Sun has said that it won't enforce patents on OpenID technology, with one caveat: they say that the restriction is that everyone else does the same thing (i.e., Sun won't enforce its patents on OpenID against anyone who doesn't enforce their patents on OpenID either.)
is an open, decentralized, free framework for user-centric digital identity.
The text of the assertion
Sun Microsystems irrevocably covenants that, subject solely to the condition described below, it will not assert any of its U.S. or foreign patents against that portion of a product that implements the OpenID Authentication V1.1 specification by itself or that implements that specification together with OpenID Simple Registration Extension V1.0 (OpenID Implementation).
Condition: this covenant shall not apply with respect to any individual, corporation or other entity that asserts or threatens at any time to enforce its own or any other party's U.S. or foreign patents against any OpenID Implementation.
This statement is not an assurance either (i) that any of Sun's issued patents cover an OpenID Implementation or are enforceable, or (ii) that an OpenID Implementation would not infringe patents or other intellectual property rights of any third party.
No other rights except those expressly stated in this Non-Assertion Covenant shall be deemed granted, waived, or received by implication, or estoppel, or otherwise.
There's also a faq
on the assertion with two (out of four) pertinent questions:
Q: What does the covenant mean?
A: It means that developers of OpenID Authentication V1.1 and OpenID Simple Registration Extension V1.0 technology can be assured that Sun will not impose on them any licensing terms, conditions, or fees for the use of any patents held by Sun related to these specifications. Developers need not, in fact, do anything active in order to get this assurance; they do not need to obtain any license from us; they do not need to even think about licensing; they merely need to refrain from attempting to enforce their own (or others') patents against any developer implementing OpenID.
Q: Why is Sun issuing this covenant?
A: OpenID has proven to be an interesting emerging technology for identity on the web, and we think it's important to provide as many assurances we can to developers implementing OpenID technology—particularly open-source developers. We see this covenant as a key means for achieving this goal.
What do you think? OpenID
is gathering steam in the industry; do you think this helps it?