Open Invention Network
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|Type||Limited liability company|
|Founded||November 10, 2005|
Open Invention Network (OIN) is a company that acquires patents and licenses them royalty-free to its community members who, in turn, agree not to assert their own patents against Linux and Linux-related systems and applications.
The company was incorporated on 31 October 2005. Based in Durham, NC, it was founded on November 10 by IBM, Novell, Philips, Red Hat, and Sony. NEC subsequently became a Member. In December 2013, Google became a Member. In July 2016, it was announced that Toyota became a Member. On October 10, 2018, Erich Andersen announced that Microsoft joined as a licensee. Canonical and TomTom are Associate Members. Keith Bergelt is the chief executive of the company. Bergelt had previously served as President and CEO of Paradox Capital, LLC As of December, 2020 membership in the OIN stood at approximately 3,300 companies.
Open Invention Network has more than 1,300 U.S. and international patents and patent applications. It holds the Commerce One Web services patents (previously acquired by Novell for $15.5 million), which cover several fundamentals of current business-to-business e-commerce practice. OIN's founders intend for these patents to encourage others to join, and to discourage legal threats against Linux and Linux-related applications. As of December 2020, OIN had more than 3,300 licensees.
The list of applications considered by OIN, according to Red Hat's Mark Webbink, 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.
On March 26, 2007, Oracle licensed OIN's portfolio, thus agreeing not to assert patents against the GNU/Linux-based environment, including competitors MySQL and PostgreSQL when used as part of a GNU/Linux system. Oracle exercised a Limitation Election on March 29, 2012. On August 7, 2007, Google also joined OIN as a licensee. On October 2, 2007, Barracuda Networks joined OIN as a licensee. On March 23, 2009 TomTom joined OIN as a licensee. In May 2011, the European Open Source software manufacturer Univention joined OIN as a licensee.
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.
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.
Every 18 months to two years, Open Invention Network updates the list of software packages that it defines at its Linux System definition. In October of 2020, Open Invention Network announced the eighth expansion of the definition.
As of November of 2020, OIN has grown its community to more than 3,300 participants, a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 50%.
On June 22, 2010, OIN announced an Associate Member program and the recruitment of Canonical (previously an OIN licensee) as its first associate member. The announcement drew criticism from anti-software-patent activist and a European lobbyist Florian Müller, who had previously criticized 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.
OIN encourages practices that eliminate low-quality patents—the foodstuff of aggressive strategics and patent trolls. 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.
- 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. 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.
- 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. Many defensive publications can be searched for free in IP.com’s Prior Art Database.
- Patent Commons Project
- Patent pool
- Software patent
- Software patent debate
- Software patents and free software
- Open-source software
- Free software
- Allied Security Trust
- RPX Corporation
- LOT Network
- "Open Invention Network Collects Patents to Promote Royalty-Free Linux". Cover Pages. November 11, 2005.
- "Corporate listing" (PDF). opencorporates.com. Retrieved 2020-12-08.
- "Microsoft joins Open Invention Network to help protect Linux and open source". azure.microsoft.com.
- "Management Team". Open Invention Network. Retrieved June 26, 2008.
- "The OIN Community - Open Invention Network".
- Webbink, Mark (April 27, 2006). "The Open Invention Network". Linux Magazine.
- Shankland, Stephen (March 26, 2007). "Oracle bands with open-source patent group". News.com. Retrieved March 27, 2007.
- "Google To Join Group To Protect Linux From Possible Patent Challenge". InformationWeek. August 7, 2007.
- 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.
- "Open Invention Network Extends The Linux Ecosystem As TomTom Becomes Licensee". PRWEB.
- "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.
- Wingfield, Nick (September 9, 2009). "Group of Microsoft Rivals Nears Patent Deal in Bid to Protect Linux" – via www.wsj.com.
- Speed, Richard. "Microsoft has signed up to the Open Invention Network. We repeat. Microsoft has signed up to the OIN". www.theregister.com.
- Vaughan-Nichols, Steven J. "Open Invention Network teams up with IBM, Linux Foundation, and Microsoft to protect open-source software from patent trolls". ZDNet.
- "Open Invention Network Announces Continued Expansion of its Open Source Patent Non-Aggression Zone". October 13, 2020.
- "Open Invention Network Announces Associate Member Program and Recruits Canonical As Its First Associate Member". OIN. Archived from the original on June 26, 2010.
- "Ubuntu daddy in patent class of its own". TheRegister.
- "Canonical Assimilated by the OIN Borg". Daniweb.
- "Mueller calls OIN a scam". ZDNet.
- Mueller, Eingestellt von Florian. "Study on the worldwide use of FRAND-committed patents".
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2010-06-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Third-Party Preissuance Submissions". www.uspto.gov.
- "7 Things To Know About 3rd-Party Submissions Of Art - Law360". www.law360.com.
- "FAQs". Defensive Publications. Archived from the original on 8 September 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
- "Prior Art Database - IP.com". priorart.ip.com.
- Official website
- "OIN Will Promote Linux Innovation, but Raises Issues". Gartner Research. Nov 16, 2005. Archived from the original on January 2, 2013. Retrieved November 23, 2005.
- Wheeler, David A. (Apr 14, 2006). "Open Invention Network (OIN), software patents, and FLOSS".