A co-worker claimed that OpenDocument is based on a Sun patent,
due to it being derived from an OSS variant of StarOffice.
Is this correct?
No. Sun has asserted that, to its knowledge, it has no
related patents. However, it's also asserted that if it
HAS any related patents, use of them has been granted.
See the OASIS website for details.
The relationship of the products OpenOffice.org and StarOffice
is more complex. StarOffice was a proprietary product; Sun
bought it, and released essentially all that code as the
open source software program OpenOffice.org. OpenOffice.org
continues to be open source software; StarOffice is now
developed by taking OpenOffice.org, adding a few things to it;
StarOffice is now basically OpenOffice.org + a few proprietary
extras + commercial support.
OpenDocument, the standard, was derived from the OpenOffice.org 1
file format, but it underwent a number of changes based on input
from a variety of other vendors & experts. OpenOffice.org had
to modify their program to read OpenDocument (they've done so).
Don't make the mistake of tying OpenOffice.org or StarOffice
with OpenDocument. The first office suite to implement OpenDocument
was neither (it was KOffice!). ANYONE can implement OpenDocument
readers and writers... that is the WHOLE POINT of a standard.
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenDocument for more information,
a list of implementations, etc.