Patent holders as open source allies

Owners of intellectual property would do well to examine these license terms carefully. They may be pleasantly surprised by what they read.

In a fascinating post on the aftermath of the Eolas decision, our own David Berlind note that some patent holders are becoming frineds of open source.

After losing to Eolas, he writes, Microsoft was forced to drop some functionality from Internet Explorer, but Firefox was not.

Why would a company that depends on Intellectual Property rights for its existance support open source?

  1. Open source provides contracts that can protect IP rights as software spreads.
  2. Open source embraces a subscription business model.
  3. Many patented ideas need programming help in getting to market, and open source can provide that help.

One example does not make a trend, but the concept is intriguing.

Open source is a business model. It's different from FOSS (Free and Open Source Software), although as I've noted the licenses create a continuum between proprietary and FOSS which generally leads toward FOSS.

Owners of intellectual property would do well to examine these license terms carefully. They may be pleasantly surprised by what they read. And they may also be surprised at the reception, and help, they get in using open source as a way to reach their market.

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