Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Industry-Funded Software Research Goes Open Source


Campus Technology (02/01/12) David Raths

Several large companies that fund software research on university campuses are engaged in open source research in the hope of drawing a thriving developer community. An example is the Science and Technology Centers (ISTCs) launched by Intel at Stanford University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of California, Berkeley. "The preferred [intellectual property (IP)] policy is to conduct open research wherein ISTC researchers, whether from academia or Intel, agree to not file patents and to publish all patentable inventions," Intel says. "All significant software developed in the course of conducting research will be released under an open source license." Each ITSC can support 10 to 15 faculty members and as many as 30 students. Consultant Melba Kurman notes that many companies are beginning to consider longer development timeframes, and she thinks open source is a solid solution in instances where patents are not vital. Kurman also lists other potential advantages of the open source licensing model, including its fit with a university's nonprofit, tax-exempt status, the avoidance of publication delays caused by patent applications, no need to haggle over IP terms between university and company researchers, and allowances for the research sponsor to bring in more companies to sponsor open source consortia.