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HP Television Entertainment

LG Acquires WebOS Source Code and Patents From HP 80

Posted by samzenpus
from the gobbled-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes "LG is set to breathe new life into the webOS platform after the company announced today that it has acquired the software and its intellectual property from HP. The news comes after HP abandoned webOS device and software development in August 2011, then open-sourced the platform so that developers might be able to salvage something from the software that was widely acclaimed, despite the lack of smartphone and tablet sales which it powered. LG now claims complete ownership of the webOS source code, its documentation and webOS websites. It has obtained HP licenses, as well as the patents that Palm transferred to its owner when it was acquired in 2010."
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LG Acquires WebOS Source Code and Patents From HP

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  • by swschrad (312009) on Monday February 25, 2013 @02:25PM (#43006449) Homepage Journal

    HP must be breathing a sigh of relief. I hope LG didn't pay much, because they'll now need to hoard every penny they find.

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Monday February 25, 2013 @02:28PM (#43006493) Homepage

      HP must be breathing a sigh of relief. I hope LG didn't pay much, because they'll now need to hoard every penny they find.

      Or, conversely, maybe it has a chance to thrive if it's being maintained by people who have an idea of what to do with it?

      I don't know much about WebOS, but the fact that HP basically mis-managed it and did a half assed job is more about HP.

      Now, as to whether anybody is actually going to be interested in yet-another-operating-system ... who knows.

      • by squiggleslash (241428) on Monday February 25, 2013 @02:46PM (#43006755) Homepage Journal

        Not sure it's mismanaged so much as "decided to suddenly stop for no apparent reason" - the CEO at the time wanting to turn HP into a software/services company. In that light, it's not immediately obvious what LG could do with it that would make things right.

        There's also something else you should consider. Back in the mid-nineties, a company called Gateway bought the assets of a bankrupt Commodore, making fans of the Amiga temporarily very excited thinking that a major PC maker was about to rescue the most innovative personal computer platform. Gateway was doing well, the Amiga's problem was mismanagement, and finally, thought many people, the Amiga might stand a chance of returning to its former glories and lead position.

        Did that happen? Did it bollocks. Gateway just wanted the patents. And with LG buying the rights, but so far as I can tell none of the people, and with LG producing smartphones and tablets in an atmosphere in which companies are able to get billion dollar judgments against their competitors over the infringment of dubious patents, LG needs a portfolio to protect its mobile business.

        So don't bet on any of this meaning LG is going to hire Palm/HP staffers and start building webOS tablets. This looks like a Gateway play, not an Escom play.

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          Not sure it's mismanaged so much as "decided to suddenly stop for no apparent reason"

          After spending billions to buy it in the first place.

          If you're spending billions to only turn around and decide you want to be going in a different direction -- well, that's kind of a problem with management isn't it? Billions of dollars isn't exactly chump change.

          So don't bet on any of this meaning LG is going to hire Palm/HP staffers and start building webOS tablets.

          Of course they're not. For starters, most of those sta

        • by swb (14022)

          IIRC, Blackberry's newest OS allows for some way to run Android apps.

          If LG can figure out how to make that kind of translation work, this may end up looking semi-smart for them. I think the smartphone vendors are a little touchy about being beholden to Google for Android and there's not an easy way out short of starting from scratch.

          webOS may be closer to scratch than customizing Android, but if the same effort results in an OS they control (and can possibly license to others..) that also runs Android apps

          • Indeed webOS can benefit a lot from running Android apps. (A whole ecosystem to leverage). And it shouldn't be that much difficult: webOS is almost a complete classical linux stack under the hood (save for the interface) and others, such as Canonical with their iterations of "running Android Apps on Ubuntu" or "running Android and Ubuntu alongside", have proven that Android Apps on a any generic Linux isn't impossible.

            Best part?
            It's ALREADY happening.
            for example: openmobile [openmobile.co] do have an Android Compatibility

        • There's one subbtle difference between then and now:
          sometime in between, the wonderful world of "opensource" has happened.

          Amiga's wonderful OS was still an old-style of proprietary software, and also heavily depended on some hardware components exclusive to Amiga machine.
          Whoever controls the software and the hardware controls Amiga's rekown wonders. If gateway choose to buy Amiga, but then throw it in the garbage and only keep the patent port-folio: all the wonders are lost forever and the platform is dead.

        • Back in the mid-nineties, a company called Gateway bought the assets of a bankrupt Commodore, making fans of the Amiga temporarily very excited thinking that a major PC maker was about to rescue the most innovative personal computer platform. Gateway was doing well, the Amiga's problem was mismanagement, and finally, thought many people, the Amiga might stand a chance of returning to its former glories and lead position. Did that happen? Did it bollocks. Gateway just wanted the patents.

          Interesting (and perceptive) comparison. However, in a way that might mirror today's position with WebOS, the fans' hopes were probably blinding them to the fact that- realistically- it was probably too late to save the Amiga market by 1997, even if Gateway had wanted to.

          By early 1993, the Amiga (which had been European hobbyists' and gamers' machine of choice in the late 80s and early 90s) was noticably losing ground to cheap clone PCs at the high end, and 16-bit consoles at the other. The "evolution not

        • And with LG buying the rights, but so far as I can tell none of the people...

          So don't bet on any of this meaning LG is going to hire Palm/HP staffers...

          Can't say I understand why LG would pay much for WebOS (must have been cheap) but according to this reference they are acquiring the developers as well: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2013/02/26/tech-hewlett-packard-lg-webos.html

        • Except that they DID buy the people, and they only have a licensing agreement for the patents.
      • by ewhac (5844)

        Or, conversely, maybe it has a chance to thrive if it's being maintained by people who have an idea of what to do with it?

        That was supposed to be the whole point of spinning off WebOS in the first place.

        Barely two years ago, HP gave WebOS a modest nest egg and spun them off into its own independent entity (which, from the point of view of WebOS, was a good move, given how badly HP has been mismanaged over the last decade). They shared/leased some of HP's organizational infrastructure, but WebOS has been

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Lumpy (12016)

        If it is to survive they need to completely Open source it.

        Android will utterly destroy it in the commercial world, HP already discovered that. WebOS has zero chance as a product unless it is reworked as a Closed device OS for ATM's or Single Task products. But even then it will completely die. That world is already owned by QNX.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      LG probably just wanted the patents.

  • How can they open source the code, then flog it to somebody else who claims "complete ownership"? What license did they release the open source branch under?

    • Re:Can they do that? (Score:5, Informative)

      by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday February 25, 2013 @02:29PM (#43006503)

      Because they own it.

      I could release Whizbang 1.0, have it flop then GPL Whizbang 1.5. When LG comes knocking I sell them Whizbang and all associated marks. That does not mean Whizbang 1.5 is no longer GPL, just that new versions are not going to be.

      • reverse-engineer all the shiny you want into Bang-n-Whiz all you want after you run off in your own corner with Whizbang 1.5

      • In theory you're correct:

        LG can't control the GPLed copies which are already "in the wild", those will remain GPLed and can still be distributed under this license. LG only decide what they do with their own copy and all future development they do on this.

        In practice, there's something to take into account:
        Unlike Android, and like any other Linux-based smartphone OS (Meego/Maemo/Tizen, openmoko's FSo and SHR, QTopia, etc.) webOS is pretty much as standart GNU/Linux stack under the hood.
        The only proprietary

    • Yeah, I don't get this either. How did they open source it, then sell it to LG who is now claiming complete ownership?
      • by Junta (36770)

        One: I don't think they ever fully open sourced every last bit.

        Two: Either way, the copyright holder can always do whatever they want. If some proprietary component got open sourced, the community can fork the specifically open sourced vintages with impunity, but the component can be closed again for future development.

        • One: I don't think they ever fully open sourced every last bit.

          Well actually, the "last bit" *IS* the only thing to opensource in webOS.

          Unlike Android, but like most other Linux based OSes (Meamo/Meego/Tizen, OpenMoko's FSO, QTopia, etc.) webOS is pretty much a standard Linux stack under the hood, saved for their peculiar stack-of-cards-based user interface, and their account info snychronising system Synergy.

          the "last bit" was the only thing setting appart webOS from, say, Ubuntu.
          So when webOSt was open sourced into openWebOS, this last bit is what actually got openso

      • LG is free to create a fork with their fork becoming proprietary since they own the copyright.
      • by jbolden (176878)

        They licensed it under open source. They sold copyright. LG has complete ownership that doesn't change the pre-existing license.

      • they can do it the same way you can multilicense code the original bits are open source and stay that way they just sold the copyright so if lg chooses new versions are under whatever terms they like unless it is from the older opensource version.

      • Sun open sourced a bunch of stuff but held the patents and copyright. Oracle now owns those.

        In webos' case HP are selling only a software division, not themselves as Sun did.

    • by MrEricSir (398214)

      How can they open source the code, then flog it to somebody else who claims "complete ownership"? What license did they release the open source branch under?

      Presumably they sold the copyrights, trademarks, etc. Sure, LG could have forked it, but that doesn't mean they could call it webOS. And keep in mind if you fork a project that does NOT mean you own the code.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 25, 2013 @02:29PM (#43006511)

    Next week HP will be announcing their acquisition of LG, in order to secure ownership of WebOS which they will see as a vital part of their future growth plans.

    • by Junta (36770) on Monday February 25, 2013 @02:43PM (#43006725)

      No, next week is Whitman stepping down and a new CEO. LG acquisition is the week *after* that. HP only changes their mind as often as they change leadership, so it takes a couple weeks for a complete about face on any given move.

      • by Genda (560240)

        So who do you think the next CEO is going to be? I hear they're courting the Wachowskys. I can see the HP commercials now... "There's a splinter in your brain..."

  • WebOS is a really good OS. I grabbed one of those HP Touchpads and was very impressed by the OS. But...there aren't any good Apps for it. And I don't see why anyone would want to start writing them. At this point it's basically a two horse race - iOS and Android. It would be nice to see a WebOS update for my Touchpad but I'm not holding my breath.

    • by ilikenwf (1139495)
      If OpenMobile would drop ACL to non-OEM people we'd be able to run Android apps within WebOS.
    • by Jeng (926980)

      I'm not sure what OS LG has on their Blu-ray players, but whatever it is WebOS has gotta be an upgrade.

      And yes their current OS does have an app store, with apps, that suck.

    • WebOS is a really good OS. I grabbed one of those HP Touchpads and was very impressed by the OS. But...there aren't any good Apps for it. And I don't see why anyone would want to start writing them. At this point it's basically a two horse race - iOS and Android. It would be nice to see a WebOS update for my Touchpad but I'm not holding my breath.

      You are aware that there is a Cyanogenmod version of Android for the Touchpad. I loaded Android on the Touchpads that I bought for Christmas presents during the fire sale. It works well. The last problem that needed to be solved was getting the camera working. I believe that this may have been finally resolved for Cyanogenmod v9.

      • Yes and it works really well on my Touchpad too. That was the saving grace and kept it from becoming a digital photo frame :-)

      • It has been solved for a while, and works well. You can use the camera app or skype as on any other android device.

    • by gmuslera (3436)
      There are a lot of incoming players in the mobile market based on qt/qml libraries, as webos, it could bring new apps for all of them.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Where is the SDK?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    In case of future lawsuits the Palm Patents are pretty strong and very well dated before any iPhone.... Engadget did a pretty good job at looking at just some of the patents...

    http://www.engadget.com/2009/01/28/apple-vs-palm-the-in-depth-analysis/

    trust me.. this is big legally and hopefully great for WebOS... it was ahead of it's time and didn't have enough time to mature and have compiled sandboxes for programs.

  • TV OS? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slapout (93640) on Monday February 25, 2013 @03:48PM (#43007589)

    The rumor I heard was that they were going to use it in their TVs.

  • by sillivalley (411349) <sillivalley@@@comcast...net> on Monday February 25, 2013 @03:50PM (#43007619)
    Yeah, LG just acquired all those patents from HP/Palm...
    But what did it get? If you imagine each of those patents to be a pie, did LG get the whole pie on each one it got?

    Hell no.

    First, HP undoubtedly retained a license to practice under each of the patents, to make, use, sell, have made, have customers use, yada, yada, yada.
    Next, LG took those patents under whatever licenses and cross-licenses HP (and Palm) had entered into with other companies.
    So while LG acquired a bunch of patents, each of those patents has a chunk or two taken out of it. LG undoubtedly didn't get the whole pie.
    • Well currently patents are used to fling lawsuits at each other among various smart-phone makers (with Apple being apparently among the most noisy one).

      As HP has definitely decided to abandon the idea of producing their own webOS based smartphones, it doesn't matter if LG has full exclusive ownership on the patents, or if HP has retained a right to use them.
      There's currently no chance that LG will ever need to be able to use these patents against HP, they are not in the same market.

      What matters is that LG h

  • by kwikrick (755625) on Monday February 25, 2013 @04:14PM (#43007933) Homepage Journal

    Open webOS is released under Apache License Version 2.0 (http://apache.org/licenses/)

    The Apache licence grants you the right to make and distribute copies, but does not require you to distribute the source code with a binary distribution.
    So LG can fork the code and that code will probably not be made available, only the binaries. They own the forked code completely. It will live a separate life from Open webOS.

    Also, the licence says:

    "If You institute patent litigation against any entity( ...) alleging that the Work( ...) constitutes direct or contributory patent infringement, then any patent licenses granted to You under this License for that Work shall terminate as of the date such litigation is filed."

    So if LG uses the patents used in webUS against anyone, say Apple, then LG loses the right to use those patents? So LG can't use those patents? That's what is seems to say, but maybe I don't get legal speak.

    Rick

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