Sound View Innovations is launching patent attacks against commonly used open source software including jQuery and Apache Hadoop. Sound View is targeting end users of these software components. This is a typical tactic of non-practicing patent assertion entities. Unlike some commercial software, most open source software is licensed with a disclaimer of any warranties regarding patent infringement. This makes it harder for end users to look to software publishers for indemnity. The interplay between patents and open source is often misunderstood. For clarification on some of these issues see our paper on Patent Issues with Open Source Software.
Fortunately, for the targets, some of the patents are nearing expiration or have expired. Based on prior history, some of the Sound View patents are subject to invalidation via IPR proceedings. IPRs are a process by which the patent office reconsiders the validity of issued patents. They are often a more cost-effective alternative to challenging a patent than fighting in court. IPRs and other post grant proceedings have become a commonly used and effective tool to challenge widely asserted patents.
Many factors need to be considered when using open source software. Potential patent infringement suits is yet another factor of growing importance.