|Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] Even Better SONY's left and right hands
|Open Source to Buy Patents
The anti-patent movement will add another layer of litigation protection
for developers and users of Linux.
November 10, 2005
The open-source movement will attempt to better negotiate a potential
litigation minefield with the unveiling on Thursday of a company that
will acquire technology patents to limit the movements legal exposure.
The Open Invention Network (OIN) will acquire related patents and offer
them royalty-free to companies, institutions, or individuals that agree
not to assert their patents against the Linux operating system or Linux
OIN is being bankrolled by IBM, Philips, Red Hat, and Sony. The company
refused to give details about the amount of funds being contributed by
its benefactors, but said it was significant.
Impediments to collaboration on the Linux operating system seriously
jeopardize innovation, said Jerry Rosenthal, chief executive of OIN. 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.
The open-source movement was thrown into a defensive posture in January
2005 when a judge ordered IBM to turn over 2 billion lines of code to
SCO Group so the small Lindon, Utah-based company could examine it for
evidence that IBM had included copyrighted Unix code within Linux.
Until then the suit seemed like more of a nuisance than anything else
because SCO was facing its own challenge from Novell for its Unix
copyright claim. But while the scare may have subsided to some extent,
the concerns and the sense of urgency on the matter of patents have
Some vendors of proprietary software, particularly Microsoft, have
challenged the open-source community on its patent protection policies.
To some extent that has given some larger customers cause for concern.
Legal and Insurance Protection
The open-source movement began circling its wagons back in early
February with the announcement of the Software Freedom Law Center, a
legal resource to protect developers and users of open-source
The New York City-based organization was designed to assist the movement
in the structure and management of their development to anticipate and
avoid lawsuits. The center received $4 million in initial funding from
IBM and Hewlett-Packard.
In October, Kiln plc of London, a Lloyds of London underwriter, and
Miller Insurance Services Limited, a Lloyds broker, announced they would
offer a new product called Open Source Compliance Insurance (see Lloyds
Insures Open Source).
Open Source Compliance Insurance will initially cover up to $10 million
for direct losses suffered by the insured following a finding of
noncompliance with specific license agreements under which open-source
code is obtainable.
A number of well-financed and stable open-source vendors, including Red
Hat, Novell, Hewlett-Packard, and JBoss, have announced the availability
of various forms of insurance protection for open-source customers.