Microsoft, IBM Join Forces With Linux Foundation To Fight Patent Trolls

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Don’t feed the trolls. Partnership to fight ‘Patent Assertion Entities’, otherwise known as patent trolls

Microsoft, IBM and the Linux Foundation have joined forces with the Open Invention Network (OIN) to battle patent trolls.

OIN is described as the largest patent non-aggression community in history, whose remit is to take on ‘Patent Assertion Entities’, otherwise known as patent trolls.

It is not uncommon for tech firms to band together to fight patent trolls. In 2014, Google, SAP, Canon, Dropbox, US retailer Newegg and productivity start-up Asana established a patent licensing network to protect them against patent privateering.

Patent trolls

Indeed in 2015 Google began giving give small companies a couple of starter patents to help protect its own intellectual property (IP) and assist the establishment of a new business. In return for the patents, the firms signed up for LOT Network membership to tackle the patent trolls.

LOT Network is another preventative cure for the patent assertion entity (PAE) problem.

And now Microsoft, IBM and the Linux Foundation are taking action to stop patent trolls attacking those in the open source community.

Essentially, OIN will help fund the Open Source Zone of Unified Patents, an organisation which provides legal services to deter “unsubstantiated or invalid patent assertions.”

“The group will support Unified Patents’ Open Source Zone with a substantial annual subscription,” said the OIN, to deter PAEs from targeting Linux and adjacent OSS technologies relied on by developers, distributors and users.

“Open source development continues to expand into new products and markets, delivering unrivaled innovation,” said Keith Bergelt, CEO of OIN. “Its use continues to spread, and patent trolls increasingly look to leverage questionable patents against open source.”

“Our mandate is to educate business leaders about the benefits of open source and shared innovation while providing a ‘patent no-fly zone’ for Linux and adjacent open source technologies,” said Bergelt. “Teaming with IBM, the Linux Foundation and Microsoft to support Unified Patents’ Open Source Zone adds another key patent non-aggression initiative to our efforts.”

Cross-licensing

“For the past several years we have increased our involvement in, and contributions to, the open source community,” said Erich Andersen, corporate VP and chief IP counsel at Microsoft.

“We are pleased to stand with OIN, the Linux Foundation and IBM in protecting Linux and other important OSS technologies against patent aggression,” he added.

OIN’s community practices basically patent non-aggression in core Linux and adjacent open source technologies by cross-licensing Linux System patents to one another on a royalty-free basis.

Patents owned by OIN are similarly licensed royalty-free to any organisation that agrees not to assert its patents against the Linux System.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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