Linux Defends Against Microsoft By Buying Its Old Patents

CloudCloud ManagementCollaboration SuitesLegalOpen SourcePCProjectsRegulationSoftwareWorkspace

A collaborative organisation that enables innovation in open source, has announced the acquisition of 22 Linux-focused patents that were marketed and sold by Microsoft

The Open Invention Network (OIN), a collaborative enterprise that enables innovation in open source, has announced the acquisition of 22 Linux-focused patents that were marketed and sold by Microsoft.

In a statement confirming the acquisition of the patents, Keith Bergelt, chief executive of the OIN, said: “Today’s announcement evidences OIN’s continued commitment to acquire patents that may be relevant to Linux.

“We are pleased to have purchased these patents and view this as a model of successful collaboration among defensive patent organisations that share a common goal of creating freedom of action for practicing entities across Linux and the broader technology sector. The prospect of these patents being placed in the hands of non-practicing entities was a threat that has been averted with these purchases, irrespective of patent quality and whether or not the patents truly read on Linux.”

The patents in question were recently purchased in July 2009 by Allied Security Trust (AST) from Microsoft to ensure the patents did not fall into the hands of non-practicing entities, also known as “patent trolls,” that could seek to assert the patents against Linux products, OIN officials said. Now OIN has acquired the Microsoft patents from AST. OIN backers and financial supporters include companies such as IBM, Novell, Philips, Red Hat and Sony.

“Allied Security Trust is pleased that Open Invention Network had interest in acquiring the Open Source patent portfolio,” said Dan McCurdy, Allied Security Trust chief executive . “OIN’s purchase ensures that these important patents will not be used by patent trolls or others seeking to disrupt Linux and the many companies and individuals advancing this important technology,” he said.

According to the Allied Security Trust website, AST is a Delaware statutory trust currently with 15 member companies, including Cisco, Verizon and HP, headquartered in North America, Europe and Asia. The Trust provides opportunities to enhance companies’ freedom to sell products by sharing the cost of patent licenses. To date, the Trust has invested $40 million (£24 million) in patent purchases over its 30 months of operations. Through such purchases, the Trust provides an excellent opportunity for patent holders of all sizes to generate a return on their rights by selling patents to the Trust. There are currently 11 member companies in AST, but the organisation anticipates reaching a goal of between 30-40 members, according to its website.

In addition, a description of AST from the OIN press announcement said:
AST is not an investment vehicle. Its purpose is freedom of operation and cost reduction. It generates no profits and does not engage in patent assertions against other companies. AST maintains a catch-and-release commitment that returns to the market in a timely manner patents acquired on behalf of Trust members after licenses are secured. The Trust also addresses the increasing need for innovative companies to defend against costly patent lawsuits.