The U.S. patent system is increasingly broken, a point argued persuasively on ReadWriteWeb, but there is a huge array of factors working against successful patent reform.
In the meantime, both proprietary and open-source software is constantly threatened, making intellectual property indemnification the No. 1 issue lawyers negotiate when working through software contracts here in the U.S. (This is, incidentally, very different from the issues my company and others face when negotiating contracts in Europe--just one of many differences between open source in the U.S. and in Europe.)
Open-source savvy patent reformers can take heart, however, from this week's move by the Netherlands Patent Office to adopt open-source software. With the patent office running open source, presumably open source will be treated equitably across The Netherlands. According to its patent office:
The open source pilot project at the Netherlands Patent Office is part of (Foreign Trade Minister Frank Heemskerk's) action plan 'Nederland in Open Connection,' in which a number of specific measures are put forward to encourage the use of open standards and open source software in government authorities.
'Wider use of open source software offers greater opportunities for new software companies. It also reduces the government's dependency on fixed suppliers and ensures lower costs,' explains Heemskerk. According to the minister, the Netherlands Patent Office is an important front runner with its plans and serves as a good example to other government authorities that have yet to implement the action plan.
Exactly. Let's hope that The Netherlands can also serve as an example to its American brothers and sisters on this one (though I think I'd prefer to keep marijuana illegal here). :-)
Indeed, word on the street is that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has been looking at adopting a range of open-source software. Let's hope that comes to fruition.