[linux-elitists] Laptop that doesn't suck?

Ben Woodard ben@zork.net
Wed Jan 21 10:23:33 PST 2004


On Wed, 2004-01-21 at 09:51, Jason Spence wrote:

> > IMHO this situation almost proves that having large "defensive" patent
> > portfolio idea works from a business point of view but demonstrates how
> > this philosophy ultimately is anti-competitive.
> 
> The scenario I keep hearing repeated when I bring this up goes
> something like:
> 
> 1) I spend X on expensive engineers and R&D
> 2) They come up with neat ideas
> 3) I put them in software
> 4) The competitors bust out their disassemblers and steal my ideas
> 5) As a result, they can price their products lower than mine because
>    they didn't have to spend X in addition to other product
>    development costs, and I can't sue them because I don't have a patent.
> 

I know that I'm preaching to the choir but consider this scenario:
If no one spends X on expensive engineers and R&D then the state of the
art then the technology doesn't advance. So you get this stagnation.
Then users get into this state of pent up demand. The first company to
step forward with a new idea suddenly grabs the time to market advantage
and grabs that pent up user demand. Even with the above scenario it will
take a while for other people to incorporate the idea into their product
lines. 

Also if everyone is doing this and the field is broad, then it is
reasonably likely that  the best people in any fine enough grained field
will work for someone else and some of their ideas will help you. 

It is also reasonable, that every so often a really creative idea will
make a notable jump and for whatever reason, the idea can't be applied
to your competitors products. This is a gamble and if you view the
progress as only making small evolutionary changes then this will seem
like an El Derado myth to you. If you have seen the magic of creativity
at work, then you may be more willing to bet on this.

Also in the situation that I pointed out where large defensive patent
portfolios DO exist, the fact that we have SW patents doesn't keep their
competitors from disassembling their code and using the ideas in it
because everybody is scared shitless of threatening the other too much
because going to court would be MAD. So how does it help? What does it
accomplish except limiting the field down to only 2 players.

> > The other thing that was startling is that their engineer admitted that
> > ATI has better hardware but they manage a slight edge due to their
> > software.
> 
> ATI's programmers couldn't produce quality software if their life
> depended on it.  I've had to deal with the software packages for
> several of their products and they all have weird and annoying
> quirks.  My favorite was how the DirectShow capture interface for
> their latest All-In-Wonder card would lie about the format of the data
> stream, causing all the applications to display the image stretched or
> in funky colors.  The best part is that it would do so for formats
> that were supposed to be tested by WHQL before they should have been
> able to get their driver signed by MSFT!
> 
> Oh, and the fact that their OpenGL library is embarassingly unstable
> in selection mode.  And that parts of it are apparently implemented in
> the kernel, which is why I was suddenly so familiar with the
> IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL bugchecks when I started testing some of my
> stuff to their cards.
> 
> And don't even get me started on their Linux drivers; I once wrote an
> x86 multiboot microkernel for the IOCCC on a drunken bet and I swear
> it was more stable than that pile of crap.




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