Practical Technology

for practical people.

Of patents, open source, and IBM


After covering the war of words over IBM’s use of patents in a business dispute with French start-up TurboHercules and giving my two cents on this open-source family fight, I’d hope the matter would die down. I was wrong.

Florien Mueller, the founder of the European NoSoftwarePatents campaign, who started this most recent open-source internal fuss, has now published an analysis which claims that some of the patents “IBM asserted against Hercules may also read on other major Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) projects, including but not limited to OpenBSD, Xen, VirtualBox, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite and Kaffe.”

It’s not that there’s any proof IBM is actually considering suing anyone on these grounds, as Mueller admits, but nevertheless Mueller claims that “considering that IBM has already used them in a threat letter to TurboHercules, those patents must be considered particularly dangerous.”

Sigh. All software patents, as far as I’m concerned, are dangerous to all software development.

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