Via James Bessen, we learn of how a patent trolling operation by StreamScale has resulted in an open source project completely shutting down, despite the fact that the patent in question (US Patent 8,683,296 for an "Accelerated erasure coding system and method") is almost certainly ineligible for patent protection as an abstract idea, following the Supreme Court's Alice ruling and plenty of prior art. Erasure codes are used regularly today in cloud computing data storage and are considered to be rather important. Not surprisingly, companies and lawyers are starting to pop out of the woodwork to claim patents on key pieces. I won't pretend to understand the fundamental details of erasure codes, but the link above provides all the details. It goes through the specific claims in the patents, breaking down what they actually say (basically an erasure code on a computer using SIMD instructions), and how that's clearly an abstract idea and thus not patent-eligible.
Apple will soon face a federal lawsuit brought on by a woman named Adrienne Moore, who, like many former iPhone users who have switched to Android, is upset that she did not receive text messages after switching platforms. She is seeking unspecified damages, and to make the lawsuit a class action.
Since the release of iOS 5, Apple has experienced issues with users not receiving text messages after switching from iMessage on an iPhone to an Android device. iMessage works by sending messages over the users data plan, theoretically saving that user money on text messages. If a message fails to go through on iMessage, it’s supposed to default back to text message.
However, some users who have switched to Android from iPhone have noticed that their messages get locked up in iMessage and end up never being delivered, even though the sender sees a “Delivered” sign and thinks all is well.
Groupon has just told us it'll squash this dispute before things escalate -- let's hope it keeps to its word. The full statement follows:
"Groupon is a strong and consistent supporter of the open source community, and our developers are active contributors to a number of open source projects. We've been communicating with the Foundation for months to try to come to a mutually satisfactory resolution, including alternative branding options, and we're happy to continue those conversations. Our relationship with the open source community is more important to us than a product name. And if we can't come up with a mutually acceptable solution, we'll be glad to look for another name."
Earlier this week, cloud provider Joyent did a surprising thing: It shared its finely tuned cloud software, SmartDataCenter, under an open-source license.
But while it might seem like the company is giving away its high-value intellectual property at a time when Amazon, Google, and Microsoft have made the public cloud market ultra-competitive, Bryan Cantrill, the company’s chief technology officer, actually has some very smart justifications for the move, which he spelled out in a blog post.
This new site will not only provide a venue for those who constantly update and improve the Comprehensive Tutorial, but is also now home to a collaborative community to share and improve information about copyleft licenses, especially the GNU General Public License (GPL), and best compliance practices.
The Open Government Licence (OGL) is recommended as the default licence for public sector information in the UK.
The licence is part of the UK Government Licensing Framework. This was launched in 2010 to organise best practices and to standardise the licensing principles for government information. By making government-held information public, the government aims to increase openness and allow others to use the information.
“The OGL permits the use and re-use of a wide range of government and other public sector information”, the National Archives said in a statement published Friday. “This supports the government's policy on transparency and open data.”
This column has often explored ways in which some of the key ideas underlying free software and open source are being applied in other fields. But that equivalence can flow in both directions: developments in fields outside the digital world may well have useful lessons for computing. A case in point is a fascinating post by James Love, Director of Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), a non-governmental organisation concerned with public health and other important issues.
It is called "The value of an open source dividend", and is a discussion of the problems the world of pharma faces because of the distorting effect of patents - problems it shares with the world of computing...