Lots of small and medium free software projects are staffed by volunteers that don’t have any money to tempt a patent aggression entity. There’s been plenty of talk about patent trolls, but money isn’t the only motive for a patent suit. Even if non-practicing entities are eventually curtailed, ill-intentioned practicing entities may not be affected. The free software community will still have to worry about anti-competitive suits, nuisance suits, and suits designed to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about the adoption of free software. So, what can we as free software builders, promoters, and users do to protect the code we care about?
Some solutions are only effective against non-practicing entities, while others may impact all kinds of bad actors. The strengths and weaknesses of proposed legislation, recent and ongoing campaigns, and academic writings will be examined. If legislators and international trade negotiators won’t take a stand against anti-competitive patent aggression, then we must do so as a community. Find out about some of the community solutions that are underway and how we can combat the threat of anti-FLOSS plaintiffs together.
Deb Nicholson works at the intersection of technology and social justice. She has over fifteen years of non-profit management experience and got involved in the free software movement about five years ago when she started working for the Free Software Foundation. She is currently the Community Outreach Director for the Open Invention Network – the defensive patent pool built to protect Linux projects. She is also the Community Manager for GNU MediaGoblin, a brand new federated media hosting program. In her spare time, she serves on the board of OpenHatch, a small non-profit dedicated to identifying and mentoring new free software contributors with a particular interest in building a more diverse free software movement.
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