The Wall Street Journal reported this AM, that the Open Invention Network (OIN) was in the process of acquiring former Microsoft patents in a bid to help protect open source users.
I contacted OIN first thing this morning by voice and email and they haven’t responded to my questions (yet), there also is no public press release yet available.
The gist of the WSJ story is that the OIN is acquiring 22 patents that Microsoft sold to Allied Security Trust earlier this year. It isn’t clear whether those patents are part of the 235 patents that Microsoft has alleged open source software infringes on in 2007. The WSJ quotes a Microsoft source that stated, that the patents were not important to Microsoft’s business going forward.
Without any additional details (and thanks a lot OIN for being as closed as the best proprietary software company), this is an interesting, but not critical step for Linux and open source.
Patents in general, can represent a risk to any open source vendor
that doesn’t have its own patent portfolio. They can also represent a
risk to ANY software vendor with the potential for patent claims
(legitimate or otherwise, I’m not debating the merits of software
By buying the 22 patents, OIN is essentially taking them off the market and removing the risk of future litigation.