Top Ten Open Source Licensing Events in 2009

Order from District court in Jacobsen v. Katzer, supporting relief for violations of open source licenses.  The first appellate-level open source case in the U.S. proceeded apace in 2009, mostly with legal wins for open source advocates.  While the court declined to grant an injunction, the appellate decision acknowledged the legitimacy of notice requirements and the district court opinion allowed for the potential for actual damages claims.

Oracle announced plans to buy Sun, and by implication MySQL, landing itself in hot water with European antitrust authorities.  The EU expressed concern that the acquisition would create too much consolidation in the database market; Oracle countered publicly that it’s true competitor was Microsoft, not MySQL.

Cisco settled with FSF regarding alleged Linksys GPL violations.  The case was a flare-up of disagreements over a long trail of GPL compliance efforts that were the legacy of Cisco’s acquisition of Linksys.

Artifex sued Palm and others regarding the use of MuPDF.  Artifex had previously sued Diebold regarding GPL violations for different software.

TomTom and Microsoft settled a patent lawsuit relating to FAT file system technology and Linux-based devices. 

The Symbian Foundation launched its initial activities early in the year.  Symbian is a mobile software platform, and the foundation is an ongoing effort to make it available as open source.

Release of the Droid phone, and announcement of a Google/Verizon deal.  Despite a nuisance lawsuit over the Android trademark, the platform continued its growth in adoption and application development.

Microsoft launched the Codeplex Foundation.

SFLC filed more BusyBox cases. The last round of cases in 2008 were all settled quickly and quietly.  The Busybox project makes available lightweight counterparts of the GNU utilities for UNIX, licensed under the GPL.

Firefox turned five years old…and it’s already smarter than all of us.