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From "Allen Pulsifer" <pulsi...@openoffice.org>
Subject RE: OpenOffice patent issues (was Remediation ...)
Date Fri, 10 Jun 2011 16:28:34 GMT
> Sam wrote:
> Before proceeding, I would like to seek advice from our counsel.  I also
want to proceed based
> on specific patent infringement concerns and not on abstract
hypotheticals.  However, I don't
> want to spend valuable time on this until we decide whether or not to
accept this project for incubation.

Hi Sam,

Thinking out loud here for a moment, it is possible that Sun had an
agreement with Microsoft that allowed Sun to include technologies in
StarOffice and OpenOffice.org that might draw an objection if shipped by
anyone else.  I don't know for sure however.

More broadly though, it seems there are several different types of patent
issues that could arise in a project:

- If the project is not shipping binary code, it might not care about patent
issues and instead allow the project builders or consumers to worry about
this (along with a disclaimer of course that the project make no
representations whether or not the code implements technologies that might
infringe on patents in some jurisdictions and therefore all risk and
responsibility is on the user).

- A patent may only be valid in a certain countries, so users in some
countries may not have a patent issue while users in other countries may.

- Some consumers of a project may have a license to use a patented
technology while others may not.

- Some users may judge the legal and factual issues surrounding a patent
differently, i.e., some may think there is no infringement while others may
see a more significant threat.

The net result of these issues are that project participants may have
differing opinions on whether they want to either (a) include code for a
possible patented technology or (b) include code to work around a
potentially patented technology.  Some may also want to see these issue
addressed through compile or build options.  There is also a question of how
these issues should get documented or discussed, since any documentation or
discussion "might be held against you in a court of law".

Is there a general mechanism, method or approach for dealing with these
issues within the Apache organization?

Thanks,

Allen



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