Novell and the EFF Announce Patent Reform Partnership

Nat was today in San Francisco to announce Novell's partnership with the EFF to work on Patent Reform.

The details can be found here.

"EFF is partnering with Novell to try to get rid of software patents that are hurting innovation all over the world," stated Shari Steele, Executive Director of the EFF in an interview prior to the panel session.

In essence, Novell is committed to working with the EFF to improve patent quality, while at the same time work to lobby with government agencies to reform existing patent policies and litigation, according to Nat Friedman. Novell's Chief Technology and Strategy Officer for Open Source. Specifically, Novell will assist the EFF in two ways.

First, they will work with and support the EFF's existing Patent Busting Project, which targets existing patents that cover technology concepts that are perhaps to fundamental or already have prior art.

"They're awarded for fundamental concepts in computer science on a too regular basis," Friedman stated. "Things like XOR, the ISNOT operator."

"If you go on our Web site," Steele added, "we asked Internet users to identify the ten most egregious patents out there. We have our 'Ten Most Wanted.' And we've been one by one hacking away away at them."

The second part of the partnership will have Novell working with the EFF and legislators to lobby for patent reform, initially in the US, but also branching out to Europe, where patent problems continue to arise. The EFF and Novell will also work with standards groups to assist in patent reform.

The news is notable because it's the first time, Steele confirmed, that a corporate entity has publicly thrown in this level of support for the EFF on the patent issue. Normally, Steele said, companies have been much more circumspect and allowed the EFF to solely take the lead on this issue.

The goal is to continue defending Linux from IP threats (as we have done in the SCO lawsuit that has costed Novell millions of dollars) and as we did when we were one of the founding members that contributed significantly to the creation of the Open Invention Network.

Posted on 23 May 2007 by Miguel de Icaza
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