Category Archives: Legal

Trademarks and FOSS

On April 19th the United States Patent and Trademark Office finally rejected an application for the trademark ‘Open Source Hardware’. The grounds for the rejection were that the term was ‘merely descriptive’. Trademarks are intended to identify a specific source of goods or services, protecting that source from confusion in the minds of consumers with … Read more

Open Source meets Open Standards

OSS Watch Briefing Paper: Open Standards and Open Source Open source software and open standards are two of the key interventions in technology policy, whether that policy is made by governments, public sector organisations, or companies. Open standards can ensure interoperability and assist portability, allowing the switching of solutions and avoiding vendor lock-in. Standards can also … Read more

Format? Y/N

Yesterday Martin Hawksey of JISC CETIS published an interesting blog post on the ugly problem of openly-licensed content wrapped in closed file formats. In that post Martin writes: PSD is a proprietary file format developed and owned by Adobe and used in Photoshop. You can actually open and edit PSD files in open source tools like GIMP (I’m … Read more

Twin Peaks Mysteries

Linux behemoth Red Hat is currently being sued over alleged patent infringement by Twin Peaks Software, vendors of the closed source ‘Mirror File System’ technology. It seems that the suit has been triggered by Red Hat’s acquisition of Gluster – an open source  file system project – last year. Twin Peaks hold a patent (US7418439) which covers the … Read more

Open Source and the Windows Store

With the release of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system approaching (October 26th) I thought I would take a look at the current version of the agreement that developers must sign to get their applications into the Windows Store. There has been some controversy over the Windows Store, with some games company representatives pouring scorn on … Read more

Community and commentary

One interesting sidenote to the recent litigation between Oracle and Google has been the order by presiding judge William Alsup that both sides disclose whether they paid anyone who wrote publicly about the case. The deadline for this disclosure was last Friday, but as with most things legal, the issue is still dragging on. Before … Read more

Some questions about the Defensive Patent License

Jason Schultz and Jennifer Urban of UC Berkeley School of Law have distributed a paper which provides an interesting analysis of the state of the patent system and its relationship to open development. In essence, they suggest that rather than avoiding the patent system, open development communities should instead engage with it, seeking to patent and … Read more

Between Thought and Expression

Computer programs are treated, for the purposes of copyright law, as literary works. As well as giving some legitimacy to the legion of people out there calling themselves Codepoet, this decision has the effect of making the division between idea and expression a key one in determining what is and is not ownable in a … Read more