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Open Invention Network (OIN)






2018: Entry of Microsoft into the structure of consortium

On October 10, 2018 Microsoft announced accession to consortium Open Invention Network (OIN) which was created for protection of Linux against  legal prosecutions  concerning intellectual property. Participation of the American corporation in this organization in fact means the consent of Microsoft to provide to all participants of OIN the free unlimited license on all the patent portfolio, notes the ZDNet edition.

Before Microsoft joined consortium, more than 2650 members entered into it, and the number of the patents and requests provided by them exceeded 1300. OIN include Google, IBM, Red Hat, SUSE and some other the companies. Microsoft transferred to community about 60 thousand patents.

Microsoft transferred 60 thousand patents to community Open Source to use
Microsoft transferred 60 thousand patents to community Open Source to use

In Microsoft, commenting on inclusion in the list of members of OIN, noted that developers  should not select between Windows and  Linux, Java or .NET. They want that cloud platforms supported all technologies, and  try to implement it.

Having been a part of OIN, the Microsoft company undertook not to use the patents against Linux and the open source software. Also the company recognizes model of joint development a crucial element for creation of innovations. Participation of Microsoft in OIN significantly reduces risk of patent aggression against the companies using and creating open products and is an important signal for other representatives of the industry. 

We know that the solution of Microsoft join OIN for some can be a surprise. It is no secret that in the past between Microsoft and community of software developers disagreements concerning patents open source took place — the corporate vice president of Microsoft Erich Andersen who is responsible in corporation for consultations on intellectual property noted.[1]

Many years Microsoft had legal proceedings with developers of technologies open source for Linux, Android, etc. The American software giant accused competitors of violation of the patents.

However with growth of popularity of the Open Source projects the Microsoft company changed the attitude towards such technologies which once considered by serious threat for the business. As Microsoft directs more and more resources to cloud infrastructure, the corporation even more often addresses open-cast minings, allowing developers to create the applications on Azure, notes the Fortune edition.

According to the head of OIN Keith Bergelt, participating in life of consortium, Microsoft obviously recognizes importance of software open source for the future growth.

Bergelt emphasized that Microsoft will share with community "everything that it has", including all old (Android, Linux, OpenStack) and new (LF Energy and  HyperLedger) open technologies.

The fund of the free software  welcomed  steps of Microsoft on rapprochement with community of developers of the open source software, but warned that action the agreement of OIN covers only a part of the GNU/Linux applications, and agreement parties have the exit right from OIN at any time with the prior notice in 30 days.

The fund recommended to Microsoft not to be satisfied with what has already been achieved and to publish the statement for the termination of all patent claims connected with use of Linux in the Android platform and also to promote expansion of structure of "Linux system", for example, to inclusion in this determination of the programs and libraries connected with processing of the multimedia information, and ideally to providing a scope of all packets from the main repository of Debian. The Open Source fund also mentioned Mirosoft connectivity to activities for an output from the field of patenting of the ideas implemented in the software. 

2005: Foundation of consortium

Activity of community Open Invention Network is directed to protection of Linux community and ensuring freedom in the questions concerning intellectual property. Open Invention Network (OIN) is organized in 2005 and integrates thousands of the companies of software developers and the equipment. Participants of community have open access to the patents entering a portfolio of OIN, support nonaggressive policy for other developers and promote free exchange of developments in Linux.

The purpose of the organization is creation of the base of patents necessary for protection of the free software. The patents and requests which are bought up or non-paid taken out by it then it is provided to all partners of the organization on the terms of royalty-free — the irrevocable and not integrated to royalty payment license. Participants of community also support nonaggressive policy for other developers and promote free exchange of developments in Linux.

Such approach is intended to simplify significantly life to developers: they transfer risks of damage from possible judicial claims for OIN which guarantees them judicial protection. Nevertheless, many participants of OIN joined an initiative not because of fear of lawsuits, and wishing to share own patents with other participants of Open Source-community. In particular, the Mozilla company was guided by such motives in 2010. The web browser became an integral part of modern operating systems long ago for desktops therefore the intellectual property of Mozilla is strategically important for OIN.

OIN was founded in 2005 by Google, IBM, NEC, Philips, Red Hat, Sony, SUSE and Toyota for the purpose of fight against patent trolling. Guarantees of existence and development of Open Source-проектов with assistance of OIN do them more interesting to investors, equipment manufacturers and ordinary consumers. At the moment more than 2100 communities, the companies and the organizations are a part of OIN. The patent pool of OIN makes more than 1200 patents connected with Linux. They cover a core of a system and many popular user applications (including Firefox, OpenOffice,, Qt, OpenJDK, Git and QEMU).

However even cooperation with OIN does not give absolute guarantees that especially clearly it is visible on examples of large corporations like Oracle and IBM. An alternative to the accession to OIN it is possible to call signing of separate agreements with large owners of patents. "Non-aggression pact" on Open Source-fronts with Microsoft was already signed by NEC, LG, Samsung, etc. Unfortunately, such method of protection on a pocket only to large developers. Besides, practice shows that it is necessary to sign agreements with each software giant separately. In 2007 Oracle began to cooperate with OIN and formally agreed not to put forward claims against developers of Open Source, first of all the PostgreSQL database management system. The absurdity of a modern system of patenting was shown by a recent situation with obtaining the IBM patent for the Out-of office systems.

The producer of the bonus Daimler cars (the owner of a trademark of Mercedes-Benz) in March, 2017 solved will join Open Invention Network (OIN)[2]. Daimler becomes more and more active supporter of Open Source. In January, 2017 the company became the next participant of an initiative of Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) created at Linux Foundation for work on an open software platform for cars which can become the standard de facto in the industry. Among other project participants of AGL there are such car makers as Mazda, Suzuki, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford, etc. and also Panasonic, Intel, LG, ARM, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Pioneer, NTT Data, Qualcomm, Toshiba, Texas Instruments and many other companies, including such developer Linux as Collabora and Linaro.

Daimler takes part in development of Unified Code Base (UCB) — the AGL platforms for the "connected" machines (connected car). In September of last year it transferred a considerable part of the crucial servers from the proprietary UNIX operating systems to Linux.