OSDL Opens Patent Commons Project

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Open Source Development Labs disclosed at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo the creation of a centralized patent and pledge library.

The OSDL announced the project, and in a press release described a couple pieces of the foundation of the Patent Commons Project:

•  A library and database that aggregates patent pledges made by companies. The library will also aggregate other legal solutions, such as indemnification programs offered by vendors of open source software.
•  A collection of software patent licenses and software patents (issued and pending) held for the benefit of the open source community.

Groklaw mentions the importance of the prior art database:

One of the difficulties with software patents is that software was deemed patentable by a court decision, with no prior art database in place, no trained examiners, and only the most vague of guidance on how it all should work.

That passage may be a summary of why the Justice Department needed Adobe and Macromedia to submit more information about their products and businesses pending their proposed merger.

The Project says it will administer those patents to the betterment of the open source development communities. Under its stewardship, the project will ensure that the patents it manages won’t be used against developers of open source software.

Deflecting those potential legal actions is very important to the continued success of open source software. ”Making it easier for companies and communities that have patents to make those patents available in a common pool for people to use is one way to try to help developers deal with the threat,” said Linus Torvalds in the statement.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

OSDL Opens Patent Commons Project
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