Harm without litigation or direct threats
Aside from litigation and direct threats, software projects also suffer from passive threats of software patents. Small developers are very unlikely to get sued (at least until they make money), but they are very likely to auto-censor, to omit features that would be useful but for which there are software patent worries.
Some analysts fail to notice this harm. For example, if we want to know who the "victims" of software patents are, one might suggest that we check who is being targeted by litigation, however, this completely misses all the projects that notice a patent and have to avoid it or remove features from their software.
This faulty analysis can lead people to make claims that Microsoft is the real victim of software patents (because it's targeted by a lot of litigation), or that SMEs or free software are little affected by software patents (because they're not targeted by litigation).
Related pages on ESP Wiki
- Free software projects harmed by software patents - listing lots of harm, with little or no litigation
- Harm to standards - much of which happens without litigation or threats
- More than trolls
- Fedora GNU/Linux's list of "Forbidden items", many are banned due to software patents, without any litigation and probably not even any formal threats having been involved.
- Patents - Why Free/Open Source Software Might Have Less to Fear than Non-Free Software, by Dan Ravicher, September 2004