LinuxPlanet: Patent War Pending?
Dec 09, 2002, 19:00 (10 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Robert McMillan)
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"Are software patents about to kill open source? The growing
number of questionable software patents and the inability of
individual developers to defend themselves from frivolous patent
suits has many in the open source community concerned. Now that
Microsoft has settled its antitrust case, some hackers worry that
it will become more aggressive in its attack on open source. And
that could spell a frivolous patent lawsuit for some projects:
Wine, Samba or Linux, to name three.
"To find out what the open source community can do to mitigate
this risk, Linux Planet asked the Open Source Initiative's Lawrence
Rosen for his thoughts on the subject. Though hackers tend to be
skeptical of lawyers, Rosen is one who can command their respect.
For one thing, he's a computer geek at heart, with--in addition to
his law degree--a master of computer science from the University of
North Carolina. For another. For another, he's devoted many long
hours to the Open Source Initiative, where he's served as general
counsel, secretary and executive director.
"LinuxPlanet: Do you think the Kollar-Kotelly
decision is going have an impact on open source projects like
Samba, Wine, or Linux? Some developers feel that this decision will
embolden Microsoft to engage in frivolous patent suits.
"Lawrence Rosen: First of all the patent law
gives Microsoft, or any owner of a patent, a legal right to a
monopoly. And while people may quarrel with whether that's good or
bad, that's what the law is. And so the question is only whether
Microsoft is going to use its patents in unfair furtherance of its
monopoly in other areas in order to protect its market in Windows
and other unrelated things..."