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OSI's new Board

Last Friday the OSI Board held a special meeting to fill vacancies that had arisen by the departure of three directors - Mike Godwin, Andrew Oliver and Michael Tiemann. Michael Tiemann left the Board after serving as OSI President for many years and leaves a large gap which the board will only fill thoughtfully; as a consequence, Martin Michlmayr, currently OSI Secretary, was temporarily appointed Acting President and the election of a full new President scheduled for a later meeting of the new Board. The Board warmly thanks all three for the contribution they have made to OSI.

OSI Announces New Initiatives

OSI is changing, and you can help!  I spoke at FOSDEM in Brussels on Saturday, on behalf of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) where I serve as a director. My noon keynote covered a little of the rationale behind OSI and a quick synopsis of its last decade from my own perspective and then announcements on OSI's behalf about the work we’re doing to make OSI strong and relevant for a new decade.

Mozilla Releases OSI-Approved MPLv2

Last week saw a quiet landmark in the history of the open source movement with the formal release of version two of the Mozilla Public License (MPLv2) and its approval as an official open source license. While to many it may look like just another legal detail, it is significant both for the way it was conducted and for the intent with which it has been created. This is a license aimed at unity.

OSI Board Members, Officers and Committee Chairs for 2011-2012

In a special board meeting convened for board elections on March 16 2011, the OSI board elected three new illustrious members of the open source community - Jim Jagielski, Karl Fogel and Mike Godwin. As Simon Phipps posted in his Board Meeting report, the OSI board voted to expand the board from 10 to 11 members to enable all three members to join. Two board members were re-elected to serve a second term - Mr. Harshad Gune and Dr. Martin Michlmayr. For more details, see here.

OSI Board reponds to FCO Questionaire concerning CPTN Transaction

Towards the end of March, we received a message from the German Bundeskartellamt (Federal Cartel Office or FCO) advising us that the CPTN transaction had been re-notified to them. That means that the consortium seeking to acquire Novell's patent portfolio - Microsoft, Apple, EMC and Oracle - had once again asked for permission to proceed.

OSI Concerns Heeded

Notably, the terms of the transaction seem to have been significantly changed, apparently in response to concerns like the ones OSI expressed at the start of the year. OSI is very pleased that the FCO has been clear about the transaction with CPTN and congratulates them on continuing to consider the overall health of the evolving software market and not just the concerns of the existing dominant players.

Here is a non-expert summary of the differences (summarised with permission from the FCO):

  • CPTN will now only exist for long enough to distribute the shares equally among the participants in the transaction (no more than three months), and thus will not form a new long-term patent troll itself.
  • All parties to the transaction will retain a license to the full Novell patent portfolio, thus immunising themselves from patent actions with the shares they do not hold.
  • Microsoft will sell its 25% share of the patents on to Attachmate and retain only a license to the portfolio.
  • EMC will ensure that the 31 patents it has determined relate to virtualisation are not among the 25% share it acquires.
  • All patents will still be subject to all existing licenses, covenants not to sue and similar restrictions.

OSI Still Concerned

The FCO went on to ask OSI for its views on the revised transaction. The OSI Board responded to their questionnaire as follows:

OSI Commends the US Department of Justice

According to filings made by Novell

[On] February 2, 2011, each of [CPTN Holdings] and Novell received a Second Request from the DOJ regarding the sale of certain identified patents and patent applications to CPTN contemplated by the Patent Purchase Agreement. The Second Requests have the effect of extending the waiting period under the HSR Act until 30 days after both parties have substantially complied with the Second Requests, unless the waiting period is earlier terminated. Novell is in the process of gathering information to respond to this Second Request and is continuing to cooperate fully with the DOJ in connection with its review.

The Open Source Initiative commends the US Department of Justice for taking this important step to promote innovation by issuing a second request and deepening the investigation of CPTN's acquisition of Novell's patents. As we have stated, the history is clear: patents have been—and are likely to be—used by CPTN and its members to create fear, uncertainty and doubt concerning open source software, raise competitors costs and threaten customers. We trust and hope that following a thorough investigation, the DoJ will impose whatever measures are necessary to ensure that CPTN does not harm the commercial open source development model or market competition.

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