Ditch the Patents

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2005-02-16 Print this article Print

Whats best for your company will be the same as whats best for all companies, MySQL CEO Marten Mickos said in his Wednesday keynote. Namely, ditch all patents on software. "The world would be a better place without software patents," Mickos said. "Its all too easy to assume that if engineers create the adjustable wrench and engineers write software, they should both be protected by patents." (For more anti-patent philosophizing, Mickos suggested checking out Nosoftwarepatents.com.) Its not an issue of small companies vs. big companies, Mickos said. Patents particularly hurt the large companies who have plenty of cash. "The software pirates will likely attack them to get the largest payouts," he said.
In the meantime, the open-source landscape is a maturing industry. Only a "very tiny fraction" of the worlds software needs have been met so far, Mickos said.
My conversation with Bodell and Bates underscored this idea: The two of them pointed out that more and more open-source projects on Sourceforge.net are sophisticated applications—as opposed to the nuts and bolts stuff that was long its typical project. Were talking customer relationship management and ERP (enterprise resource planning) here. There are a host of other applications left to be written for open-source, and the model is likely to spread to other industries as well, Mickos said: journalism, law, government, or any industry whose product is abstract. Or even to an industry with very tangible products. Like, well, zoos. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for eWEEK.com and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on eWEEK.com, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel