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Apple Businesses

Apple Sues Freetype - NOT (updated) 257

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the sonofabitch dept.
Don Giovanni writes: "Apple Computer, Inc. has finally filed suit against the Freetype Project for violation of US patents #US5325479 and #US5159668. Linux Today has the story." This from the company that actually licensed Amazon's One-Click patent. Update: 03:30 PM EST by C :We're sorry. The link referred to in this article is incorrect. We're checking up on this information, and if we have any more to report, we will. However as of right now, the consensus is that this is a hoax.
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Apple sues Freetype for Patent Infringement

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  • It seems that the worse a company is doing financially, the more often it looks to "alternative income sources".

    I'm sorry to hear that Apple isn't doing that well.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yes, LinuxToday has a story. One about a RAID5 array. It may be interested, but I hardly see how it's related. Correct link, anyone?

  • What is the correct link for the story? That one is definately the wrong link.
  • Patents are evil - we all know that. However, giving us a link to the wrong article is even more evil.

    Tell me what makes you so afraid
    Of all those people you say you hate

  • by FortKnox (169099) on Tuesday January 02, 2001 @09:55AM (#536671) Homepage Journal
    This [sourceforge.net] is freetypes page explaining the copywrite issues.

    --
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 02, 2001 @09:57AM (#536672)

    So I'm sitting here looking at this article, wondering where the actual story is? Not only am I not finding the link on Linux Today, I'm not finding it anywhere. Not on AP, UPI, Wired.com, LinuxToday, etc. Has anyone seen this story anywhere but Slashdot?

  • Ok, so there's a bad link, so I guessing it has to do with Fonts?!

    Fonts?, what the hell?

    Why, is Apple worried it infringes on their Quartz display layer? And does this sound familiar to a lawsuit involving colorsync where Apple was sued?

    --Never trust a guy who has his IP address tattoed to his arm, especially if it's DHCP
  • by Anonymous Coward
    What the hell are you complaining?

    In the previous article people were incensed because a corporation had not complied with the GPL. Here the license owner defends his rights against an infringer and people are mad at him!

    Bloody hypocrits.

  • Not only is the link bad, but there's no evidence on Linux Today's home page that they ever posted such a story. It doesn't appear on their story search either.

    And what did he mean by "finally"? He doesn't like FreeType?
  • The link goes to a completely different Linux Today story, and there's nothing about it on the freetype home page. Is this just a rumour, or is there anything substantiating it?
  • How are patents evil? Surely only some badly implemented patents are evil? If there was not a patent system, then companies and inventors would have no motive to innovate, because they would be unnable to exploit their inventions.

    It seems to me that only stupid, ill-thought patents are evil, like Amazons one click nonsense. And I am not a patent lawyer!

  • 1. Apple enforces patents on TrueType fonts, barring any open source implementations;
    2. Web pages become more dependent on TrueType fonts to be viewed properly;
    3. Non-MS-or-Apple web platforms lose even more market share;
    4. Total chaos ensues.

    Already this is happening ... most designer-y fixed-column-width web pages look like a huge amount of suck on X platforms.
  • Linux Today DOESN'T have that article.. maybe this is just following the formula to get posted on /. Maybe its time to do more then a read a headline before a story gets posted...
  • What kinda slashdotter are you? You actually tried the link BEFORE you posted?
  • Too bad for Apple ... first they pull all the "Apple-like" themes from themes.org, now this ... They take (BSD allows this though), but they don't give back. Apple can follow Rambus and Amazon to the shithouse ... oops, I better not say that, don't want to get sued for violating a copyrighted name...

  • I would be willing to bet that there is not much money to be made that way.

    It seems more of a control issue, and Apple is not doing that bad financially, so I don't think that they are that desperate (yet).

  • If you have a patent it's your job to inforce it. Sit idlely by and do nothing and your "investment" goes away.
  • Ok, so they claim they "clean-roomed" it. Is that supposed to be something close to illegal in the patent world? Or maybe I mixed it up with reverse engineering. Also, MS coauthored it with Apple, why aren't they sueing?

    --Never trust a guy who has his IP address tattoed to his arm, especially if it's DHCP
  • ...that the last thing a small, semi-recovering box-pushing company needs is a concerted and deeply angry public backlash, plus being "sent to coventry" by all those kind OpenSource folks who were co-authoring their new OS's underpinnings.
  • by Siqnal 11 (210012) on Tuesday January 02, 2001 @10:03AM (#536686) Homepage
    Not only is it a bogus story, but the submitter [slashdot.org] doesn't exist.

    --

  • we all wrote to our representatives in office or to the US patent office instead of posting comments here something would change
  • Apple has really screwed the pooch, here. Talk of boycotts will surely ensue, but here's what I suggest. First, if you have any Macs on order at your company, call up your distributor and ask if the lawsuit will affect your ability to run X with Freetype under Linux on the boxes. If the distributor does not know, ask them to escalate the call to their Apple contacts. Second, if you currently have Macs that are under support, call Apple and ask if your license for MacOS covers your use of Freetype under Linux (or BSD or whatever you prefer).

    The goal here is to make Apple, internally, aware of the PR impact of it's choices. Often, the majority of the company is NOT aware of what the legal dept is doing, and may not be aware even of what Freetype is.

    If you really feel like going out on a limb, try joining the Freetype project and contributing work, documentation or legal fees (I'm sure someone will post a legal defense fund address once it's available).
  • Oddly enough, you hit on the point that almost every critic of the GPL uses.

    If there was not a patent system, then companies and inventors would have no motive to innovate, because they would be unnable to exploit their inventions.

    The famous quote "Necessity is the mother of invention" still holds true. Freetype was written not for money, but to be able to show TrueType fonts without paying Apple money to use their interpreter. Oh, I'm typing this comment for money, so feel free to pay me, Lover's Arrival, because I want to exploit it...

    Tell me what makes you so afraid
    Of all those people you say you hate

  • by demon (1039)
    Well, Apple did create TrueType, so it is their technology. Though, since FreeType is (supposedly) a clean-room implementation, does the patent apply?
    _____
  • I agree - don't know what got into me... It's this winter break nonsense, I'm sure. Actually, I didn't know what to write at first.

    Tell me what makes you so afraid
    Of all those people you say you hate

  • by emag (4640) <slashdot@@@gurski...org> on Tuesday January 02, 2001 @10:07AM (#536692) Homepage
    We read it on /. so it must be true.

    Seriously, doesn't anyone actually check these links before the stories are posted? If not, a particularly juicy-sounding story could easily get that damned goatse.cx link onto the main /. page...

    --
  • The irony involved in buying a Sony project because you want to avoid manufacturers who unfairly prevent interoperability for their own advantage is just sickening...

    (See also: DVDs, Playstation emulators, Minidiscs... probably a dozen or so more, but those spring to mind.)
  • Don't encourage the AC's!!!

    --
  • Ever since they sued Atari (and others) for the look-n-feel of the trashcan in GEM which was in reality an idea they "discovered" while on a tour at Xerox PARC, I've sworn off all Apple products.

    I have yet to regret that decision.
  • It was bound to come up eventually. The Freetype page explaining the issue that was already mentioned was last updated in March 2000. Which is to say, this has been a known issue for quite some time.
  • by emag (4640) <slashdot@@@gurski...org> on Tuesday January 02, 2001 @10:10AM (#536700) Homepage
    Normally I wouldn't, but this is plain ridiculous. One would think that anyone with even a modicum of responsibility would at least verify the story links before posting. As other posters have said, there's no indication linuxtoday.com has ANY story relating to this at all.

    --
  • I believe what was meant is that this was expected for quite a while.
  • Somebody's obviously alerted them to the fact that every copy of XFree86 4.0 is using TrueType fonts, but what can Apple gain out of this? They can hardly hope to get license fees out of it; FreeType will just remove the hinting bytecode interpreter and everyone will have slightly naffer looking fonts. Presumably, though, their worry is that competitors will use FreeType to make the products a pretty as Apple's . But it seems like a bit of a PR gaffe to have a go at people working from a freely-published specification to achieve this end. Patent warfare, especially software patent warfare, is just about trying to build up `amicable' cross-licensing agreements where the law will allow, but free software authors can't play this game. It doesn't really matter that they worked from a specification that Apple provided, and that this might be legal-- lawsuits & threats of lawsuits are a pretty good way of getting free software authors to yank code, whatever the reason.
  • by Wakko Warner (324) on Tuesday January 02, 2001 @10:16AM (#536710) Homepage Journal
    Rob, please visit the fucking links before you post a story. This is complete bullshit, but, since you didn't do even a cursory fact-check, you didn't know. Now we've got a bunch of people here posting pissed-off drivel, and the rest of us shaking our heads in awe of the complete and utter breakdown of slashdot's submission system.

    - A.P.

    --
    * CmdrTaco is an idiot.

  • This would be a worthwhile comment except for the fact that This story appears to be a hoax. If you had bothered to read the link in the story (or the other comments for that matter), you would have discovered that this story does not exist on Linux Today or any other news site.

    It's sad to see how many people obviously don't read the the story before posting.
  • It all depends on the society/form of government/economic system. I guess, in a pure free market, yes necessity=money. But in a lot of places, where people might just get by without totally commoditizing themselves, I can concieve that people might actually invent stuff for the sole purpose of wanting to, or fulfilling a personal need, other than generating money. Of course if you are *dependent* on selling your services, you will only provide services that actually sell!

    I don't think the patent system is totally evil. I think it is necessary, but in its current incarnation has just far overreached it's original purpose (giving *incentive* but no more!). Safety-net is more like guaranteed-profit-net.
  • by MartinG (52587) on Tuesday January 02, 2001 @10:19AM (#536716) Homepage Journal
    Give it 15 mins or so. Linuxtoday probably WILL have a story, but it will most likely be:

    "Slashdot: Apple sues freetype"

    :)
  • Patents cover an idea, and not a specific implementation (copyright). Because of that, you can reverse-engineer a copyright, but you can't reverse engineer a patent, since the idea is built into it.

    The Freetype gang's notice about patents say that they got their documentation from Apple, and there was nothing in their documentation that said the technology was being covered or going to be covered by a patent.
  • I have a VAIO Z-505R. Have had it for almost a year now. Its hard drive clunks, the ethernet dongle is (of course) shot to hell, as is the battery. Lately, its favorite trick is to randomly lose power (when plugged into a perfectly good power source).

    A new battery from Sony is several hundred dollars, I didn't even see ethernet dongles available, and taking apart another VAIO laptop to replace its hard drive was a quite painful experience.

    Needless to say, I'll not be purchasing another Sony computer, and I hope that others heed my warnings and go with a more solid machine.
  • If stock prices change because of this story, could Slashdot get in hot water?
  • It may actually suprise some of you, but there are valid innovations in the software industry. Patents like One Click are NOT innovations because they have direct parrallels to daily life, a really nice resturant might keep the CC# of a good customer on file so that he never has to show it again. Apple INVENTED it font technology from scratch when Adobe wanted to charge an arm and a leg for Post Script. If you don't license it from Apple, you can use it. If GNU kids, as smart and clearly innovative as they can be (Sendmail, Apache, Who knows how many scripting languages), can even come up with their own fonts, it merely attacks the coders credibility.

    In light of this, for crying out loud Apple, if you are really sueing (since ./ didn't bother to actually check the link which has NOTHING to do with Apple sueing)....IT'S A FONT TECHNOLOGY. I can understand going after ColorSync violators, thats your baby, buy Fonts....thats just being a greedy corporation.

  • by Maldivian (264175) on Tuesday January 02, 2001 @10:28AM (#536730)
    TrueType patents

    STATUS UPDATE (31-12-1999):
    We are finally in contact with Apple's legal department. However, we'll be unable to comment our discussion until they take an official position regarding the patents. This could take some time so don't expect anything soon.

    This page will shortly be updated with more detailed information on the patented "inventions" and what can be done meanwhile.

    --> STATUS UPDATE (12-mar-2000):
    There are sadly no news on the patent front. However, we have started working on a new auto-hinting module, that will ultimately replace the TrueType bytecode interpreter for those builds that cannot accept the patent issue.

    Please go to the FreeType Auto-Hinting Resources Page [slashdot.org] for more information.

    What is this page about ?

    This page is an attempt to sum up various information which recently emerged on the FreeType mailing lists after the discovery that Apple owns several US patents on TrueType. Its purpose is to explain what the patents are, how they can affect us and what can be done.

    Who are we ?

    We are the developers of the FreeType engine, a free and portable TrueType rasterising library. FreeType was written from scratch from the TrueType specification published by Apple and Microsoft, and thus qualifies as a "clean room" implementation of this standard. It is distributed with a BSD-like license, which allows any kind of developers to include it in their products, be they commercial or not.

    What are the TrueType patents involved ?

    We recently discovered that Apple owns several patents related to TrueType. A simple advanced search on IBM's Intellectual Property Network website (http://www.patents.ibm.com/advquery [ibm.com]) shows that Sampo Kaasila, who were the original TrueType architect at Apple, was granted 5 patents for Apple related to digital font technology. Three of them seem to relate directly to the TrueType specification :

    Do the patents affect FreeType ?:

    Apparently yes, it affects the bytecode interpreter used to hint TrueType outlines. It also affects any other similar engine that render TrueType fonts per se the specification.

    Note that the TrueType specification used to write FreeType doesn't mention any patent, nor any pending patents. We used the "TrueType Font Format Specification" document, version 1.0, published in 1990 and available from Apple under the reference "ADPA M0825LL/A". None of the successive releases of this paper document, be they in paper or electronic forms mentioned them either. (And yes, we're speaking of the documents produced by both Apple and Microsoft).

    In case of violation, how would it affect FreeType ?

    It's hard to tell, as this depends mostly on Apple's response to the situation. We can imagine having to modify some parts of the code in order to not use the patented "invention". Depending on the patents' peculiarities, this may come at the price of inferior rendered quality, if we're unable to find an alternate algorithm producing the same results.

    Another deep question is to know what to do about the currently released versions of FreeType (from 1.0 to 1.3.1). Because of its huge success, FreeType has been succesfully used in a great variety of products like graphics libraries, font servers, printers, web browser plugins, server-side web plugins and more... It is also heavily distributed through the Internet, and the library comes on the latest RedHat and Caldera CDs for example.

    We do not reference all the projects that use our library, simply because there are too much and too changing. Many of them are open source and freely distributed, updated and integrated into other products. Clearly, a patent violation would have more than hairy consequences.

    We are very concerned that this affair doesn't become a PR disaster for both of Apple and FreeType, as nobody would gain from public backlash. What are patents ?

    Strictly speaking, when a patent is granted, it permits its owner to excludemembers of the public (those members can be real people or simply companies) from making, using or selling the claimed invention.

    Note that a common misconception is that the patent gives its owner the right the make, use or sell its invention. It only gives the owner the ability to exclude others, though he may himself/herself be forbidden from using the invention due to the existence of another patent or other legal restrictions. For example, person A is allowed to patent an improvement over an invention patented by person B. In order to use his/her invention, person A will need the permission from person B. If person C wants to use the improved invention, he/she will need permission from both person A and B !

    In practice, a patent owner usually sells limited rights to the invention to customers who want to use its invention. The amount of "permission", i.e. the licensing fees determined by the vendor and customer and can vary enormously. However, nothing prevents a patent owner from excluding any use of its invention, wathever the amount of money proposed by the customer.

    On the other hand, patents cover implementations, and not ideas. If someone comes with a different "apparatus" that produces the same results than a patented invention, he/she shall not fall under the patent protection and ask for "permission".

    Patents were introduce to encourage inventors to publish their work, in exchange of increased intellectual property protection. A US patent runs for 20 years from the date it is filed to the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). A US Patent only applies to making, using and selling the invention in the US .

    Finally, here is an extract from the US PTO brochure on patentability :

    • In order for an invention to be patentable it must be new as defined in the patent law, which provides that an invention cannot be patented if: ?(a) the invention was known or used by others in this country, or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent,? or ?(b) the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country more than one year prior to the application for patent in the United States . . .?

      If the invention has been described in a printed publication anywhere in the world, or if it has been in public use or on sale in this country before the date that the applicant made his/her invention, a patent cannot be obtained. If the invention has been described in a printed publication anywhere, or has been in public use or on sale in this country more than one year before the date on which an application for patent is filed in this country, a patent cannot be obtained. In this connection it is immaterial when the invention was made, or whether the printed publication or public use was by the inventor himself/herself or by someone else. If the inventor describes the invention in a printed publication or uses the invention publicly, or places it on sale, he/she must apply for a patent before one year has gone by, otherwise any right to a patent will be lost.

      Even if the subject matter sought to be patented is not exactly shown by the prior art, and involves one or more differences over the most nearly similar thing already known, a patent may still be refused if the differences would be obvious. The subject matter sought to be patented must be sufficiently different from what has been used or described before that it may be said to be nonobvious to a person having ordinary skill in the area of technology related to the invention. For example, the substitution of one material for another, or changes in size, are ordinarily not patentable.

    Note that the second paragraph makes it hard to understand why patent #3 was granted, given that the TrueType specification was fully published by Apple in 1990, two years before the patent was filed.

    What about software patents ?

    In the US, software patents are considered as normal patents. Moreover, it is possible, through careful use of legal language in the patent application, to patent software algorithms. This is well known from the infamous LZW compression algorithm used for the GIF graphics file format. Another case is the RSA algorithm for prime computations used in many security products.

    In Europe, software and algorithms _cannot_ be patented, which means that a european developer is free to develop, use, distribute and market in Europe any software he/she wants, even if it uses algorithms patented under US laws. However, the US patent will apply as soon as he/she wants to distribute, sell or use its software in the US. Moreover, any other person who wants to use, distribute or sell its software in the US will fall under the patent "protection". It is clear that a US patent is also much an issue for any european developer.

    The same applies to other countries where the US patent doesn't apply, and where the invention wasn't protected under the local patent office administration, when there is one.

    Note that some countries have some aggreements with the US that make any US patent localy effective. Details of such countries are welcomed for updates on this page

    Links

    FreePatents.org [freepatents.org]

    IBM's Intellectual Property Network [ibm.com]

    US Patent and Trademark Office Brochure on Patents [uspto.gov]

  • Wouldn't TeX demonstrate prior art, and hence the invalidity of this pathetic patent? What does the patent specify that Metafont did not do a decade before it? It still blows away most systems for representing and rendering fonts.
  • Is the LinuxToday link bad, or is the story a hoax?

    I've seen no data either way. I'd alreay known about the bad link, but assumed that that's all it was.
  • Because when you buy a Viao, you are buying a Windows licence.
  • by bluGill (862) on Tuesday January 02, 2001 @10:34AM (#536737)

    Clean room applies to copyrights, not patents.

    Copyright applies to one particular implimentation and derivatives. Clean room works in copyrights because your code is different.

    Patents apply to a way of doing something, no matter how it is implimented.

    If I build a mechanical machine to decode LZW I've violated the LZW patent even though (to my knowlege) LZW has currently only been implimented in software. After the LZW patent expires all the code is protected by copyright, but my mechanical implimentation is now legal. Note that I can patent my mechanical LZW implimentation if I so desire today, I just can't build it without permission of Unisys.

  • by rebelcool (247749) on Tuesday January 02, 2001 @10:40AM (#536742)
    RTFS - read the fucking story.

    This will hurt my karma but it had to be said.

  • But no pages on Linux Today at all? (search for freetype resulted [linuxtoday.com] in 4 old hits)
    --
  • by mr (88570)
    They take (BSD allows this though), but they don't give back.
    Really?
    Here [freebsd.org] they talk about Net and FreeBSD getting code back from Apple.
    How about wsanchez@FreeBSD.org [mailto] who works for Apple and has committ privilage to FreeBSD? (as per [freebsd.org] FreeBSD's own web site.

    Looks like Apple money *IS* being used to support BSD.

  • > 1)... 2)...

    Or (USA): show that the existing system does not do what The Constitution says the US patent system is supposed to do.

    --
  • I don't have much experience with fonts myself, but wouldn't it be a good idea for someone to come up with a "free", high-quality font format? I don't know the programming implications of this. If anyone has any info, I'd be happy to look into it to see if I can maybe get started on something like this. Is there any reason that TrueType fonts are the only way to go?
  • Has anyone, anywhere, found a shred of evidence that this story is more than vaporous misinformation?

    I am considering the purchase of a powerbook for the dual purposes of NLE video editing under MacOS and as a Linux ppc laptop. However, if (and from the looks of it this is a big if) Apple is indeed suing free software projects for any reason whatsoever I do not wish to support them and will forego that particular toy indefinitely.

    On the other hand, I do not wish to unfairly penalize Apple for unfounded rumors which they can hardly be faulted for.

    As others have said, what gives? The broken link on such an inflammatory story (and an apparent absence of corraborating information anywhere) is truly a new low in slashdot editorial standards.
  • by molog (110171) on Tuesday January 02, 2001 @11:10AM (#536763) Homepage Journal
    Please excuse the trollish subject. I thought that journalists can be held responsible if they print something with no backing evidance. With Taco not even checking if the story was valid make /. guilty of slandering Apple seeing how there is no real indication of any case being filed against Freetype?
    Molog

    So Linus, what are we doing tonight?

  • by nyet (19118) on Tuesday January 02, 2001 @11:11AM (#536764) Homepage
    Quote:

    "If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility, but this may or may not be done, according to the will and convenience of the society, without claim or complaint from any body. Accordingly, it is a fact, as far as I am informed, that England was, until we copied her, the only country on earth which ever, by a general law, gave a legal right to the exclusive use of an idea. In some other countries it is sometimes done, in a great case, and by a special and personal act, but, generally speaking, other nations have thought that these monopolies produce more embarrassment than advantage to society; and it may be observed that the nations which refuse monopolies of invention, are as fruitful as England in new and useful devices."

    - Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Isaac McPherson, August 13, 1813
  • by tak amalak (55584) on Tuesday January 02, 2001 @11:12AM (#536769)
    This is truly funny. The ultimate troll would be someone trolling a story for submission with a redirect link to a real article. Once it gets posted, change the redirect link to goatse.cx. Ta-da! Best troll ever!
    --
  • Don Giovanni is, I believe, one of Mozart's operas...

    About a ghost, fittingly enough, who keeps buggin' the hero...

    -- This sig for rent
  • by Anml4ixoye (264762) on Tuesday January 02, 2001 @11:16AM (#536774) Homepage
    *Sigh*...

    As a PC User, and a fan of Macs, It saddens me to see posts like this. I own two PC's (PIII) and a IBM Laptop, and my next purchase is going to be a G4, then probably and iMac. Why? Because I base my computer buying decisions on facts and relevance, not minor stories.
    Seriously, I do graphic development, programming, and am a musician. This requires a wide range of equipment. After thoroughly researching all aspects, I am choosing Mac as my platform for music development. But I love my PC, and, as an avid ASP developer, will use that as well. I will probably split graphic development between the machines, and I will love it all.
    My point is not to show off, or flaunt, but to encourage research. One of the things I am thinking about is buying a used computer and throwing Linux on there so that I can research that as well. I use a Unix environment on a PC (Exceed) at work, and like some of its features. (Half the time I type in ls at the dos prompt on my home PC!). But I am not going to throw out a company simply because they are persuing their patents. If that were true, I would never use Amazon because I think the one-click is *so* utterly ridiculous.
    So I ask of you, and the /. community, don't make a decision based on a truetype font, make it on the portability, the applications, the speed, and the stablity. That is the sign of a true technology user and leader.

  • Since the Internet is more or less a written medium, Taco could be sued for libel by Apple. This might be a somewhat appropriate action for Apple to take, since it seems pretty clear they aren't suing anyone at this point over TrueType rendering systems, much less the Freetype crew.

    If nothing else, a suit might just encourage the editors to check the damn story before posting and commenting on it.

    If it were just a reply to a story, I'd let it slide; we all know lots of B.S. is dropped in comment sections. When it's the people who run the site failing to check facts and unfairly tarnishing an individual or company's image, those people have no reason to be surprised when the victim takes action.

    Why, yes, I am rather miffed at Taco for letting this get by. Worst. Story. Ever.
  • Yes, the article is no-good. Yes, this is a troll. But I have one question:

    The freetype project isn't a corporation. How the hell can you enforce a patent against a group of individuals that isn't registered in any form with the government? They're not even a non-for-profit corporation! Who would you sue? All the developers?

    And, IANAL, patents can't be enforced against individuals. We do have *that* little bit of civil liberty.

    So, could Apple even do such a thing?

  • ``TrueType took off on Windows, since it was way better than anything the average PC-er had ever seen, but the clone that Apple got from MS never made it out the door.''

    Not entirely true. Although it didn't appear to make it out Apple's door, TrueImage did make it into the marketplace. I have a printer that I got back in 1991 from a place called ``The PrinterWorks'' (or something like that) that was employed a TrueImage engine. Nice cheap PostScript clone. I'd still be using it if the paper feed mechanism hadn't crapped out. Someday in my copious spare time I'll see if I can revive it.

    Apple probably didn't use the technology since they hadn't invented it.
    --

  • I don't see how this is in Apple's best interest since Freetype doesn't threaten them. But it is in Microsoft's. How much you wanna bet this is due to some deal between them made behind closed doors? If Microsoft sues then that's bad PR. But since Apple is about as sue-happy as the "church" of $cientology, this is par for the course for them. It will be interesting to see what happens. I've always thought an interesting way to avoid these kinds of problems is to develop in secret, even though that might not be possible for something of this scale.

    Lee Reynolds
  • I don't see the December 31 addendum on either of FreeType's patent pages (they have one [freetype.org] on their freetype.org site, and another [sourceforge.net] on SourceForge.)

    Does FreeType have another website that I'm not aware of?

  • by Maldivian (264175) on Tuesday January 02, 2001 @11:35AM (#536788)
    See the source code on this page [sourceforge.net] Someone seem to have commented it out but my source cut and paste go it. Weird.
  • Normally, U.S. patents are valid in most other countries due to international treaty. The RSA patent was a special exception: the creators of the algorithm published before filing for a patent. In most countries (this could either be due to common patent law or to the terms of the treaty; IANAL), that creates prior art and invalidates the patent, but U.S. patent law allows a one-year grace period after first publishing to apply for a patent. When the patent was awared, it became valid in the United States, but not in other countries.

    Most patents awarded in the US are recognized by other countries.

  • by Cheerio Boy (82178) on Tuesday January 02, 2001 @11:36AM (#536790) Homepage Journal
    Hi and welcome to VaporDOT News! All the news that we can make up and more!

    Today's top stories:

    Apple sues FreeType for patent infringement.

    Microsoft produces version of Linux. Code Name: Windex.

    Microsoft porting their popular Office produce to Linux.

    Jon Katz writes highly interesting story about something non-Hellmouth related.

    and finally

    Linux Kernel 2.4 finally released!



    The Tick - "Spoon!"

    NEO - "There is no spoon."

  • Obviously you care so much about this issue that you didn't bother to follow the link or read the other posts about it not going to anything.

    By the way, who says that it's not alright to rip off GPL'ed software, but it is alright for GPL'ed software to rip off the works of commercial companies? Yeah, X fonts suck, but as the inventor of TrueType fonts, Apple has the right to choose to ask for money for its patents. So far, Apple has declined to do so -- not that you'd know since Slashdot headlines are the cannonical truth to many Slashdot readers. So what if they did? It's their right, and the FreeType project has gone in with eyes wide open that they are in violation of several decade old patents.

    But, whatever... Anti-Mac trolls have never been ones to give a damn about facts.
  • Or (USA): show that the existing system does not do what The Constitution says the US patent system is supposed to do.
    Spot on. For those not familar with this issue, Article I Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries".

    Note that:

    • The objective of copyrights and patents is not to line anyone's pockets, but to promote scientific and artistic progress;
    • There is no power to grant copyright or patent to corporations, only to persons;
    • There is no mention of selling or transfering copyrights or patents (obviously rights can be licenced, but that is a very different thing);
    • Copyrights and patents exist only for a limited time (and certainly cannot persist past the life of the author or inventor, since that is the only person who can hold one);
    • It's highly questionable that an algorithm qualfies as an invention.

    Does this sound at all like our current system?

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms | http://www.infamous.net/

  • Patents apply to a way of doing something, no matter how it is implimented.

    This is patently (ahem) absurd. I'm amazed you were modded up as high as you were, but that statement is just plain bullshit. You cannot patent an idea merely a specific implementation of the idea. An example would be the revolving cylinder repeating firearm, invented by Sam Colt. The grant of patent most certainly did not give Colt the right to sue anyone else trying to market a gun that did not need to be reloaded after every shot. Witness the slide action (aka pump), lever action, bolt action, gatling gun, blowback action, etc.

    The patent applied to the revloving cylinder. And not just ANY revolving cylinder, but Colt's specific mechanical device (you could, for example, build the better mousetrap, as long as you did not infringe on Colt's patent doing so--i.e. refining it and claming it as your own is right out.)

    If I build a mechanical machine to decode LZW I've violated the LZW patent even though (to my knowlege) LZW has currently only been implimented in software

    I have not read the LZW patent, but I'm tempted to believe the patented piece of technology is the LZW algorythm, which it would be neccessary to duplicate in order to decode the data. There's just no getting around that.

  • Could someone please correct me if I am wrong, but it is my understanding that you cannot make or use a patented invention for monetary gain. That is, you can't make or use a patented item to make money, but I can make and use it for my personal use.

    I'm not sure what implications this has for open source that is distributed freely, but would FreeType be able to slide through such a loophole?

  • by Don Giovanni (300778) on Tuesday January 02, 2001 @11:57AM (#536807) Homepage
    by an impostor!
    I did not post this story to slashdot.
  • IANAL, but I've read a number of times that for libel to hold up, three things have to be proved:

    1. Untrue information was published.
    2. The author knew the info to be untrue.
    3. The author published the false info with the intent to harm another party.

    Libel suits are often litigated but rarely won in the US because of the difficulty in proving numbers two and three.
  • a.) This doesn't cover rumors ("original sources" other than the publication) submitted by people and not originating from the news magazine itself.

    b.) Apple has to prove that their business was hurt substantially by the libel.

    c.) Apple has to prove that it was a lengthy or reasonably harmful amount of time that this damage occurred.

    d.) Slander is the vocal version, libel is the written version.

    --
  • I wrote a manager at Apple a long time ago, on behalf of the Freetype project, to ask about use of the patents in GPL software, and got no reply. I think there have been some staff changes since then, and it would make sense to ask again. But my understanding was that if they ever had to write out the patented algorithm, they could do so.

    Thanks

    Bruce

  • by lemox (126382) on Tuesday January 02, 2001 @12:04PM (#536816)

    These kind of mistakes totally negate Rob's argument against a K5 type submission system. They're not *reviewing* anything, just some cursory skimming for keywords or submissions by "preferred" individuals.

    What does Rob do anyway? He doesn't work on the code that much anymore. Hell, he even has someone else read his mail for him! If going over submissions is his only responsibility now, you'd think he try a little harder to give a damn.

  • by goingware (85213) on Tuesday January 02, 2001 @12:05PM (#536817) Homepage
    One of the foundations of Apple's QuickDraw, particularly the fact that it performs so well (and performed so well on the 6 MHz 128k Mac) is the patent for the Mac OS Region data structure and associated algorithms, Method and apparatus for image compression and manipulation [164.195.100.11], number 4,622,545.

    At some point patents went from being valid for 17 years from when they were issued to 20 years from when they were filed. I think this falls under the 17 year case, and it was issued November 11, 1986. That means it will expire November 11, 2003.

    That is great news for free software, because it means that you can do boolean calculations of graphical shapes (important to efficient screen updating) go vastly faster than, say, maintaining a list of rectangles.

    It would, in general, be real useful for someone to keep an eye on the patent that are currently expiring and to make suggestions on which ones would be good candidates for free software. This is harder than you might think, not just because of the legalese but because patents usually don't say they are for software but are couched in terms of mechanical or electronic devices, so it's not even clear when a software patent exists.


    Michael D. Crawford
    GoingWare Inc

  • by Platinum Dragon (34829) on Tuesday January 02, 2001 @12:15PM (#536829) Journal
    Rob, shit like this is what gives your critics ammunition. "We're checking up on this information," well shit, you didn't check up on this while it was in the submission queue? Isn't that what it's there for, to give the authors time to check stories before posting them?

    What the hell happened? Did you get lazy this time? There's been a lot of evidence lately that links never, ever get checked before a story is posted. Every other story is either a broken link, or the synopsis is completely different from the actual story content. It's becoming a fucking joke.

    Please, Rob. You, Jeff, timothy, jamie, michael, everyone take a month off and let someone else handle the site. Come back when you're ready to do your job correctly. It's becoming pretty clear you're burning out, it's doing great harm to the quality of the site, and something needs to be done about it.
  • I dunno. Something needs to be done. The authors are becoming really lazy when it comes to checking up on stories, and at some point it's going to bite them in the ass even worse than this.
  • by imp (7585)
    As a FreeBSD core team member, I can tell you that apple definitely has contributed code back to both NetBSD and FreeBSD.
  • "This from the company that actually licensed Amazon's One-Click patent."

    I love how he editorializes without even checking the facts. Hmmm...

    could someone please explain to my why they feel that Apple's TrueType patent is in the same boat as Amazon's 1-click patent? Apple's seems fairly valid, while Amazon's seems like common sense.
  • by nufan (26081) on Tuesday January 02, 2001 @12:39PM (#536843)
    Who gives a fuck what he gets modded down to? People should post whatever they want... not to get modded one way or the other. Fuck slashdot and fuck moderation.

  • Behold the immense power of this article, it has already gotten many people angry at Apple, and if what was claimed isn't true, then a lawsuit could get slapped on slashdot, big time.

    I guess everyone now appreciates the damage that false statements can cause.
    ========================
    63,000 bugs in the code, 63,000 bugs,
    ya get 1 whacked with a service pack,
  • Yes, but since the late 1800s corporations themselves have been considered "persons", under the 14th Amendment which sought to make clear that any person or group of persons (say, black slaves) born or naturalized in the United States, had full rights as a citizen. Corporate lawyers figured that stockholders of a corporation were indeed "groups of persons", and so fought to get corporations status as persons. Fortunately for them, industrial America was on a corporate crack-high at the time, and thought this was A-OK.

    http://www.iiipublishing.com/afd/Coperson.htm

    Here's what Jefferson had to say about patents:

    It has been pretended by some, (and in England especially,) that inventors have a natural and exclusive right to their inventions, and not merely for their own lives, but inheritable to their heirs. But while it is a moot question whether the origin of any kind of property is derived from nature at all, it would be singular to admit a natural and even an hereditary right to inventors. It is agreed by those who have seriously considered the subject, that no individual has, of natural right, a separate property in an acre of land, for instance. By an universal law, indeed, whatever, whether fixed or movable, belongs to all men equally and in common, is the property for the moment of him who occupies it; but when he relinquishes the occupation, the property goes with it. Stable ownership is the gift of social law, and is given late in the progress of society. It would be curious then, if an idea, the fugitive fermentation of an individual brain, could, of natural right, be claimed in exclusive and stable property. If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility, but this may or may not be done, according to the will and convenience of the society, without claim or complaint from any body. Accordingly, it is a fact, as far as I am informed, that England was, until wecopied her, the only country on earth which ever, by a general law, gave a legal right to the exclusive use of an idea. In some other countries it is sometimes done, in a great case, and by a special and personal act, but, generally speaking, other nations have thought that these monopolies produce more embarrassment than advantage to society; and it may be observed that the nations which refuse monopolies of invention, are as fruitful as England in new and useful devices.

  • Oooo... I think I like it... an unresolvable circular news reference....
  • You knew this "story" was going to get posted. It has all of the hallmarks of an automatic post: big, bad public company that doesn't do GPL very well (+2 for Apple, +5 for MS) sues (+1) GPL group (+1) over patent (+5) first mentioned in Linux website (+1). Ding! Ding! Ding! Automatic post...
  • A K5 system for slashdot would not work; too many ppl read here compared to K5, and there would be a problem balancing everything.

    My suggestion is basically that instead of just one person moderating stories from various sections is to give it to at least 3 story moderators, and if the story gets a majority of those moderators go-aheads, then it's posted. This would slow down how fast some stories would be posted, but it would remove same-day repeats, bogus links, and the like. It may be necessary to add more story moderators to handle the load, but that's really not a problem.

    And of course, my other beef with story moderation is that there ought to be a way to understand why a submission was turned down; just give the moderators a popup list of why to reject a story: was it duplicated? was the write up by the submitter poor? is it not 'news for nerds'? You'd only have to have 5 or 6 different selections here, and I'd be much happier knowning why what I feel are more important stories are being dropped by moderators.

  • I don't believe the issue is the human capacity for error, but the fact that this error could have been avoided by following the link and reading the story. If this was the first occurence of this particular error, then slack would be available, but this seems to happen every three months or so.

    I don't belive in Taco-bashing as that doesn't accomplish anything. What I do believe in is calling this what it is...sloppy work. The whole point of the story queue is to weed out the BS. And for all of us who have posted legitimate stories to have them rejected, we have to have some sort of faith that there is a reasonable process at work here to continue to share the information we come across. But if it appears the stories are posted at random, that no editorial control is applied beyond looking at the title and letting emotion dictate what goes and what stays, then the whole process, the whole site, becomes meaningless.

    As time goes, integrity must increase, not decrease.

  • I think they might be guilty of libeling Apple, but not slandering them (unless there is a new audio-only version of Slashdot).

    "libel - a written or oral defamatory statement or representation that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression."

    "slander - a false and defamatory oral statement about a person."
  • The Freetype project has inquired months (years?) ago with Apple what their position on the patents is and Freetype would probably comply with whatever Apple demands. It doesn't make any sense for Apple to file a lawsuit at this point.

    Of course, I think it would also be dumb for Apple to push these patents. There are other ways of doing high quality typography (Freetype is exploring some of them), and Apple would only lose in the process.

  • There's an interview [advogato.org] with TeX and Metafont author Donald E. Knuth [stanford.edu] at Advogato [advogato.org], where he discusses this exact question. The interview's from almost a year ago, which give an idea of just how old this issue is.

    Here's an excerpt:

    There's a fairly major controversy with TrueType right now, that there a number of patents [freetype.org] that are owned now by Apple. It's kind of interesting to me that that is the case even though it's for the most part derivative work of what was in Metafont.

    I've been very unhappy with the way patents are handled. But the more I look at it, the more I decide that it's a waste of time. I mean, my life is too short to fight with that, so I've just been staying away. But I know that the ideas for rendering... The main thing is that TrueType uses only quadratic splines, and that Type1 fonts use cubic splines, which allow you to get by with a lot fewer points where you have to specify things.

    The quadratic has the great advantage that there's a real cheap way to render them. You can make hardware to draw a quadratic spline lickety-split. It's all Greek mathematics, the conic sections. You can describe a quadratic spline by a quadratic equation (x, y) so that the value of f(x, y) is positive on one side of the curve and negative on the other side. And then you can just follow along pixel by pixel, and when x changes by one and y changes by one, you can see which way to move to draw the curve in the optimal way. And the mathematics is really simple for a quadratic. The corresponding thing for a cubic is six times as complicated, and it has extra very strange effects in it because cubic curves can have cusps in them that are hidden. They can have places where the function will be plus on both sides of the cubic, instead of plus on one side and minus on the other.

    The algorithm that's like the quadratic one, but for cubics, turns out that you can be in something that looks like a very innocuous curve, but mathematically you're passing a singular point. That's sort of like a dividing by zero even though it doesn't look like there's any reason to do so. The bottom line is that the quadratic curves that TrueType uses allow extremely fast hardware implementations, in parallel.

  • Notice that it says "exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." On the surface, this would seem to allow assignment of "exclusive right" to "discoveries." New math, new genes, etc. Things that were unknown until they were discovered by someone. "Discovered" can mean "invented," as in, "discovered a new way to separate cotton fiber from the rest of the plant." The Cotton Gin was the invention embodying the discovery of an improved method for doing that work. I do not think it is appropriate to patent or copyright genes; how could anyone claim ownership oer something that's been in our bodies (or those of animals, plants, etc.) long before any "discovery" work was even begun? I think this is solved by reading "discovery" with its "invented" meaning; after all, the constitution assigns exclusive right to an inventor for his discovery. After all, no one seriously thinks that other things pre-existing in nature can be assigned exclusively to their first discoverer -- think stars and planets. Discovery of new land is often awarded exclusively to people; this would seem to contradict what I just said. However, people are not awarded exclusive right over Land (i.e., all land-type things), but over a specific bit of land meticulously staked out and measured. The adjoining land, which is more of less identical, may be assigned exclusively to someone else, and often is.

    New math is not really invented, as it is a language for describing the behavior of numbers. Pre-existing genes are not invented. However, a novel, strictly man-made gene could be patented. And methods for isolating, duplicating and transferring genes can be patented.

    - - - - -
  • I agree with most of what you say, except the part about extending past the life of the author. The life of the IP should not depend on the life of the author. If it does, you are building in an incentive to bump off the author. By "to the author" I think it makes sense to pass the IP on to the author's estate after death, thus dramaticly reducing the incentive for competitors to hire hitmen.

  • Also, it diminishes the value of the invention. If I only expected to live 2 more years and invented something that was good for 10 years, I could sell the rights for much more money NOW. It works the same way as the bond market does.

    If, presumably, the purpose of granting patents on inventions is to reward the inventors for the invention and to thus provide them with an incentive to invent, any attempt to reduce this incentive by capping the reward is against the intent of the provision.
  • The most innovative countries have been those with 1) a large GNP 2) large, educated populations.

    Jeffersons point is still valid, especially the part about my light not darkening yours. This point notwithstanding, patents still do far more harm then good, now more than ever.

    Has your company ever actually been involved in a patent dispute?

    Let me clue you in. Very RARELY does the dispute result in 1) more innovation or 2) rewards for the "inventor".

    More often than not it is a down and ditry playground brawl over two very large patent *portfolios*.

    The bigger the portfolio the better. The more highly paid the lawyers the better. It's all about the Benjamins and cross-licensing deals. The inventor? Who the hell is he? The patent very rarely covers an original idea in the first place. Who the cares who "invented" it?
  • > We do this with Social Security - everybody chips in a bit

    Uhm, no.

    There is _NO_ law that requires a person to have a Socialist Slave Number. That is how you can legally opt out out of the biggest ponzi scheme ever invented.

    --
    "The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite." - Thomas Jefferson
  • yeah, but look at all the people who posted opinions without reading the story... i'll bet they feel dumb right about now.

  • See the source code on this page Someone seem to have commented it out but my source cut and paste go it.
    Perhaps they commented it out because it's old news. I don't care what Stephen Gould and Arthur C. Clarke say, but in my book, 31-12-1999 was more than a year ago.
  • The life of the IP should not depend on the life of the author. If it does, you are building in an incentive to bump off the author.

    That certainly would explain the way the RIAA and the entertainment industry in general treat the creators. B-)
  • by Raunchola (129755) on Tuesday January 02, 2001 @06:19PM (#536901)
    "So what if Cmdr. Taco made a mistake (I'm not just kissing ass here)"

    So what if the mistake could have been avoided if one freaking link was clicked on? It would be one thing if this was an elaborate hoax, but all the submitter did was link to a Linux Today which isn't related to the issue at hand. And it was sent to the front page.

    "Newspapers make errors all the time and retract/correct."

    You're correct. They also verify their sources. Tell me, how many times has USA Today or the Washington Post had hoax stories on their front page? I'm not saying that Rob has to play detective, but what's so hard about clicking on one link to check the story?

    And don't hand me the argument that Slashdot is "Rob's baby." It stopped being "Rob's baby" when it joined the ranks of VA Linux and the OSDN.

    This mistake could have been easily avoided. But if Rob is so haggled that he can't even click on a link to verify something, then maybe he should rethink his priorities...

    --
  • Hmmm... I wonder, does Microsoft have a license to use Apple's TrueType patents?

    Yes. MS got a license way back in the Windows 3.1 days in a cross-licensing deal that involved MS's PostScript-like TrueImage technology.


    Tetris on drugs, NES music, and GNOME vs. KDE Bingo [pineight.com].
  • I am not being a Troll, I am just tired of this constant whining from the community every time something does not go their way. Suck it up and find a way around it that doesn't involve badgering software companies...


    Ok, now that we know this was a hoax, this is only a hypothetical conversation, but a neccessary one, I think.

    The concern is not that a company made an Open Source group do the right thing. It's the fact that more and more companies (even the ones that benefit greatly from Open Source) are using software patents to put the breaks on alternate implimentations of common standards.

    Apple went out of their way to produce a standard for resizable outline fonts, and then grabbed a patent on the technology. This is questionable, but not unreasonable (as Oracle points out, as a business with investors, you MUST get software patents as long as they're available). What's unreasonable would be going after free implimentations of your published standard for violation of the patents.

    Examples: MPEG2 Layer 3 (MP3) encoding, Microsoft's various IETF fiascos, GIF/LZW and so on.

    If these companies wrote and distributed a product which used patents to protect it, many people would complain about the patent system, but when you lure the industry into using your patents by publishing standards and then spring your patent on them, that hurts the industry and in the case of Open Source, it hurts those who contributed their time and effort to a cause that is now essentially dead.

    WE HAVE TO FUCKING GET PAID TOO!


    And so do I. However, if you get paid as a result of sending spam, I'll fight against you. If you get paid as a result of bait-and-switching the industry with the stadard/patent swindle, I'll fight against you. These are just underhanded practices which should not be tollerated.

    Of course, the long-term solution is to fix the patent system so that software patents last for the period of time that it takes to bring a product to market (about 6 months) plus the time it takes to achieve market penetration (about 6 months to a year). Many people have proposed 2 years, and I think this is too generous, but I could sign on. The other thing that needs to be done is the process needs to be stream-lined so that you never have the 1970s patent on hyperlinks showing up just in time to throw a shadow over a brand new international industry in the late 90s.

    These things just seem to make basic sense to me, and are not intended to prevent people from making money. I'm a great believer in capitolism, and feel quite strongly about Open Source as a positive force in the continued evolution of capitolism-oriented free markets. I want to make a million dollars and buy myself a small condo in a bad part of Boston just like everyone else, but I won't just stand back and watch abuse of the trust that we place in systems like the USPTO and protocol standardization.

"Hello again, Peabody here..." -- Mister Peabody

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