To ensure the continued growth of Linux and related software, IBM, Novell, Philips, Red Hat and Sony today announced a new company, Open Invention Network. The network plans to acquire patents and license them royalty-free to others who agree to not assert their patents against Linux. The use of open source applications has been growing because they help businesses lower their technology costs and increase their efficiency and flexibility.
Linux is an open-source operating system that has been created communally by developers around the world. The dispersed nature of Linux, however, means there is no single entity to collect patents and make them generally available. Patents encourage businesses to invest and innovate because their creations can be protected.
OIN, believed to be the first company of its kind, is creating a system for managing patents. Patents owned by Open Invention Network are available on a royalty-free basis to any company, institution or individual that agrees not to assert its patents against others who have signed a license with OIN, for their use or distribution of Linux-related software.
Open collaboration is viewed by many as critical for driving innovation, which in turn helps fuel global economic growth. The Linux community spurs innovation and saves time when individuals and companies can use existing code and build on it. Also, sharing the workload within the Linux community creates higher-performance software, at a lower cost and with significantly fewer quality issues.