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How the Open Invention Network Protects Linux and Open Source (Video)

Roblimo posted about a year and a half ago | from the fighting-patent-trolls-and-other-dark-forces-one-license-at-a-time dept.

Patents 28

This is a Google Hangout interview with Keith Bergelt, Chief Executive Officer of the Open Invention Network (OIN), which was jointly founded by IBM, NEC, Novell, Philips, Red Hat, and Sony to share their relevant patents with all Linux and Open Source developers and users in order to prevent patent troll attacks on FOSS, such as the famous SCO vs. IBM lawsuits that hampered Linux adoption during the early 2000s. It costs nothing to become a an OIN licensee, and over 500 companies have done so. Few people know, however, that individual developers and FOSS users can become OIN licensees; that you are welcome to do so, and it costs nothing. Read their license agreement, sign it, and send it in. That's all it takes. They also buy patents and accept patent donations. And "...if your company is being victimized by any entity seeking to assert its patent portfolio against Linux, please contact us so that we can aid you in your battle with these dark forces." This OIN service is called Linux Defenders 911. We hope you never need to use it, but it's good to know it's there if you do need it.

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Who does this apply to? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43018187)

So, if they sue the provider of my Linux based phone because they have a patent on sending encoded data, OIN could help?

Sony, the PS3 Linux remover? (1)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | about a year and a half ago | (#43018231)

Also, the Linux Defenders 911 is made in Flash, which was recently discontinued for Linux as a whole. Really, I think it's a good idea, but it's leaking irony all over.

Re:Sony, the PS3 Linux remover? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43018435)

Flash is still very available in linux, particularly as part of Google Chrome in which it is a built-in component to benefit from sandboxing

Re:Sony, the PS3 Linux remover? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43019291)

Google Botnet Browser

Re:Sony, the PS3 Linux remover? (1)

DeBattell (460265) | about a year and a half ago | (#43019085)

What are the implications of this for the while Nikon/Microsoft Android tax situation. Isn't Android based on Linux, or is Microsoft specifically targeting parts of it that are not from Linux to dodge IBM's wrath?

Re:Sony, the PS3 Linux remover? (2)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#43023243)

Nikon's problem isn't that they can afford a lawyer. Android probably does violate Microsoft patents, but those patents are likely quite weak. No one knows for sure because people haven't gone public with the claims, only Barnes and Noble threatened to go public with Microsoft's claims and Microsoft dropped the claim as part of a "partnership" once they did threaten to go public.

Microsoft's goal with the lawsuit is to make Google OEMs pay to Microsoft more or less what they would have to pay for WinRT so that their isn't a cost advantage to Android. Effectively, from Microsoft's standpoint, leveling the playing field. They are suing companies that don't want to get into complex litigation. So for example they stayed away from Google and once they realized B&N was perfectly willing to go war, they backed off. Most likely Nikon doesn't want complex litigation either and will either pay Microsoft or also form a partnership where they release the same camera with WinRT or ....

Linux defenders helps small groups. IBM would love to be able to attack Microsoft's patents without being liable if they lose. From Microsoft's perspective heads they win $200k or whatever the developer is worth, tails they lose tens of millions to billions in patents. Which creates a terrific counterbalance that prevents Microsoft from going after small guys and racking up cheap wins. Good all around but doesn't do Nikon any good.

When you need them, they'll be there.... (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year and a half ago | (#43018251)

Just activate the OIN Signal, click your heels together three times, and OIN will be there for you, citizen!!

I do not think SCO v IBM means what you think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43018253)

SCO v IBM was not a patent troll suit. It was a copyright suit. IBM brought patent cases against SCO as part of its counterclaims.

pedantry (0)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#43018261)

In a situation that is serious but not a time-critical emergency, you should dial your local police number rather than 911; the latter is intended for situations where immediate response is essential. Therefore, metaphorically, when you are sued and have some weeks to prepare a response, you shouldn't dial metaphorical Linux 911 either.

Now you might say, people dial 911 anyway, because nobody answers the non-emergency number, and if you trudge down to the police station and fill out paperwork nobody will do anything for months. That may be. But I assure you things are different with the metaphorical non-emergency number. Please file your concerns in our metaphorical Bugzilla and a developer will triage the report in a timely fashion.

"Protecting Linux"... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43018369)

Or, as many in the IP law community would put it... giving cover to programmers who prefer to use patented ideas without paying for them.

Re:"Protecting Linux"... (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#43018447)

As many in the racketeering community would put it... giving cover to shopowners who prefer to operate in marked territory without paying protection money...

Re:"Protecting Linux"... (0)

game kid (805301) | about a year and a half ago | (#43018569)

I agree that this is super-shady and only worth staying far away from, in favor of software patent abolition.

Then again, I thought this was super-shady the moment I read the words "Google Hangout interview".

Re:"Protecting Linux"... (1)

c0d3g33k (102699) | about a year and a half ago | (#43018613)

Could you please elaborate? I sense that you are skeptical about OIN, but your 911 and racketeering analogies are just obscure enough that I don't quite grasp what you're getting at. Just spell it out in plain english - I would appreciate it.

(Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with OIN - just trying to understand what Trepidity is going on about. If it were clear, I could make a rational decision about whether to trust and support OIN, or not).

(Second disclaimer: Stop playing fucking word games and just say what you mean. Your message might be more effective that way.)

Re:"Protecting Linux"... (1)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#43018659)

Oh, my two comments were pretty unrelated. The 911 one was a (possibly dumb) joke about the name of the organization being "Linux Defenders 911", which makes it sound like they're going to race to the scene in minutes to stop a crime in progress... when what they're actually going to do (if it works correctly) is provide assistance in painfully slow litigation, which is sort of the opposite of what you need to call 911 for.

Here I'm attempting to disagree by analogy with someone who's criticizing programmers who "prefer to use patented ideas without paying for them", as if that were a bad thing, by suggesting that's like criticizing shopowners for wanting to avoid protection payments.

I don't actually know whether OIN will work well, but I support their stated goals.

Re:"Protecting Linux"... (2)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year and a half ago | (#43020023)

As many in the racketeering community would put it... giving cover to shopowners who prefer to operate in marked territory without paying protection money...

That is a nice OS you've got there. It would be a shame if something happened to it.

What about the BSD's? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43018719)

Where the patent protection for the BSD's? The agreement specifically states Linux, so Debian/kFreeBSD isn't covered, but Android is.

Legitimacy via the back door? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43018831)

By pandering open-source projects to license these patents they are making them look legitimate and technically sound regardless of their actual merit, for me that is one problem.

The other problem is they are using Linux as a bait and switch for the consortium to exert control over 'operating systems' in general, with the common benefit being some level of 'patent protection' for Linux users.

It is not open, nor will it ever be free, as in libre, until the license grants apply to all and any software made available under an OSI approved license.

For now members of the consortium have a vested interest in Linux, and only Linux - any notion of 'open' is BS and any good faith towards the Linux community is malevolent.

IBM (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#43023261)

I think given IBM's beating SCO to the ground
given IBM's aggressive push and advertising for Linux everywhere
given IBM's making Linux servers a core consulting practice
given IBM early push to make Linux a development environment on mainframe
given IBM moving their own AIX customers towards Linux

etc...

IBM deserves the benefit of the doubt.

presence of wacky terms Sony,Novell is a bad sign? (4, Insightful)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year and a half ago | (#43019185)

The presence of wacky terms (redefinable at will without warning unilaterally by OIN), and the presence of Sony, rootkit disseminator, and Novell (SCO apologist, Microsoft licensor and shill via Mono) gives me pause and makes me wonder about the legitimacy and the true total motivations of this group... Something doesn't smell right here in Danemark.
.
For example, look at this particular line in their licensing agreement at http://www.openinventionnetwork.com/pat_license_agreement.php [openinventionnetwork.com] :
"Linux System" shall, at any time, have the meaning set forth, at that time, on www.openinventionnetwork.com.

Notice the infinite malleability of what a "linux system" is, and that it depends solely upon what OIN wants to say. So the rest of the licensing agreement contract has fixed values, but the definition of what shall constitute a Linux system is left to be freely redefined and pre-agreed to be bound to the definition of what the OIN says the definition is. Add "kludge" or "kick-in-the-ass" to the end of the so called open invention network OIN to get a load of their pigginess: OINK. No thanks. There's something definitely shady going on here.

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indiamap (2852183) | about a year ago | (#43022627)

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License issues... (3, Insightful)

MaerD (954222) | about a year and a half ago | (#43019211)

Sooo I see a few things in the license that raise questions for me. IANAL, but here's my short list:

1) "Linux System" and "Linux Environment Components" are both poorly defined. In the definitions section it states that a Linux System is as defined on the website, but I could find no further definition when I looked (albeit quickly) around the links from the front page. Does it mean the kernel only (which is actually "Linux")? Does it mean userspace? What if my application is cross platform (Linux, BSD, etc), or is GPL and someone makes it cross platform?

2) The "exchange of value" for a contract seems to be based on "You get all of our patents, we get all of yours". What if I have 0 patents, and never plan to patent anything? Could I be held to have not held up my end of the bargin and be undeserving of the patent protection?

3) Limitation Elections are not transparent. Oracle signed on, but exercised a limitation election (as has Geeknet, based on http://www.openinventionnetwork.com/licensees.php [openinventionnetwork.com] ). Which patents were excluded? If I sign on, how can I know which patents are explicitly not licensed to me via the OIN agreement?

Re:License issues... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43021707)

The definition is at http://www.openinventionnetwork.com/pat_linuxdef.php. They exclude anything related to "user interfaces", pretty much anything related to audio and video, wireless networking, and some of the licenses exclude virtualization as well.

Re:License issues... (1)

MaerD (954222) | about a year ago | (#43023923)

Thanks, i missed that page. Still leaves open the question regarding oracle's limitation, or world one outside of the packages listed in the tables there. They are both general and specific in ways that suggest a company could argue the specific over the general. I would be more comfortable with a clear "open source software intended to run on Linux" as opposed to a specific package list.

Kerala Tourism | Tourist Places in Kerala | Touris (1)

indiamap (2852183) | about a year ago | (#43022643)

Kerala Tourism [indiainmaps.com] Kerala Tourism - Know about the list of all Tourist Places in Kerala with kerala tourism photos, Kerala Tourist Map. There is no shortage of incredible tourist places to visit in Kerala, Though the whole of Kerala has itself the unique places to visit in india along with its rich biodiversity and unmatched natural attractions. Tourism in kerala [indiainmaps.com]

Does not work for Samsung, HTC. LG, B&N, etc. (2)

goruka (1721094) | about a year and a half ago | (#43019307)

It doesn't work/misses the point if companies like Microsoft go after those who implement it or use it rather than Linux itself.

Stockpiling Nukes (2)

stevejf (2724307) | about a year and a half ago | (#43019327)

OIN is a very active patent buyer/aggregator. If members get hit, they have a massive portfolio to fire back with.

Linux only? (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year and a half ago | (#43021147)

How is it relevant for other FOSS operating systems, such as NetBSD, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Haiku, DragonflyBSD, etc... ?

Re:Linux only? (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#43023279)

It isn't. This is a Linux initiative. Many of the players like IBM are much less friendly towards BSDs. On the other hand Microsoft and Apple two of the people that are active in suing right now are friendly towards the BSDs. Different enemies, different friends ergo different alliances are needed.

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