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By Open Source Initiative official SVG - Simon Phipps, former president of OSI, Public Domain,

Sound View Claims Open Source Software Infringes Patents

Patent entity
Claims that open source software
Infringes patents

Sound View Innovations, an IP licensing company sometimes referred to as a “patent troll,” has filed seven new patent infringement lawsuits in 2019 – some of them targeting open source software including Apache Hadoop and jQuery.

In its complaint against Delta Airlines, Sound View asserts that four of its 1000 patents were infringed. Sound View asserts that its patent for “Data analysis system using virtual databases” was infringed by Delta’s web pages and internet services created using the Document Object Model (DOM) and jQuery.

The Sound View patents were originally owned by AT&T Bell Labs or Lucent Technologies. Sound View acquired the patents from Alcatel Lucent in 2013. Some of the patents have expired or are close to expiring, limiting the potential damages.

An open source software license is primarily a copyright license, giving licensees the rights to copy, modify, publish, and distribute the open source code.

Unlike most commercial software, most open source software licenses disclaim any warranties of patent non-infringement. Thus, companies that incorporate open source software into their products do so at their own risk.

Many software development and licensing agreements either expressly allow or disallow the use of open source software in deliverables. Most software developers and licensors agree to indemnify their clients and licensees against third-party claims of intellectual property infringement.

Sound View may be assuming those developers and licensors will quickly settle rather than alienate major clients like Delta.

Patent assertion entities like Sound View often count on defendants settling quickly in order to avoid the cost and inconvenience of a long-term patent battle. However, some of the defendants in the Sound View cases, such as Hulu, have been fighting the patents in court and with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Hulu successfully invalidated all claims of two of the Sound View patents in Inter Partes Review proceedings.

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