Subject: Is free software innovative ?
From: Bernard Lang <>
Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2000 11:46:08 +0100


   a common argument that I see against free software (and used as a
justification to ignore free software when discussing software
patenting) is that free software is not innovative.

   Innovative means : containing stuff that could have been patented,
according to a rather strict application of the novel and inventive rule.
(not the USPTO garbage criteria)

   Hence I would like to have a list of really innovative free
software, and information on who paid for the development of the
innovative part (if known): 
    private contribution,
    supported by state/federal money,
    supported by a company  (for what purpose/reason)
    etc ...

  If there is a document with such info, it is welcome.

   This is really needed

   examples I have in mind  (I may be wrong ... correct me
      - if not innovative or inventive
      - if facts are wrong
      - or anything else

    add more facts, if you want, keeping it short

   - gzip : compression utility, privately developed
   - html, http  first clients and servers : state funded, free caracter
        lead to the development of the web
   - zope : application server, company created to develop a service
   - rpm : package manager, company developed for notoriety and free
     product improvement
   - OpenCascade: 3D modeling library for CAD/CAM, company developed
     to create service market
   - escritor: educational software, privately developed
   - CAML : programming language, state funded  (France)
   - SCILAB:  mathematical assistant, state funded  (France)
        interestingly: the privately owned competitor relies heavily on
        state funded labs for its improvement.
   - GPG, cryptographic software, private development, then state funded
   - QT, graphic library, company funded for products development
   - ssh, security software, company funded (Nokia)

  please add more ...  and criticize whatever is proposed

   it has to contain original material ...  being just nice, useful,
well programmed is not enough.

   for example, I have no idea whether Linux contains new technology
that could have been considered patentable.



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