The Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) opened the Patents Commons Reference Library in November, providing an overview of patents that have been pledged towards open source. OSDL's chief was quoted as saying that the open source patent was hereby diffused.
During the past year corporate Linux supporters from IBM to Philips have scrambled to support Linux, pledging that they will not enforce their patents against the open source operating system and, in some cases, to open source in general.
"The patents come from the wrong people," he said during a meeting with reporters, because only friends of open source will submit to the pool.
"If Microsoft turns out to be the aggressor, that does not help," noted Perens, because all large technology companies have cross-licensing deals indemnifying them from patent infringement claims. "The pool unfortunately turns out to be spitting in the wind," he concluded.
The discussion around the open source patent threat is still very much a theoretical one. There are no known cases of open source developers or users who have been sued for patent violations.
Industry insiders counter that those cases have occurred, but have always been settled and wrapped up in a non-disclosure agreement to prevent the public from finding out.
To add credibility to the discussion, Open Source Risk Management (OSRM) commissioned a study in 2004 that claimed to have identified 283 patents on which the Linux kernel was infringing.
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