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RE: [Dotnet-sscli] Microsoft applies for .Net patent
As one of the inventors on that patent as well as the person heading up
the standardization efforts for the CLI, I'd like to explain why I've
never felt the two are in conflict.
The ECMA process requires that all patents held by member companies that
are essential for implementing its standards are available under
"reasonable and non-discriminatory (RAND) terms" for the purpose of
implementing those Standards. This is the normal condition used in all
International Standards organizations, including both ECMA and ISO.
But Microsoft (and our co-sponsors, Intel and Hewlett-Packard) went
further and have agreed that our patents essential to implementing C#
and CLI will be available on a "royalty-free and otherwise RAND" basis
for this purpose.
Furthermore, our release of the Rotor source code base with a specific
license on its use gives wide use to our patents for a particular
(non-commercial) purpose, and as we explicitly state we are open to
additional licenses for other purposes.
From: Giuseppe Attardi [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, February 19, 2003 4:34 AM
Subject: [Dotnet-sscli] Microsoft applies for .Net patent
News has been published (http://zdnet.com.com/2100-1104-984052.html)
that Microsoft applied last year for a patent that covers .Net:
This is quite broad claim, including all the architecture, the API, the
set of types, etc.
It concludes like this:
Although the invention has been described in language specific to
structural ii features and/or methodological acts, it is to be
understood that the invention defined in the appended claims is not
necessarily limited to the specific features or acts described. Rather,
the specific features and acts are disclosed as exemplary forms of
implementing the claimed invention.
I feel quite surprised by this news and I would like to hear your
reactions. I had had the impression that Microsoft wanted to follow the
path of standardization for .NET as the submission to ECMA seemed to
I have been supportive of the .NET approach, as a means to raise the
level of support for applications from basic OS primitives to a powerful
cross-language OO platform.
I am afraid however that a patent in this area will stifle developments,
since it will be difficult for researchers to undertake projects whose
results can only benefit a single, albeit large, company.
I understand the need for Microsoft to protect their investments in
.NET, and I was willing to accept patents on specific techniques (e.g.
the write barrier for GC), but an overall patent for the whole
architecture seems too broad.
I would like comments from Microsoft people on this issue and in
particular how this is going to affect Rotor and other initiatives based
or related to .NET.
I am afraid that this initiative might split researchers in two camps,
and only Microsoft funded projects will attract people working on .NET
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