FreeType2 Patent Violation?

Bruce Dubbs bdubbs at swbell.net
Sat Nov 26 19:12:59 PST 2005


Randy McMurchy wrote:
> Hi all,
> 
> I went to fix the bug about the poorly written description of our
> enabling of the Bytecode Interpreter in the FreeType2 instructions.
> So, to get some background, I visited
> http://www.freetype.org/patents.html
> 
> Now I'm sure this issue has come up a long time ago (as I don't
> remember any discussion since I've been involved with (B)LFS) and
> it was determined that our enabling of the Bytecode Interpreter
> does *NOT* violate Apple's patents.
> 
> But I'm not so sure about that. I feel our enabling of the
> Bytecode Interpreter in the FreeType2 source *is* a violation of
> Apple's patent.
> 
> Perhaps we can all visit this issue again and clarify it for me
> how we are *not* in violation.
> 
> I understand we are not *distributing* code that includes the
> enabling of the Interpreter, but having the instruction in the
> book as the recommended default installation seems in violation.
> 
> Perhaps I'm just overly concerned. I would appreciate it if some
> of you that remember previous conversation about this could relay
> what you remember. I searched the archives, but didn't really find
> anything useful.

If it were really an issue, I believe Apple would take action against
FreeType to prevent them from distributing the code.

Reviewing svn, the earliest entry is rev 1752 where Tushar moved the xml
from x/lib/.  We've lost the earlier history, however I think I may have
put this into BLFS.  It's not in the credits section.  I don't recall a
discussion on the list about it, but I did attend a Usenix session by
Keith Packard in 1993 and he did recommend using this switch.

I also think that many distros turn on the switch as mentioned in the
link above, and have never heard an issue.

BTW, a 1989 patent expires in 2006.

If you want to explain the switch better, please feel free, but I don't
think using it is a problem.

  -- Bruce





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