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Fighting the Encroaching Thickets: Recent Developments in FOSS and Software Patents

Fighting the Encroaching Thickets: Recent Developments in FOSS and Software Patents

A discussion of the patent challenges facing open source software ventures and some proposed solutions.

Benjamin Hayes

January 31, 2014
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  1. Fighting  the  
    Encroaching  Thickets  
    Recent  Developments  in  FOSS  and  
    So4ware  Patents  

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  2. Overview  
    • Patent  Basics  and  Their  InteracFOSS  Projects  
     
    • Patent  Threats  Facing  the  FOSS  
    Community  
     
    • Tools  Available  to  Combat  These  Threats  
     

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  3. What  is  a  Patent?  
    A  form  of  property  gran• Currently  20  years  from  earliest  effecdate  
    • Exclusive  right  to  make,  use,  and  sell  the  
    patented  innova

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  4. Requirements  for  Patentability  
    • Patentable  subject  maNer  
    • U• Novelty  
     
    • Non-­‐Obviousness  
    • Enablement  

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  5. • “Design  Around”  Patents  
    • Supposed  to  be  one  of  the  benefits  of  patent  
    law  
     
    • Patent  Thickets  
    Patent  Strategies  

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  6. FOSS  and  Patents  
    Difficul'es  in  Obtaining  Patents  
    •  Cost  and  effort  
    •  Determining  an  inventor  
     
    •  Non-­‐Obviousness  
     
    •  Novelty  
    Difficul'es  in  Defending  Patents  
    •  Freely  accessible  store  of  prior  art  
     
     

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  7. Why  Should  You  Care?  

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  8. Threats  
    Commercial  Compe'tors  
    Patent  Trolls  

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  9. Commercial  Competitors  
    •  SCO/Linux  Controversies  
    •  SCO  v.  IBM,  Red  Hat  v.  SCO,  SCO  V.  Norvell,  SCO  v.  
    DaimlerChrysler,  SCO  v.  Auto-­‐Zone  
    •  Microso4  backing  
     
    •  Mobile  Wars  
    •  Apple,  Google  (with  Motorola),  Samsung,  Oracle,  
    Yahoo!,  Nokia  
    •  Samsung  v.  Apple  and  vice  versa  in  various  
    world  jurisdic•  EU  regulators  hi[ng  Google  (via  Motorola)  
    with  a  complaint  for  aNempinjunc

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  10. Patent  Trolls  
    •  Person  or  en•  enforces  patent  rights  against  alleged  infringers  in  
    order  to  collect  licensing  fees;  and  
    •  does  not  manufacture  or  supply  products  or  services  
    based  on  its  patents.  
     

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  11. Trolls  by  the  Numbers  
    •  Patent  trolls  are  a  large  and  growing  threat  
    •  62%  of  all  patent  liCredit:  ©  RPX  Corpora

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  12. Trolls  by  the  Numbers  
    •  In  2012  for  the  first  companies  (51%)  than  tech  companies.  

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  13. FOSS  and  Patents  
    Don’t  overesUnlikely  to  sue  individual  
    developers  or  non-­‐profits  
     
    Don’t  underes•  Risk  always  exists  
    •  Growth  aNracts  
    enemies  and  trolls  
     
    It’s  all  about  the  Benjamins.  

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  14. Defenses  
    Defensive  Patent  License  
    Defensive  Patent  Pools  
    Patent-­‐Holder  Pledges  

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  15. Defensive  Patent  Pools  
    Open  Inven'on  Network  (OIN)  
    •  Founded  in  2005  by  IBM,  Novell,  Philips,  Red  Hat,  Sony,  and  NEC  
    •  Joined  later  by  Canonical  and  Google  
    Member  Obliga•  Pool  License  
    •  Defensive  Pledge  
    •  Viral  licensing  
    Member  Benefits  
    •  License  to  OIN  pool  patents  

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  16. Defensive  Patent  Pools  
    Limits  to  Effec'veness  
    •  Most  large  patent  holders  already  have  non-­‐aggression  agreements  
    with  the  other  large  patent  holders,  limipatents  for  counter-­‐suits.  
    •  The  members  of  the  pool  are,  by  definicommunity  fears.  
    •  Counter-­‐suits  only  work  if  you  are  being  sued  by  a  company  that  
    develops  so4ware;  infringement  suits  are  useless  against  NPE  trolls.  
    •  The  percepeffec

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  17. Defensive  Patent  License  (DPL)  
    •  Developed  beginning  in  2010  by  Jason  Schultz  and  Jennifer  Urban,  law  
    professors  and  directors  of  UC  Berkeley's  Samuelson  Law,  Technology  &  
    Public  Policy  Clinic.  
    •  A  DPL  par•  License  enAre  porlolio  
    •  License  to  all  DPL  users  
    •  Defensive  pledge  to  DPL  users  only  
    •  Provisions:  
    •  Irrevocable  
    •  Withdrawal  
    •  License  on  Transfer  
    •  “Travels  with  patent”  
     
     

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  18. Defensive  Patent  License  (DPL)  
    •  Strengths  
    •  Forces  licensors  to  open  their  enpools  where  members  can  choose  to  offer  only  their  weakest  
    patents    
    •  The  “travels  with  patent”  and  “license  on  transfer”  provisions  
    help  de-­‐weaponize  patents  and  make  them  less  valuable  for  
    trolls.  
    •  Weaknesses  
    •  Lacks  the  “viral  clause”  found  in  “patenle4”  licenses  like  the  
    OIN  agreement  
    •  Creates  a  fenced-­‐in  zone  of  defensive  safety  between  DPL  
    members  while  allowing  offensive  ac

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  19. Tools  to  Fight  Trolls  
    •  Defensive  Publica'on  
    •  OIN’s  “Linux  Defenders”  program  
    •  “Peer  to  Patent”  prior  art  database  
    •  Purchasing  Harmful  Patents  
    •  OIN  and  the  Linux  Founda•  Allied  Security  Trust  
    •  RPX  Corpora

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  20. The  Future?  

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  21. Questions?  
     
    Benjamin  Hayes  
    (713)  320-­‐2960  
    [email protected]  
     
     
     
    Legal  Disclaimer    
    •  The  informaintended  only  as  a  basic  overview  of  corporate  law  and  does  
    not  cons

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