Software Technology Transfer Using a Patent-Based Open Source Model
My current work in software technology transfer seeks
to identify successful business models for university-based spin-off
companies based on a framework that combines software patents with
open source software. Under this framework, software patents are
used to protect innovative software technology and computer-implemented
inventions. In contrast to the usual approach of licensing such
patents for exclusive use in proprietary products, however, the model
explored in this work makes the technologies available for free implementation
under open source licenses. The business model is based on dual licensing
of commercial applications that combine open
source technology with proprietary hardware and/or software components.
From a philosophical perspective, the overall goal of this work
is to achieve synergy between three systems of technology knowledge development.
- The academic enterprise comprising universities dedicated to the
advancement and dissemination of knowledge.
- The patent system founded on the goal to "promote the progress
of science and useful arts" by securing for inventors a time-limited
exclusive right to their discoveries [U.S. Constitution, Section 8].
- The free and open source software ecosystem that embodies
knowledge in the form of software source code and makes that
source code available for anyone to use, study, modify and
redistribute on free and open source terms.
From a practical perspective, this work is intended to advance the
- To offer an open-source alternative to university researchers
who wish to benefit from commercialization of their patentable work.
- To establish and grow a body of innovative technology that is dedicated for
free use in open source software without fear of patent infringement.
- To find a constructive approach to addressing the software patent mess
as it affects open source software, in particular.
- To establish a new business model that allows open-source
businesses to benefit from protections afforded by the patent
- To establish a new academic model of refereed industrial
contributions employing refereed patent applications in conjunction
with open software dissemination.
- A first draft Model Patent Policy has been
developed for patent-based open source companies.
- I am using the patent-based open-source model to commercialize my
own research results in the area of high-speed character/Unicode/XML processing
using SIMD technology.
- A key element of the model is the submission of patents to rigorous
peer review. We are participating in the
Peer to Patent Project
being run as a pilot program for the US Patent and Trademark Office.
- Stay tuned for upcoming information on International Characters,
an SFU technology spin-off company.