By webmink on Dec 08, 2005
As I've been tinkering at home with Asterisk, I've been considering the growth of the voice-over-IP software and service communities and it strikes me that there's a collision coming between the two worlds of traditional telephony and software-defined telephony. It's not just that there's a business model challenge and paradigm shift, though.
One is built on the concept of patent pooling, where all participants agree that innovation is best developed by contributing know-how to a pool for open selection by other vendors, on the understanding that the technology chosen will be used as a standard with payment of royalties to the contributer. The other is growing in a world where patents are anathema, where the old "patent pool" approach seems an unethical, closed aberation.
Whatever happens, as these two worlds rush towards each other, a messy legal collision seems inevitable. It seems to me inevitable that eventually, the nobility of the old world will turn up at the doors of the frontiersmen of the new world and demand payment of tribute in the form of patents royalties.
By the way, this is another space where a freedom mechanism - the compulsion to provide an emergency call service - is being used as a lock-in mechanism by the status quo.