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.