Open Office Gets Patent Protection With LGPLv3

In open source it’s all about being as ‘open’ as possible. Even more so than before, that’s now the case with (OOo) office suite which as of the upcoming OOo 3 Beta will be licenced under the Lesser GPL (LGPL) version 3.

OOo had previously been available under the LGPL v2 so it’s not a leap across party lines but it is still a major step and a major win for LGPL v3.  The LGPL is similar to the regular GPL except for the critical area of what is commonly known as ‘code infection’. That is with regular GPL you run the risk when including it with other software that you might need to license the other code as GPL as well (of course that’s a real dramatic over simplification but I hope you get my point).

The real driver for Sun (which leads the OOo community) in moving to LGPL v3 is the issue of patents. In a blog post Sun’s Simon Phipps explains:

Upgrading to the LGPLv3 brings important new protections to the community, most notably through the new language
concerning software patents. You may know that I am personally an opponent of software patents, and that Sun has already taken steps in this area with a patent non-assert covenant for ODF. But the most important protection for developers comes from creating mutual patent grants between developers. LGPLv3 does this.

So rack up another win for (L)GPLv3, it will be interesting to see how the momentum for the new license continues through 2008.

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