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View Full Version : Is ubuntu Patent Free? or... how much of Ubuntu is Patent Free?



Bharath
May 24th, 2010, 07:00 AM
Hi,

I am worrying little bit for the past few weeks. I have been reading lot about every other proprietary company suing others or collecting patent protection money.

Though I am sitting in a very remote corner and using Ubuntu for more than 5 years now - Desktops (20) & Servers (2) some times I fear somebody might walk in to my office and ask me to clarify that I am not a SW pirate. Even when I was using M$, I never ran a pirated SW, I have always purchased all my SW.

I have a question - Is Ubuntu patent free or how much of Ubuntu is patent free or how should I keep it patent free (it is bit confusing... universe, multiverse...)... need clarification legally.

I want to be on 100% open source.

Bharath

hawthornso23
May 24th, 2010, 07:31 AM
Ubuntu is patent unencumbered as far as anyone knows. Bear in mind that what is covered by patents depends on what country you are in. The large part of the world where software isn't patentable definitely doesn't have a problem. Even if you live in legal crazyland (aka the US) you are almost certainly OK as long as you keep away from the restricted repositaries. Despite all the FUD about patents nobody has identified any patents that Ubuntu currently infringes.

However the sad truth is that in the US the legal system is bizarre and the patent system there is totally out of control. There is no way to be safe from patent claims in the US. The legal system there is so dysfunctional that people can force you to surrender or spend millions defending yourself from totally bogus claims. Patent extortion is business as usual, and so many junk patents have been issued in the US that you just can't avoid them. Of course this is true regardless of what software you use.

Using Ubuntu does not expose you to additional risk of patent liability. Considerable care has been taken to avoid all known patent issues. However there is just no way to be completely safe from threats of patent litigation in the US. If this worries you, move to a country with a saner legal environment or get your congressthing to fix the problem.

Bharath
May 24th, 2010, 07:38 AM
I forgot to mention.. I live and operate from India(Bangalore).

But again I have suggested Ubuntu to many business around the world in many countries. In fact few of them have been forwarding info on anything concerned to Patents in the last few weeks.

Bharath

dtfinch
May 24th, 2010, 07:52 AM
My opinion is that almost every program exceeding a dozen lines of code, both open source and commercial, can be successfully argued to be violating several overly broad patents, and you have almost no way of knowing which patents pose a potential threat.

There's very little you can do about it, but the actual risk of being sued is very small unless either successful (kind of kills your dreams doesn't it) or you're directly competing with the patent owner and lack patents to use in retaliation.

Elfy
May 24th, 2010, 08:45 AM
moved to cafe

lisati
May 24th, 2010, 08:46 AM
moved to cafe
:)

zekopeko
May 24th, 2010, 09:20 AM
I forgot to mention.. I live and operate from India(Bangalore).

But again I have suggested Ubuntu to many business around the world in many countries. In fact few of them have been forwarding info on anything concerned to Patents in the last few weeks.

Bharath

If you really need some sort of patent protection for Ubuntu then look here: http://www.ubuntu.com/support/services/assurance

Novell and Red Hat have similar services.

Grenage
May 24th, 2010, 09:24 AM
I want to be on 100% open source.Bharath

Just because software is open source, it does not mean it cannot infringe on patents. Ultimately, people rarely know if they are infringing on a patent until they get sued - that's why software patents suck so hard. You will not be sued, so worry not.

Zlatan
May 24th, 2010, 11:57 AM
Debian (http://www.debian.org) should be 100% free, I assume.


Hi,

I am worrying little bit for the past few weeks. I have been reading lot about every other proprietary company suing others or collecting patent protection money.

Though I am sitting in a very remote corner and using Ubuntu for more than 5 years now - Desktops (20) & Servers (2) some times I fear somebody might walk in to my office and ask me to clarify that I am not a SW pirate. Even when I was using M$, I never ran a pirated SW, I have always purchased all my SW.

I have a question - Is Ubuntu patent free or how much of Ubuntu is patent free or how should I keep it patent free (it is bit confusing... universe, multiverse...)... need clarification legally.

I want to be on 100% open source.

Bharath

Bharath
May 24th, 2010, 12:58 PM
If you really need some sort of patent protection for Ubuntu then look here: http://www.ubuntu.com/support/services/assurance

Novell and Red Hat have similar services.
Thanks zekopeko, Ubuntu Assurance program is somewhat assuring. Will dig deeper into it.

Bharath

alexan
May 24th, 2010, 01:45 PM
This is the project of Ubuntu drive 100% patent free: http://www.gnewsense.org/ (everything is available opensource... so no hidden surprise).


There's absolutely no way of grant (opensource/proprietery) protection by patents infringement: it's a subjective things, everyone in this planet had their point of view.
There's even people around there that think iPad is something... -original-. mind you. :KS

3rdalbum
May 24th, 2010, 02:01 PM
Ubuntu does infringe on some patents. The ones I know about are stupid patents that should never have been granted in the first place (and most other graphical operating systems infringe on them too). There are likely to be many that I don't know about.

We need the total abolition of the patent system, basically.

praveesh
May 24th, 2010, 02:16 PM
I forgot to mention.. I live and operate from India(Bangalore).

But again I have suggested Ubuntu to many business around the world in many countries. In fact few of them have been forwarding info on anything concerned to Patents in the last few weeks.

Bharath

As far as I know, software patents doesn't exist in India .

praveesh
May 24th, 2010, 02:31 PM
You cannot use a software assuring it is 100% free from patent lawsuits . But whatever happens, it won't affect you the end user . No one would sue you . It's the canonical who have to worry .

koenn
May 24th, 2010, 02:43 PM
Debian (http://www.debian.org) should be 100% free, I assume.

"Free" there refers to a License - it grants you permission to use the software, on specific cnditions.
Patents are a different thing. Gnome is "free" but if it lets you double-click a mouse button to get a different effect from when you'd just click, it may infringe on the "double click" patent
(http://lwn.net/Articles/85970/ )

gnomeuser
May 24th, 2010, 02:45 PM
There are plenty of patents in Ubuntu, the difference is that they come with full grants and redistribution rights.

It's also quite possible that some parts are patented for which we do not have patent grants and redistribution rights.

There are also parts that are covered by patents we don't have licenses for, the codecs in universe e.g. are of such a character and thus can only legally be installed if one has a license or if software patents are invalid in your country of residence.

Nothing of Ubuntu is patent free basically, anything more complicated that "Hello World" is likely to infringe on someones patent. This isn't an issue solely faced by Open Source though, as is evident by the near weekly major patent lawsuits against major vendors (Microsoft and Google are a popular target at the moment, the MPEG-LA surely will have a go at WebM e.g.)

praveesh
May 24th, 2010, 02:46 PM
Free and open source softwares maintained by canonical and free from patent lawsuits(untill now ) are in main repository . Free and open source softwares maintained by Ubuntu community (not canonical) are in universe repository . Closed source Softwares may be affected by patents are in multiverse repository ;don't install from multiverse, if you live not in India and worry about patents .In the restricted repository are the drivers provided by nvidia , ati etc (but not open source). So installing from that should also be safe .

That's what I know to the best . Correct me If Iam wrong .

zekopeko
May 24th, 2010, 02:46 PM
This is the project of Ubuntu drive 100% patent free: http://www.gnewsense.org/ (everything is available opensource... so no hidden surprise).


There's absolutely no way of grant (opensource/proprietery) protection by patents infringement: it's a subjective things, everyone in this planet had their point of view.
There's even people around there that think iPad is something... -original-. mind you. :KS

There is no guarantee that gNewSense doesn't infringe on patents.

zekopeko
May 24th, 2010, 02:48 PM
Ubuntu people claims that everything in main, universe repositories are patent lawsuits free . Free and open source softwares maintained by canonical and free from patent lawsuits are in main repository . Free and open source softwares maintained by Ubuntu community (not canonical) and are free from patent lawsuits are in universe repository . Free and open source Softwares but affected by patents are in multiverse repository ;don't install from multiverse, if you live not in India and worry about patents .In the restricted repository are the drivers provided by nvidia , ati etc (but not open source). So installing from that should also be safe .

That's what I know to the best .

No, they don't make such a claim. There is a difference what main, universe etc mean.

Looks here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu_%28operating_system%29#Package_classificati on_and_support