Hot Debate About Chilling Effects: Do Software Patterns Hamper/Free Open Source Software Development?

Thomas Bernauer

ETH Zurich

Marcus M. Dapp

ETH Zurich


CIS Working Paper 40

The innovation-model in the free/open source software (FOSS) domain differs fundamentally from the innovation-model in the proprietary software domain. Many FOSS advocates claim that opportunities for software patenting, which have recently been expanded in some countries and are used primarily in the proprietary software realm, have negative effects on FOSS. This paper reviews the available evidence and concludes that we know surprisingly little about the empirical relevance of this claim. It argues that, if the claim holds true, negative effects of software patenting should be observable at the level of individual FOSS developers. We outline an explanatory model and research strategy to shed light on this question. The model specifies potential effects of patents on extrinsic and intrinsic motivations of FOSS developers, assuming that such motivations are necessary conditions for participation in FOSS projects and ultimately also innovation. Empirical testing of this model will have to be based on surveys administered to random samples of FOSS developers from different jurisdictions (with variation in software patent availability) and different domains of FOSS activity (with variation in "patent exposure").

Number of Pages in PDF File: 27

Keywords: free software, open source, FOSS, motivation, innovation, patent

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Date posted: April 18, 2010 ; Last revised: May 17, 2014

Suggested Citation

Bernauer, Thomas and Dapp, Marcus M., Hot Debate About Chilling Effects: Do Software Patterns Hamper/Free Open Source Software Development? (2009). CIS Working Paper 40. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1590875 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1590875

Contact Information

Thomas Bernauer (Contact Author)
ETH Zurich ( email )
Center for Comparative and International Studies
Building IFW, office 45.1, Haldeneggsteig 4
Zurich 8092, 8092
+41 44 632 6466 (Phone)
+41 44 632 1289 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.ib.ethz.ch
Marcus M. Dapp
ETH Zurich ( email )
Rämistrasse 101
Zürich, 8092
Feedback to SSRN

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