US Hearing To Test Lemley Patents Proposal

A rare en banc hearing of the US federal circuit court today will re-hear the arguments over a fiercely-fought software patent case, CLS Bank vs Alice Corp (the aggressor here is actually Alice; CLS is named first as they sued pre-emptively). Among the amici briefs is one from the EFF proposing Mark Lemley‘s elegant re-examination of the patent statute as a solution. This involves treating “a computer which…”, the weasley phrase added in front of abstract patent claims to make them patentable, as unacceptable unless it refers to a specific implementation of a computer. In this case, the statute’s rules on functional claiming would then apply, severely restricting the scope of the patent.  I explain in more detail in InfoWorld today.


TDF Keeps Up The Pressure

The release of LibreOffice 4.0 continues the regular drumbeat of feature releases (coupled with maintaining a known-stable earlier version) that’s a signature strategy for The Document Foundation. While a lot of the long-term investment they’ve made has been in cleaning the code, speeding it up and making it more stable, there are also important features in the new release that improve LibreOffice’s enterprise value, such as CMS integration, MS Visio 2013 support and support for large spreadsheets and XML data import. Overall, the pressure on Microsoft to innovate remains high. Read more on InfoWorld.

CDB: Not Dead Yet

The Communications Data Bill may have come under heavy fire in Parliament, but it’s not dead yet – and it’s already cost us a fortune even without becoming law. Read more in ComputerWorldUK.

LibreOffice 4.0

Some significant new features here, especially the CMS integration with Alfresco, Sharepoint and others. The interoperability continues too – LibreOffice is increasingly the “Swiss Army knife” of file importers, able to create ODF from just about anything. Impressive work.

Microsoft Now Ships GPL Code

Visual Studio now includes GPLv2 code, derived from the libgit2 project. They are also collaborating with GitHub over the project. Did hell just freeze over? I don’t think so, as I explain in InfoWorld today, but it’s definitely part of a cooling trend in Microsoft’s war on FOSS which could eventually lead to a Hadean skating rink.

For those who are interested, they have been able to do this because libgit2 adds an extremely broad exception to GPLv2 that defines a clean project boundary absolving Microsoft from any need to apply the GPL to other parts of Visual Studio or Team Foundation Server. I view this as another manifestation of the trend toward the middle ground of open source licensing, although as with LGPL this remains a “strong copyleft” license, just with a limit to its scope.

%d bloggers like this: