GNU's Bulletin June, 1991 The GNU's Bulletin is the semi-annual newsletter of the Free Software Foundation, bringing you news about the GNU Project. Free Software Foundation, Inc. Telephone: (617) 876-3296 675 Massachusetts Avenue Electronic mail: g...@prep.ai.mit.edu Cambridge, MA 02139 USA AT&T Threatens Users of X Windows ********************************* by Richard Stallman This spring, AT&T sent threatening letters to every member of the X Consortium, including MIT, saying they need to pay royalties for the X Window server. This is because AT&T has patented the use of "backing store" in a multiprocessing window system (patent number 4,555,775). MIT is looking into how to fight AT&T in court if necessary, but we don't know whether this can succeed. Meanwhile, Cadtrak continues to demand royalties from the users of X Windows for using exclusive-or to write on the screen, which is covered by patent number 4,197,590. The GNU system won't be terribly useful if it can't have X Windows. But that isn't the only essential system feature which is in danger. Emacs is threatened by IBM patent number 4,674,040 which covers "cut and paste between files" in a text editor. Many Emacs features are threatened by patent number 4,458,311, which covers "text and numeric processing on same screen." Patent 4,398,249 covering the general spreadsheet technique known as "natural order recalc" stops us from using it in GNU software. There is little the FSF itself can do about these threats. Fighting just one patent in court would use up all our funds. So we have added a provision to version 2 of the GPL so that we can prohibit distribution of one of our programs in certain countries if it is covered by patents there. Most likely, one of those countries will be the United States. Beyond that, we have joined the League for Programming Freedom, which is trying to get patents out of the software field. If you develop software for wide use, chances are you, too, will find you can't do your work without infringing these patents. Not to mention the thousands of other patents that apply to software. Doesn't it make sense for you to join the League for Programming Freedom? Copyright (C) 1991 Free Software Foundation, Inc.