Company Formed to Protect Users of Linux Code

IBM, Novell, Philips, Red Hat and Sony have chipped in to create Open Invention Network (OIN), a company that acquires patents and offers them royalty-free to promote Linux. The company, believed to be the first of its kind, is creating a new model where patents are openly shared in a collaborative environment and used to facilitate the advancement of applications for, and components of, the Linux operating system, OIN’s participants say.

"A new model of intellectual property management for Linux must be established to maintain advances in software innovation, regardless of the size or type of business or organization," says Jerry Rosenthal, CEO of OIN.

Patents owned by Open Invention Network will be available royalty-free to any company, institution or individual that agrees not to assert its patents against the Linux operating system or certain Linux-related applications.

OIN’s initial patent holdings include a set of business-to-business electronic commerce patents that were purchased from Commerce One by JGR, a subsidiary of Novell.