Distinguishing Patents and Copyright

Tony Stanco formulated a clear distinction between patents and copyright:

Copyright provides exclusive plenary rights to the owner. Patents provide the owner only with the right to exclude others. I think the distinction was grounded in the fact that it would be hard to conflict with someone else’s copyright in an original work (which usually stood alone), while complex, interrelated processes/machines could easily involve multiple and conflicting patents. As a result, patents are only negative rights and a person’s exploitation of a particular patent in subject to the non existence of conflicting patent(s).

It’s a nice conclusion in a long discussion.


Richard J Moore from the IBM Linux Technology Centre, talked about Linux@IBM:

Richard started off with a survey that asked “Based on what you have seen or heard so far with Linux, how would you rate Linux on the following aspects?”. The results (most important on top):

1. Reliability
2. Acquisition Costs
3. Performance
4. Value of Open Source
5. Security

He labeled Linux Kernel 2.6 “a major step in the maturity of Linux”.

Summarizing IBM’s strategy, these are the important points:
– enabling linux hardware, software and services
– partnering with established linux vendors
– participating in the Linux FOSS developers community
– promoting adoption of open standards

Conerning the workload consolidation, IBM sees the following value propositions concerning Linux:
– reduce cost
– use resources more efficiently
– improve performance
– speed deployment
– centralized administration
– daramatically improve TCO

Yes, Linux is also being used inside of IBM to “eliminate OS/2 and Windows servers” (!). Linux runs on about 1100+ xSeries servers and zSeries in the IBM intranet. They do email filtering, web server, etc.

The Linux Technology Center department, where Richard works as RAS architect, focuses on the following areas:
– kernel scalability
– posix threading
– pci hot plug
– etc.
Their work is not architecture-specific. The department employs about 250+ engineers. More information can be found on the LTC Website.

Richard stressed at the end of his talks: “IBM does the upmost to be a good community player”. The succeeding discussion with the panel largely covered patent issues. Giving up IBM software patents would involve a “painfully expensive process”, Richard said. Jon “Maddog” Hall asked him, why IBM does not simple issue a statement saying that they will not use their patents against any FOSS project? Of course, Richard answered that this is nothing he could decide and added that “IBM is a big company that takes long to change its culture”.

Another question from the audience addressed the point why IBM does not offer Linux support for PCs or notebooks? Jon helped Richard answering the question, saying that the IBM Q&A team would have lots of work to make sure that Linux runs on their hardware – even if they choose only some PCs or notebooks. Nevertheless, Jon predicted that “the more linux goes to the dekstop, the more it will be supported, it’s simply a business decision”. Richard followed Jon saying that more significant investment is needed to make Linux widely adoptable for the Desktop, but currently it is still too hard to get a proper return on investment.