Open-source firms seek safety in numbers

The growing number of patent disputes in the software industry appears to be pushing more open-source companies towards a safety-net consortium of like-minded software vendors.

Open-source firms seek safety in numbers

Open Invention Network (OIN) describes itself as an intellectual property company that was formed to promote Linux by using patents to create a collaborative environment.

However, software companies also see it as an insurance policy against legal attacks by proprietorial companies such as Microsoft, Oracle and Apple.

Unix desktop company KDE is the latest firm to obtain a license from the network and vice president Adriaan de Groot cited the threat from corporate lawyers as a reason for joining OIN.

“We are committed to freedom of action in Linux,” he said. “In taking a license we help to address the threat from companies that support proprietary platforms to the exclusion of open-source initiatives, and whose behaviours reflect a disdain for inventiveness and collaboration.”

KDE is the sixth open-source company to join the network within the past three months, while Mozilla joined the initiative back in September amid growing concerns that software patent action could threaten open-source providers.

The fear will have been exacerbated by the sale of Novell’s wide-ranging patents to a consortium of companies including Microsoft, Apple and Oracle, as well as Oracle’s hard-line approach towards the open-source community since it bought Sun.

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