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Open source means different things to different people. It can be a software development methodology, a distribution technique, or a marketing gimmick. Could it also be a way to minimize patent infringement damages?
Brian Prentice, a research vice president with Gartner's Emerging Trends and Technologies Group, speculates that it just might be. Google has been actively developing open-source alternatives to leading proprietary products, like Google Wave to compete with Microsoft Outlook and SharePoint. As Prentice indicates, Google has also been publicly advocating passage of the Patent Reform Act of 2009, which might have a lot to do with its open-source strategy.