Non-aggression as a binding promise in Open Source

Business & Innovation
Dienstag, 6. Mai 2014 - 12:15 bis 12:45



For a long time, there has been a kind of informal agreement among large players not to sue Open Source communities. However such norms are difficult to enforce, have repeatedly been violated, and both small companies and Open Source communities have been skeptical about it. Recently, holders of patents and copyright have begun to promise non-aggression in a more binding fashion. Is a pledge of non-aggression becoming a requirement to be a community player in good standing?


Recently, patent non-aggression pacts and pledges have hit the news. Twitter promised not to be a patent troll, so did RedHat and many other important players. But some did not. The dangers of software patents especially to small and medium size companies are apparent. Preserving the right to attack the Free Software ecosystem is increasingly seen as the only reason not to enter into a binding non-aggression pact. Non-practising entities are criticized as a danger to innovation in the global Free Software commons, however all of these symptoms are integral parts of the patent system as it is.

So how do the various kind of non-aggression promises fit into an industry where international companies are competing intensely for the consumer's attention to their products, and at the same time cooperate to build the Open Source foundations for exactly these products? And what about those that do not take part?

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