More On The Corporate Gated Open Source Community

from the how-to-avoid-lawsuits... dept

Earlier this month we joked about how the new Avalanche CIO co-op was really open source with a $30,000 gate. It appears that the group doesn’t see it as a joke. That’s exactly how they describe themselves. The interview with one of the founders also raises some interesting points about how the group is going to avoid a SCO-IBM situation where some of the software that goes into the co-op is accused of having intellectual property violations. The guy from the co-op sort of brushes that off by saying they have a top intellectual property law firm who will review all submissions to make sure they’re safe. Considering the number of software patents showing up these days on all sorts of minor software processes, and the fact that I’d put IBM’s lawyers up against any top IP law firm any day and they certainly didn’t expect SCO to go on this bizarre run, I doubt that’s much real protection. If anything, this may end up opening up the companies in the co-op to more (pointless, of course) patent lawsuits by revealing their internal software. For instance, the first piece of software in the co-op was an internal application from Best Buy. Before this, no one outside of Best Buy really knew what it did, since it was all internal. Thus, there was almost no risk of being accused of patent infringment. However, by opening it up (admittedly to just a few companies right now) they risk someone who has patents on some tiny process used in their software to come back and sue them and any of the other companies in the co-op who downloads it. Maybe after a few of these types of lawsuits the companies involved in the co-op will become a bit more pro-active in fighting against bad software patents.

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