Feeds

Facebook, HP, and OpenStack join Linux patent shield

The same shield that didn't protect Android from Oracle

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Facebook, HP, and the OpenStack project have joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), a consortium of organizations intent on protecting Linux and related open-source software from legal attack.

On Wednesday, the OIN announced that in the first quarter, 74 new organizations joined its "community" as licensees, including Fujitsu, Rackspace, and Juniper as well as Facebook, HP, and OpenStack, the latter of which is an open source "build-your-own-cloud" group co-founded by Rackspace. Licensees agree not to use their Linux-related patents against each other, and they receive free access to a collection of additional patents purchased by the consortium as a whole.

The OIN was founded in 2005 by IBM, NEC, Novell, Phillips, Red Hat, and Sony. It now owns 300 Linux-related patents, and through its licenses, it has access to more than 2,000 others. The idea is to allow its members to continue to "innovate" atop Linux without worrying about the threat of patent-related lawsuits.

Google is also an OIN member. In 2007, it became the organization's first "end-user licensee", meaning it didn't sell, distribute, or develop Linux code. At the time, it only used Linux within the company. But it has since launched Linux-based products such as Android and Chrome OS.

The irony here is that Oracle is a member as well. In signing the OIN's royalty free licensing agreement, members vow not to assert their patents against what's called "the Linux System". But this didn't stop Oracle from suing Google over its use of Java in Android, which is built on the Linux kernel.

Even before Oracle's suit, patent watcher Florian Muller and others criticized the organization, saying it doesn't really provide the type of protection you might assume that it does. "I've always said that there's no evidence it has ever helped any company (the latest example is Salesforce, which apparently pays royalties to Microsoft for a variety of patents including some that rely on Linux)...The OIN doesn't truly protect all of FOSS but only an arbitrarily defined list of program files," Muller said when Oracle's suit arrived.

"Oracle's lawsuit against Google is the strongest evidence that my concerns about the Open Invention Network are well-founded. Both Oracle and Google are OIN licensees, so in theory there is a non-aggression pact in place between them, but everyone can see that Oracle sues Google anyway because the OIN's scope of protection is too narrow." ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK: Information slurp tools to appear online
Now you can run your own intelligence agency
Post-Microsoft, post-PC programming: The portable REVOLUTION
Code jockeys: count up and grab your fabulous tablets
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.