell code and
    leave the problem of patent licensing to the purchaser, then one
    should be able to _give away_ code and leave the problem of patent
    licensing to the recipient.

    Yet it is clear from a million threads like this one that giving away
    code freely is feared to be patent infringement even when selling it
    under restrictive licensing is not.

    There is a horrible dichotomy in this picture, and I'm not sure what
    to do about it. Stopping innovating due to fear of potential patent
    litigation does not seem like a right thing to do. Switching to a
    closed-source model because that removes one from liability does not
    seem like a right thing either.

    I would be really pleased if someone were able to show that
    distributing code in a disabled form, for example using something like
    CONFIG_USA which you mentioned, or something which requires more
    expertise to change, placed liabilities for enabling and using the
    code upon the person who does the enabling, and not the original
    author or distributor of the code.

    Is there any USA-based precedent to that effect? Perhaps that's even
    the norm and I have not understood how things work there?

    Thanks,
    -- Jamie
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