Google joins Open Invention Network patent commons as a full member

Google joins Open Invention Network patent commons as a full member

Summary: Google joins IBM, NEC, Novell, Philips, Red Hat and Sony as a full member of the Open Invention Network open-source and Linux patent protection organization.


The Open Invention Network (OIN), the organization that was formed to promote collaboration and patent non-aggression in support of Linux, announced on Wednesday that Google has joined IBM, NEC, Novell, Philips, Red Hat and Sony as a full member of OIN.

OpenInventionNetwork Logo

Google has long been involved with OIN. Indeed, in 2007 Google became OIN’s first end-user licensee.

OIN was formed in 2005 by IBM, Sony, and Philips, in addition to Linux distributors, Red Hat and Novell. 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.

OIN now has a strategic portfolio of over 600 patents and patent applications. Once in OIN's hands these cannot be used by patent trolls. The patents are also available to be used by OIN members in defensive lawsuits against trolls.

As the years have gone by other companies, such as Cisco and Twitter, which people don't think of as being Linux businesses, have joined the group. Over 600 other businesses, including Dropbox, have become OIN patent licensees.

“Linux is one of the most innovative platforms ever invented. It has helped to spark unprecedented levels of mobile, networking, and computing capabilities while dramatically lowering costs,” said Keith Bergelt, the OIN's CEO in a statement. “For many years, Google has recognized the value and power of Linux. By transitioning its relationship with OIN from Associate Member to Full Member, Google is once again demonstrating its leadership and commitment to Linux and open source. We are pleased to welcome them as a Full Member of OIN.”

“Linux and open source are at the core of the software industry. Protecting open source is critical to us, our users, and to the ongoing health of the Internet,” said Chris DiBona, Google's Director of Open Source in an interview. “We’re proud of our new role within OIN."

DiBona added that now was the time for Google to fully join OIN. He also said that Google has been "very happy with the direction OIN has been going" and that Google is looking forward to working with OIN on patent issues.

At this time, Google did not announce that it would be contributing any of its patents to the OIN. Earlier this year, Google asserted in its Open Patent Non-Assertion Pledge that it would not sue open-source related companies that didn't sue Google. In August, Google added more patents to its list of patents that were covered by this pledge. In contest, Google's joining the OIN is just another step forward in Google's ongoing opposition to patent trolls.

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Topics: Enterprise Software, Google, Legal, Linux, Patents

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  • the axis of evil software will be crushed by FOSS and OIN

    Apple, Oracle and M$ will soon be gone.
    so will the patent trolls that don't respect Linux.
    LlNUX Geek
    • Not in your lifetime

      Patent trolls are ultimately fueled by the human element of...greed. Patent troll effects can be reduced, but not eliminated.
      • The history of mankind is not greed and war but...

        ... peace and co-operation. Most the best things have always been done by volunteers common-interest, not by self-interest.

        1990's will never come back and we should wellcome open source ecosystem as mainstream way of IT-thinking. We don't need Microsoft Gulag.
    • Except if you remember

      Google had to buy something like Motorola to get a patent library, since they (google) used a boatload of valid patents without asking.

      Theft of valid patents is the ultimate patent troll.

      Of course, if you look at Android, there's not an original idea in the entire ecosystem, as Google copied it from every other vendor on the planet.

      Google would have been a fool not to join this bunch, since Google is the ultimate troll.
      • Care to elaborate?

        "Google copied it from every other vendor on the planet"

        Copied what, exactly? Rectangle with rounded corners?
      • Oh, it occured to me what Google copied.

        The dial pad with 10 digits and '*' and '#' buttons. Darn those thieves!
  • Sony is a full member of the OIN?!

    Sony is also a participant of the Rockstar Consortium:

    which has launched patent-related legal attacks against Google and others regarding Android (yes, Android is Linux).

    Also, interestingly, Sony opted to use FreeBSD to create the PlayStation 4 OS rather than GNU/Linux.

    It would appear that Sony's heart really isn't in Linux ...

    P.S. Sony (as 'Sony Ericsson') is also a member of the Open Handset Alliance (that means Android).
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • I have to suspect sony is just caught up in what MS and Apple are doing

      and got involved in this rockstar thing not knowing what they were getting into.
      I don't see how they could be out to harm android/linux when many of their own products use it. MS and Apple clearly see those as threats and would be thrilled if they were gone tomorrow.
      • Founded in 1946, Sony is a multi-national, multi-billion $ U.S. company

        with a current market cap of approx. $18 billion U.S.:

        Thus, it wasn't born yesterday.

        You're apologist hypothesis regarding Sony doesn't wash. Rumor has it that Google, too, was offered an opportunity to join in the acquisition of the Nortel patents managed by Rockstar, but it declined. I suspect that Google knew full well what was coming and opted NOT to be a patent troll.

        Painting Microsoft and Apple (and Oracle as the Linux Geek did) as the personification of evil and everything else as good is not something I would expect from a poster using "Dr" in their handle. The world is MUCH more complex than you appear to grasp.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
        • Note: Sony is a Japanese company, but I chose to use U.S. currency

          regarding it's revenue and market cap.
          Rabid Howler Monkey
  • That is why I'm never going Apple nor Microsoft....

    While Apple and especially Microsoft keeps giving more a more reasons to hate them more and more every day, Google just keeps giving me more and more reasons to like it....
    Live and learn, Apple & Microsoft, live and learn....
    • Couldnt have put

      it better myself. Apple/Microsofts history is of pure extortion, bullying and patent trolling
  • Seriously, are you that naive?

    You show the perspective of my 9 year old daughter who thinks Google is a great place to work because she watched "The Internship" and thought you sailed through life doing adventures and getting free lunches.
    Google wants your money too!!!