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IP Authors: Larry Alton, Linda Thayer, Ming-Tao Yang, Jack Newton, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Apache Web Server Journal, Intellectual Property in Silicon Valley

Apache Web Server: Article

Sun Opens Access To 1,600 Patents

"Largest Single Grant in Patent History" Says Sun CEO Scott McNealy

Official Sun Press Release Below:

"As the largest business contributor to the open source community, Sun has always been an ardent believer in open standards and the open source process going back to the inception of this company," said Scott McNealy, Chairman and CEO, Sun Microsystems, Inc. "The release of more than 1,600 patents associated with the Solaris OS far eclipses any other vendor's contribution. Today represents a huge milestone for Sun, for the community, for developers and for customers."

Sun's goal in offering access to these patents is to help facilitate innovation and help users get new open source products and technologies to market faster without having to obtain patent licenses from Sun. The new approach underscores Sun's belief that license agreements for software are not as significant as the company who stands behind its products. Sun is also addressing current issues and increased scrutiny in U.S. and international patent law which has increasingly granted overly broad patents on abstract processes.

In removing the emphasis on intellectual-property rights as an inhibitor to innovation, Sun is leveling the playing field in key emerging markets and helping to revive an innovation system that is straining under a record number of patent filings globally. More markets are looking for ways to monetize their knowledge economy and patents are becoming the profit center. With growing attention on locking up intellectual property in countries like China - which has seen a five-fold increase in the number of patent filings from 1991 to 2001 - Sun is ensuring that software will be available to open source developers and that progress continues unabated.

"By gaining access to these Solaris OS patents, participants in the open-source community now have a tremendous opportunity to build unique and innovative technologies for a wide range of markets," said Stacey Quandt, Senior Business Analyst, Open Source Practice Leader, Robert Frances Group. "An IP contribution of this magnitude has the potential to deliver exceptional value to developers and strengthens the overall open source community."

Addressing the patent system that is under siege, Sun's pledge of open access reduces the quagmire for developers who previously had to walk through a minefield to avoid infringement and enables them to confidently produce derivative works without fear of reprisal or patent claims.

Radically reducing risks associated with using and developing open source software, Sun is firmly standing behind our products and the worldwide development community. Armed with access to Solaris OS platform intellectual property, OpenSolaris developers and customers alike no longer need patent protection or indemnity from Sun's and other participants in the OpenSolaris community for use of Solaris-based technologies under the CDDL and OpenSolaris community process.

By releasing the OpenSolaris OS platform under the CDDL, the open source community will immediately gain access to 1,600 active Sun patents for all aspects of operating system technologies that encompass features ranging from kernel technology and file systems to network management, to name a few. Patents for Sun's newest technologies, such as the anticipated Dynamic Tracing technology, will also be available under the open access program.

Historically, Sun has contributed more code to open source initiatives than all other organizations with the exception of UC Berkeley, and remains committed to providing engineering support for Apache, Mozilla, Gnome, OpenOffice, Grid, JXTA, ODSL and other open source projects. Previously, Sun donated the source code of StarOffice software, which drives the OpenOffice suite bundled with most versions of Linux and was awarded a Product Excellence Award at the 2004 LinuxWorld Conference & Expo for Best Productivity/Business Application.

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JDJ News Desk monitors the world of Java to present IT professionals with updates on technology advances, business trends, new products and standards in the Java and i-technology space.

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Most Recent Comments
RMS viewpoint 01/31/05 05:08:35 PM EST

RMS has commented on this: "Perhaps Sun will eventually give substance to its words, and make this step a real one like IBM's. Perhaps some other large companies will take similar steps. Would this make free software safe from the danger of software patents? Would the problem of software patents be solved? Not on your life. Neither one."

Bill Shepard 01/26/05 01:49:38 AM EST

Sun has left IBM behind again.
Hopefully Microsoft, HP, and Oracle will follow suit.
Sun has shown repetetively their commitment to open source community, donated enormous amount of code, wonder why that doesnt effect their bottom-line!

Pallitax 01/25/05 10:05:54 PM EST

Note that these patents are only released under CDDL and so can't be used for Linux. Also, IBM already pledged last summer not to assert any of its 40,000 patents against Linux.

Yathat 01/25/05 05:36:51 PM EST

When will this action commence?

is this today's news? 01/25/05 04:36:58 PM EST

or old news?