[clug] FOSS patent infringements

conrad at mail.watersprite.com.au conrad at mail.watersprite.com.au
Wed May 16 02:26:47 GMT 2007

Mike Carden wrote:
> Simon also spoke a bit about Sun's desire to exempt anyone working
> within open source communities to which Sun contributes, from having
> to be concerned about Sun's patents.
> I want to believe him, but to me it sounds a lot like another
> company's Covenant Not To Sue and I don't trust that at all. I don't
> understand why it's necessary to say "Do it and I promise not to sue
> you" instead of "You're free to do as you wish."
> It's all a bit disturbing.

Unfortunately, its all part of the same arms race. If Sun were to say "Go
do what you wish", they are rendering their patents useless. There would
be nothing to stop Microsoft (for example) incorporating those things in
their products, because Sun had given open permission to do anything with
them. So instead, Sun are permitting a limited use which their
shareholders can't get upset about because Sun also benefits from it. The
effectiveness of their arsenal is not reduced against those people most
likely to try playing I'll-sue-you-for-breach-of-patent games, while the
open source community still get some access.

This, of course, is no defence against the whole point that software
patents are fundamentally flawed in concept.


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