Linux Defenders Rail Against Dubious Patents

Dec 12, 2008

The Open Invention Network (OIN) organization has instituted the Linux Defenders program with the goal to improve the overall quality of patents and shield against patent trolls.

Open Invention Network promotes innovative software technologies in the open source arena and has been supported by firms such as Red Hat, IBM, Novell and Sony. With its new Linux Defenders project, the organization wants to gather technology innovations to build new tools to ensure that only high quality patents are issued. OIN is financially supported by its Software Freedom Law center (SFLC) and Linux Foundation cosponsors. Chairman of the SFLC Eben Moglen explains: "A large number of poor quality patents have the potential to stifle innovation." The Software Foundation's executive director Jim Zemlin also sees the initiative as a substantial enrichment to the open source community and hopes it gives developers more confidence in their code. As he says, "The open source community is getting an IP rights tool that will limit distractions created from organizations that like to play the FUD game."

The program is directed to any organizations or individuals dealing with patents, including those developing technology, patent lawyers and trademark and patent office examiners. One way to reduce meritless patents is by soliciting prior art to enable screening of applications. Keith Bergelt, CEO of the program, is convinced that Open Source will benefit from fewer lower quality patents "that might otherwise be used by patent trolls or strategics whose behaviors and business models are antithetical to true innovation and are thus threatened by Linux."

The OIN has more information at their website, linuxdefenders.org, and encourages contributions from software developers and those involved with trademarks and patents.

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