Monday, August 02, 2004

Patent infringement Insurance and LINUX

Open Source Risk Management plans to offer a form of patent infringement insurance, valued up to $5 million in coverage for legal costs associated with patent and copyright claims, for an annual premium of about $150,000. The policy is available now, but won't take effect until January, 2005.

Possibly to enhance business prospects, Open Source Risk Management Inc. released the results of its study on August 2, 2004, the opening day of the LinuxWorld trade show in San Francisco. Patent attorney Dan Ravicher, senior counsel for the Free Software Foundation, which promotes the use of free software, conducted the research.

The study identified 283 software patents that could potentially be used to support claims against Linux, an open-source operating system that's distributed for free. Linux is the center of a pending multi-billion-dollar copyright infringement suit filed in 2003 by SCO Group Inc. against IBM.

Of those patents, a third are owned by companies that support the use of Linux and are unlikely to take legal action, Open Source Risk Management said. Those companies include Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Novell, Oracle, Red Hat, and Sony.

Of the remaining patents, however, 27 belong to Microsoft, which is an outspoken opponent of Linux. The rest belong to companies or individuals who would have little to lose in making legal threats against Linux users in the hopes of reaching lucrative settlements, Open Source Risk Management said.


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