They may think this is a happy ending. The Democrat and Chronicle says Sun has decided to settle the lawsuit with Kodak for $92 million. From Sun's press release:
"In exchange, Sun receives a license under all Kodak patents for the benefit of the Java(TM) technology and under the patents in the lawsuit for any and all purposes. The settlement assures customers worldwide that Sun will stand behind its products and intellectual property, and eliminates any uncertainty that could result from a protracted law suit and appeal."
It's a good thing I don't work for Sun. I'd be threatening to quit half the time. I was hoping they would appeal, but no doubt they are thinking of the bottom line, not the big picture, and that is exactly the problem with patents on software. No one can afford to lose a patent lawsuit, so everything is slowly shutting down. Jonathan Schwartz says that he did it for Java and OpenOffice users:
"'Sun's Java Communities represent the future of the Internet. The Communities' vitality, along with the safety of every other open community in which Sun participates, from OpenOffice.org to the upcoming open Solaris(TM) OS community, are of paramount concern to us,' said Jonathan Schwartz, president and chief operating officer, Sun Microsystems Inc."
Patents are threatening to destroy the World Wide Web, according to Tim Berners-Lee, and software patents will destroy the software industry. It never hurts to repeat this quotation from Bill Gates:
“If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete stand-still today. The solution . . . is patent exchanges . . . and patenting as much as we can. . . . A future start-up with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose. That price might be high: Established companies have an interest in excluding future competitors.” -- Fred Warshofsky, The Patent Wars 170-71 (NY: Wiley 1994).
"A complete standstill." "Established companies have an interest in excluding future competitors.” And please don't tell me that they don't know. So, if you care about Linux, about GNU/Linux systems, be aware that software patents are a weapon established companies use to exclude future competitors. That couldn't be more clear, could it?