Open source, and in particular Linux, drives innovation in a manner that is unmatched. Consumers and businesses use it multiple times every day – smartphones, ATMs, online banking, mobile and data networks, search engines, social networking — just to name a few.
The open source model is so powerful because no one organization owns the code. This enables anyone to freely use, innovate and share back the code with the community.
From an intellectual property perspective, open source’s greatest strength is also, seemingly, its greatest weakness. No one organization owns the code. That means aggressive organizations (insert the name of your favorite offender here) look to use intellectual property (patents) as a means to slow innovation or to disrupt cash flow and profits of open source companies, distributors or users.
Open Invention Network
Open Invention Network (OIN) was founded in 2005. OIN was founded by technology industry heavyweights IBM, NEC, Novell, Philips, Red Hat and Sony in order to protect Linux from patent aggressors. Since that time, they have created a “no fly” zone around Linux with regard to intellectual property issues. In essence, they provide a level playing field for open source companies – allowing them to be compete on the merit of their products and services.
Today OIN announced that it has surpassed the 600th licensee milestone. Their licensees include successful legacy technology, social media, mobile, cloud and networking companies, to name just a few categories. And, the companies cross numerous vertical industries and geographies.
OIN’s amazingly powerful protective model is anchored by purchasing and licensing, royalty-free – strategic patents. These patents are not only relevant today, but will be for years to come. They license their patents, more than 600 internationally and counting, royalty-free to any person or organization that agrees not to sue others based on Linux-oriented patents. For those of you that don’t quite grok royalty-free, that means free.
That’s it. No cost, just don’t sue.
This strategic patent portfolio means mutually assured destruction (MAD) to any patent aggressor looking to harm an OIN licensee where it applies to what the organization calls the Linux Definition. If an aggressor sues an OIN licensee based on patents related to Linux, OIN will assist the OIN licensee. OIN will be backed-up by its strategic patent portfolio.
While this license is designed to protect Linux, any person or organization that is developing, distributing or using open source is crazy not to take a free license to this strategic intellectual property. They even have an e-signature service, for authorized executives and individuals, making the sign-up process painless.
We congratulate OIN on the continued growth of its patent non-aggression community. And, we strongly encourage open source developers, users and distributors to join the OIN community.