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Guest Post: FTC and DOJ Face Off Over Antitrust And FRAND Licensing In FTC v. Qualcomm

Intellectual Property Rights

This post was written by my partner, Lee Gesmer. It describes a case involving the scope of the most fundamental commitment that makes standards development and adoption possible. You can read more posts by Lee at https://masslawblog.com/

 

snapdragon-200x200.jpegAntitrust  law in the United States is regulated by both the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Usually, these two agencies are able to reach a common understanding on antitrust policy and enforcement. Infrequently, they find themselves in disagreement.

Currently, the proper antitrust treatment of standard-essential patents and patent-holder commitments to make these patents available on “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms” is such an occasion. The disagreement has come to a head in FTC v. Qualcomm, now on appeal before the Ninth Circuit.

Seven Concerns Open Source Should Worry About, Part 3: Distributed Ownership

Open Source/Open Standards

Network%20Diagram%20140.jpgThe vast majority of free and open source (FOSS) projects today operate on a license in/license out basis. In other words, each contributor to a code base continues to own her code while committing to provide a license to anyone that wants to download that code. Of course, no developer ever actually signs a downstream license. Instead, all contributors to a given project agree on the OSI (Open Source Initiative) approved license they want to use, and those terms stand as an open promise to all downstream users.

But is that really the best way to operate? What about the minority of projects that require contributors to assign ownership of their code to the project? They clearly think assignment is a better way to go. Are they right?

Seven Concerns Open Source Should Worry About, Part 2: Antitrust

Open Source/Open Standards

US Dept. of Justice LogoFree and open source software (FOSS) development has for many years enjoyed an increasingly positive public image. Particularly in the last several years, it’s become recognized as the foundation upon which most of the modern computing world rests. FOSS proponents include many governments, too, including many in Europe and the European Commission itself.

That’s all good and quite appropriate, but it’s worth keeping in mind that FOSS involves the conscious agreement of head to head competitors to work towards a common result – something that would otherwise normally be a red flag to antitrust regulators in the US, competition authorities in Europe, and to many of their peers throughout the world. To date, those regulators do not seem to have expressed any concerns over FOSS development generally. But that can change.

Seven Concerns Open Source Should Worry About - Part 1

Courtesy of Linda F. Palmer/Wikimedia Commons -  GNU Free Documentation LicenseNot long ago, the Linux community celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of Linus Torvalds’ famous Internet post, and thus its birth. While Linux was not the first open source project (Richard Stallman announced his GNU Project eight years before), it soon became the poster child of a new way of collaborative development that changed not only how technology is created, but many other aspects of the world as well. Today, most critical software platforms and architectures are open source, and virtually all proprietary software is riddled with free and open source software (FOSS) as well.

So, what could go wrong? Well, a lot, actually, unless we pause to think about where the potholes may emerge in the future, and how we can successfully navigate our way around them. That’s what I plan to do in  a series of articles to which this is the introduction.

OSI Board Pledges Allegiance to Open Source Definition, Now and Forever

Open Source/Open Standards

Illustration of the Cnut and the Waves episode by Alphonse-Marie-Adolphe de Neuville, courtesy of the Wikimedia CommonsEverything changes over time, from the constitutions of nations to political theories. Should the Open Source Software Definition be any different?

Earlier this week the Board of Directors of the Open Source Initiative issued an Affirmation of the Open Source Definition, inviting others to endorse the same position. The stated purpose of the release was to underline the importance of maintaining the open source software (OSS) definition in response to what the directors see as efforts to “undermine the integrity of open source.” Certainly, that definition has stood the test of time, and OSI has ably served as the faithful custodian of the definition of what can and cannot be referred to as OSS.

That said, while well-intentioned, the statement goes too far. It also suggests that the directors would do well to reflect on what their true role as custodians of the OSS definition should be.

Microsoft and OIN: Legal Commitments vs. the Power of the Taboo

Intellectual Property Rights

OIN%20-%20MS%20140.jpgYesterday, Microsoft announced it was pledging 60,000 patents under the Open Invention Network (OIN) license. While the move was historic, it was not surprising. Instead, it marks a logical culmination of a path the software giant tentatively embarked on as much as a decade ago. That evolution gained significant momentum accelerated with the departure of Steve Ballmer, and accelerated yet again as the success of the Linux distributed development model was replicated across more on more projects, covering technologies as varied as cloud computing, virtualization, and blockchains. 

On the surface, the significance of Microsoft's joining OIN lies with its agreeing to the terms of the OIN license. But in joining OIN, Microsoft may in fact be acknowledging the power of a far older social force: the community taboo.

Guest Post: An Intro For Beginners - What is Kubernetes & How to Get Started With It

Open Source/Open Standards

By Ashley Lipman

Kubernetes%20130.pngMany people have heard of Kubernetes, but don’t know when or where to use it or even what it’s functionality is. Docker users may be more familiar with the program, but still unsure how to make that transition into using Kubernetes.

In this article, we’ll take a beginner’s approach to what Kubernetes is and how to start using it. This information will give you a high-level overview of the program and highlight some key considerations.

The Alexandria Project is Available as an Audiobook

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

TAP%20Cover%20140.jpgAs old readers will know and new ones can tell from the left column, one of the things I do besides lawyering is writing satirical, political cybersecurity thrillers - four to date, with a fifth out within a couple of months. Recently, Tantor Media offered me a contract to bring out the first three titles in audio. Tantor is an imprint of the largest publisher of audiobooks in the world, and I was delighted to say yes. Now the first title, The Alexandria Project, a Tale of Treachery and Technology, is available at Audible, Amazon, and everywhere else audiobooks are sold.

Microsoft Acquires GitHub! What – Too Soon?

GitHub-Mark-120px-plus.pngMy, my, what a difference a decade makes. Or for some, maybe not.

Ten years ago, Microsoft was led by Steve Ballmer, who very much viewed open source as the barbarian at the software giant’s gates. The feeling was emphatically reciprocated by most in the free and open source (FOSS) community, which viewed Microsoft as a threat to the very existence of FOSS. And if Ballmer had been able to have his way back then, they would probably have been right.

Will Blockchains Include Insecurity by Design?

512px-FSB_Flag_0.pngAsk any journalist to pick an adjective to use in connection with standards development and the answer will invariably be "boring." But according to a recent New York Times article (yes, it also used that word - as well as "wonky"), the process of creating standards just became a whole lot more interesting - at least when it comes to the blockchain. The reason? A standards working group may have been infiltrated by state actors bent on embedding security flaws into the very standards being created for the purpose of preventing attacks.

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