I have a great deal of respect for Automattic in general and Matt Mullenweg in particular. They have done an amazing job with WordPress, which is now used by more than a quarter of all websites. But they are also a great example of how companies can work in the Open Source software space.
I think Facebook’s clause is actually clearer than many other approaches companies could take, and Facebook has been one of the better open source contributors out there. But we have a lot of problems to tackle, and convincing the world that Facebook’s patent clause is fine isn’t ours to take on. It’s their fight.
I came across this old story (back from 2003) on Slashdot – NCR Patents the Internet – and it even more hilarious now than it was back than:
We all know about NCR’s lawsuit against Palm & Handspring, but I haven’t seen much press about patent infringements they are claiming against some of the biggest sites on the planet. According to documentation that a friend’s company has recently received, their patents protect everything from keyword searching to product categorization. Patents to look for (and filed in 1998) include 6,253,203, 6,169,997, 6,151,601, 6,085,223 and 5,991,791 . IMHO, this is absolutely outrageous and is likely to cause billions in both legal fees and eventual licensing fees (eBay, Amazon and MSFT have already licensed from NCR). How is this not the lead story on every site? every day? Maybe because no one wants to get sued for having an online business.
The comments are hilarious as well.
Now that Google’s selling Motorola, how much did it overpay in 2011?
Just how much did Google (GOOG) overpay for Motorola Mobility when it agreed to buy the phone maker for $12.5 billion in 2011 Shareholders will have to figure that out after Google announced on Wednesday that it is unloading the money-losing subsidiary on Chinese electronics maker Lenovo Group (0992.HK) for $2.9 billion.
Sure, Motorola had $3 billion of cash on its balance sheet when it was acquired and Google later sold a set-top box division for $2.4 billion. But that still leaves Google CEO Larry Page left to explain why he’s only getting $3 billion for the remaining net investment of $7 billion. “Patents,” he’d likely reply.
Analysts speculated all along that Google made the hasty deal only to get control of Motorola’s vast trove of about 17,000 patents. At the time, Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT) appeared to be waging an intellectual property war to beat back the Android challenge. Many of those battles continue and intellectual property attorneys are split over whether the Motorola patents have helped Google much, if at all.
Still, Google said it would retain “the vast majority” of patents from Motorola in the sale to Lenovo.
Linux Weekly News reports that:
Personalweb Technologies and Level 3 Communications have filed a lawsuit [PDF] against Rackspace, alleging that Rackspace’s hosting of GitHub infringes upon a long list of software patents.
One of the comments lists a few possibly related law suits:
PersonalWeb Technologies LLC et. al. v. Yahoo! Inc. filed yesterday in Texas Eastern Civil Action No. 6:12-cv-00658
PersonalWeb Technologies LLC et. al. v. Apple Inc. filed yesterday in Texas Eastern Civil Action No. 6:12-cv-00660
PersonalWeb Technologies LLC et. al. v. International Business Machines Corporation filed yesterday in Texas Eastern Civil Action No. 6:12-cv-00661
PersonalWeb Technologies LLC et. al. v. Facebook Inc. filed yesterday in Texas Eastern Civil Action No. 6:12-cv-00662
PersonalWeb Technologies LLC et. al. v. Microsoft Corporation filed yesterday in Texas Eastern Civil Action No. 6:12-cv-00663
Given the description of the company:
PersonalWeb is a proud member of the East Texas community. We are now 14 employees strong and growing. We own 15 key pending and issued patents that are critical to the development of a wide range of established and emerging distributed computing based industries and fundamental for cloud computing, distributed search engine file systems, content addressable storage and social networks.
That leaves a horribly familiar SCO aftertaste.
P.S.: More on Slashdot.