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A Possible Workaround For The S3TC Patent Situation
I presume by "S3" you mean "HTC"....?
The issue here is that HTC needs patents to fight off the patent trolling of the steves (jobs and balmer). If S3TC gets freely implemented under an open source license with the blessing of HTC, then all the steves need to do to defang that patent is to publish the source to that very small subset of their code.
In fact, if you ASK HTC for permission, they will *DEFINITELY* say no. If you IMPLEMENT it after asking and being turned down, they MUST litigate to protect the validity of the patent. If you do NOT ask but DO implement it, they have the freedom to "turn a blind eye".
Why not ask for permission specifically for mesa for Linux and only for mesa for Linux?
the Europe patent law is similar in all eu countries.
Actually, it's similar in all EU countries except Germany, which breaks the European Patent Convention (EPC) which explicitly excludes "programs for computers" from patentability...
(they only get away with it because the only ones who can bring suite for not following a EU Directive is the European Commission, who has tried to introduce software patents twice, which has been voted down by the European Parliament)
The EPC allows for patents on inventions that includes programming, such as say an industrial robot, but not on the software part itself. So in any jurisdiction with laws that follows the EPC (which, to my knowledge, is all of EU and EEA except for Germany), Mesa 3D, or a software distribution including Mesa 3D, can't infringe on any patents on it's own (though a computer with Mesa 3D pre-installed, or a boxed GPU with Mesa 3D on a driver disc, possibly could, if the patent covers more than just the software, such as for example specialized circuitry on the GPU).
Europe's (read=EU) laws are valid across all of Europe
Technically, EU don't issue laws, they issue directives to the national parliaments, who issue laws. If a national parliament ignores a directive, the European Commission can then sue that national government for a large on-going fine, which lasts until they either secedes from the union or issue laws implementing the directive (though the commission can obviously choose to ignore the infraction, as with Germany and the EPC). If the national parliament hasn't issued a law, the Directive is not worth the paper it's printed on when you go to court.
V!NCENT, Jonno: I don't think that you can take Q's statement to be so literal. I think he's more talking about economics than about actual patent law -- if its no good in Germany, its no good in the rest of Europe even if it is kinda legal. Its similar in North America. If its no good in the US, its also no good in Canada, even if it is kinda legal.
S2TC might be a solution for games that ask the driver to compress their S3TC textures for them, but virtually no one does that anymore.
The vast majority of games compress their S3TC textures in advance and send them to the OpenGL implementation compressed. S2TC doesn't help there.
Even sending compressed textures, you have to get an original image, compress it, and store it for later sending to OpenGL in a compressed form. Think editors for a game, rather than the game itself.
This is of particular interest to myself, but I need to decompress the textures too. Can't rely on the driver for it - well, one can, but it's hideously slow compared to using libtxc_dxtn and some multithreading.
You can also just wait until they expire and then implement them.
I just did some searching and found the patent was published September 21, 1999. (source)
Assuming that this patent lasts the full 20 years without being invalidated, it'll be around 2019 when it expires. I doubt it'll be of much relevance then.