Open source protection against software patents

Simon Phipps | InfoWorld | November 8, 2013
The troubling news that a consortium of huge companies is using Nortel's patent portfolio to attack competitors underlines the problem. Continuing their war on Android using purchased patents rather than fair competition, the funders of Rockstar highlight the need for both patent reform and patent defenses.

While many open source advocates remain rightly concerned about the chilling effect of software patents on both innovation and collaboration, open source software has additional defenses against patent aggression that aren't available to proprietary software. The Open Invention Network (OIN), a novel patent pool fighting for rather than against open source, plays an important role in these defenses.

...Eight years ago, in November 2005 -- at a time when the challenges from patent trolls and anticompetitive use of patents by market giants were small -- IBM, NEC, Novell, Philips, Red Hat, and Sony formed the Open Invention Network in order to protect Linux and open source. Back then, it required foresight to see that patents would become a major competitive weapon for technology companies, but today the value of OIN is obvious.

OIN's network of licensees now numbers more than 600 companies worldwide...