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Nokia gives Linux bye on patents
May 26, 2005

Nokia has issued a legally binding Patent Statement allowing all its patents to be used in current and past Linux kernels. The company hopes taking a clear public position on patents can help create a "framework of certainty" around open source projects, it says.

The statement says Nokia commits not to assert any of its patents against any Linux kernel extant as of 25 May, 2005. However, it reserves Nokia's right to declare the Patent Statement inapplicable to new functionality introduced in future Linux Kernel releases. Nokia intends to "work with the open source community in identifying in advance those functionalities that Nokia would declare to be outside the Patent Statement," it says.

The Patent Statement is limited to official releases of the Linux kernel, but Nokia says it intends to review whether similar statements can be made with respect to other open source projects it participates in.

Top US patent registrant IBM made a similar statement in January, encouraging other industry leaders to follow suit. Nokia likewise says it wishes to encourage others to make similar patent statements, to help build a "framework of certainty" around open source software, much of which relies on copyright licenses that do not clarify patent issues, it says.

Nokia's Patent Statement is published here.

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