[Rd] Closed-source non-free ParallelR ?

(Ted Harding) Ted.Harding at manchester.ac.uk
Sun Apr 26 13:24:23 CEST 2009

On 24-Apr-09 16:53:04, Stavros Macrakis wrote:
> On Thu, Apr 23, 2009 at 8:54 PM, Ted Harding
> <Ted.Harding at manchester.ac.uk> wrote:
> [...]
>> ...inspires someone to incorporate the same language extension
>> into a GPL'd FORTRAN interpreter/compiler. I think I could then
>> be vulnerable, or they could, on the grounds that I/they had pinched
>> the idea from the commercial product.
> Unless you have a confidentiality agreement of some kind, or the idea
> is covered by a patent, you can pinch any ideas you like from other
> products.  Copyright law does not cover ideas.

Well, I'm not so sure about that ... back in 2002/2003, National
Instrument sued the MathWorks (MatLab proprietors) on the grounds
that the MathWorks Simulink graphical development tool infringed
on National Instruments' patented rights in such an idea. NI's
implementation is embodied in their LabVIEW tool.

In both cases, the tool consists of 'data flow diagrams' drawn on
screen under the user's mouse control, using icons, with the ability
to associate data structures and code with the nodes and the links.

On my reading of it, it was the *idea* of using such a graphical
interface itself which National Instruments claimed to have patented,

  The technology of the patents in suit concerns the creation
  of model systems (generally known as "data flow diagrams")
  through building diagrams on a computer screen by pointing
  and clicking with a mouse, rather than writing traditional
  lines of code. ...

The patent claims (long, and hoghly detailed) can be read at


The Mathworks lost, and it went to appeal. Mathworks also lost the
appeal. The Appeal Court's opinion can be read at


And the best of luck ... As I said before, I am not a lawyer and
tend to get bewildered by their use of language; but others may end
up more sure about this topic!


>> ...Or maybe the GPL doesn't inhibit you
>> from using *ideas* and *features* of GPL software, provided you
>> implement them yourself and in your own way?
> The GPL does not and cannot restrict reimplementations of ideas and
> features.

E-Mail: (Ted Harding) <Ted.Harding at manchester.ac.uk>
Fax-to-email: +44 (0)870 094 0861
Date: 26-Apr-09                                       Time: 12:24:16
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