Sun, following in IBM's footsteps, have announced the company will grant open source projects access to over 1,600 patents, the largest single release of I.P. ever. Sun CEO Scott McNealy said "Today represents a huge milestone for Sun, for the community, for developers and for customers."
In a statement today, Sun said that they were allowing access to increase innovation and to level the playing field to software developers. They also commented that the move was in reaction to their growing concern at broad patents over software code, and an over-worked international patent system. The company appeared to be agreeing with a growing view that the system needs serious reform to continue working effectively and in the manner they were originally intended. Sun hope that this move will also reduce customer concerns about potential liability from using Open Source software.
Stacey Quandt, a Senior Business Analyst at The Robert Frances Group said "By gaining access to these Solaris OS patents, participants in the open-source community now have a tremendous opportunity to build unique and innovative technologies for a wide range of markets. An IP contribution of this magnitude has the potential to deliver exceptional value to developers and strengthens the overall open source community."
Sun said that the patents being offered ranged from kernel technology to network management, as well as newer Sun technology like anticipated Dynamic Tracing. The patents are being offered under the Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL). Exactly how useful the access will be to developers is un-known; nor exactly how self-interested this move really is. The patent release comes as part of Sun's efforts to completely open source the Solaris operating system.
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