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BLOG: Patent trolls target their next victim: Cloud computing

Simon Phipps | Jan. 14, 2014
Cloud computing's success has caught the attention of patent trolls -- so the Open Invention Networks is gearing for battle

I reported in 2012 on a set of additions that led to OIN members Phillips and Sony limiting their involvement, and updates last year brought on the rapidly growing NoSQL database MongoDB to the definition, as well as much of the Android system and OpenJDK, the open source peer of Java. These latter recruits were serious enough to provoke Oracle into withdrawing. The actions by Oracle, Sony, and Phillips show that the OIN defenses are not just window dressing — they have real consequences.

But these most recent updates are highly significant. As well as adding further growth packages — the new definition includes MariaDB, the popular variant of MySQL —there is also a significant and intentional move into protecting cloud computing. OIN has added the packages from OpenStack tothe new definition, which comes into effect on March 6. Given that IBM and Red Hat are both members of OIN and heavily invested in OpenStack, that means the cloud infrastructure project has serious protection from the inevitable patent attacks.

The network has grown too. There are now more than 700 licensees of OIN, each committed to non-aggression with patents against the Linux system and each committed to offer its own patents for the defense of other licensees. In addition, a new full member has joined the OIN team — Google — both offering its full patent portfolio for cross-licensing in defense of Linux and funding the acquisition of key patents for OIN's own defensive portfolio. It doesn't seem to be well known, but OIN has acquired an impressive portfolio of patents to prevent them falling into the wrong hands, as well as for use by members and licensees.

As I recommended last year, you should seriously consider joining OIN if you in any way rely on open source software in your business (even though it's better protected than proprietary software). The addition of so much cloud computing software strengthens the case. If you plan no patent aggression, what have you got to lose?

Tell them I sent you!


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