IBM, Sony and others in patent venture

Royalty-free patents goal of group

IBM, Novell, Philips, Sony and Red Hat have put money into a new company, the Open Invention Network, which will acquire patents and offer them royalty-free to promote Linux.

The Open Invention Network was formed with undisclosed investments from the five vendors and will be headed by Jerry Rosenthal, who was most recently vice president of IBM’s Intellectual Property and Licensing business.

When the Open Invention Network acquires patents they will be available to any company, institution or individual that agrees not to assert its patents against Linux or certain Linux-related applications. Among its initial patent holdings will be a set of business-to-business electronic commerce patents that were purchased from Commerce One by a Novell subsidiary.

The formation of the company is the latest in a string of similar moves by companies in the open-source space.

In January, IBM opened 500 of its software patents to open-source developers. The move, which represented the largest pledge by any software company until that time, allowed individuals or companies working on open-source software access to the patents with the knowledge that they won't get sued for patent infringement.

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