Patent Dispute Forces Openmoko Housecleaning

Nov 18, 2008

The Openmoko project, developers of an open source mobile phone platform, has recently pulled its download site offline due to a patent dispute.

The claimant in the dispute is Italian company Sisvel that accuses Openmoko of an infringement involving MP3 patents, according to an Openmoko mail thread. Sisvel specializes in patenting and licensing, in particular "the right to grant licenses for the use of several patent families concerning the MPEG Audio standard, the well-known digital processing standard for compressing the audio signal and converting it in a digital form."

Openmoko decided to inactivate its download server to pull all possible relics of MP2 or MP3 technology off the site. In the meantime they provide their software in test versions only. However, the project clarified that their phones never had MP3 playback capabilities. Doing housecleaning on the download site was a precautionary measure. As the Openmoko mail thread states, "For us the important thing is to defend the freedom of our users rather than cripple our phones so that certain things become 'impossible'."

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