Open source patent pool criticised

By Derek Sooman on
The OSDL's Patent Commons initiative aims to collect the software licenses and patents pledged to the open source community into a central repository. The aim is to provide easier access to developers, and to encourage more patent holders to pledge their intellectual property to the cause. However, the initiative has received much criticism from the US and Europe, with critics arguing the project will be effectively useless against the patent threat. It seems that companies such as IBM and Sun who donate the use of their patents to the open-source project make little impact, since those companies are supporters of open source rather than opponents of it, and would be unlikely to sue open-source projects anyway. It also seems that the central aim of giving the open source community a body of patents to draw on for cross-licensing arrangements is also useless, because of the cross-licensing arrangements already in place. Companies who pose a threat such as Microsoft already have the right to use patents donated to the open-source community by IBM, Nokia, Sun and others.

"The software patent game is like the Cold War: the only thing that protects you is the concept of mutually assured destruction," Florian Mueller, one of the main campaigners against a recent attempt to make software patents easier to enforce in the European Union, said.

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