Sun: Patent use OK beyond Solaris project

There is a very interesting article at zdnet titled Sun: Patent use OK beyond Solaris project.

As many of you will already know there have been a number of concerns raised about exactly what the 1600 odd patents that are covered by the CDDL can be used for.

Most recently, Dan Ravicher wrote an open letter to Sun asking for important clarification.

Interestingly Richard Stallman wrote quite a restrained piece which appears to leave the door open for Sun to 'do the right thing'.

Now, on reading Steven Shankland's article (the one in this title), it appears that this might just be the case.

Now, before I go any further I have to say...

I am not privy to anything that Sun has not yet said on this issue, my comments are based purely on personal opinion and what Steven has quoted in this article.

Quoting from Steven's article

Sun itself has given mixed messages. Sun President Jonathan Schwartz said in November, "It is not our intent to say, 'Here is our intellectual property and we'll sue you.'" A company representative said Tuesday that Sun wouldn't sue Linux users for using the patents.

But Sun's published statement position is less generous. The company's press release said, "OpenSolaris developers and customers alike no longer need patent protection or indemnity from Sun and other participants in the OpenSolaris community for use of Solaris-based technologies under the CDDL and OpenSolaris community process."

That's a pretty straight forward statement from Jonathan.

I would also note that the statement made in the second paragraph does not exclude what was said in the first, merely points out that those people using Open Solaris are covered.

Now, earlier in the article we have some interesting quotes from Tom Goguen.

The server and software company clarified its position somewhat on Monday. "Clearly we have no intention of suing open-source developers," said Tom Goguen, head of Solaris marketing. However, he added, "We haven't put together a fancy pledge on our Web site" to that effect.

Some kind of pledge is possible, Goguen said: "We're definitely looking into what would make sense and what would make the community feel more comfortable with the patent grant we have made available."

To me it looks like an announcement along these lines is iminent. I look forward to watching a few pundits remove egg from their faces. Really folks, we are not the bad guys, and we are trying to do something worthwhile. There is no great conspiracy here.

Again, it's worth noting that all of the patents covered by this grant are directly relevant to the software in question, and not simply patents that we are chucking over the wall because they are about to expire and might or might not be useful.

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Alan is a kernel and performance engineer based in Australia who tends to have the nasty calls gravitate towards him

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