Tag Archives: ip

Employment Agreements vs. Open Source

Reading through an interesting, and mostly accurate piece about OpenSSL the following jumped out at me:

The fact that OpenSSL pays next to nothing constrains things further. Those who do help Henson out often juggle coding with full-time paying jobs elsewhere. Others can’t code for OpenSSL: Their employment contracts prohibit it, so they simply act as advisers. That leaves Henson responsible for 60% of the code commits (or sets of changes to the source code), twice as many as the next-most-prolific developer, Andy Polyakov, who’s compensated some. Most of the code added in the past few years has been approved by Henson, or tapped out on his own keyboard.

via The Internet Is Being Protected By Two Guys Named Steve.

Last week a bunch of tech companies signed up to donate $100K to help projects like OpenSSL. However, money really isn’t the most constrained resource here, it’s people with expertise.

A lot of large companies that aren’t incorporated in California have really stringent IP agreements with their employers. Something along the lines of “relate to the actual or anticipated business or research or development” of said company. In a large company, this means, everything. California has a state law that trumps this, and doesn’t allow companies to claim anything that you create on your own time, without the use of company equipment.

I wonder what the impact would be if these same companies also pledged to adjust their employment agreements to let their employees contribute to Open Source in their own time. I expect that it would have a much larger impact than the financial pledge.

First crack in the gene patent industry

NEW YORK – Patents on genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer are invalid, ruled a New York federal court today. The precedent-setting ruling marks the first time a court has found patents on genes unlawful and calls into question the validity of patents now held on approximately 2,000 human genes. The ruling follows a lawsuit brought by a group of patients and scientists represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), a not-for-profit organization affiliated with Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for the free flow of ideas in scientific research,” said Chris Hansen, a staff attorney with the ACLU First Amendment Working Group. “The human genome, like the structure of blood, air or water, was discovered, not created. There is an endless amount of information on genes that begs for further discovery, and gene patents put up unacceptable barriers to the free exchange of ideas.”

I’m sure this is going to end up in the supreme court eventually, but for today I’ll take this as a small victory for sanity when it comes to intellectual property.