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2019-06-19 - 06:02
2008-10-02 12:00 Age: 11 Years

What have a model train, patents, Open Source and Java in common?

By: Carsten Emde

The famous model train patent story aka Jacobsen v. Katzer et al has reached a new level: Good news for Open Source

For the first time, a reasonably high court in the U.S. - the Federal Circuit Court - has found

  • that the Free Software or Open Source license was a license, rather than a contract,
  • that it does not require that both parties agree before it can be binding,
  • that its terms can be enforced,
  • that someone who violates the license is a copyright infringer
  • and that violation of an Open Source license may cause real economic damage to the copyright holder even though the copyright holder does not charge money for licensing the software.

So, whenever you hear someone saying "The Open Source license has never been challenged in court; thus, it may not be valid", show him or her Bruce Perens's related article or, if you want to go into the details, the original court documents. The article gives all the relevant facts of this very complex case - and also explains the role of a model train, Java and software patents.

By the way, Bruce Perens writes in his article: "In my consulting, enforcement, and expert-witness work, I've found that nobody ever violates a Free Software license for a smart reason. Mostly, it happens because engineers and attorneys aren't connecting well in their own companies." - If you want engineers and attorneys of your company to become better connected and to better understand each other, you may wish to attend our seminar on "Software Patents and Open Source Licensing" on November 7, 2008. This seminar will take place in Berlin, Germany, and is, unfortunately, only available in German language. But future seminars will certainly also be held in English.