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Open Invention Network

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Open Invention Network
Company typeLimited liability company
IndustryIntellectual property
FoundedNovember 10, 2005; 18 years ago (2005-11-10)
Key people
Keith Bergelt
ServicesLinux protection

Open Invention Network (OIN) is an intellectual property rights company based in Durham, United States. It operates as an entity specialising in the acquisition of patents, subsequently granting royalty-free licenses to its community members. These members are obligated not to assert their own patents against Linux and its associated systems and applications as per the terms of the licensing agreements established by OIN.[1]



OIN was incorporated on 31 October 2005[2] and is headquartered in Durham, NC. The founding members, IBM, Novell, Philips, Red Hat, and Sony initiated the organisation on November 10 of the same year. Subsequently, NEC joined the consortium as a member. Notably, in December 2013, Google became a member, while Toyota announced its membership in July 2016. On October 10, 2018, Erich Andersen, representing Microsoft, disclosed their participation as a licensee.[3] Canonical and TomTom hold associate membership status within the network. Keith Bergelt serves as the chief executive of the company. Prior to his role at OIN, Bergelt held the position of President and CEO of Paradox Capital, LLC[4] As of November 2021, the membership of OIN comprised approximately 3,500 business licensees.[5]

The list of applications considered by OIN, according to Red Hat's Mark Webbink,[6] includes Apache, Eclipse, Evolution, Fedora Directory Server, Firefox, GIMP, GNOME, KDE, Mono, Mozilla, MySQL, Nautilus, OpenLDAP, OpenOffice.org, Open-Xchange, Perl, PostgreSQL, Python, Samba, SELinux, Sendmail, and Thunderbird.

There have been 10 updates, produced through a well-established process of carefully maintaining a balance between stability and adding innovative core open source technology, to the list of software components and packages covered by the Open Invention Network cross license. As of March 2022, more than 3,700 packages have been listed.[7]

On March 26, 2007, Oracle licensed OIN's portfolio, thus agreeing not to assert patents against the Linux-based environment, including competitors MySQL and PostgreSQL[8] when used as part of a Linux system. Oracle exercised a Limitation Election on March 29, 2012. On August 7, 2007, Google also joined OIN as a licensee.[9] On October 2, 2007, Barracuda Networks joined OIN as a licensee.[10] On March 23, 2009 TomTom joined OIN as a licensee.[11] In May 2011, the European Open Source software manufacturer Univention joined OIN as a licensee.[12]

In early September 2009, Open Invention Network acquired 30 patents, from Allied Security Trust, another defensive patent management organization, that had been acquired from Microsoft through a private auction. If the patents had been acquired by patent trolls, they might have caused financial obstacles to Linux developers, distributors and users. OIN was able to avert this issue with the patent acquisition.[13]

On October 10, 2018, Microsoft joined the Open Invention Network community despite holding more than 60,000 patents.[14]

On November 19, 2019, Open Invention Network announced that it was teaming with IBM, Microsoft and the Linux Foundation to further protect Linux and open source from Patent Assertion Entities (PAE), commonly called Patent Trolls. Together, the organizations are funding a multi-million dollar, multi-year initiative with Unified Patents' Open Source Zone. This expands OIN’s and its partners’ patent non-aggression activities by deterring PAEs from targeting Linux and adjacent OSS technologies relied on by developers, distributors and users.[15]

Every 18 months to two years, Open Invention Network updates the list of software packages that it defines at its Linux System definition. In June 2024, Open Invention Network announced the 11th expansion of the definition, addressing more than 4,500 software packages and components.[16]

As of June 2024, OIN has grown its community to more than 3,800 business participants, a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 50%.[16]

On June 22, 2010, OIN announced an Associate Member program and the recruitment of Canonical (previously an OIN licensee) as its first associate member.[17] The announcement drew criticism from anti-software-patent activist and a European lobbyist Florian Müller,[18][19] who had previously criticized[20] the OIN for a lack of transparency and for defining arbitrarily the scope of the patent protection it offers. Florian Mueller's credibility in attacking OIN has been called into question due to his paid relationship with corporate sponsors.[21]

On August 30, 2021, Xiaomi joined the Open Invention Network community.[22]

Linux defenders


OIN encourages practices that eliminate low-quality patents—the foodstuff of aggressive strategics and patent trolls.[23] Specifically, OIN encourages the Linux and open source communities to become active in:

  • Inter partes review is a procedure for challenging the validity of an issued patent owned by a third party. By challenging patents with IPRs, the Linux and broader open source community can help to eliminate them. Unified Patents has successfully invalidated a number of patents using Inter Partes Review.[24]
  • Third-Party Preissuance Submissions provide for challenging the validity of a patent application. They provide a mechanism for third parties to submit prior art of potential relevance to the United States Patent and Trademark Office during the examination of another party’s patent application.[25] In this way, the Linux and broader open source community can help to eliminate patents, and particularly help to mitigate the issuance of new low-quality patents. A patent application challenger may remain unnamed or anonymous by asking a firm to complete the Third-Party Preissuance Submission on its behalf.[26]
  • Defensive publication, an intellectual property strategy used to prevent another party from obtaining a patent. The strategy consists in disclosing an enabling description and/or drawing of the product, apparatus, or method so that it enters the public domain and becomes prior art.[27] Many defensive publications can be searched for free in IP.com’s Prior Art Database.[28]

See also



  1. ^ "Open Invention Network Collects Patents to Promote Royalty-Free Linux". Cover Pages. November 11, 2005.
  2. ^ "Corporate listing" (PDF). opencorporates.com. Retrieved 2020-12-08.
  3. ^ "Microsoft joins Open Invention Network to help protect Linux and open source". azure.microsoft.com.
  4. ^ "Management Team". Open Invention Network. Archived from the original on August 23, 2011. Retrieved June 26, 2008.
  5. ^ "The OIN Community - Open Invention Network".
  6. ^ Webbink, Mark (April 27, 2006). "The Open Invention Network". Linux Magazine. Archived from the original on May 1, 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  7. ^ "Linux System - Table 11". Open Invention Network. Retrieved May 11, 2023.
  8. ^ Shankland, Stephen (March 26, 2007). "Oracle bands with open-source patent group". News.com. Retrieved March 27, 2007.
  9. ^ "Google To Join Group To Protect Linux From Possible Patent Challenge". InformationWeek. August 7, 2007. Archived from the original on June 12, 2011. Retrieved August 8, 2007.
  10. ^ Asay, Matt (October 2, 2007). "Barracuda Networks: An unsung hero of open source and a new member of Open Invention Network". barracudanetworks.com (In the News). Archived from the original on July 7, 2011. Retrieved October 4, 2007.
  11. ^ "Open Invention Network Extends The Linux Ecosystem As TomTom Becomes Licensee". PRWEB.
  12. ^ "Univention joins the OIN patent pool". Heise Media UK Ltd. May 3, 2011. Archived from the original on November 17, 2011. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
  13. ^ Wingfield, Nick (September 9, 2009). "Group of Microsoft Rivals Nears Patent Deal in Bid to Protect Linux". Wall Street Journal – via www.wsj.com.
  14. ^ Speed, Richard. "Microsoft has signed up to the Open Invention Network. We repeat. Microsoft has signed up to the OIN". www.theregister.com.
  15. ^ Vaughan-Nichols, Steven J. "Open Invention Network teams up with IBM, Linux Foundation, and Microsoft to protect open-source software from patent trolls". ZDNet.
  16. ^ a b Network, Open Invention (2024-06-12). "Open Invention Network Expands Patent Protection for Open Source Software Developers, Distributors and Users". GlobeNewswire News Room. Retrieved 2024-07-19.
  17. ^ "Open Invention Network Announces Associate Member Program and Recruits Canonical As Its First Associate Member". OIN. Archived from the original on June 26, 2010.
  18. ^ "Ubuntu daddy in patent class of its own". TheRegister.
  19. ^ "Canonical Assimilated by the OIN Borg". Daniweb.
  20. ^ "Mueller calls OIN a scam". ZDNet. Archived from the original on June 5, 2010.
  21. ^ Mueller, Eingestellt von Florian. "Study on the worldwide use of FRAND-committed patents".
  22. ^ Schauweker, Ed (August 2021). "Xiaomi Joins the Open Invention Network".
  23. ^ "Linux Defenders". Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  24. ^ "Unified Invalidates Claims in IPR against Marathon-Owned Vantage Point Technology".
  25. ^ "Third-Party Preissuance Submissions". www.uspto.gov.
  26. ^ "7 Things To Know About 3rd-Party Submissions Of Art - Law360". www.law360.com.
  27. ^ "FAQs". Defensive Publications. Archived from the original on 8 September 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  28. ^ "Prior Art Database - IP.com". priorart.ip.com.