Stallman: OSDL patent project 'worse than nothing'

An effort by the Open Source Development Labs to help developers defend themselves against software patents has come under fire from Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman, who believes that the plan could backfire.

The controversy centers on the issue of patents on software processes, which many believe could threaten the future of open-source software and software innovation in general. Because software processes are abstract, critics say such patents effectively let companies monopolize ideas, without which software can't be developed.

The OSDL project, dubbed Open Source as Prior Art, aims to create documentation, or tagging, for open-source programs--which, by nature, aren't patented. This documentation can be used by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to show that patented concepts existed previously to the patent being issued, thus potentially invalidating the patent and reducing the danger of software patent lawsuits.