Big Bytes

IBM Cannot Become a True Friend of Free Software Because of Its Current Patent Policy

IBM needs to quit bullying people/companies with software patents; that would help towards appeasement of IBM critics and skeptics. AT risk of sounding like a broken record, let’s make a point absolutely clear and be upfront about it. Our Openwashing Reports have often mentioned IBM as an habitual faker and culprit; IBM is, at its core, still a proprietary software company, unlike Red Hat. But IBM is bad for two more reasons: 1) it lobbies for software patents and 2) it shakes down companies with such patents. When it comes to patent policy and practice, IBM is hardly better than Microsoft; it just targets GNU/Linux a lot less (if at all); it gave us OIN.

It seems safe to believe or to think many Red Hat employees already know what IBM is and does (IBM’s patent shakedown is decades-old). The rest are in denial about it or choose to say nothing, even among themselves. Henrion brought up a recent court document [PDF] and stated that “IBM is a software patent bully,” quoting from the corresponding document: “Method for presenting advertising in an interactive service, Method for simultaneous display of multiple object categories, Method for a runtime user account creation operation within a SSO process in a federated computing…”

We would rather not spend much time or dedicate much space to IBM criticism because it’s hardly the foremost threat to Software Freedom; it’s mostly a threat to a sane patent policy/law. We hope that Red Hat can influence IBM positively (rather than the other way around).

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