PAE Risk Mitigation Opportunities Grow For Open Invention Network Community Members

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In 2005, a group of forward-thinking organizations led by IBM, NEC, Philips, Red Hat, Sony and SUSE, recognized the tremendous potential of open source. They came together to form Open Invention Network. Subsequently, Toyota and Google also joined as Board Members and financial supporters. Today, Open Invention Network is the largest patent non-aggression community in history.

OIN was a significant innovation in the intellectual property (IP) realm. It was formed to create a community where core, building block innovations in software, particularly Linux and other key projects, could be shared. The organization was also created to protect the community and open source innovation from aggressive corporate entities that wanted to leverage their patent portfolios to hinder Linux development, distribution and adoption.

Open Invention Network has more than 3,600 community members comprised of open source developers, distributors and users, from around the world and across a spectrum of industries. They recognize the value of shared innovation. They also understand the value Open Invention Network provides in the form of patent assertion deterrence from aggressive corporate entities and patent trolls.

While the threat of patent aggression from aggressive corporates continues to grow, the threat to the open source community from patent assertion entities has grown at a faster rate. Searching the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database using cooperative patent classification (CPC) codes, open source-directed patent litigation by operating companies has grown by 29%. Using the same search parameters, open source-directed litigation by PAEs has increased 47%.

Open Invention Network manages and enables a variety of initiatives, all designed to mitigate open source software-related patent risk from operating companies, and more recently, from PAEs. OIN operates an aggressive pre-issuance submission program designed to limit a patent’s claim scope and to prevent the grant of overly broad patent applications that pose a potential risk to open source adoption. OIN also co-founded, with IBM, The Linux Foundation and Microsoft, the Unified Patents Open Source Zone to facilitate the invalidation of poor quality patents that read on open source software functionality.
To further reduce risks posed by PAEs, third-party IP industry experts are developing a series of opportunities for OIN Community Members to secure “OSS Field of Use Licenses” to patents held by PAEs. These opportunities have been specifically developed by these independent, IP intermediaries to the PAEs, for the potential benefit of the OIN Community.

Once subscribed by enough OIN Community Members, successful offerings will extend the free OSS Field of Use Licenses to the PAE-owned open source-related patents, for the benefit of all small-to-medium sized entities and individuals that are part of the OIN community.

The initial opportunities are two that relate to the portfolios of Sound View and Intellectual Ventures. As additional opportunities that are believed to be of value to the Open Invention Network community become available, third-party IP intermediaries will contact OIN Community Members. OIN Community Members’ participation has the potential to significantly lower the OSS community’s risk from PAE litigation.