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Re: ARC patent

From: jearl(at)bullysports(dot)com
To: Andrew Dunstan <andrew(at)dunslane(dot)net>
Cc: Simon Riggs <simon(at)2ndquadrant(dot)com>,"Joshua D(dot) Drake" <jd(at)commandprompt(dot)com>,Nicolai Tufar <ntufar(at)gmail(dot)com>, Tom Lane <tgl(at)sss(dot)pgh(dot)pa(dot)us>,Ismail Teppeev <iteppeev(at)gmail(dot)com>,John Hansen <john(at)geeknet(dot)com(dot)au>,Zeugswetter Andreas DAZ SD <ZeugswetterA(at)spardat(dot)at>,Jan Wieck <JanWieck(at)yahoo(dot)com>, Neil Conway <neilc(at)samurai(dot)com>,pgsql-hackers <pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org>
Subject: Re: ARC patent
Date: 2005-01-18 19:01:46
Message-ID: y8eqwoh1.fsf@bullysports.com (view raw or flat)
Thread:
Lists: pgsql-hackers
Andrew Dunstan <andrew(at)dunslane(dot)net> writes:

> Simon Riggs wrote:
>
>>So, it also seems clear that 8.0.x should eventually have a straight
>>upgrade path to a replacement, assuming the patent is granted. We
>>should therefore plan to: 1. improve/replace ARC for 8.1 2. backport
>>any replacement directly onto 8.0STABLE as soon as any patent is
>>granted
>
> One of the reasons for Postgres' well deserved reputation for
> stability and reliability is that stable branches are
> ... stable. Backporting a large item like cache replacement mechanism
> doesn't seem to fit that too well. I wouldn't want to do that except
> as a complete last resort.

Exactly, which is why it probably won't happen.  Tom's got the right
idea.  Simply release 8.0, and then start planning for 8.1.  If and
when IBM gets this patent approved, and if and when IBM starts sending
out letters then PostgreSQL will be prepared with non-infringing
versions.

The *real* moral of the story, however, is that it is not smart for
developers to go poking through patent databases.  The real problems
with patents begin when the patent holder can prove that you *knew*
about an *approved* patent and still released the software anyhow.  So
don't browse through the patent databases, and for heaven's sake, if
you find a patent that PostgreSQL *might* be infringing whatever you
do don't post about it on the PostgreSQL mailing lists.

I am not a lawyer, but I think that the only sane thing to do is to
follow the lead of the Linux kernel developers and stay away from any
sort of patent research.  You really don't want to know how many
patents PostgreSQL is infringing, and you certainly don't want to talk
about it on a public forum (or anywhere else).

My guess is that IBM isn't likely to be interested in spending
millions of dollars litigating agains the PostgreSQL project and
various PostgreSQL end users.  Suing customers (and potential
customers) is always bad form, and chasing after a Free Software
project is likely to be a PR disaster.  However, even if IBM were
interested in "cashing in" on this patent, they can't do that until
the patent is actually granted.

Jason

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