[TUHS] Why BSD didn't catch on more, and Linux did

Dan Cross crossd at gmail.com
Thu Feb 8 05:53:10 AEST 2018

On Wed, Feb 7, 2018 at 2:49 PM, Theodore Ts'o <tytso at mit.edu> wrote:

> On Wed, Feb 07, 2018 at 12:27:34PM -0500, Clem Cole wrote:
> > I fear, you are ​falling into an error of thinking about UNIX as the
> *source cod*
> > *​e from Murray Hill* as opposed the* intellectual property *->* i.e.* an
> > *implementation* *vs,* *the ideas* of how to build the a computing
> system.
> So what exactly were they claiming?  An interface copyright on
> open(2), creat(2), etc.?  Were they they trying to claim that the
> concept of an inode was at trade secret?  How the Bourne Shell worked?
> How to implement a virtual memory subsystem?
> The very first version of POSIX 1003.1 was released in 1988.  This is
> four years befure the AT&T lawsuit.  So between the ideas found in
> say, Multics, and those things which were promulgated in an
> international standard --- which included AT&T representatives ---
> exactly what would be covered under Trade Secret law?
> > ​  It is these two acts together that the court said, meant that AT&T
> could
> > not longer claim trade secret - they licensed it AND they told people
> about
> > it.
> That's basic Trade Secret law.  That's *not* a new and novel law that
> the court was promulgating.  It's a basic legal principle taught to
> undergraduates --- at least those who take "IT Law for Managers"
> offered by the MIT Sloan School :-).  (I always tell students that I
> am mentoring that you they should strongly consider taking a basic
> legal class and learn enough about accounting to read a balance sheet
> and income statement).
> More to the point, Trade Secret works differently from Copyright or
> Patent.  If Alice reveals to Bob a trade secret under an NDA, and Bob
> reveals it to the world, Alice can sue *Bob* for gazillions.  But if
> Bob publishes the trade secret in a Usenix ATC paper, and Charlie
> learns about it from said Usenix ATC paper, and there is no NDA
> between Alice and Charlie --- Alice does *not* have the power to sue
> Charlie regarding the trade secret.
> Hence, the concept of "AT&T mentally contaminating the world" is
> simply not how Trade Secret law works.  And that is a reason why the
> wise I/T manager might have to trade off using Trade Secret (where
> protection lasts as long as you can keep it a sekrit) versus Patent
> (where the protection survives even after it is publically disclosed
> --- and you do have to disclose it --- but the protection is
> time-limited).

Yes: AT&T's legal argument was bad. Isn't that why they lost the lawsuit?

        - Dan C.
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