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Patents and Free and Open Source Software

On April 29, 2010, Silicon Flatirons will host a conference to examine the relationship between patent law and policy and free and open source software.

Both patents and open source have been credited with a great deal of technology innovation. But when the two meet in a single system, they may conflict. How does the open source mode of open, collaborative sharing mesh with patent's exclusion rights and controlled licensing? Does patent law hinder or help the release and distribution of open source software? What can those who adopt open source software do to reduce their exposure to patent litigation and liability? Can new models of patent licensing help to enable collaborative sharing?

As the Supreme Court addresses patentable subject matter in its Bilski case; Apple sues phone developers over claims they copied the iPhone's technology; and MPEG extends patent licenses on web video, we are ideally timed to consider the state of the law and its future direction. Experts from law, technology, and business will join us at Silicon Flatirons to address the challenges and opportunities of patents and open source software.

How does Free and open source software fit into a business strategy? How do its strengths and weaknesses compare with proprietary software? Does an entrepreneur need patents to gain a competitive edge? What best practices can minimize legal and competitive risks? This panel will showcase a mix of business, technology, and legal strategies to navigate the software industry.

How does the presence of open source software complicate patent litigation? Do cases involving open source software tend to be more expensive than other software patent lawsuits? Less expensive? Are there strategies open source software developers can deploy to decrease the threat of patent litigation and liability? Panelists will address current practices and proposals such as defensive licenses, patent pools, prior art databases, reexamination practice, litigation, and law reform.

Patented standards have been embraced in many fields. For example, many multimedia formats and communications specifications are both standardized and controlled by pools of patents. Can developers of open source software use these formats without infringing? Can a software developer license patents and permit end-user modification and redistribution of the software? What kind of intellectual property licensing policy promotes vibrant innovation in standards and software?

Session 1: Welcome and Business Models

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Session 2: Open Source Software and Patent Litigation

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Session 3: Patents, Standards, Open Source Ecosystem

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Event Details

Sponsored By Silicon Flatirons
CLE Credits
General: 5