Software patents

Software patents present a threat to all digital standards, affecting them in three specific ways:

  1. Vendors can try to introduce patented technology into digital standards under development, creating franchise standards that firms cannot use without paying license fees.
  2. Vendors can silently patent parts of a digital standard under development. This is considered very bad practice, and in some jurisdictions, is illegal.
  3. Patent trolls can collect software patents that underpin widely-used digital standards. This is considered the most serious threat to open standards, and constitutes a basic argument against software patents.

We call on vendors to promise they will not assert their patents against implementations of open standards; on governments to defend the right of industry to interoperate without risk of patent liability; and on organisations such as the FFII to actively work for the global abolition of software patents.

Vendor promises

Red Hat

Subject to any qualifications or limitations stated herein, to the extent any party exercises a Patent Right with respect to Open Source/Free Software which reads on any claim of any patent held by Red Hat, Red Hat agrees to refrain from enforcing the infringed patent against such party for such exercise ("Our Promise"). Read more...