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LinuxCon: Keeping open source open

Oct 05, 2009, 13:33 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jake Edge)

"While the circumstances surrounding that purchase were quite interesting—and indicative of Microsoft's patent strategy—he also described the mission of OIN as a protector of Linux from patent trolls. Because patents are likely to be a threat to Linux for a long time to come, organizations like OIN are needed to allow Linux development to continue with as few patent impediments as possible.

"Linux Foundation (LF) executive director Jim Zemlin introduced Bergelt by noting that OIN had done a great service for the Linux industry and community by purchasing those patents, which otherwise would have gone to "non-operating" companies—essentially patent trolls. Bergelt caught wind of the sale and headed off what might have been a potent attack against Linux, Zemlin said.

"OIN was started by six companies (Sony, IBM, NEC, Red Hat, Philips, and Novell) four years ago to anticipate and preempt these kinds of patent sales, Bergelt said. It is a "very unusual entity" and when he was approached to be the CEO, it took some time to understand the "active benevolence" that was the mission of OIN. The members put a "very significant amount of money" into OIN, which means that, unlike a pledge fund, the capital is available, allowing Bergelt the autonomy to make decisions about how to deploy it."

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