Open is Open.
Posted Nov 10, 2005 3:55 UTC (Thu) by paulj
In reply to: Open is Open.
Parent article: Debian and Nexenta collide
So if Sun wanted to close OpenSolaris some day, all they'd have to do is
stop releasing "Original Software" and whatever version they last
released couldn't be forked, because the patent grants specifically apply
to "Original Software" only.
The above is not quite true. You *can* fork OpenSolaris. The patent licence is not a patent claim of itself, merely a licence to any relevant patents (which may or may not be there). Sun don't have a track record of suing for patent infringement either.
You can fork away, Sun then could indeed sue for /modified/ files (AIUI). They still can not sue for the unmodified CDDL files, or portions thereof, to which the patent grant still applies. (The point you raised in your other post is wrong, I *think*, but could be wrong).
So if you fork, as you modify things your modifications are not exempt from patent claims by the original developer (Sun), even if you make them to files which did originally come with a licence from the Original Developer.
The problem here essentially is in an ideal world Sun would promise never to sue anyone "good" for infringing software patents, yet that is a very hard promise to make without Sun stripping itself of means to defend itself against patent claims. In the climate today, particularly in the USA, big corporations need to be able to assert patent counter-claims to protect themselves when sued. And Sun are quite familiar with being sued (got stung for $90M or so when a non-technical jury decided Sun had, in Java, infringed on patents by Kodak, of all companies.), and their executives are on record that Sun does not intend to use patents aggresively IIRC.
Further, it could dilute the patent MAD clauses in the CDDL. If Sun has broadly promised to not assert patent claims, then the 6.2 "threat" of the CDDL (patent MAD) becomes toothless.
So, yes, if you go way off on your own with OpenSolaris you also leave the realm of Suns' "patent peace" zone. You'll just have to take it on a combination of Suns' track record wrt patents and a bit of faith that Sun will not turn into a patent troll. (I think it's very unlikely).
That said, I wish too it could be phrased better. I suspect though that if it were easy to word it better, then it would have been done so originally. Do you have suggestions? :)
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