Brian Paul on SGI Patents

January 17th, 2002 by Crusader

A few people pointed outthis story atThe Register which claims thatSGI, the initial developers ofOpenGL, has transferred”much of its 3D graphics patents” to Microsoft. I asked Brian Paul ofthe Mesa project, an open sourceimplementation of the OpenGL API, how it could affect his efforts:

Well, it’s disappointing to hear that SGI is selling off stillmore of its assets, especially to Microsoft. It strikes me asshort-sighted thinking by SGI.

The consequences of Microsoft holding these patents is hard topredict. I don’t know how many patents are involved nor thenature of them, though I’d guess that they’re hardware-centric.That could be a big problem for the various hardware vendors ifMicrosoft decides to take an offensive position with the patents.

I don’t think I have anything to worry about with Mesa (at leastfor now). Most of the algorithms used in Mesa are very widely usedand have been around for a long time. What would Microsoft haveto gain by going after me/Mesa? Certainly not money. The ill-willthey’d generate would only further tarnish their image.

As Mesa adopts newer graphics techniques (like vertex and frament-level programming) I have to be mindful of stepping on other’sintellectual property, but that hasn’t been a big deal so far.NVIDIA, for example, was very agreeable when I asked for permissionto include their NV_vertex_program extension in Mesa.

Don’t take my comments as gospel though. I don’t know what Microsoft’sup to and I’m not especially knowledgeable of patent issues.

9 Responses to “Brian Paul on SGI Patents”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    How could someone be so stupid and give any kind of patents to MS?
    It it’s really Hardware-Related, they could say “you want to use this? ok, but do NOTHING for a not MS-System.”

  2. Anonymous Says:

    i build A bomb to Blow Ms out of this planet !

  3. Anonymous Says:

    SGI for selling or Microsoft for buying?[br]

    OpenSource development continues as long as all development proceeds in a de-centralized effort; to prevent interference from patent holders and the immoral WTO. Patents are a waste of time and resources. If it takes patents to protect someone’s research then we have more problems with honoring and respecting eachother’s research greater than any other worldly problem. Perhaps SGI has a plan?[br]

    I see SGI selling or donating its patents to 3DLabs, but never SGI to Microsoft. Disgusting and most immoral idea it was to have anything to do with Microsoft. Now that the steal industry has moved to the communists, the oil industry has moved to the Arabs, the paper industry a monopoly, the electronics manufacuring moved to the communists; what more does the United States of America to have other than shitty software and corporate resources.[br]

    [b]In the news, that motherfucker, Senator Ted Kennedy, is trying to postpone my taxcut. USA is going down because the .gov thinks it is of higher priority than the .com and .edu. Imagine if we all could keep the money we earned. SGI would have spare money, I would have more money to buy software and toaster ovens, and everything would be less a monopoly, more affordable, and everyone would be happier. Instead, we got fat fucks like Ted Kennedy, taking respects from John F. Kennedy’s work.[/b][br]

    Yes, I’m having a bad day.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Patent this, patent that, patent a sequence of code, patent a sequence of human DNA, patent food, patent words, patent existence: time…to die.

  5. theoddone33 Says:


  6. Anonymous Says:

    nuff said

  7. chunky Says:

    I can’t see this turning into anythign even half as big as all the usuals seem to think it will, but here’s something for you obsessive MS-bad-OpenSource-good-etc-etc people:

    If MS basically lock-out all current hardware concepts, etc, then they’ll force a graphics revolution that’s based on new technology, new hardware, etc, and they’ll be left _totally_ in the dark on it.

    Then again, I don’t think MS will pull off anything that doesn’t get them simply laughed at by the rest of the world.

    Gary (-;

  8. Anonymous Says:

    … in this respect? It’s the normal user, the common folk out there not being a geek/IT-avid. They don’t understand the potential danger in this in the long term. They probably don’t even know about this news-item.

    And again, judges/lawyers conclude that M$ is not a monopolistic threat to the whole IT-field and thus don’t plead for breaking M$ up. This attitude is so narrow-minded… or – more likely – plain stupid… maybe the are even corrupt. I would not be surprised at all, if the latter were the case.

    Of course this is just a “nice” example of a M$-path trying to take the control away from the user. If this kind of development continues and people don’t get really educated about those issues we’ll all end up with having no choice at all in the end.

    I think a little hope regarding this topic is OpenGL 2.0 The new design of version 2.0, could mean freeing OpenGL 2.0 from any potential thread from M$. But this is just a hopefull guess. I wonder why B. Paul did not mention this. Could I be utterly mistaken with my assumption?

    I’d like to hear/read your thoughts/comments on this. This really got my head ticking. I love computer-graphics in their whole magnitude. It would be terrible if this is going to be controlled by M$.

    Just my two cents (Euro, that is :)


  9. Anonymous Says:

    I don’t know a lot about the laws… but can they say that i.e. NVIDIA is allowed to make a chip that supports OpenGL, but are only allowed to provide a driver for winblows?

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