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By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2005-11-15 Print this article Print

Looking ahead, Peters added, the OSDL and its partners will try to create model commitments based on these two approaches. With these models, companies and universities will be able to easily create their own patent commitments. The idea behind these models is to work toward creating a standard for open-source commitments.
"This way, people will be prevented from making one-off commitments. If everyone made their own commitment, the way open-source licenses proliferated, it could make it impossible for people to use them. Were trying to avoid the trap that the OSI [Open Source Initiative] fell into," said Peters.
The point of the Patent Commons is to make it possible for people "to be able to make their purchase decisions based on technical merits, security, quality of service and value, not concerns over intellectual property ownership," said David Patrick, Novells vice president for Linux and open-source platforms and services. "The OSDL Patent Commons Project will provide greater confidence to developers and customers that the open-source solutions they are deploying are safe from patent challenges." This, however, is only the beginning. In the coming months, the site will expand to include other legal solutions that benefit the open-source community, including open-source licenses, indemnification programs, and information for organizations and individuals who wish to contribute to the commons. In addition, Peters said that other companies and universities will soon start donating more patents to the open-source cause. "Well see more big players in the next six to eight months as they see how other companies are doing it and how they want to support open-source." Simon Phipps, Suns chief open-source officer, hopes that the new Commons Project will help at least Band-Aid the continuing problems with software. "Sun is well aware of the many obstacles these communities face due to the uncertainties that surround todays software patents, which neither patent pools nor targeted pledges really solve. This project offers a concrete and important step in the right direction, as it will help all open-source communities," said Phipps. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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