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Edited by Patrizio Bianchi and Sandrine Labory
Chapter 12: New Approaches to Intellectual Protection: From Open Software to Knowledge-based Industrial Activities
12 New approaches to intellectual property: from open software to knowledge-based industrial activities Nicolas Jullien and Jean-Benoît Zimmermann 1 Introduction Though software intellectual property could not satisfactorily fall into any existing legal framework, all countries have taken the decision to put it into the category of copyright. However, this categorization implies that the double objective of intellectual property protection is not satisﬁed; that is, on the one hand, to grant the inventor a provisional monopoly for exploiting his invention and, on the other hand, to oblige him to disclose the principles of his invention. Thus the use of the patent system has been increasing in the USA, while it has only been debated in Europe. This use raises other kinds of problems. Hence the alternative model of open source software, based on a very peculiar juridical tool called GPL (general public licence), tends to take on a growing importance. Its main principle is to persuade its adopters to disclose the source code of the concerned programs and of any further improvement if they circulate them, as well as the free circulation of the code under the sole condition of maintaining its ‘open’ character. This does not exclude a possible commercialization of the programs and does not limit ‘open source software’ to a non-marketable sphere. Understanding that, ﬁrms have more recently joined the world of cooperative development and of free access to source codes, using two types of strategies. First, ﬁrms distribute open software products together with the services...
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