back to article Google's MapReduce patent - no threat to stuffed elephants

In mid-January, Google won a patent for MapReduce, the distributed data crunching platform that underpins its globe-spanning online infrastructure. And that means there's at least a question mark hanging over Hadoop, the much-hyped open source platform that helps drive Yahoo!, Facebook, Microsoft's Bing, and an ever-expanding …


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All the same, I'm sure Google would like a big hammer

to dangle over YahBingoo!'s head should their ad revenues be seen as a threat. If nothing else, there would be an amusing irony in the circle being closed thus.


Prior art

Less formalized versions of MapReduce have been used for a long time in science lab environments where one needs to run many simulations at a time and integrate the results.


Google patends divide and conquer

I'm pretty sure I learned about divide and conquer algorithms in college, 10 years before this patent was filed.


Software Patents are Nukes - This is a Cold War

Oh dear! The patent system in the US is a joke!

Shame it's not going to change any time soon, when the USPTO is laughing its way to the bank everyday while handing out patents like candy bars to anyone with a mere idea.

Clearly, the USPTO is a government agency intent on making a quick buck, even if it harms the economy and kills the very thing it's supposed to encourage - creative innovation - while causing a massive problem for businesses and the courts to deal with, which has the happy side-effect of keeping a whole bunch of IP lawyers in business who duly return the favour by feeding the input valve with more so-called "patent" applications. It's an economy unto itself.

You've got to love the crass audacity of legitimised corruption in Yankeeland. It doesn't even try to hide itself or divert attention, it's just out there in broad daylight hitting the economy, especially small businesses, with a baseball bat. Software patents aren't assets, they're weapons.. the Patent Office runs around supplying arms to any company with the right cash, perpetuating the insipid "them against us" dog eat dog mentality, then standing by counting its profit and watching the fallout.

Software patents are like nukes, everybody is infringing each others, all the big boys have an arsenal pointing at each other.. Linux & open-source have the coalition led by IBM pooling and sharing their arsenal.. no one can move.. It's the equivalent of a cold war we're in.

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How can you have a patent ...

On a math recipe, an idea, something SPECIFICALY and EXPLICITELY excluded from all and every IP laws and international treaties about IP.

Not that those treaties are great but THAT is forbidden EVEN by them ...



Sadly whilst you are excluded from patenting an algorithm, you are not excluded from patenting the application of an algorithm to solve a particular problem. Or indeed the method by which an algorithm may be applied to a problem. Map-reduce is hardly new. But it is the application of the algorithm to the problem described that is patented.

On the other hand, there is vastly less new in computer science than many people (especially the patent offices) realise. Indeed, most ideas that are constantly being reinvented and trumpeted as something new date back to before 1975. But because modern computer science education is mostly rubbish, and most geeks weren't alive when this stuff was first invented, there is an astounding and depressing lack of knowledge. This patent should almost certainly never have been allowed.


RE: How can you have a patent ...

A "math recipie" you say? You do know that ALL software programs are just juggling a few numbers that then get fed into a processor - it's ALL MATHS!

Take for example "encryption algorithms". The algorithm is the part you don't want anyone else to use... and it doesn't mean "a piece of code" it means the mathematical methods the code is using to run...


Prior Art all around

The prior art on this one is out and about. Just ask a former Googler that used to work at DEC and then Altavista before running afoul of being too old to work The Mountain View Chocolate Factory.


Misleading headline

"Google's MapReduce patent - no threat to stuffed elephants".

The evidence for this is: "the general assumption is that Google wouldn't use its patent against Hadoop". Ah yes, General Assumption, the all powerful.


"I don't speak for Google. But Google has lots of patents, and it has basically has no track record of using those patents offensively, either involving licensing or pursuing people for infringement," Cloudera chief executive Mike Olson tells

A guy who doesn't work for Google admits he doesn't speak for them. Nice to know. A guy who's using software that may infringe Google patents doesn't think this is a problam. Also nice to know. What did you expect him to say?

"pointing out that Google is a member in the Open Invention Network, a patent pool that grants use licenses for patented technology in an effort to promote Linux."

But not claiming that THIS patent is licensed.

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Not exactly...

Hadoop is based on a scientific paper released by Google and not specifically on the Google code.

Granted that while Google filed for a patent prior to releasing the paper, once they released the paper, one could argue that Google themselves invalidated their own patent. That is, anyone who writes code based on the paper which Google published would not be in violation of the patent.

IANAL, but when you consider what can and can not be patented, the fact that Google released a scientific document detailing the process, they pretty much waived the rights to enforce the patent.

Interestingly enough I think the roots go back to how to copy a bios without infringing on copyright agreements...


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Protective patents are like this

You patent how YOU use an idea: not assert any rights to how other people might use the idea. It's designed to stop some Johnny-come-lately, building something a bit like yours... patenting it, and then asserting that YOU are in breech of THEIR patent.

Protect and survive. Mad world, isn't it?

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