Patents and Free and Open Source Software

On April 29, 2010, Silicon Flatirons will host a conference to examine the relationship between patent law and policy and free and open source software.

Tags: Content/IP / Technology Policy

To View the video of this event, click here.

On April 29, 2010, Silicon Flatirons will host a conference to examine the relationship between patent law and policy and free and open source software.

Both patents and open source have been credited with a great deal of technology innovation. But when the two meet in a single system, they may conflict. How does the open source mode of open, collaborative sharing mesh with patent’s exclusion rights and controlled licensing? Does patent law hinder or help the release and distribution of open source software? What can those who adopt open source software do to reduce their exposure to patent litigation and liability? Can new models of patent licensing help to enable collaborative sharing?

As the Supreme Court addresses patentable subject matter in its Bilski case; Apple sues phone developers over claims they copied the iPhone’s technology; and MPEG extends patent licenses on web video, we are ideally timed to consider the state of the law and its future direction. Experts from law, technology, and business will join us at Silicon Flatirons to address the challenges and opportunities of patents and open source software.

How does Free and open source software fit into a business strategy? How do its strengths and weaknesses compare with proprietary software? Does an entrepreneur need patents to gain a competitive edge? What best practices can minimize legal and competitive risks? This panel will showcase a mix of business, technology, and legal strategies to navigate the software industry.

How does the presence of open source software complicate patent litigation? Do cases involving open source software tend to be more expensive than other software patent lawsuits? Less expensive? Are there strategies open source software developers can deploy to decrease the threat of patent litigation and liability? Panelists will address current practices and proposals such as defensive licenses, patent pools, prior art databases, reexamination practice, litigation, and law reform.

Patented standards have been embraced in many fields. For example, many multimedia formats and communications specifications are both standardized and controlled by pools of patents. Can developers of open source software use these formats without infringing? Can a software developer license patents and permit end-user modification and redistribution of the software? What kind of intellectual property licensing policy promotes vibrant innovation in standards and software?


  • Paul Ohm
    Associate Professor of Law, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Open Source and Patent Business Models
  • Paul Ohm — Moderator
    Associate Professor of Law, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
  • Jason Mendelson
    Senior Fellow, Entrepreneurship Initiative, Silicon Flatirons
  • Jason Haislmaier
    Partner, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP
  • Stormy Peters
    Executive Director, Gnome Foundation
  • Pamela Samuelson
    Richard M. Sherman Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California Berkeley; Director, Berkeley Center for Law & Technology

Open Source and Patent Litigation
  • Harry Surden — Moderator
    Professor of Law, University of Colorado Law School
  • Jason Schultz
    Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, Director, Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic
  • Jennifer Urban
    Clinical Professor; Director, Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic, UC Berkeley School of Law
  • Lucky Vidmar
    Associate, Greenberg Traurig LLP
  • Julie Dececco
    Legal Director in the Litigation Department, Oracle America Inc.
  • David St. John-Larkin
    Partner, Perkins Coie LLP

Patents, Standards, and the Open Source Ecosystem
  • Wendy Seltzer — Moderator
    Fellow, Center for Information Technology Policy
  • Steve Mutkoski
    Director of Interoperability & Standards, Microsoft
  • Judson Cary
    Vice President Technology Policy, Deputy General Counsel, CableLabs
  • John Card
    Director of Standards and Technology, EchoStar Technologies, L.L.C.
  • Nina Wang
    Partner, Faegre Baker Daniels

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