Patent Liability Insurance

Andrew C. Oliver acoliver at
Tue May 15 02:26:22 UTC 2007

Point of order.  It is not a risk that is more inherent in open source 
than any other software development.  This is an industry-wide problem 
it is just more public regarding open source.  Ask Vonage or anyone else
who has been on the business end of one of these patents whether it 
matters if its open source or not.  I suggest you should be more worried 
about a general insurance policy and more of an activist against the 
existing silly patent system that is simply unworkable in software.

Patents are being granted on things where there is an obvious prior art. 
  The Supreme court has even commented that they have been granted in 
excess for the past several years.  I suggest this problem is much much 
more broad than open source.


Bruce Alspaugh wrote:
> One of the risks we see in creating an open-source project is the 
> possibility of being sued for inadvertently reinventing someone else's 
> patented idea.  Basic due diligence may be enough to avoid a copyright 
> infringement, but we aren't sure if that is the case for patents.  
> Patent searches could prove too expensive for many open-source 
> projects.  The cost of defending a patent infringement suit could put 
> many open-source projects out of existence.  Are there inexpensive ways 
> open-source projects can mitigate the risk of inadvertently infringing a 
> third-party patent?
> I understand that is possible to purchase patent liability insurance.  
> How much does patent liability insurance typically cost?  How do most 
> open-source projects raise the revenue to pay for this insurance?  Do 
> any of the many foundations that assist open-source projects (Apache, 
> Mozilla, Eclipse, FSF, etc.) offer this insurance for the projects they 
> host?
> Most open-source licenses I have seen disclaim any warranty of patent 
> non-infringement and therefore shift the legal risk onto the users.  Are 
> the users of open source software therefore expected to purchase patent 
> liability insurance?
> Bruce Alspaugh

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