Cisco and Twitter join Linux patent protection pool

Cisco and Twitter join Linux patent protection pool

Summary: Cisco, the networking giant and Twitter, the social networking company, has joined the Linux patent protection organization, Open Invention Network, along with a host of other companies.


In case you've been under a rock for the last decade, you might not know that today's technology wars aren't over who has the best prices, the most features, or the greatest quality. No, in 2011, instead of working on innovating, tech. giants like Apple, Microsoft, and Oracle, are now wasting their resources on intellectual property (IP) lawsuits. So, perhaps it should come as no surprise that networking powerhouse Cisco and social networking force Twitter, is joining the Linux patent protection group, the Open Invention Network (OIN).

The OIN was formed in 2005 by IBM, Sony, Philips N.V. and Linux distributors Red Hat Inc. and Novell. Then, as now, the group was created to defend Linux from patent trolls and other attacks from patent holders. It tries to do this with its own patents which are then available royalty-free to any company, institution or individual that agrees not to assert its patents against Linux. While it hasn't been done, these patents could also, in theory, be used by the OIN, or an OIN member, against a hostile company in a patent war.

After years of slow, steady growth, OIN has been growing significantly in the last quarter. During the second quarter of 2011 alone, OIN had 35 new companies join its community of licensees. The consortium now has 360 corporate supporters. OIN licensees, which include founding members and associate members, benefit from leverage against patent aggression and access to enabling technologies through OIN's shared intellectual property resources.

Why are companies doing this? Need you ask? Look at the mobile software patent wars surrounding Android, the insane court decision that's blocked the sales of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the European Union, and how Microsoft is trying to get patent contracts from such Linux using companies as Samsung.

No wonder companies like Google are building up their patent portfolios and Cisco and Twitter are joining forces with the OIN. Any major technology company CEO with a room temperature or higher IQ knows he or she needs patent ammo for the ongoing IP wars. As Keith Bergeit, OIN's CEO explained, "Increasing IP assertion and litigation activities and the increasing ubiquity of Linux together have combined to increase the value of OIN's license offering. For licensees, OIN creates a 'no fly zone' for Linux as it relates to IP assertion and litigation activity, helping to promote open source collaboration and the innovation that arises from it."

That's why, besides Cisco and Twitter, other major companies that have recently joined the OIN include CentOS, Data-Warehouse, Fujitisu, and Nationwide Mutual Insurance, Even so you might wonder why Cisco, which has a few patents to call its own, would join up. Keith Bergeit, OIN's CEO, speculated, "OIN believes that Cisco became a licensee to support for Linux as Linux has apparently become increasingly relevant to the core Cisco business."

Last, but not least, Bergeit told me that founding member Novell, although now a wholly owned subsidiary of Attachmate is still in the OIN. In addition, "Attachmate has guaranteed the performance by Novell of Novell's obligations as a licensee and member of OIN."

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Topics: Social Enterprise, Cisco, Enterprise Software, Legal, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

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  • RE: Cisco and Twitter joins Linux patent protection pool

    Google needs to join OIN to protect Android.
    • RE: Cisco and Twitter joins Linux patent protection pool

      @Jayton They wont join for the same reason that they dont indemnify their OEM partners against patent lawsuits.
      • RE: Cisco and Twitter joins Linux patent protection pool

        @1773 That isn't true, they will only join if they can exclude their search patents. I think all the others would be open by Google.

        As for helping Partners, they're buying Patents for that very purpose and they will likely get one of the larger ones available soon.
    • RE: Cisco and Twitter joins Linux patent protection pool

      Google is a licensee of the Open Invention Network (OIN.)
      • RE: Cisco and Twitter joins Linux patent protection pool

        @daikon Since 2007 (from the OIN wikipedia page). Google OHA partners Samsung, Motorola and HTC are NOT licensees. Here's the OIN member and licensee list:<br><br><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a><br><br>Hmmm ... Oracle is an OIN licensee too. Apparently, they didn't throw in their Java patents.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
      • RE: Cisco and Twitter joins Linux patent protection pool

        @Rabid Howler Monkey
        Interesting, Thanks.
  • Wow is that ever a very moronic statement!

    Have you missed the ipad2 and ios5? Have you missed W8,IE9/IE10, mango, bind, hyper-v, etc. etc. etc. The portion of apples or microsofts resources that have been spent on shareholder ip protection is tiny tiny tiny compared to the amount they are investing in quality, new features, and innovation.
    Johnny Vegas
    • RE: Cisco and Twitter joins Linux patent protection pool

      @Johnny Vegas You think Google is any different? Not at all, they have only one real company attacking them directly!
  • RE: Cisco and Twitter joins Linux patent protection pool

    Welcome Cisco and Twitter to the Open Invention Network (OIN). Both join other innovative companies and licensees to further the Linux ecosystem.

    Great article Steven.
  • Interesting to me that Apple is beating Linux where MS could not

    Linux on the desktop is a failure. No doubt. No argument.

    Linux (Android) on mobile devices is one of the places where Linux looked to be able to see massive success.

    But while Linux and its supporters were concentrating on MS as the big threat, they totally forgot about Apple.

    Apple is the one that has successfully beaten Linux (Android) in court. Not MS.

    Linux supporters are too focused on MS as their primary threat. Apple has scored far greater successes in their quest to destroy Linux. And while some might think that Linux itself is safe because only Android is under attack (through Samsung and HTC) remember that the patents that Apple defeated HTC on are deep in the heart of Linux itself.

    Linux has never been under greater threat than it is today and that threat is Apple, not MS.

    PS MS is the #1 contributor to Linux. Keep that in mind.
    • RE: Cisco and Twitter joins Linux patent protection pool

      @toddybottom Apple would be very happy to destroy Android. However, I don't think that they have their sights set on Linux otherwise.<br><br>Apple recently discontinued their XServe line and one can reasonably conclude that they have ceded the data center to others. In addition, Linux servers are playing a big role in Apple's new NC data center. The best visual was Steve Jobs standing in the aisle amongst all those Teradata monsters, running SLES.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • I don't think Apple wants to destroy Android

        @Rabid Howler Monkey What they want, is Google PAYING for the technology they cloned without spending a single dime in R&D.
      • RE: Cisco and Twitter joins Linux patent protection pool

        @wackoae This makes a lot of sense for Microsoft as their products, Windows 7-based tablets and WP7, have yet to find any traction in the market. They make money when an Android-based device is sold.<br><br>Apple, however, has a very strong market presence and would rather knock Android out of the market and sell more iOS-based devices. I'd expect Apples profit on their own devices (their margins have always been high) would exceed any licensing fees from Android-based devices. Therefore, they'd lose money when an Android-based device is sold.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
    • since Apple's OS is based on a Linux derivative, the future can only get


      brighter, regardless of what any troll says.
      the flaming ignorance of this logic that the Linux desktop is dead, is totally absurd.
      i am glad that Cisco and others have decided to support Linux and the open-source alternative.
      wonderful days ahead!

    • Apple Targeting Only Android

      Linux on the desktop is actually a success. Linux doesn't need to capture a majority of the desktop market to be a success on the desktop. The market is huge. The around 1.5% share of the desktop that Linux has now is enough (although it looks to end up a bit higher than that). Just because Microsoft defines "success" as "domination" doesn't mean that definition is accurate.

      Of course you ignore the roles in which Linux has had the most success, on servers and in embedded environments. As long as Linux is as hugely successful on servers as it has been, there will be plenty enough support to keep the desktop going.

      Linux on personal computers/servers (or Gnu/Linux) is really a different operating system than Android on mobile. Android still looks pretty successful on mobile at the moment. Whether the court case of Apple vs. HTC will continue to hold up is still up in the air. The patents used in that case seem even more questionable in some ways than some of the UI patents Apple has filed for more recently.

      Apple can't destroy Linux. They are clearly aiming their attacks at Android. It's not about which patents they use in a court case. It's about whom they decide to sue. If they tried going after Linux itself in any meaningful way, they would have to deal with IBM, Cisco, and other members of the OIN. They don't even want to go after Linux itself because they tacitly support Linux as a server for their own workstations.

      Linux itself is not under much of a threat from Apple. Android is another story. Of course so far Apple is choosing its targets carefully to avoid confrontations with companies that could cause it more serious problems.

      Microsoft is not the #1 contributor to Linux (not in this reality). Microsoft was high on the list of contributions of <i>new</i> code in one release cycle. They're not that high on the list of <i>total</i> contributions at all. Even during that one release cycle Microsoft was the fifth largest contributor to the kernel, not the largest.
  • Protection from Microsoft.

    Microsoft has killed Symbian, MeeGo, and is trying hard on Android, at least making devices cost more, and extracting patent payments from manufacturers. Misguided Apple is going after Android, and yet WM will be their competitor soon, they are sing with the wrong horse.
    • RE: Cisco and Twitter joins Linux patent protection pool

      Sorry MS Hater, there is no WM, it is WP. One of your gurus recently had to take correct his blog after he mentioned WM a lot of times. It seems hatred is making you ignorant.
      Ram U
    • RE: Cisco and Twitter joins Linux patent protection pool

      Sorry MS Hater, there is no WM, it is WP. One of your gurus recently had to take correct his blog after he mentioned WM a lot of times. It seems hatred is making you ignorant.
      Ram U
    • Fair is fair: MS didn't do anything to Symbian, MeeGo or Android

      @root12 Nokia screwed themselves by sitting on their lazy rear ends pretending that they were set for life while the world was moving fast.

      Also, it was Nokia who decided to cancel Symbian and MeeGo was never a priority for them.

      About Android .... if Google would just stop COPYING from everybody and actually innovate on their own .....
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