Open Source communities are amazingly innovative. Linux Defenders encourages them to document their ideas in the form of defensive publications, so that this body of knowledge becomes relevant prior art for later patent applications and patent invalidations. The Qt community is especially relevant for defensive publications for two reasons – it is highly innovative, and Qt’s functionality covers pretty much all topics that are relevant in software engineering today. At the Qt Contributor Summit that is currently on its way in Bilbao, Spain, Armijn Hemel and me started a process to make defensive publications a routine part of the Qt release process.
Defensive publications are comprehensive, one to two page documents that describe what the innovation is, how it works (usually with a visualization of sort) and how it changes the state of the art. There is no formal granting process like for patents and cost is negligible. As soon as a defpub (as we call them lovingly) has been accepted, the described innovation becomes state of the art and is no longer patentable by other parties. There are a number of example defpubs over in the Linux Defenders web site.
For Qt Project to produce defpubs for the major innovations for a release, two central issues need to be resolved: the important innovations need to be identified, and defensive publications need to be authored in time for the release, or at least shortly after.
A cursorily look at the Qt 5.1 release revealed about 1500 commits and 400 closed tracker tasks. While this sounds like a large number, it is possible to scan those for important changes, and add tasks to the release for documenting them.
Which leaves the problem of actually authoring the defpubs. This is planned to be achieved by working directly with the companies and the individual volunteer contributors. Linux Defenders and Open Invention Network will provide support and mentoring. If ready in time, defpubs will be listed in the change logs of a release. An expected side effect of that that was discussed at the Qt Contributor Summit is that new features will get high-level descriptions comprehensible to non-technical people, and that tasks are tracked more precisely.
The coordination of these efforts will be done in the Qt Project forum, wiki task tracker and other existing infrastructure. Linux Defenders will encourage to the companies contributing to Qt to cooperate and help in the process. We are encouraging everybody with a motivation to help to join in and contribute to it as well.