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Be Operating Systems Software Programming IT Technology

Current Owner of BeOS Code Claims Zeta is Illegal 140

Hank Powers writes "The legal status of the Zeta operating system that was derived from the source code Be Inc. left shortly before going bankrupt has been unclear for several years. Now, the current owner of the source code, ACCESS, claims "if Herr Korz feels that he holds a legitimate license to the BeOS code he's been using, we're completely unaware of it, and I'd be fascinated to see him produce any substantiation for that claim". The sales of Zeta have been suspended and so has the development been halted as well. OSNews has an article about the recent developments."
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Current Owner of BeOS Code Claims Zeta is Illegal

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  • by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @09:29AM (#18645649) Homepage
    The fact that sales of Zeta have been suspended because of this makes it news.

    This is definitely bad news for fans of BeOS. If there's a silver lining, hopefully it will spur more support for Haiku, which as an open-source project is immune from a company deciding to sit on a useful OS instead of letting others maintain and improve on it.
  • by Rob the Bold ( 788862 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @09:58AM (#18645797)

    Access, the company now stifling innovation with the dormant BeOS code, is also the Japanese mobile phone corporate giant that bought out PalmOS, lying about offering a smartphone running Linux with a PalmOS GUI/compatibility layer.

    This is a good example of why we need a way to pry IP out of the hands of organizations that buy it just to stifle it. One could argue that Intellectual Property is just like any property and an owner can make use of it or not to its own pleasure. However, IP is different. IP not really something you own: it is a license (or privilege) to exclusive production. The term "Intellectual Property" itself is misleading, and cooked up to create the illusion that it is something to be owned like a tool, or a piece of land.

    In fact, the U.S. Constitution (e.g.) clearly states the purpose for granting such privileges:

    The Congress shall have Power . . .

    To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

    This clearly illustrates the purpose of patents, trademarks and copyrights, which is to encourage publication or production of works and products for the benefit of all by giving the creator the ability to exclusively profit from their publication or production. It's a mutually beneficial deal, an agreement between the general public and creators of useful works. If the creator decides not to produce the protected work, then the public gains nothing. One doesn't get exclusive license just to sit on their discoveries. At some point of non-production, the protection should expire early.

  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @10:19AM (#18645965) Homepage Journal
    Patent owners should indeed have to prove they are using their "temporary" synthetic monopoly to promote the progress of science or the useful arts by producing the invention, not just sitting on it. That is in fact a parallel to the more sensible trademark rules, which require use of the mark, and active confrontation with diluters. Because trademark's governing "Lanham Act" [wikipedia.org] is designed to protect the consumer from confusion, to protect commerce, not just profitmaking.

    Further, patents should register their costs in development of the patent, not just the product after the patent, and expire the patent once either the time or a multiple ROI is reached. The ROI should be a maximum of 10x (probably even just 2x, but actual research and ongoing parameters should establish the precise ROI that promotes). And the time should be per-industry, with software/IT times governed more by Moore's Law and software obsolescence studies. Software itself is obviously (to anyone but greedheads) copyright, not patent, material.

    The whole system is rotten. But if it were tweaked a little, pared back to its justifiable framework, it could form the basis for a system that actually promotes the progress that justifies the monopoly in conflict with expression freedom.
  • by billcopc ( 196330 ) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Saturday April 07, 2007 @10:22AM (#18645981) Homepage
    It's funny how Access owns the code, yet they're not doing a damned thing with it. They've halted distribution of a product that isn't competing with their business, and if history is any indicator, they aren't ever going to release any BeOS-related software ever. They are an IP company, they buy stuff up, sit on it for a while then license/resell to actual inventors and manufacturers for a profit. This kind of business is one the most revolting abuses of the 21st century, because all they do is kidnap information for a ransom, potentially hiding it away forever if no buyer comes along to pay their inflated price. This type of activity precisely underlines the need for patent reform. This doesn't help anyone except the people cashing the checks, ultimately IP-hoarding hurts everyone as it stymies technological progress. BeOS had some great concepts ten years ago, but through the company's pitfalls and this now legal bullshit, the then-modern real-time paradigm is now grossly outdated. Why don't we all go out and buy all the fresh fruits at the market, then sit on them for a few years and see what's left of them ? It's a waste, it's stupid and it's inconsiderate. Access is all those bad things!
  • by bigpat ( 158134 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @11:13AM (#18646293)
    All those things might be useful, but there should be a clearer abandonment clause to IP. If you aren't producing products and actually selling them, or using IP in your publications for say a period of 5 years, then you should lose the exclusive right... 'Use it or lose it' should be the law of the land. It actually used to be part of the law for copyright in the US, but it was stripped out in favor of less red tape. But I don't think there needs to be red tape, like there was with registration with Library of Congress, companies should simply keep and make records of their use of IP in their business so when challenged they have to provide records. Sure the law could be little more than a nuisance if it is not written properly, but it should make it clear that the products must be purchased by persons independent of the company or if the IP is in support of a product or service then it must be actively published and distributed (even if not sold) also to persons independent of the company.
  • by snuf23 ( 182335 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @07:48AM (#18654413)
    I ran the Intel flavor of BeOS. If you think BeOS had a chance and the only reason it died was because of MS, I think you are mistaken.
    Most people are application oriented not OS oriented. If their apps don't run on a given OS they don't want it. Period.

"Oh my! An `inflammatory attitude' in alt.flame? Never heard of such a thing..." -- Allen Gwinn, allen@sulaco.Sigma.COM