I have posted some thoughts about patents before in this blog. I just stumbled across a posting by Sun's CTO, Greg Papadopoulos (yes, I checked the spelling of that 3 times), discussing software patents. Greg makes the point that in today's world of software, copyright is probably a more powerful instrument for software authors than patents. Further, copyrighted code that is freely distributed is better at serving the public interest in terms of teaching others about your invention than is a patent. As the holder of multiple patents, I'll agree with him wholeheartedly. The fact is, nobody but lawyers read patents unless there is lots of litigation on the table. I can barely understand my own patents. Code is soooo much better at communicating how things really should work.
In his posting, Greg, of course, pats Sun on the back for some of the things they have been doing with ZFS, OpenSolaris, and Java, and rightly so, I believe. The fact is, Sun has been embracing open source quite a lot. My favorite quote:
In case you haven't noticed, driving to a state of complete FOSS is exactly what we are doing at Sun. With some narrow exceptions, all of our software efforts are or will be under a FOSS license, and we will actively build and participate in communities around these code bases, and work as transparently as we possibly can.
In case you didn't notice, we added some Sun hardware to our Vyatta Ready hardware list. In fact, Sun called us to do the certification. That's quite embracing, I believe.