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.