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Archive for the ‘Open Source’ Category

On Patents and Specifications

We’ve been fielding a number of questions lately about the intersection of our spec process and patents. A couple of these community discussions have gone off in directions that are off target, factually incorrect, or both. Therefore, the purpose of this short FAQ is to explain the patent license options provided by the Eclipse Foundation Intellectual Property Policy for use by specifications developed by specification projects under the Eclipse Foundation Specification Process (EFSP). 

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. I am not a lawyer. It has not been reviewed by counsel. Consult your own attorney. In addition, this note does not form part of any official Eclipse Foundation policy or process, but rather is provided for informational purposes only to aid those involved in our specification projects to better understand the EFSP and the choices available. I’ll update the content as needed.

One important point to keep in mind when reading this: we believe that the EFSP fully complies with the Open Standards Requirement for Software established by the Open Source Initiative. In other words, the EFSP is designed specifically to be open source friendly.  

Why do specifications require patent licenses?

The purpose of every specification is to stimulate the development of implementations. These implementations may be derived from open source code maintained at the Eclipse Foundation or elsewhere, or they may be independently developed. They may be made available under open source licenses or proprietary. In order to facilitate and encourage these implementations, all specification processes provide some notion of patent licenses from the parties involved in developing the specifications.

What types of patent licenses are used by various specification organizations?

There are a wide variety of specification patent license options available from various sources. 

Some terms that you may hear are:

  • FRAND means fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory licenses. This means that before you can implement the specification you are required to obtain a license from the patent holders who developed the specification. FRAND is generally considered to be antithetical to open source development, as it requires permission and money to implement a specification or potentially even to use an implementation of such a specification.
  • FRAND-Z is FRAND where the cost of the license is set to zero. Note that although this removes the cost concerns of FRAND, permission may still be required for use and/or implementation. 
  • RF or royalty-free provides a priori royalty-free licenses from the participants developing the specifications to downstream users and implementers. This is considered a best practice for enabling open source implementations of a specification. All Eclipse Foundation specifications are developed on a royalty-free basis. 
  • Non-assert is another legal mechanism which provides a result effectively similar to royalty-free. A non-assert says that a patent holder will not assert their patent rights against an implementer or user. 

Do these licenses mean that an implementer or user can never be sued for patent infringement?

No. The patent licenses are intended to ensure that an implementer or user doesn’t need to be worried about being sued by the parties involved in developing the specifications. It does not provide protection from uninvolved third parties who may believe they have intellectual property rights applicable to the specification. 

Note that the above implies that it is in the interests of the entire community and ecosystem that many participants (particularly patent-owning participants) be involved in developing the specifications. It also explains why it is in the best interest of the community that all participants in the specification process have signed agreements in place documenting their commitment to the patent licensing under the EFSP. 

What patent licenses are granted by the EFSP?

The patent licenses provided via the EFSP apply to all downstream implementations of Final Specifications, including independent implementations. They cover all patents owned by each Participant in the specification project that are essential claims needed by any implementer or user of the specification. Note that the licenses cover the entire specification, not just to the parts of the specification that a participant may have contributed to. We provide our specifications two options for patent licenses: the Compatible Patent License and the Implementation Patent License. The differences between those two are explained below.

But my open source license already has a patent license in it. Why do I need more than that?

The patent licenses provided in open source licenses such as APACHE-2.0 grant a license for contributor-owned patents which apply to their contribution either alone or as combined with the work. The patent license is only to that program/implementation. Note that the APACHE-2.0 patent license  “…applies only to those patent claims licensable by such Contributor that are necessarily infringed by their Contribution(s) alone or by combination of their Contribution(s) with the Work…”. Relative to the EFSP, such grants are deficient in both scope (applies only to their contributions) and target (applies only to that implementation). 

What is the difference between the two patent license options provided by the EFSP?

The only difference between the Compatible Patent License and and the Implementation Patent License is the timing of when the patent license grant comes into effect. In the Compatible Patent License, the license grant only happens when the implementation has demonstrated that it is fully compatible with the specification by passing the relevant TCK. The Implementation Patent License provides immediate patent licenses to all implementers, even to partial or work-in-progress implementations. The first choice emphasizes the importance of compatibility. The latter choice emphasizes the importance of open development. Both are valuable options available to Eclipse specification projects. 

Is one of these patent license options better than the other?

No. There are perfectly valid reasons why a specification project may choose either one of these options. Both options provide downstream implementers of the specifications royalty-free licensing to the patents of the participants who developed the specification. The Implementation Patent License favours open development as there is less concern that a work-in-progress implementation does not have access to the patent licenses. Where there is a strong emphasis on desiring compatibility across all implementations, the Compatibility Patent License is a valid choice. Another scenario is a small company with few patents. They may also prefer the Compatibility Patent License to ensure that they’re not providing an open-ended patent license to any competitors who may only partially implement the spec. 

Does the Eclipse Foundation recommend either of these two choices?

As an open source foundation our default preference is the Implementation Patent License as we always want to promote open collaborative development. But as described above, there are perfectly valid reasons why a specification project may prefer the Compatibile Patent License. Ultimately it is up to each working group to make their own selection.

I’ve read the EFSP and I don’t see anything about patent licenses. WUWT?

The patent licenses are provided in the Eclipse Foundation Intellectual Property Policy. A future version of the EFSP will make this clearer.

Is the Eclipse Foundation itself granted any licenses to patents? 

No. The Eclipse Foundation itself does not acquire any patent rights in the specifications. The patent licenses are granted from the participating patent owners directly to implementers and users of those specifications. More specifically, the patent license grants are “… to everyone to make, have made, use, sell, offer to sell, and import…” implementations of the specifications.

(Updated on 2021-07-05 to add two FAQ entries.)

Written by Mike Milinkovich

May 13, 2021 at 3:20 pm

Open VSX: A Vendor-Neutral Home for VS Code Extensions

With the transition of the Open VSX Registry from TypeFox to the Eclipse Foundation, the industry now has a vendor-neutral and publicly hosted open source alternative to the Microsoft Visual Studio Marketplace for VS Code extensions. The move increases transparency and flexibility for extension users, extension publishers, and tool developers.

Overcoming Single-Vendor Marketplace Restrictions

While the Microsoft Visual Studio Marketplace is a great resource for developers that use Microsoft VS products, its terms of use states that extensions can’t be used with the increasing number of open source tools and technologies that support the VS Code extension API.

In addition, because Microsoft doesn’t provide access to the source code for the Visual Studio Marketplace, there’s no opportunity to contribute new features and enhancements, or to reuse the source code to create an internal extension registry for in-house developers.

The Open VSX Registry is built on the Eclipse Open VSX project. It’s visually and functionally similar to the Microsoft VS Marketplace, but the extensions can be used with any editor that supports VS Code extensions — from VS Code and forks of VS Code like VSCodium, to Eclipse Theia, Eclipse Che, Gitpod, Coder, and SAP Business Application Studio.

The Eclipse Open VSX source code is open to all, so anyone can reuse and enhance the marketplace technology to meet their specific needs. They can even create an internal, private extension repository that’s connected to the upstream public Open VSX Registry.

Providing a Level Playing Field for All

Following a true open source model, all aspects of the Open VSX Registry are guided by the community based on our proven governance framework and processes for entrepreneurial collaboration. These vendor-neutral processes bring important benefits. For example:

  • No single company or vendor owns the Open VSX Registry servers, operates the service, or has more control over the service than any other participant.
  • Any individual or organization can influence how the Open VSX Registry evolves by participating in design discussions and contributing code to the Eclipse Open VSX project.
  • There’s a public record of all extension ownership claims by extension publishers to avoid conflicts over ownership.  

Driving Open VSX Registry Innovation and Collaboration

The Eclipse Cloud DevTools (ECD Tools) Working Group will manage the Open VSX Registry, driving further platform growth and marketplace adoption. With members that include Broadcom, EclipseSource, Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Red Hat, SAP, and Typefox among others, the ECD Tools ecosystem is very well positioned to support and advance the Open VSX Registry over the long term.

I want to thank all of the ECD Tools ecosystem members and Eclipse Foundation staff who worked so tirelessly to enable the smooth transition of the Open VSX Registry to the Eclipse Foundation. And a special word of appreciation to the TypeFox team who built and nurtured the Open VSX Registry from the ground up. Your contribution reflects the true spirit and values of open source communities and will benefit all.

Read the Open VSX Registry White Paper and Get Involved

To help everyone with an interest in the Open VSX Registry fully understand its benefits and potential, the ECD Tools Working Group has created a free white paper you can download here.

I also encourage you to:

Written by Mike Milinkovich

March 30, 2021 at 7:33 am

Posted in Foundation, Open Source

Meet Adoptium: Open Source Java Runtimes for Enterprises

Today we announced the creation of the Adoptium Working Group, whose mission is to bring high-quality, open source Java runtimes to millions of developers building the next generation of enterprise applications.

Adoptium was created in collaboration with the AdoptOpenJDK Technical Steering Committee, and supports the Eclipse Adoptium top-level project. The working group provides the vendor-neutral governance, infrastructure, marketing, community building, and developer advocacy work needed to ensure timely releases of Java runtimes and strengthen the project’s community.

The Adoptium project continues the work initiated by the AdoptOpenJDK community. The project gives developers a trusted location where they can download fully compatible, high-quality distributions of Java runtimes based on OpenJDK source code. In a few short years AdoptOpenJDK became the leading provider of OpenJDK-based binaries used to power production workloads in embedded systems, desktops, traditional servers, modern cloud platforms, and mainframes. Adoptium will continue that mission as a vendor-neutral, multi-vendor initiative hosted at the Eclipse Foundation. We appreciate the trust that the AdoptOpenJDK TSC has placed in us as we become the new stewards of this amazing community.  

The founding members of the working group include numerous Java developers, as well as vendors such as Alibaba Cloud, Huawei, IBM, iJUG, Karakun AG, Microsoft, New Relic, and Red Hat. This strong participation clearly shows the value the industry sees in transitioning the widely adopted AdoptOpenJDK technologies and community to the Eclipse ecosystem. I would also like to recognize the efforts of Oracle in negotiating a TCK license agreement with us in support of this initiative.

Benefits for the Global Java Ecosystem

Developers and enterprises need a dependable source of open source, compatible Java runtimes that are fully supported with timely patches and updates. AdoptOpenJDK was created in 2017 to provide a community-based solution to this requirement, delivering open build and test systems for OpenJDK across multiple platforms, and delivering high quality binaries for use. Developers responded enthusiastically, downloading more than 240 million Java binaries from AdoptOpenJDK.

Moving the AdoptOpenJDK technologies and community to the Eclipse Foundation benefits the AdoptOpenJDK community and the many members of the global Java ecosystem:

  • The AdoptOpenJDK community can leverage our governance framework and intellectual property services, as well as our developer advocacy, marketing, legal, and hosting capabilities, to help ensure the AdoptOpenJDK initiative and community continue to flourish. The community can strengthen its vendor independence, while maintaining a strong relationship with existing sponsors and the Java community as a whole.
  • Developers and enterprises in the Java ecosystem have reliable access to fully compatible Java runtimes for hybrid cloud and multi-cloud enterprise development.

Adoptium complements the other Java-based projects already hosted at the Eclipse Foundation, including the Jakarta EE and MicroProfile specification communities, and open source projects such as Eclipse GlassFish, Eclipse Jetty, and Eclipse Vert.x.

I want to thank everyone who was involved in establishing the Adoptium Working Group. I also want to welcome everyone from the AdoptOpenJDK community to the Eclipse Foundation, and encourage you to continue building on the character and spirit of your great community.

Get Involved in Adoptium 

There are a few different ways to get involved in the Adoptium community at the Eclipse Foundation:

Written by Mike Milinkovich

March 23, 2021 at 8:00 am

Posted in Foundation, Open Source

Tagged with ,

Welcome to the Eclipse Foundation AISBL

Today, we’re announcing that the Eclipse Foundation has successfully completed all of the necessary formalities and has formally established the Eclipse Foundation AISBL, an international non-profit association based in Brussels, Belgium.

As a European-based global organization, the Eclipse Foundation is in the ideal position to build on the growing momentum of strategic open source in Europe and on our strength in the region to support open source innovation globally.

Today’s announcement  is the culmination of months of work, since we first announced our intent to establish ourselves as European in May 2020. I want to thank everyone who has had a hand in making our legal transition to Europe a reality. There have been many aspects to consider and a lot of work behind the scenes to get all of the required pieces in place. And the journey isn’t over yet! I will be publishing a second blog post shortly discussing what this means for our members and committers. Tl;dr: keep doing what you’re doing. 

Building on Our Strength in Europe Advances Open Source Innovation Globally

The Eclipse Foundation is the largest open source software foundation in Europe in terms of staff, projects, developers, and members. We have more than 170 members and more than 900 committers based in Europe. And we’re already home to a number of publicly funded European research projects that enable academics, subject matter experts, and large organizations to collaborate and build on research results to benefit corporations and the public.

We see a huge opportunity to build on our strong membership base, active developer community, and strong institutional relationships in Europe to enable the free flow of open software innovation throughout the world. Everyone will benefit from more choices and greater diversity of open source software technologies to build on.

As the Eclipse Foundation continues to grow — we added 75 new members in 2020 alone — the choices, diversity, and benefits will multiply. The future of open source has never looked brighter.

Europe Has Embraced Open Source Software

The strategic value of open source software is recognized across European government organizations, corporations, and publicly funded institutions:

  • The European Commission considers open source initiatives to be strategically important to drive digital and industrial transformations that will help to shape Europe’s digital future.
  • Leading European corporations, including Bosch, Daimler TSS, IBM, and SAP — all founding members of the Eclipse Foundation AISBL — see open source collaboration as an important way to accelerate innovation and increase their competitive edge.
  • Academic and research institutions are increasingly using open source software as a catalyst for innovation.

All of these organizations see the benefits of joining forces with each other, and with organizations around the world, to collaborate on open source software innovation. Many already see the Eclipse Foundation as the right place to foster global industry collaboration on open source projects in strategic technology areas, such as cloud, edge computing, artificial intelligence, connected vehicles, telecom, and IoT.

Get More Information

To provide more insight into our legal move to Europe and what it means for Eclipse Foundation members, we’ve developed a number of resources we think you’ll find helpful. I will also be providing an additional post tomorrow with additional details for members.

This is a big day for the Eclipse Foundation and its community. I want to thank all of my colleagues on the staff and our Board that helped make this possible.

Written by Mike Milinkovich

January 14, 2021 at 1:00 am

What’s ahead for Open Source in 2021 and beyond

For some reason, the tradition amongst most technology pundits is to spend the waning weeks and days of the past year making prognostications about what’s to come. I’m all for introspection, but making guesses right before the holidays usually means I’m going to forget what I said (wrote?) after my holiday break. Besides, I’d much rather focus on beginnings than endings. That’s why I’m opening the new year here at the Eclipse Foundation with some thoughts on what’s to come for open source software in general, but also specific insights into the technology segments the Eclipse community is focused on: enterprise Java, the IoT and Edge computing, developer tooling, and automotive design. 

Let’s start with a very general prediction, but a critically important one: the open source model for collaborative innovations will continue its growth, particularly with enterprises and industrials. Open source is already the dominant model for collaboration amongst companies in the IT and software technology sectors. But it is quickly becoming mainstream among every company working on a digitalization strategy. The pace of innovation and level of collaboration enabled by the open source model simply cannot be matched. 

Many European companies have largely missed out on this value to date. In order to create the new platforms necessary for future prosperity, both governments and industry need to become software-centric and master the process of innovating and contributing via the open source model. You’re going to see a lot of that in 2021, particularly as we shift our own legal headquarters to Brussels early this year. 

Now, let’s get a little bit more specific … 

Cloud Native Java Predictions

The Java EE ecosystem will switch to Jakarta EE

With the release of Jakarta EE 9 on December 8 of last year, the enterprise Java ecosystem will move to the new  jakarta.* namespace. It will be gradual at first, but much of the industry will come around surprisingly quickly. We are already seeing rapid adoption of the new jakarta namespace by the vast ecosystem of open source projects built on Jakarta EE specifications.  

Now the focus is on innovation, and the pace of development for Jakarta EE will speed up with the community focusing on delivering both Jakarta EE 9.1 and 10 releases. In addition, the successful transition to the jakarta.* namespace cracks open the door on further integrating Jakarta EE with the world of microservices and containers. The community is already working on increasing the alignment of MicroProfile and Jakarta EE to meet this challenge. 

The inexorable rise of community-supported Java binaries will continue

With the move of AdoptOpenJDK to the Eclipse Foundation and its birth as Eclipse Adoptium, the industry will have a single, vendor-neutral source of high-quality open source Java runtimes. Expect to see adoption accelerate as developers use the project’s high quality binaries and technologies across the Java ecosystem.

2021 will serve as the “tipping point” for cloud-based development tools

A wholesale move to the cloud driven by the era of COVID-19 and remote work, combined with the release of new cloud-based tools like Eclipse Theia, Eclipse Che, and Github Codespaces, accelerates the trend towards cloud-based development tools Traditional desktop tools will have a long tail, but the proverbial tipping point has been reached. 

IoT and Edge Computing Predictions

As Edge Computing architectures and the Internet of Things (IoT) continue to proliferate throughout multiple vertical markets, one trend that enterprises have made abundantly clear is that, in 2021, they expect many edge computing solutions and IoT technologies to leverage open source. This was confirmed in the most recent Eclipse IoT Commercial Adoption survey published in March 2020, which found that 60% of the organizations surveyed are factoring open source into their deployment plans. 

One guiding factor to these trends is that businesses want to tailor information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) builds to meet their specific requirements while avoiding vendor lock-in. This is best accomplished with solutions based on an open source model. In other words: while businesses certainly appreciate the cost and time savings open source offers, what they truly need is the control and flexibility it affords.

Open source will help solve SCADA software interoperability

This prediction is a bit specific to the Industrial IoT (IIoT), but given the size of this market, everyone from Chevron to Intel are carefully building solutions based on open source to address this issue. While SCADA providers have fully embraced IoT as a concept, sector growth has been limited by lack of interoperability between proprietary systems. Open source IoT solutions, such as Sparkplug, will enable new innovations that finally allow for true widespread interoperability. 

2021 will mark the rise of the Hybrid Edge

Hybrid cloud was definitely one of the biggest buzzwords of 2020, but in 2021, we believe this concept will be applied to edge computing architectures. Just as hybrid cloud requires orchestration between public, private, and distributed compute architectures, so too will enterprises that may be deploying their own edge networks, using edge compute offerings from a cloud provider, and operating separate edge networks for different use cases (AI vs. IoT for example). What is needed to fulfill this vision is an open source platform for Edge computing that the industry can rally around.

Cloud providers will embrace open source edge computing

Late 2020 saw all three major cloud providers – AWS, Azure, and GCP – deliver their own edge offerings. We believe 2021 will not only see a continuation of this trend, but also see providers embrace open source edge solutions as a means of differentiation and to speed innovation within their own development efforts. 

For organizations looking to leverage both edge computing and IoT, they need to carefully evaluate their strategies and the open source alternatives that will enable their software-defined initiatives to thrive. By doing so, they will enable not just near-term efficiency, but lay a foundation upon which future innovations can be built for years to come. 

Automotive Software Predictions 

Of all the market segments I’ve written about today, none have been as slow to adopt the open source model as the automotive industry. Open source is potentially a life saver for this industry given its many challenges.

Automakers will respond to the impact of the pandemic by accelerating their digital transformation. 

By and large, OEMs in the global auto sector have recognized a deep need to move on from development models of a bygone era. The global economic impact of the pandemic is forcing their hand to quickly pivot to meet the needs of a new economy. They know this. What will change in 2021 is the realization that mastering the art of open source is a necessary step in their digital transformation. 

OSS will serve as the primary catalyst in most automakers digital transformation. 

We’re already seeing this shift begin in 2020. The traditional automakers are embracing open source to establish industry-scale collaboration on core frameworks, toolchains, and systems for interoperability, simulation, testing, validation, and certification. We expect to see accelerating OSS innovation in areas like AI for autonomous driving, with some companies contributing AI elements to the open ecosystem. 

In 2021, the challenges of autonomous vehicle design will force the industry to turn to community-based collaboration in order to reach its full potential. 

Currently, the majority of firms choose to perform their development completely in-house. 2021 will see some of these organizations become aware that they cannot do everything alone. We predict more partnerships and potentially some consolidation in the market as well. Firms will shift to a more collaborative approach that leverages the entire industry, with the OSS model serving as a mechanism to enable this transition.  

And let’s not forget the best part about open source; you can participate in the process and help guide the outcome. The Eclipse Foundation is just one means to this end, but you want to find out more, visit here – https://www.eclipse.org/membership/#tab-membership

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to engaging with many of you as we all work to build more positive outcomes for 2021. Happy New Year everyone! 

Written by Mike Milinkovich

January 7, 2021 at 7:41 am