FREE SOFTWARE FOUNDATION THINKING OF PATENT RETALIATION CLAUSE: The Free Software Foundation says it is considering plans to introduce a patent retaliation clause into the next version of Richard Stallman's General Public Licence.
The Free Software Foundation (FSF) was established in 1985 to promote computer users' rights to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free software through the GNU operating system. The GNU Project was launched in 1984 to develop a complete UNIX style operating system which is billed as "free software" (GNU is a recursive acronym for “GNU's Not UNIX”; it is pronounced “guh-noo.”) Variants of the GNU operating system, which use the kernel Linux, are now widely used, and though these systems are often referred to as “Linux”, they are more accurately called GNU/Linux systems.
In order to promote the development of the software, the Foundation is thinking about adding a clause in the General Public License that states that if a participant decides to enforce a patent against a co-developer, the participant could lose the right to use or distribute the free software product. Provisions for copyright enforcement are being considered as well.
Although the open-source community keeps trying to skirt around patents, I don't think this is going to do anything substantive to the perceived patent threats. If anything, the provision only protects GNU users only from themselves - anyone looking to take a shot at GNU with their patents isn't likely to come from the ranks of the FSF.