Conclusions and Predictions
It is not yet known whether the OWF provisions for patent licensing will overcome the resistance to change for IP policies in standards organizations in order to make both copyrights and patents freely available to open source implementers of open standards. Nor is it known what effect the Oracle v. Google lawsuit will have on the Java standards and the future expectations of implementers to be free to create software based on open standards. Intellectual property attorneys live in interesting times.
In a way, this is very much like the challenges facing Creative Commons when it found chaos and uncertainty in the licensing of music and art and film for free use by all. Open standards are equally fundamental to the ways we live. That is why implementers ought to be free of copyright and patent restrictions to create the open source software on which our world depends. And that is also why attorneys should understand carefully the intellectual property obligations of contributors to and users of open standards.
1. Editor’s Note: On March 6, 2003, the SCO Group (formerly known as Caldera Systems) filed a $1 billion lawsuit in the US against IBM for allegedly “devaluing” its version of the UNIX operating system. The amount of alleged damages was later increased to $3 billion, and then $5 billion. SCO claimed that IBM had, without authorization, contributed SCO’s intellectual property to the codebase of the open source, Unix-like Linux operating system. Source: Wikipedia