The Commons

The Commons: Protecting and Supporting Innovation

Commitments provide assurance that Contributors will not sue those who rely on and adhere to a statement of permitted use. At the same time, Commitments discourage lawsuits from being brought against beneficiaries of the pledges by making clear the covenant not to sue does not apply to those who sue a beneficiary for patent infringement or, in some Commitments, on any intellectual property claim. The result of these assurances -- and the corresponding disincentives -- is a supportive and safer environment in which software developers can innovate and users of software can operate protected by the pledges of support made by Contributors to The Commons. Learn more.

With increasing frequency, institutions, companies, and inventors wish to signal formally to open source developers, distributors, sellers and users that software patents they hold are not a threat or inhibitor to the development, distribution or use of open source software and open standards. The traditional means of giving permission to use patented inventions (such as licenses) can be expensive, time consuming, and logistically difficult to provide. Commitments simplify the process by which access to patented inventions can be granted.

The Project also provides a meaningful way for those who oppose software patents to use the current patent system for the benefit of the open source community and industry. Patenting ideas reduces the likelihood that detractors of open source software and open standards will obtain a patent on that same invention and use it against the community and industry, or extract royalties for its use. More importantly, patenting ideas and then pledging the patents in support of The Commons expands and reinforces the protective environment of The Commons.

Learn more about how to contribute to The Commons .