September 12, 2007 8:15 AM PDT

Legal summits to tackle Linux

The Linux Foundation, custodians of the Linux trademark, have announced two summits to deal with legal issues surrounding Linux and open-source software.

Attendance at the first summit will be restricted to members of the Linux Foundation and their legal counsel. Attendees will focus on building a legal defense structure for Linux and policies designed to support intellectual property rights within open development.

The summit will be held in Boston on October 25 to 26.

The second summit--an open meeting--will be held in autumn 2008, and legal experts from any background will be able to attend. The summit will provide practical legal guidance on the development and distribution of open-source software and allow attendees to collaborate on issues including licensing and patents. The summit is expected to become an annual event.

"Many of today's legal conferences unnecessarily scare or confuse open-source users, developers and vendors," Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, said in a statement.

"The LF (Linux Foundation) is able to provide a forum in which it can bring together its members' legal counsel as well as its own legal team to translate issues into the straightforward matters they really are and to bring practical education to a wider audience," the statement said.

The Linux Foundation was created in 2007 by the merger of the Open Source Development Labs and the Free Standards Group. It sponsors the work of Linux founder Linus Torvalds and counts companies such as Google, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel and Novell among its members.

Chris Duckett of Builder AU reported from London.

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Lots of luck! They'll have their plate full!!
With all of the intellectual property pitfalls associated with using open source software, these lawyers will definitely have plenty to talk about. What will be interesting is to see how they attempt to weave their way out of IP infringements that are abundant with open source technology. But patents are patents, and these jokers will have to respect them as officers of the court.
Posted by WJeansonne (480 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Any Proof?
Do you actually have any proof on these "violations"? Keep in mind, that SCO, Microsoft or any other company simply making a no-proof-offered acusation is not actually evidence of any wrong doing.

Further, considering that open source is open source, any of these "victims" should be, rather easily, able to identify the infringing code, and the patents they infringe upon. It would also be logical to assume that if they had any evidence, that they would be suing instead of making accusations.

Considering that the code for any open source programme is readily available, whereas proprietary software code is not, it would be far easier for a closed source programme to misappropriate code from other sources, or violate patents, as the source code is not readily available for inspection. In fact, this has been seen on a number of occasions, such as with the netfilters/iptables project code.

At any rate, I'm sure many people are anxiously awaiting your proof of these violations - proof that companies with massive financial resources have yet to produce - so please post them, then we can see who the real joker is!
Posted by Hardrada (359 comments )
Link Flag
I foresee something from GPL2 or GPL3 going to the Supreme Court soon. These license are too broad and too vague not too.

I'm guessing some case related to the definition of derived work.
Posted by viss9434 (22 comments )
Link Flag
Just 1
Name one MS patent that Linux infringes.

Just one.

Then try and prove that the patent in question is valid.

Good luck.
Posted by The_Decider (3097 comments )
Link Flag
Behind the Curtain
The annual meetings must be designed to present agreements, as well as to discuss legalities. The annual recurring date gives them too little time to work out all the issues. One does not need proof of this. Just try to install Linux on any generic box and everyone will agree that one must use drivers from all over the lot to get the machine to run. Video and wireless drivers come to mind immediately.
Posted by Heymull (13 comments )
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1997 called
They really miss their argument and want it back.

Linux has phenomenal out of the box driver support. Far better then Windows.

Look at Vista, driver problems everywhere. Linux has overcome much of the problem of no third party support in some hardware areas(wireless is one). I use the broadcom wireless driver for windows on my linux laptop. Took 30 seconds and 2 small lines on the command prompt to get running. No amount of work will force the driverless hardware to work in Vista.

Video? The generic drivers are good enough unless you need 3D support, but then NVIDIA offers rock solid drivers for Linux.

The Ethernet, IDE, USB, ect driver support out of the box is fantastic. In fact, I got no improvements by installing the nForce driver.

On my dual boot desktop, I get far better performance running WINDOWS games in Linux then I do running them in XP. The newest game I have is WoW, but I also run all the UT games in Linux. This is with up to date drivers for Linux and XP. Why is it so? Wine has low overhead. Linux has a far superior networking support, and the extra overhead of XP far exceeds the minor overhead of Wine.

You obviously have no clue about Linux today. It is far and away more advanced, stable, configurable, flexible and secure then XP or Vista. In fact it is years ahead.
Posted by The_Decider (3097 comments )
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