Sun seeks patent protection for OpenOffice with LGPLv3

So now OpenOffice is LGPLv3. Will it do any good?

Sun is shifting the license that governs OpenOffice from the Lesser General Public License (LGPL) version 2 to LGPLv3 in an effort to give the open-source office suite greater patent protection. I'm not sure it's going to work:

By moving from version 2 of the LGPL to version 3, Sun is bringing new language prohibiting the use of software patents to "The most important protection for developers comes from creating mutual patent grants. ... LGPLv3 does this," [Sun's Simon] Crosby noted. In effect, a code issuer using either the plain GPL or LGPL is telling developers who adopt the code that he will not invoke any patents he may hold over that code.

Until Microsoft and the ever-waiting horde of patent trolls start contributing to OpenOffice, it's unclear how users of OpenOffice will gain any new patent protection from the license change. No one was worried about Novell, Sun, etc. waging a patent war against users of OpenOffice. The threat is elsewhere.

As such, this is well-intentioned but probably not all that useful.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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