According to the NY Times:
The United States Patent and Trademark Office plans to announce today that it will cooperate with open-source software developers on three initiatives that it says will improve the quality of software patents. … Two of the initiatives would rely on recently developed Internet technologies. An open patent review program would set up a system on the patent office Web site where visitors could submit search criteria and subscribe to electronic alerts about patent applications in specific areas. The third initiative is focused on the creation of a patent quality index that would serve as a tool for patent applicants to use in writing their applications.
Microsoft recently issued a covenant not to sue in respect of its Office 2003 XML Reference Schemas. However, SUN and a number of commentators have already identified holes in the covenant.
Open source business models are booming. However, a CNET article points out that an open-source business model start-up needs a number of attributes that a closed-source software company doesn’t. In particular, they need to establish a vibrant “community” of open-source users, some of whom are not paying customers. Not all open-source companies are hitting the right balance between commerce and community. According to a VC quoted in the article: “If a community doesn’t form and form fast, then they’re going to burn through their venture capital, and they’re going to be disasters.”
Now that more details have been exposed about recently announced open source insurance, it just doesn’t sound all that interesting.
As reported by ZDNET, applicants must undergo an expensive risk assessment and then pay relatively high premiums. Reminds me of Y2K insurance policies.