Mueller calls OIN a scam

"There's absolutely no evidence the Open Invention Network has ever helped any FOSS company" Floyd Mueller charges at his Fosspatents blog.

Florian "Floyd" Mueller of Fosspatents has found a new windmill to tilt at -- the Open Invention Network.

"There's absolutely no evidence it has ever helped any FOSS company" he charges at his blog.

(OK, so I like Brian Stokes Mitchell. Sue me.)

The OIN was founded by major patent holders like IBM, Novell and Red Hat. It's a patent non-aggression pact around Linux technology which its six founders control and which other companies can join.

"There's only one benefit for a licensee: OIN licensees can't use some patents against each other in some context," he writes. "Unfortunately, the OIN's six owners decide in a completely intransparent process what is and what isn't part of that 'Linux System.'"

Without disagreeing on Mueller's claims, I must disagree with his interpretation.

It's true that in OIN some pigs are more equal than others. But the big pigs are making the big contributions to the pile. Being given some benefit from this doesn't sound like a bad thing, even if Floyd wants to call it "second class" citizenship.

Much of Mueller's charge involves companies that, like TomTom, have joined OIN and signed patent agreements with Microsoft.

If the OIN were the kind of magic wand that would do the trick, then why would Amazon and HTC and many others have agreed to pay Microsoft royalties on patents that are considered to read on Linux?

A fair question. But we don't know how much they have agreed to pay. Is it a real fee or a nuisance fee? That's a question I have asked for years, one Microsoft has deliberately refused to answer as it continues to sign companies to claims that may or may not hold up in court.

I really suspect it's a nuisance fee, a symbol that lets Microsoft into the open source tent as a corporate member despite its spending years fighting open source with every weapon at its disposal.

Much of what Mueller has been doing of late is setting himself as an active FOSS advocate, and that's a good thing. Richard Stallman is my age, and we're not getting any younger. Floyd has been to a barber, and is welcome to carry the torch forward into the future.