TikTok burst out of nowhere to become the hot new video-sharing social network. But, besides its old school competitors, such as Twitter, Quibi, and Instagram, it also has another rival, the Kuaishou Group. Kuaishou is already its biggest challenger in China. And Kuaishou is using open-source software to fight TikTok for market share. After a blockbuster launch on the Hong Kong stock market, its biggest recent move in this direction has been to become a licensee and community member of the Open Invention Network (OIN).
The OIN is the largest patent non-aggression consortium in existence. It protects Linux and related open-source software and the companies behind them from patent attacks and patent trolls. The OIN recently expanded its scope from core Linux programs and adjacent open-source code by expanding its Linux System Definition, to other patents such as the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and the Extended File Allocation Table exFAT file system.
What does Kuaishou get out of it? Hongyi Jia, Kuaishou's General Counsel, said, "We strive to be the top short-video social platform and community for all users to record and share their lives. Linux and open source are critical elements in technologies we develop and integrate into our platform. By joining the Open Invention Network, we are demonstrating our continued commitment to innovation, and supporting it with patent non-aggression in core Linux and adjacent open-source software."
TikTok uses open-source software extensively in its app as well. But TikTok has yet to join the OIN.
Why are they both using so much open source? OIN CEO Keith Bergelt pointed out, "Social media has transformed the way people communicate and do business. Linux and open-source technology underpin the leading social media platforms. Kuaishou, like many Chinese companies, has grown increasingly sophisticated with regard to intellectual property and is looking to do its part to mitigate global patent risk for OSS." Bergelt concluded, "We appreciate Kuaishou joining OIN and demonstrating its commitment to collaborative innovation and patent non-aggression in open source."
You don't have to be a giant corporation to reap the benefits of OIN membership. 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. 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. Joining the OIN and obtaining its patent protections can be done as easily as signing the OIN license online.