Source Code Versus Object Code: Patent Implications For The Open Source Community

Posted by Anton Hughes on Thursday, March 06, 2008 with No comments
Just started reading this article. Lin et al argue that merely downloading the source code of a software project could amount to infringement of a patent, ' "because by merely downloading the source code, the programmer has 'made' the computer program under the Patent Act" (See [2002] Santa Clara Computer & High Technology Law Journal 235, at 236).

This is a flow-on consequence of allowing Beauregard-style claims, ie where a software invention embodied in a computer-readable medium satisfies the patentable subject matter test.

The effect? "Such potential for patent liability could discourage the widespread distribution of source code that produces the exchange of new ideas, innovative theories and techniques, and secure coding practices that are so valued by the open source ideal." (at 236)

Free speech, anyone?