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Nokia Offers Patents to Linux Kernel
Friday, May 27 2005 @ 04:34 PM EDT

Well, knock me over with a feather. Nokia has made a patent pledge, to allow "all its patents", as it puts it in the press release, to be used in the further development of the Linux kernel, in order to give it certainty. Nokia has been pushing very hard for software patents in Europe, so this took me by surprise. Here is how they put it:

Nokia believes that the investment made by so many individuals and companies in creating and developing the Linux Kernel and other open source software deserve a framework of certainty.

  While Nokia welcomes the recent announcements in the industry where companies have stated express non-assertions with regard to some of their patents, it also believes that the situation would substantially improve, if more supporters of the Linux Kernel and other open source software would take a clear public position on this issue.

So far, their statement is with regard to the kernel only, but they will "review whether similar statements can be made with respect to other open source projects in which Nokia is participating."

Matt Whipp at PCPro adds this extremely important detail:

In order to establish that commitment it is promising not to assert patents against the Linux kernel and additionally to not grant patent licences to companies asserting patent claims against the Linux kernel.

I waited a day to report this, because I wanted to pick a patent attorney's brain first. I saw some negative reactions from others, and my first reaction was a bit cynical as well -- thinking maybe they were doing this to make it seem like software patents in the EU are not a threat to FOSS. I worried about the fine print, and I wanted to be sure I understood it. My attorney friend says that in his opinion this is a fine and meaningful statement from Nokia. Motives -- well, time will tell. So I applaud Nokia and thank them very much.

I would encourage them -- and everyone -- to think about the need for innovation in FOSS, which depends on a healthy ecosystem, and not just offer protection on patents that benefit one company's projects, but rather the freedom to develop in whatever ways creative programmers can invent. For that, we need a bigger solution.

The proprietary mindset thinks in terms of what is best for the company, while throwing tacks in the road of competitors. This seriously hinders progress. FOSS encourages competition, because the common pot is enhanced by knowledge from everyone, and that, of course, is what made Linux develop so well, so fast. It's science, and scientists share what they know, so as to encourage progress. It works.

Here's the fine print:

Nokia hereby commits not to assert any of its Patents (as defined herein below) against any Linux Kernel (as defined herein below) existing as of 25 May 2005. The aforesaid non-assertion shall extend to any future Linux Kernel to the extent that Nokia does not declare any new functionality embodied in such Linux Kernel to be outside the scope of this Patent Statement. Nokia shall issue such declaration through its website no later than one hundred and twenty (120) days after the official release of such Linux Kernel.

Both of the aforesaid non-assertion commitments are subject to the condition that the party relying on any such commitment and its Affiliates do not assert any of their patents, or patents they control or have a third party assert any patent, against any Linux Kernel.. . .

"Linux Kernel" means any version of the Linux kernel which (i) is released as "stable version", (ii) is licensed under the "GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE Version 2, June 1991 for the Linux operating system" and (iii) has been published by the Kernel.org Organization, Inc on its Linux Kernel Archive website at www.kernel.org.

So, it's legally binding, and it covers the kernel as of today, stable releases. The future, though, appears a bit less clear. But remember, legalese is what it is. With patents, this is about as good as it gets. (That's why patents and software need to get a divorce, but that's another topic.)

I'm glad that the patent safety zone just got a bit bigger for Linux, and I hope Nokia extends their statement to cover the rest of the FOSS world. The safety zone needs to become a lot bigger if software patents are allowed, unless the world desires to kill off FOSS and the billions that come with it. I trust Nokia, which supports software patents in Europe, will continue to think deep thoughts about what is needed to keep FOSS alive, now that they have released a Linux device. Clearly, their statement is an acknowledgment that FOSS is directly imperiled by software patents. They are right. It is.

You might enjoy to read an IBM paper on the change in thinking that an individual or company must make to understand and then gain the benefits of Open Source, "Opening minds: Cultural change with the introduction of open-source collaboration methods " [PDF], by A. Neus and P. Scherf. It's a cultural shift, and we see it happening in real time at Nokia.

By the way, some have expressed concern that Nokia's statement somehow violates the GPL. My patent pal says no. There's no requirement in the GPL that Nokia license its patents. So long as no court has issued an injunction barring making or using of the Linux kernel, or no party has agreed to a patent license barring the distribution of the Linux kernel in compliance with the GPL, Section 7 doesn't apply. So you worriers can relax on that score.

Here is the Nokia press release, followed by the statement:

****************************

Nokia announces patent support to the Linux Kernel
May 25, 2005

Espoo, Finland - Nokia Corporation announced today that it allows all its patents to be used in the further development of the Linux Kernel. Nokia believes that open source software communities, like open standards, foster innovation and make an important contribution to the creation and rapid adaptation of technologies.

  Unlike other open standards, however, many open source software projects rely only on copyright licenses that often do not clarify patent issues. Nokia believes that the investment made by so many individuals and companies in creating and developing the Linux Kernel and other open source software deserve a framework of certainty.

  While Nokia welcomes the recent announcements in the industry where companies have stated express non-assertions with regard to some of their patents, it also believes that the situation would substantially improve, if more supporters of the Linux Kernel and other open source software would take a clear public position on this issue.

  Nokia, therefore, issues the legally binding Patent Statement, which has been posted on its website at www.nokia.com/iprstatements. The Patent Statement applies to Nokia's patents infringed by current official releases of the Linux Kernel and all future official releases of the Linux Kernel to the extent that Nokia has not declared new functionality embodied in such releases to be outside the scope of the Patent Statement. With respect to new functionality introduced into future Linux Kernel releases, Nokia reserves the right to declare that the Patent Statement shall not apply.

  Nokia intends to work with the open source community in identifying in advance those functionalities that Nokia would declare to be outside the Patent Statement. Nokia invites each patent holder to make similar statements with regard to the open source software projects it wants to support. While Nokia's Patent Statement is limited to official releases of the Linux Kernel only, Nokia intends to review whether similar statements can be made with respect to other open source projects in which Nokia is participating.

  Nokia also believes that a party should not enjoy use of Nokia's patents and at the same time threaten the development of the Linux Kernel by assertion of its own patents. Therefore, Nokia's commitment shall not apply with regard to any party asserting its patents against any Linux Kernel.

  By issuing the Patent Statement, Nokia wishes to encourage others to follow in order to foster the open development model and innovation for the benefit of developers and users alike. 

    About Nokia

Nokia is a world leader in mobile communications, driving the growth and sustainability of the broader mobility industry. Nokia connects people to each other and the information that matters to them with easy-to-use and innovative products like mobile phones, devices and solutions for imaging, games, media and businesses. Nokia provides equipment, solutions and services for network operators and corporations. www.nokia.com

*********************

Legally Binding Commitment Not to Assert Nokia Patents against the Linux Kernel

Patent Statement

Nokia hereby commits not to assert any of its Patents (as defined herein below) against any Linux Kernel (as defined herein below) existing as of 25 May 2005. The aforesaid non-assertion shall extend to any future Linux Kernel to the extent that Nokia does not declare any new functionality embodied in such Linux Kernel to be outside the scope of this Patent Statement. Nokia shall issue such declaration through its website no later than one hundred and twenty (120) days after the official release of such Linux Kernel.

Both of the aforesaid non-assertion commitments are subject to the condition that the party relying on any such commitment and its Affiliates do not assert any of their patents, or patents they control or have a third party assert any patent, against any Linux Kernel.

Nokia's Patent Statement is not an assurance that any of its Patents validly covers the Linux Kernel, is enforceable, or that the Linux Kernel does not infringe patents or other intellectual property rights of any third party.

No other rights except those expressly stated in this Patent Statement shall be deemed granted or received by implication, or estoppel, or otherwise.

Definitions:

"Affiliate"
of a party means any legal entity greater than fifty percent (50%) of whose outstanding shares or securities representing the right to vote for the election of directors or other managing authority are, or greater than fifty percent (50%) of whose equity interest is, now or hereafter, owned or controlled, directly or indirectly by that party, but only as long as such ownership or control exists.

"Nokia"
means Nokia Corporation and its Affiliates.

"Linux Kernel"
means any version of the Linux kernel which (i) is released as "stable version", (ii) is licensed under the "GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE Version 2, June 1991 for the Linux operating system" and (iii) has been published by the Kernel.org Organization, Inc on its Linux Kernel Archive website at www.kernel.org.

"Patent"
means any such claims, including without limitation, method and product claims, of any and all patents and patent applications with a priority date of 31 December 2005 or earlier, now owned or hereafter acquired by Nokia, which are infringed by any Linux Kernel that exists as of 25 May 2005 or by any functionality embodied in any future Linux Kernel to the extent that Nokia has not declared as described hereinabove such functionality to be outside the scope of this Patent Statement. For the avoidance of doubt, Patent shall not include any claims for enabling technologies that are not themselves embodied in the Linux Kernel (e.g., without limitation, hardware or semiconductor manufacturing technology as such).


  


Nokia Offers Patents to Linux Kernel | 241 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections here
Authored by: PhilFrisbie on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 04:48 PM EDT
And the first correction is the Nokia links are broken :(

[ Reply to This | # ]

Bravo Nokia!
Authored by: joef on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 04:49 PM EDT
Now, which other technology leaders will participate in an encore?

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Thanks Nokia.... - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 11:34 PM EDT
It looks to me as if it does break the GPL
Authored by: MarkusQ on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 04:57 PM EDT

...at least in sprit. What if I decide to fork linux and roll out markux--under
the GPL, with full source on the same DVD of course? I may only change the
indentation style to something I like better, and give it a name I feel more
comfortable with, but since it's no longer a "linux kernel" it looks
to me as if I could be subject to unknown submarine patents.

This certainly isn't what RMS would call "free," is it?

--MarkusQ

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off topic ( but not off the wall )
Authored by: darkonc on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 04:58 PM EDT
Remember to make URLs clickable ( instructions in the 'Mode:" section of the posting page)

---
Powerful, committed communication. Touching the jewel within each person and bringing it to life..

[ Reply to This | # ]

Much better than I first thought.
Authored by: darkonc on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 05:03 PM EDT
I made one of the sceptical comments on Slashdot, but I missed the 120 days negative option thing .. What they're saying is that all kernel code is protected unless they (timely) say otherwise. A 4 month waiting period for certainty is really not that bad at all -- I'll hope that they don't declare much (if any) technology to be forbidden.

Leave it to PJ to do a deep dive before opening her big mouth.

---
Powerful, committed communication. Touching the jewel within each person and bringing it to life..

[ Reply to This | # ]

And thus, patents remain a powerful tool...
Authored by: evbergen on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 05:18 PM EDT
... a tool that allows their owners to carve out the space for the rest of us to
innovate in, and carve it exactly to fit /their/ /perceived/ needs /of the
moment/. Linux yes, FreeBSD no, filesystems, not interested, etc. etc.

I applaud Nokia for showing the danger of patents to FOSS, but really, isn't
that also what FUDsters are saying? "With FOSS, you never know if there
isn't a claim lurking somewhere, with a large vendor, you know that he'll be
able to defend against the claim?" (Unless said vendor gets bought or
decides to change his plans regarding the product, but that's another matter).

If anything, it only conveys the message, saying, see, the bits of FOSS that are
really useful will survive somehow. No need to worry that we'll need to miss the
parts we use today (Linux, Firefox and OOo, for most businesses) if we get
software patents.

But also here, the system supports the /establishment/ in favour of the
competition, even if it's FOSS establishment this time (Linux). It still goes
directly /against/ the new kids on the block where the real revolutions come
from -- or at least a good push once in a while for the establishment to keep
sharp and come up with truly new concepts instead of milking their customer
base.

Software patents create a feudal system: a programmer will have to be a member
of a guild (big corporation or group supported by big corporations by money or
patent 'thought' space) in order to practice his trade.

Sure, that the room for Linux to breathe in just became a little larger is good
news, from a narrow perspective (if you take the current system for granted),
but actually thinking about this news only made me loathe the patent system even
more.

Cheers,


Emile.

PS. Yes, I said patent system, not software patents. Don't repeat the mantra
"without it, we'd have no medicine", because a. it's not demonstrated
that the obvious great demand for drugs won't find another route (eg. OSS like:
cooperate with your competitors on fundamental research, and compete on
synthesizing efficiency, distribution, etc), and b. because fundamental research
into actual /cures/ or /health/ is not done by the farmaceutical companies but
universities. Only research into drugs that make you feel slightly better for
common, chronic or age-related cases is commonly done by pharmaceutical
companies. Not that those drugs aren't a boon to society and very useful at
times, but it remains a fact that the way research is financed has a big effect
on the areas in which research is done).

[ Reply to This | # ]

Patents in Linux Kernel
Authored by: rsteinmetz70112 on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 05:18 PM EDT
The sort of patent grant will also serve another useful purpose. It will tend to
prevent forks. If at some future date Linus is no longer able to hold kernel
development together one negative outcome might be a proliferation of kernel
forks.

This kind of patent safety zone will serve to help reign that in and help give
business confidence that Linux is safe to deploy.

---
Rsteinmetz

"I could be wrong now, but I don't think so."
Randy Newman - The Title Theme from Monk

[ Reply to This | # ]

Nokia patents threaten kernel development?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 05:30 PM EDT

And what about kernel development? How can patented technology make its way into the stable kernel without passing through the unstable kernel?

Now, at this time there is no longer an offical unstable kernel, but there are plenty of development forks where patches live and are tested before going into the mainstream kernel and there always will be.

So, Nokia can keep any of it's patented software out of the kernel any time it desires, so long as that software is not presently in the kernel, or at least that's what it looks like to me. (IANAL)

Karl O. Pinc
<kop@meme.com>

[ Reply to This | # ]

Important Fine Print & Legal Actionability
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 05:36 PM EDT
Short of actually abandoning one's patents, it's hard to come up with legal
language that fully adresses the concerns I'm about to raise. So I don't mean
to imply that Nokia is being intentionally equivocal or deceptive, but it's
important to understand the difference between what Nokia actually said and did,
and true freedom to innovate without worrying about Nokia's patents.

1. PJ wrote: "it's legally binding."
That's not obvious. It may be true in some countries and not in others.
Under US law it MAY be legally binding - I think you'd have to rely on the
doctrine of estoppel, which rarely succeeds.

2. Here's the fine print I'm worried about: Nokia says this grant covers
future Linux Kernels "to the extent that Nokia does not declare any new
functionality embodied in such Linux Kernel to be outside the scope of this
Patent Statement." So Nokia is retaining the right to declare that any
future kernel infringes its patents. And Nokia has no obligation to warn kernel
developers before the kernel is released - Nokia has 120 days AFTER each
official release to declare a violation. The consequences to Linux, if Nokia
ever did that, could be fatal - penalties for patent infringement are severe.
If you want to be paranoid, you could read it carefully and conclude that
Nokia is reserving the right to declare a violation even with respect to
features that existed in previous releases, so long as they declare it within
120 days of some release that contains that feature. I don't read it that way
though, and a judge might not either.
Again, I realize that it would be unrealistic for Nokia to declare in advance
that "no feature ever included in a Linux kernel in future will give rise
to a patent claim by us" without knowing what patent claims that might
cover. What's needed is for Nokia to explicitly list the patents whose use it
does or does not permit within the kernel (and update the list from time to
time) and/or have a binding process by which kernel developers can ask "is
it OK if we use this feature?". The declaration they've made today is a
step in that direction, I hope they will follow through even after the PR dies
down.
---Nartreb

[ Reply to This | # ]

Poison Pill or molases or just corporate drag?
Authored by: jig on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 05:40 PM EDT


i can't help but be nervous. a 4 month wait period could still be used,
repeatedly, to cause problems. and it otherwise just seems like someone that
doesn't have much ip in the kernel offering their ip with some hitches attached.


part of the recent push an emergence of linux as a competitive os on all fronts
has been the rapid increase in releases. this seems a little like someone
inserting molases into the works, rather than grease.

but i guess it is better than other patent attacks, that have no legal waiting
period after wich they can't attack the kernel. still, anything in the kernel
should be appropriateable by any other OSS.

well, on the surface, it is a nice gesture. i'm not sure yet whether their
patented technology should ever be explicitly implemented into the kernel,
knowingly.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Weasel Words
Authored by: prhodes on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 05:48 PM EDT
I still don't like the weasel words:

The aforesaid non-assertion shall extend to any future Linux Kernel to the extent that Nokia does not declare any new functionality embodied in such Linux Kernel to be outside the scope of this Patent Statement.

The way I read this, they can change their minds at any time and declare some piece of new functionality "outside the scope" of the agreement, and pursue it. Note their definition of the kernel includes only the stable branch, not the dev branch, so they have far more than 120 days to decide - they could let something go through the whole dev cycle, get rolled into stable, and then 120 days later declare it outside the scope.

Nokia intends to work with the open source community in identifying in advance those functionalities that Nokia would declare to be outside the Patent Statement

This part, from the press release, makes me think they think they can influence the development of the kernel.

If I've missed something, I'm sure someone will point it out. ;)

-Phil

[ Reply to This | # ]

Nokia Offers Patents to Linux Kernel
Authored by: hauva on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 05:55 PM EDT
This is a day that I'm ashamed to be a Finn.

Nokia is a big player and it wants to have software patents in EU. And this is
just a part of their game to make software patens legal in Europe.

---
Ari Makela, Helsinki, Finland
My name is Ari and I am a grokholic.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Which?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 05:57 PM EDT
Since they state the folowing:
The Patent Statement applies to Nokia's patents infringed by current official releases of the Linux Kernel


I guess the kernel already infringes on several Nokia patents. Personally I wonder which part that is? And more importantly the actual validity of those patents since Nokia lets them pas by, and on the same time make veiled treats to take action against new infringements.

Are they trying to buy goodwill to use in the future, since they see the possibility the development of the Linux kernel may go where they have patents they want to keep/defend?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Yet another take on this
Authored by: inode_buddha on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 06:07 PM EDT
Given OSDL's carrier grade linux project (aimed at telcos and backbone providers), I can see how this is a very good "fit".

---
-inode_buddha
Copyright info in bio

"When we speak of free software,
we are referring to freedom, not price"
-- Richard M. Stallman

[ Reply to This | # ]

Semi-OT: patent liability of source code
Authored by: overshoot on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 06:12 PM EDT
As far as I know, there has yet to be any case law on the subject of patent liability of source code. IMHO, this is a fascinating subject that could cause some real stress for the Federal judiciary (including the Supreme Court) -- thus, just the thing for GrokLaw to kick around.

Here's the point: a patent is a Government monopoly on the implementation of an invention. Descriptions of the invention are very specifically not covered (and would be paradoxical if they were, since the patent itself is a description of the invention!) This is in fact necessary for several reasons:

  • The First Amendment
  • The Progress clause: you can't get progress from denying people the right to study, discuss, etc. an invention;
  • Public policy: the disclosure of the invention for study is what the public gets in return for the monopoly
  • probably others I haven't thought of

So if I patent a new and improved egg slicer, you can describe it to your heart's content, put pictures in your cookbook, etc. all without infringing. You can, in fact, publish extremely detailed plans for do-it-yourself egg slicers and not infringe. Just about anything, in fact, except manufacture them yourself.

OK, now let's see what this means with regard to software patents. I patent a new and improved algorithm for playing the game of Prisoners' Dilemma. You are writing an article on game theory. You include a pseudocode description of my algorithm in your article.

Does your pseudocode infringe my patent?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Nokia Offers Patents to Linux Kernel
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 06:41 PM EDT
remember that code can get put into the kernel with ZERO visability before
release.

As a result Nokia is saying that they need to have a 120 day window to respond
to something that goes in.

people have pointed out that something could go through an extended time period
of development, and then into a release and then Nokia coudl 120 days later
raise a stink, but remember that this would be the worst case abuse, but is
based on the best case notification. the fine print is based on worst case
notification (they code is seen only after the stable version is released).

saying that they need up to 120 days to go through the changes that go into a
release, decide that they have a patent that applies, decide if they want to let
it go or want to limit it (and accept the bad PR that will go along with it),
get management to agree, and make the announcement doesn't seem unreasonable.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Nokia Offers Patents to Linux Kernel
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 07:02 PM EDT
The other piece I saw that worried me was the "stable version"
stipulation. To me that suggests that 2.6 or any other stable branch is okay,
but if something is incorporated in 2.7 etc. (where you'd want most new
functionality to show up), it might not be protected.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Not surprising at all
Authored by: DMF on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 07:22 PM EDT
Nokia's move isn't suprising at all once you understand that they are in a
life-and-death struggle with Microsoft for the handheld user interface. The
enemy of my enemy is my friend.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Show Me the Release of Liability..
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 07:28 PM EDT
Nokia's "conditions" are of course clear warning signs that they need
to have their feet closer to the fire on this issue.

Those conditions would make it essential to go to the patent holder and get a
release of liability before the code is made operatonal in any open source
project.

It would be either yea or no, anything less is just Lawyer's Fodder.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I am missing something: The words "thank you"
Authored by: eugen on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 07:44 PM EDT
While some critical view into whatever intention is behind this surely is OK, we should emphasize that this is a step in the right direction!

I started by buying a Nokia-brand cellphone today (as opposed to the Siemens model I had planned)

So: Dear pople @ nokia: While we would be even happier with other steps in your discretion (such as oposing sw patents;-), we thank you for your commitment.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Nokia has to do this
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 07:57 PM EDT
Nokia has to release their patents in the Linux kernel, they're just trying to make themselves look good while doing it.

Nokia launches new Linux based Internet Tablet product category

Nokia has decided to release Linux-based products. Therefore, they're distributing the Linux kernel under the GPL, and the GPL disallows them from enforcing any patents in any software they're distributing under the GPL.
I'm happy to see Linux use expanding, but let's not get teary eyed over this. It was either Linux, Windows, an in house OS, or a 3rd party OS. My guess is that Linux was the cheapest, and that Nokia doesn't have many (if any) patents in the kernel. Addionally, their statement essentially covers only their distributed releases. They can decide to not distribute some future kernel where new code is covered by a patent and go into litigation mode.

[ Reply to This | # ]

This is a bad thing
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 08:04 PM EDT
GPLed code needs to be free of patents for all uses, as bits and pieces of it
can wind up in other GPLed programs, which would then be a violation. What
Nokia has essentially done is say that it will assert its patents against that
GPLed code in certain situations. This is not a good thing at all.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Don't worry, be happy - Look at it from Nokia's POV
Authored by: webster on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 08:57 PM EDT
This patent release by Nokia is at once more generous and selfish than
percieved. Perceived at least by my haphazard skim of some of the posts above.

1. Anyone accused by Nokia would immediately quote thier press release and the
small print above, show that they use Linux and beat any accusation.

2. Anyone accused by Nokia could immediately mitigate any damages pending
notification by, temporarily at least, by going back to the last approved
kernal.

3. Nokia is more afraid of other propietary competitors. By putting their
patents behind OSS they get the benefits of any new OS software improvements by
competitors or the numerous Linux developers. They can just up and use what
other good stuff develops.

4. They also get the benefit of OS people enforcing their patents. If any
company tries to sneak patents or OS code into their competing phone product,
Nokia has a powerful ally.

Opening up phone code and patents like this makes it a sure bet they won't get
innovatively surpassed. They can concentrate on the important things like
colors and ring tones.

---
webster

[ Reply to This | # ]

What does this mean for Symbian?
Authored by: marbux on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 09:36 PM EDT
Nokia has been a stalwart of the Symbian operating system. Is Nokia's adoption of Linux a sign that the Symbian partnership is breaking down?

Given that Nokia probably would not have done this unless it profited by doing so, will the presumed new competitive advantage enjoyed by Nokia cause other smartphone manufacturers to switch to Linux?

Also, what will Microsoft's reaction be? It had hoped to foist WinCE on the handheld phone industry, but that industry collaborated to create Symbian. If the Nokia move signals the impending death of Symbian, does that create an incentive for Microsoft to assert its patent portfolio to block an industry switch to Linux?

Lots of questions here.

---
Retired lawyer

[ Reply to This | # ]

As Nokia was one of hte major forces behind
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 09:40 PM EDT
Trying to get European patents.

What does it mean?


CrazyEngineer

[ Reply to This | # ]

Nokia and Symbian - The Web Services Journal, SYS-CON media, SCOG, Canopy and Borland.
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 27 2005 @ 09:53 PM EDT

Open platform drives innovation

Symbian, Ltd. (www.symbian.com) was founded in 1998 by Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola, and Psion, using Psion's EPOC OS as a starting point for its new system. David Wood, Symbian's executive vice president, explains that the aim of the founders was to create a standard operating system for advanced mobile phones. "It was getting harder and harder to use the existing proprietary operating systems to quickly and inexpensively come out with new technologies," he says.................

And, Wood suggests, that's what really makes Symbian unique: the fact that it was built from the start for mobile phones. "We don't have a heritage of desktops," he says. "We're not trying to put everything from a desktop into a phone. The most important application that's in a smartphone is the phone: we're not particularly addressing the 'combination' market of a device that happens to be a computer and a phone."

Consumer or Enterprise?

As a result, Symbian has often been perceived purely as a consumer play - but Wood is eager to dispel that image, particularly looking forward. "We think Symbian OS is very well suited to both enterprise and consumer markets," he says. "We have partnerships with many companies that are well positioned to take advantage of the connections into enterprise data, and you'll see more and more of this."

As an example, Wood points to the recent announcement of a commitment by IBM Global Services to act as a system integrator of Nokia's Mobile VPN software for Symbian OS. The Nokia VPN client enables users of Symbian phones to have secure mobile access to enterprise applications, potentially putting such phones in direct competition with devices like the Compaq iPAQ and the RIM BlackBerry.

The point is that Symbian offers far more adaptability than PDAs do. "If an IT department has a choice between buying a custom new Pocket PC for their staff to run some dedicated software on, or simply rolling out an application using Symbian OS on phones that their employees already have, then there's a strong incentive to use the Symbian OS solution there," Wood says.............

Jean-Pierre LeBlanc, senior director of RAD development at the development tools company Borland (www.borland.com), points out that the same principles are true for tool vendors. "As a tool vendor, you want to make sure that you're building a tool to support the platform that's going to be ubiquitous in the marketplace, because that's the one from which your developers stand to make the most money," he says.

Nokia's Contribution

Another key driver behind Symbian's success is the user interface that Nokia has built for the Symbian OS, called Series 60. Wood is quick to stress that Series 60 is one of many user interface layers for Symbian, but it's by far the most prominent. Other interfaces, such as UIQ Technologies' pen-based UIQ interface, which is being used on the Sony Ericsson P800, allow manufacturers the flexibility to decide what they think users need......... symbian.sys-con.com



Open Source in Nordic varieties

At Gartner's Symposium ITxpo 2005, Nokia threw the biggest party, called "JazzMania". Maybe the style -- let's just call it a sort of Dixieland jazz with a Spanish touch -- may not have been to everyone's taste, but it did go well with the warm Wednesday evening on which Nokia opened up its treasure chest and explained its patent policy for Linux...........

In a paragraph of the press release that is only available on the web site of Groklaw, Trolltech explains why it is completely leaving its financing partners at Borland, the Canopy Group and the SCO Group........... Heise



I keep bumping into Borland

Brian S.

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Nokia Offers Patents to Linux Kernel
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 28 2005 @ 12:01 AM EDT
It was intended to be a comparison in extremes. One one side you have companies
embracing open source, on the other side is closed source/patent companies. I
worry that no matter how many companies fall into the open source group, there
will be enough companies willing to sue over patents to cause problems. Nokia
doesn't appear to be squarely in either camp. They're using open source, and
fulfilling their obligations with this patent "release". They're also
protecting their future interests in regards to patents. I am not making any
statements about Nokia's future motives or actions, simply analyzing their
actions. I was rather suprised at the reaction to this patent release when
everyone here should know it's an obvious requirement of the GPL.

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this is nasty for J. Random Codemonkey
Authored by: dbc on Saturday, May 28 2005 @ 12:58 AM EDT
If the Nokia announcement only applies to the Linux kernel, then as a coder of
GPL'd software my life just got way nastier.

1. The patent immunity does not extend to me, it only applies to the kernel.

2. This means I can't grab code out of the kernel and incorporate it. First, I
need to research if a patent that I can't use applies. Are the kernel guys
going to put in big, bold comments that say: "Warning: Patented code
follows" everywhere they use patented stuff? Probably not. Even if the
intend to, they may miss some.

3. Can I even safely *read* the kernel sources? What if I see something clever,
and then a few weeks later incorporate something similar, though not identical,
and the technology turns out to be patented?

Seriously, if the kernel guys start adding code that uses Nokia patents, then I
think I have to stop reading kernel sources.

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Would somebody please enlighten this old lawyer?
Authored by: AllParadox on Saturday, May 28 2005 @ 01:46 AM EDT
This statement, a "commitment", is neither a license nor a contract.

This sounds like a promise to me. Generally, in the law, naked promises without
consideration are unenforceable.

If some other company were to buy out Nokia, what would stop them from
unilaterally cancelling this commitment, thus stopping further distribution of
Linux, or any of the earlier versions that might have infringed?

---
PJ deletes insult posts, not differences of opinion.

AllParadox; retired lawyer and chief Groklaw iconoclast. No legal opinions,
just my opinion.

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pledges can be broken
Authored by: rsmith on Saturday, May 28 2005 @ 02:28 AM EDT
I'm not impressed. The only way to really remove the threat of a patent (short
of a sea change in the patent system) is to dedicate it to the public domain.

It's like the bitkeeper fiasco. These patents are not a threat until Nokia
decides to take their ball and go home.

Free and open source software should not rely on non-free tools and methods.

---
Intellectual Property is an oxymoron.

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In response to IBM?
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 28 2005 @ 02:38 AM EDT
One wonders whether this is a response to IBM's 500 patents.

I am curious -- has anyone studied IBM's 500 patents? Are there one or more
patented methods in the Linux kernel? If so, Nokia may have no choice but to
go along with this, since trying to enforce something they have patented
would put them in direct confrontation with IBM. That is, assuming Linux is
critical for them in some way. Perhaps it is. We know the new Nokia 770 is a
Linux based web tablet. I have to also wonder how many other Linux based
items they have that we don't know about.

I, too, face Nokia's actions with a fair amount of skepticism. It seems to come

too much out of the blue. With IBM, it seems like a natural progression of
support, which IBM has publicly been providing to Linux for several years
now. With Nokia, it seems to come rather suddenly, and unexpectedly.

The phrase, "If it is too good to be true, then it probably is," comes
to mind. I
sincerely hope I am being a bit of a pessimist, and while I give Nokia some
kudos for their efforts, I have to take a step back and wait a while for the
other shoe (or shoes) to drop before giving them full credit or a hearty pat on

the back. Lest we forget, in the beginning Caldera was nice to Linux too. And,
when someone comes bearing gifts unexpectedly, you have to wonder what,
or where, the catch is.

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I disagree with your patent friend.
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 28 2005 @ 03:47 AM EDT
Here's the scenario:

(1) Linux Kernel Part Q knowingly uses a Nokia patent.
(2) Project X cannot pick up code from Q without permission from Nokia.

Therefore Linux Kernel Part Q can no longer be GPL as it is not 'without
restriction'.

IBM gave their patent declaration to FOSS, not Linux, which rather suggest they
'get it' and Nokia, sadly doesn't quite.

Importantly though, I don't want to hear people slamming Nokia, just explaining
it simply (as above), in the hope that they really do mean well, and will make
the same offer to FOSS rather than just LK.

Justin.

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Nokia Offers Patents to Linux Kernel
Authored by: rongage on Saturday, May 28 2005 @ 09:20 AM EDT
You folks do realize that this patent "grant" doesn't apply to the
likes of RedHat, Suse, Mandrake and probably many many others.

Look carefully (again) at the conditions list. It requires that the kernel be
"official" - and they define "official" as being a stable
release kernel as downloadable from kernel.org. Now correct me if I am wrong
here, but don't RedHat, Suse and Mandrake make significant modifications to
their distribution kernels? Last time I looked, these modified kernels could
only be downloaded from their respective sites and NOT from kernel.org.

If derivitive works aren't covered under this patent grant, then I am afraid
that the grant isn't worth the paper it's wrote on.

---
Ron Gage - Linux Consultant
LPI1, MCP, A+, NET+
Pontiac, Michigan

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Patent Portfolios to Advance and Defend FOSS
Authored by: rdc3 on Saturday, May 28 2005 @ 09:26 AM EDT

While it is important to explore the boundaries of Nokia's move, and to push them to be more inclusive of patent protection in support of other FOSS, it is also important to consider the big picture.

The big picture seems to be that Nokia is making a commitment to use patents to advance and defend Linux in the battle with Microsoft. A critical question is whether this is one more step in a continuing trend by major industry players or are these patent grants going to start to peter out?

If this is a continuing trend, what are its limits? Can the contribution of patent portfolios be considered part of the new deal for industry players to be considered good citizens of the FOSS community? Will these patent portfolios grow sufficiently large to create a significant competitive advantage for Linux and other FOSS over proprietary alternatives? Will the problem of license proliferation (too many different licenses with incompatibilities) also extend to patent grant proliferation?

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I don't think I will be celebrating..
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 28 2005 @ 06:33 PM EDT
Anonymous: "Help us legalize assault weapons and we'll
promise we'll never use them to kill YOU."

AllParadox: "This statement, a "commitment", is neither a
license nor a contract".

Me: IBM licensed their patents to licenses, Nokia is
trying to license to one GPL program.

The GPL paragraph 2.
2. You may modify your copy or copies of the Program or
any portion of it, thus forming a work based on the
Program, and copy and distribute such modifications or
work under the terms of Section 1 above, provided that you
also meet all of these conditions:

Linux would have to pick the GPL, or the Nokia patent. The
offer is worth nothing.

CrazyEngineer

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Who wants to have Software Patents in Europe?
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 28 2005 @ 08:23 PM EDT
Nokia is member of EICTA, which is pushing for SW patents in Europe. Many other companies are members and strong proponents of software patents in Europe, too, like Sun, Siemens, Alcatel and Microsoft. Nokia seems to own the vote of Finnish government with the software patents. However, please bear it in mind that the first and foremost software patent lobbyist in Europe is IBM, probably your (and mine) favorite computer company.

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Nokia Offers Patents to Linux Kernel
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 28 2005 @ 10:49 PM EDT
Nokia is definitely not a software company. They sell hardware devices, mobile
phones, mobile switches and basestations for mobile networks. Unlike their
competitors like Ericsson, Siemens or Motorola, Nokia is child of a single
technology, GSM. GSM was essentially open standard for common European markets
co-developed by European government bodies. GSM offered Nokia a chance to beat
all their rivals, and they did it together, Nokia and GSM.

Except Qualcomm. Qualcomm was protected by patents and free (as in beer, at
least while compared to European 3G spectrum auctions) spectrum grants on their
CDMA technology. Qualcomm did not forget extend and embrace their core
technology, patenting everything in open GSM standards, essentially just
replacing letters GSM with CDMA. Of course, US government and patent office let
them. It was just an invisible corporete welfare paid by captive American
customers.

(OK, Nokia is not market leader in a few other countries, like Japan and Korea,
which are firmly believers of steady supply of food stamps paid to domestic
megacorporations.)

In the past, Nokia management has been obsessed with Qualcomm. How to beat them?
Of course, they think, with Qualcomm's own game, patents. Patents, patents,
patents should rule everywhere. Like generals of any army, they know how to win
the previous war. They do not know how to win in the current war, how to beat
the new competitors like Microsoft and Samsung. They have experimented with
Symbian and Series 60, and hoped that they will do the trick.

This far the war has been very invisible and undecisive. While a few Symbian or
Windows Mobile or Linux phones are sold, more than 9 out of 10 mobile phones
sold still has the proprietary OS of its vendor, be that Nokia, Motorola,
Siemens, Ericsson-Sony or Samsung. However, the developers are infinitely more
important than market share in this new war. Nokia and Microsoft has been
battling of the souls of programmers, who will eventually develop Visicalc of
the smart phones.

Now some ambitious Nokia general has found Linux and Nokia has announced their
first Linux device. Beside being Finnish, Linux offers Nokia many advantages
over Symbian. Most obvious benefit is that Nokia has not to fund the operating
system developenment alone (with a few fellow phone companies), but everybody
and their cousin developing embedded devices and hardware for them will share
the cost, including obtaining necessary patents for developing the operating
system.

Undoubtfully the developer mindshare is the largest advantage. Suddenly,
everyone has free access to the tools needed to develop applications to Nokia
phones. And they also know how, as they have earlier tried to develop brilliant
revolutionary application on their Linux desktop.

Software patents becomes now a different issue. Who wants to spend their best
years (not to speak about money raised by family, friends and fools) if all
their effort is voided by a Nokia engineers methodically patenting everything
+mobile (and +GSM and +CDMA and +UMTS and +CDM2000)?

Obviously, Nokia has to leave developers enough breathing space. Linux kernel is
hardly enough. It has to be just the starting point. Nokia can try to keep the
leash short, like allowing only GPL software be developed with their patents.

On the other hand, Nokia has to figure out where it will get its profits in the
future. Why would you buy Nokia smart phone running Linux instead of Samsung
smart phone running exactly the same Linux? The answer is not easy. Perhaps
Nokia has thicker patent portfolio, making Samsung to pay for each device
manufactored. Perhaps because Nokia has their Series 68 user interface,
available only in top models of Samsung.

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Pending Pattent wars as related to world history
Authored by: jacks4u on Sunday, May 29 2005 @ 02:00 PM EDT
The whole pattent pledge issue is starting to look like the precursors to World
War I. In that war, many countries had non-agression or mutual protection
treaties with one another, and all it took to throw the entire european
continent, and many other countries, into global warfare was one country
sponsoring the assination of an Arch Duke, and the declaration of war against
the perpetrating country. Said declaration of war triggered mutual protection
clauses which obligated other, disinterrested countries to declare war also, and
the chain reaction that ensued is what we now call 'World War I'.

MY speciffic worry is that there is in impending pattent war that might end up
looking like WWI, atleast to the court systems of the world. It may even be
possible to incite actual war, especially given the fact that certain countries
have committed to open source sollutions for their day to day data processing
needs


IANAL, and offer no legal advise. peroid. Neither am I an historian. actual
facts may differ from those stated, but the ideas and concepts should be fairly
accurate and close to real world events of the past.

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Nokia Offers Patents to Linux Kernel
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 29 2005 @ 03:06 PM EDT
I would like to see all of these companies who are pledging not to enforce their
patents against the Linux kernel (and hopefully other free software in the
future) and presumably have something to gain from the existance of Linux join
together in some sort of mutual Linux protection pact. If one company decides to
assert patent claims against Linux then all of the other companies who have
promised not to and joined this pact should then pursue claims against the
company trying to enforce patents against Linux. IBM, Nokia, etc. surely have
such vast patent portfolios that anyone is bound to be in violation of
something. A sort of Mutually Assured Destruction that ensures that whoever
brings patent claims against Linux first will be on the receiving end of sort of
litigation armageddon.

Tracy R Reed
treed hates junkmail at ultraviolet.org

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