On open source and intellectual property

A new article I wrote for InfoWorld.com went live this morning, under the title, “How risky is open source?”

Although the origin of this piece dates back several months — it got put off for various reasons — it’s especially timely now, given Microsoft’s recent statements to the press about alleged patent infringements in open source code. (InfoWorld has assembled a special report on Microsoft’s latest campaign against open soure and the response from the community, available here.)

My article is essentially a primer on the three forms of intellectual property that affect open source software — copyrights, trademarks, and patents — and what risks they might pose for enterprise customers. The short answer? Not many — in fact, I even have a Microsoft representative on record saying Redmond has no plans to go after customers for patent infringements. But check it out for yourself.

2 thoughts on “On open source and intellectual property

  1. “open soure” — paging Dr. Freud. But seriously, let’s be careful: there’s a huge difference between “Redmond has no plans to go after customers for patent infringements” and “it’s ethical to incur patent infringements, so it’s good to let Open Source do whatever it wants.”

    It’s important (even in the subtext messages we send when we talk about it) to make distinctions between what Open Source should be and do, and what it shouldn’t.

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