Posted by: commonsresource | April 7, 2010

Big Blue’s 99% assertion?

In a development that has the open source software Twitterverse buzzing, IBM recently delivered a patent assertion letter to TurboHercules – a services company focused on the Hercules open source software project.  Ryan Paul, in his Ars Technica – Open Ended blog post entitled “IBM breaks OSS patent promise, targets mainframe emulator” provides an excellent description of both the current situation and the background history and I would encourage you to read Ryan’s balanced analysis. While I do share the concern that 2 of the IBM asserted patents seem to be part of the 2005 IBM non-assertion pledge to the open source software community,  it is important to note that this is represent only 1% of the 173 patents and applications that have been asserted against TurboHercules and may well prove to be the result of an administrative error.

In addition, this development is just the latest stage of a long saga of increasing aggressive steps by both TurboHercules and IBM.  Notwithstanding the rhetoric of TurboHercules and the open source community, I fully agree with Matt Assay conclusion in his “IBM patent claims show open source has arrived” post yesterday that

“using patents to defend old monopolies is ugly, even if it is “business as usual.” I just disagree that IBM’s action is more or less offensive because it’s asserted against an open-source project. It’s neutral. Open source doesn’t get a free pass, even in IBM’s world. This isn’t cause for concern. It’s cause for celebration. It means open source truly has arrived.”


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