Jump to content

  • Log In with Google      Sign In   
  • Create Account

We're offering banner ads on our site from just $5!

1. Details HERE. 2. GDNet+ Subscriptions HERE. 3. Ad upload HERE.


Google's OPN Pledge


Old topic!
Guest, the last post of this topic is over 60 days old and at this point you may not reply in this topic. If you wish to continue this conversation start a new topic.

  • You cannot reply to this topic
9 replies to this topic

#1 irreversible   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1380

Posted 28 March 2013 - 12:49 PM

Clickmenow.

 

For the tl:dr crowd:

 

The Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge essentially states that Google is willing to share their patents free of charge and without fear of legal action unless someone steps on their toes first.

 

The big caveat here is that Google is pledging not to sue anyone who uses its MapReduce patents for Free or Open Source Software. Google is defining Free or Open Source software as any software that meets the Open Source Initiative's "Open Source Definition," as well as any version of the Free Software Foundation's "Free Software Definition." Still, Google iterates that the OPN Pledge isn't limited to a specific project or open-source copyright — as long as the project meets the FSF or OSI's definition for Free Software or Open Source Software, it's protected by the OPN Pledge.

 

 

In short, while commercial applications cannot capitalize on this (at least not directly), with this pledge Google at least makes a conscious effort to be partial to developers on all platforms. While I can't truly appreciate this personally as I'm not part of the open source crowd, it seems to me that this is as big a bone a corporation can throw independent developers without shooting themselves in the foot.

 

Unless the pledge is bogus (oh, those repercussions should be fun to watch), I should say this could affect (if not shape) the demeanor of patent holders in general (anyone recall the luls around MP3 over the past two decades?), which might spread out the cloud of mindless paranoia that currently hovers over the software (and hardware)* landscape.

 

* I'm looking at you, Apple

 

Then again, I'm no patent expert and have never needed to deal with any directly. What are your thoughts?


Edited by irreversible, 28 March 2013 - 12:51 PM.


Sponsor:

#2 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 22246

Posted 28 March 2013 - 01:25 PM

To me this was a non-announcement.  It is business as usual.

 

It is not groups like Apple or Google or Amazon or Microsoft that the little guys need to worry about.

 

Non-Practicing Entities (NPEs) are the ones you need to worry about.  They are generally the patent trolls. They get the patent and rather than using it to build something, they use the patent to sue people.

 

When the big companies get the patents they usually use the patents defensively, which is what they described in their non-binding pledge.  That's exactly what you wrote by "step on their toes first".

 

 

 

 

Of course, defensive is in the eye of the beholder.  When a company holds thousands or even hundreds of thousands of patents, if the company doesn't like you they probably have something in their patent portfolio they can accuse you of violating.  

 

It is much the same with law enforcement: they'll generally ignore you if you don't "step on their toes first".  But the moment you offend a cop or the AG's office, they have a massive portfolio of laws they can accuse you of violating.


Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I write about assorted stuff.


#3 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 20360

Posted 28 March 2013 - 03:41 PM

The best defense is a good offense.

Google basically is saying, "The people without money we won't sue, but the people with money we reserve the right to sue, and in the meantime, you guys can help us refine our algorithms to be more efficient for us or create new ways for us to use our algorithms."

This doesn't mean much. They don't sue people that have zero money anyway, and suing open source developers is bad PR anyway, what with Google using tons of opensource software themselves (Ubuntu, Python, etc...).

For a second, I thought you were saying that Google promises to not sue anyone, commercial or not, with their patents, and to only use them defensively when Google is themselves being used.

Nope, you just mean, that Google reserves the right to use their patents 'defensively' to squash commercial competition and small businesses, just because Google got to the top of the hill first.

So I can't invent a clever and original use for MapReduce, or any other Google patent (when obvious or not), and use it in a indie videogame (or a AAA game) without running the risk of getting sued. Even if I independently invented MapReducing, unaware that the algorithm already existed.
It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.
All glory be to the Man at the right hand... On David's throne the King will reign, and the Government will rest upon His shoulders. All the earth will see the salvation of God.
Of Stranger Flames - [indie turn-based rpg set in a para-historical French colony] | Indie RPG development journal

[Fly with me on Twitter] [Google+] [My broken website]

[Need web hosting? I personally like A Small Orange]


#4 cowsarenotevil   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2077

Posted 28 March 2013 - 05:48 PM

So I can't invent a clever and original use for MapReduce, or any other Google patent (when obvious or not), and use it in a indie videogame (or a AAA game) without running the risk of getting sued. Even if I independently invented MapReducing, unaware that the algorithm already existed.

 

You could potentially make an open-source library that implements MapReduce and then link to that library from  your game.

 

EDIT: Just to be clear, I kind of doubt that Google will actually allow you to do this, but it's not totally obvious to me.


Edited by cowsarenotevil, 28 March 2013 - 05:50 PM.

-~-The Cow of Darkness-~-

#5 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 20360

Posted 28 March 2013 - 05:55 PM

You could potentially make an open-source library that implements MapReduce and then link to that library from  your game.
 
EDIT: Just to be clear, I kind of doubt that Google will actually allow you to do this, but it's not totally obvious to me.

 

 

MIT is open source! tongue.png

 

That'd be an interesting legal scenario. They give permission to a project that is LGPL licensed which is then used by Microsoft. laugh.png


It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.
All glory be to the Man at the right hand... On David's throne the King will reign, and the Government will rest upon His shoulders. All the earth will see the salvation of God.
Of Stranger Flames - [indie turn-based rpg set in a para-historical French colony] | Indie RPG development journal

[Fly with me on Twitter] [Google+] [My broken website]

[Need web hosting? I personally like A Small Orange]


#6 irreversible   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1380

Posted 28 March 2013 - 08:07 PM

I'm more curious about some upstart taking a Google patent (if you read the article, MapReduce is far from being the only one they've pledged or plan to pledge not to take legal action over) and creating a directly competing open source product.

 

The MP3 example I brought was quite intentional: the suing and threatening aura that surrounded the format became almost hilarious over the years, but the bottom line was still that MP3 was a closed format. Period. Imagine someone writing a Foobar2000 (which is not only arguably the slickest music player out there, but also open source) and essentially blowing up the whole licensing scheme. Back in the day they would've been sued, forced to become proprietary (and purchase the right to use the format) or shut down, no questions asked (see what happened to WinAMP). Conversely, something like this wouldn't even have made the news.

 

So I don't quite agree that this is a non-announcement.

 

What I do think will be much more likely is that since they're not pledging on all of their patents, the ones they will pledge not to take legal action over, will either be lesser/more useless patents or ones that can't hurt them (but/or have a greater chance of hurting their competition more at then end of the day).



#7 Khatharr   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3031

Posted 29 March 2013 - 04:38 PM

Google basically is saying, "The people without money we won't sue, but the people with money we reserve the right to sue, and in the meantime, you guys can help us refine our algorithms to be more efficient for us or create new ways for us to use our algorithms."


You're so cynical, SotL....

...And so right. rolleyes.gif
void hurrrrrrrr() {__asm sub [ebp+4],5;}

There are ten kinds of people in this world: those who understand binary and those who don't.

#8 wintertime   Members   -  Reputation: 1800

Posted 31 March 2013 - 08:52 AM

I just found this text: http://www.fosspatents.com/2013/03/googles-promise-not-to-assert-10.html



#9 TheChubu   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4579

Posted 31 March 2013 - 09:38 AM

Google doesn't supports assertions for some specific cases.


"I AM ZE EMPRAH OPENGL 3.3 THE CORE, I DEMAND FROM THEE ZE SHADERZ AND MATRIXEZ"

 

My journals: dustArtemis ECS framework and Making a Terrain Generator


#10 mdwh   Members   -  Reputation: 892

Posted 02 April 2013 - 07:54 AM

In short, while commercial applications cannot capitalize on this (at least not directly)

I know what you mean, but the pedantic point about Open Source allowing commercial usage is important here, because there's a very clear example of this: if Apple were the ones who had made a pledge, then it would be saying that they wouldn't be suing over any software patents in Android.

Unless the pledge is bogus (oh, those repercussions should be fun to watch),

Yes, it's a shame that this isn't something stronger than a pledge - it would be nice to have a licence allowing use. But I suppose it may be harder to word it so that they reserve the right to sue, if Google are sued first (unfortunately the nature of patents seems to be that companies are forced to patent as much as possible, as it's the only way to defend against other companies suing them). Also I guess dealing with software patents is often a matter of risk rather than a black and white issue (I doubt everyone who's ever wrote a software algorithm using Carmack's Reverse got the permission for the patent first, so a pledge is still better).

It is not groups like Apple or Google or Amazon or Microsoft that the little guys need to worry about.

Even though the little guy (or at least, Open Source groups - I don't know how it works for small businesses) may have less to worry about, I still dislike the results of software patents even when it's only large companies like Samsung being sued. It's still people affected if products we want to buy are banned/delayed, or features are removed, or the point that money we gave to Samsung gets given to Apple.

When the big companies get the patents they usually use the patents defensively

Usually, not always. Perhaps for Google it is just describing a prior practice, true, so in that sense nothing has changed, but I think it's still a step forward to officially pledge this - raising awareness of this idea, and perhaps encouraging other companies to do the same. True, Apple would never do this, so again it can't change anything directly, but does help to raise awareness, as well as giving Open Source more confidence over the use of software patents.

I do however agree that this is non-news if it only contains a few patents.
http://erebusrpg.sourceforge.net/ - Erebus, Open Source RPG for Windows/Linux/Android
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/mark.harman/conquests.html - Conquests, Open Source Civ-like Game for Windows/Linux




Old topic!
Guest, the last post of this topic is over 60 days old and at this point you may not reply in this topic. If you wish to continue this conversation start a new topic.



PARTNERS