How do you define ‘commercial open source’?

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| SQLite has seen some success recently as the chosen database for Google’s
| Android project. It also replaced MySQL as the default database for the Ruby
| on Rails project. Adobe, meanwhile, uses SQLite as part of its new AIR
| runtime software, amongst other things.

Patent Pledge for Open Source Developers

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| [PJ: Microsoft has come up with its own proprietary definition, if I may call
| it that, of Open Source projects. Here it is, found on the new Patent Pledge
| for Open Source Developers page of its website:
| "To benefit from this promise, You must be a natural or legal person
| participating in the creation of software code for an open source project.
| An "open source project" is a software development project the resulting
| source code of which is freely distributed, modified, or copied pursuant to
| an open source license and is not commercially distributed by its
| participants. If You engage in the commercial distribution or importation of
| software derived from an open source project or if You make or use such
| software outside the scope of creating such software code, You do not benefit
| from this promise for such distribution or for these other activities."
| Blech.]


IP Issues with OOXML (DIS 29500)

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| Out of all the free and open source licences which are available, there are
| two which are disproportionately chosen by FOSS developers when licensing
| their software. Those two are the GPL and the LGPL. Of these, the GPL is
| disproportionately favoured over the LGPL.* If there are issues with GPL
| implementations then there are IP issues with OOXML. Any assurance that
| excludes implementation under these licences is just cause for the FOSS
| community to voice concern.
| [...]
| If there are issues with GPL implementations then there are IP issues with
| OOXML. Microsoft implicitly concedes there are issues with GPL
| implementations.

By Metes and Bounds

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| But you might say, "Please Rob, you can't be serious. Who would try to get a
| patent on laying out a footnote? That just doesn't happen in the real world."
| But consider for Microsoft's patent application "Method and computer readable
| medium for laying out footnotes" (US20060156225A1). I'm not saying that
| application matches the above feature in the standard, but if it did, is
| there anyone who will argue that the Open Specification Promise would not
| apply in this case?

Defensive Patents, Other Fairy Tales

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| "Defensive patents" make as much sense as leaving a loaded gun around the
| house. Like a home robbery, it is more likely it will be used against the
| home owner then the intruder.

Microsoft patents by Brian Jones

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| For fun we just did a quick search of published US patent applications
| with "Brian Jones" as an author, and "Microsoft" as the assignee.
| [...]
| Some of these, like the packing ones, seem to apply directly to OOXML. What
| isn't clear to us is why Microsoft would pursue patent protection for patents
| rights that their are promising that they won't assert over users of OOXML.

Wishful Spinning

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| OOXML gets adopted. More and more projects are started. Let's see which of
| these would survive without funding. Meanwhile a spin factory sends out
| success stories that most bloggers find worthless to discuss. It is possible
| to get the Krauts on board that are supposed to review OOXML but would OOXML
| survive a review by the crowds?

Digging in the Comments: Patents

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| Patent licensing is probably the most important aspect for all third parties
| that want to implement or use the Open XML specification. Unfortunately the
| Ballot Resolution Meeting cannot discuss these aspects because only technical
| and editorial issues would get resolved.
| [...]
| When you have a patent which covers Open XML and you refuse to license it,
| the standard process gets stalled. Large companies in the standardization
| process are reluctant to use that nuke option. Given the ambush that the
| software patent practice means today it is quite possible that Open XML
| infringes a patent and all parties eventually have an obligation to license
| it.

Patent threat looms large over OOXML

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| "If OOXML goes through as an ISO standard, the IT industry, government and
| business will encumbered with a 6000-page specification peppered with
| potential patent liabilities" said NZOSS President Don Christie.
| "Patent threats have already been used to spread doubt amongst organisations
| keen to take advantage of the benefits of open source. No one knows whether
| such claims have any merit, but it is calculated to deter the development and
| use of open and alternative toolsets."

Cyberlaw OOXML Seminar 14 December

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| However, this raises the issue - what assurance does a developer have that
| such a large specification is not the subject of third party patent claims?
| ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
| The pedigree of the specification is certainly no reason for hope, Microsoft
| has been the target of third party patent claims for some time now including
| some high profile losses in patent suits. The fact that the specification has
| been developed behind closed doors and on a fast track means that there has
| been no adequate opportunity to evaluate the likelihood of third party patent
| claims against the specifications. The sheer size of the document suggests
| there will be at least a couple hiding in there somewhere.

ISO warned about possible patent violations of DIS29500 (aka OOXML)

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| I have just send the following email to ISO members (you can find some of
| their email addresses on the INCTIS website) to warn them about the possible
| patent ambush...