​Open Invention Network expands open-source patent protection beyond Linux

​The Open Invention Network has protected Linux with strong patent consortium for more than a decade. Now, it's expanding its protection to other major open-source projects.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Today, everyone and their uncle -- yes, even Microsoft-- use Linux and open-source. A decade ago, Linux was under attack by SCO for imaginary copyright violations, and then Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was claiming that Linux violated more than 200 of Microsoft's patents. So Open Invention Network (OIN) patent consortium was formed to defend Linux against intellectual property (IP) attacks. The stakes may not be so high today, but Linux and open-source software is still under attack from patent trolls and other attackers. That's where the Open Invention Network (OIN) steps up by expanding its patent non-aggression coverage through an update to its definition of the Linux System.

Under this new definition, OIN's Linux System, other core open-source system and middleware level programs are now protected. This includes software packages that support the growing use of Linux in industries that include finance (e.g., blockchain), automotive, telecommunications, and the internet-of-things (IoT).

The Linux System includes 395 new packages. Among those programs covered now are Android, Apache, Ansible, GNOME, KDE, Kubernetes, Nagios, ChromeOS, and container.

"Linux and open source development is thriving, and these innovations will continue to transform industries, like the automotive and mobile industries," said Keith Bergelt, Open Invention Network's CEO, in a statement. "This Linux System expansion once again shows how OIN keeps pace with open source innovation, promoting patent non-aggression in the core. We believe organizations that genuinely support Linux and open source software will be enthusiastic about this expansion."

OIN's community practices patent non-aggression in core Linux and adjacent open source technologies by cross-licensing Linux System patents to one another on a royalty-free basis. The zone of cross-licensing protects a list of fundamental Linux software packages. Patents owned by Open Invention Network are similarly licensed royalty free to any organization that agrees not to assert its patents against the Linux System. Your business can join the OIN community online.

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