Oracle verdict double plus good for Linux movement

Open Invention Network: Industry unification terminates trolls


The recent verdict against Oracle in its patent case against Google over Java use in Android is good news for the Linux community – and in more ways than one, according to Keith Bergelt, CEO of the Open Invention Network (OIN).

The OIN was set up in 2005 to build a defensive patent-portfolio pot that could be shared royalty-free by participants, and which could be used to ward off patent trolls and aggressive litigation against Linux. Companies such as Red Hat, Google, and IBM have put money into the venture as a way of safeguarding themselves and promoting open source code.

Last week's verdict set an encouraging precedent, Bergelt told The Register.

"It's a heartening sign the judge was very analytical and it wasn't a passive case of not making a decision," he said. "It was an affirmative decision which we should take as a positive signal to the community."

Given that both Oracle and Google are members of the OIN, one might wonder how they ended up in court at all. But with issues that don’t directly affect the kernel, it wasn't in the OIN's remit to get involved, Bergelt explained. The Java case was about separate technologies from Linux, although that didn't stop Google from draping itself in the open source mantle for the case.

There was also another benefit to high-profile cases like this, he pointed out: people are reacting in general against patent litigation and looking for alternatives.

Bergelt recounted how the OIN had recently purchased a patent bundle covering functions used by 80 to 90 per cent of web companies at well below market value, because the seller was concerned about the uses to which it might be put by IP lawyers. Companies are seeing the benefits of selling to the OIN, too.

"Our money is as green as anybody else's," he said. "Companies see the ills or the potential negative consequences of selling to the highest bidder or to someone who plans monetization via litigation."

The OIN is also trying to build up defenses for developers and organizations that want nothing to do with the patent system. So-called Linux Defenders are registering cases of prior art and registered statmenets around key Linux processes and these can be used to discourage the trolls.

"There's a community that's somewhat at the edges and somewhat antagonistic towards patenting. then we provide them with a tool that suits their philosophy by giving them an anti-patent, if you will," Bergelt said.

He compared the situation to that of the major network-switching companies, who saw over time that there was more to be gained from cross licensing and trying not to stifle innovation. The same kind of approach is perfect for Linux, given the central role it plays in the industry, he argues, and would work in the interests of true innovators rather than patent trolls. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading
  • Conti: Russian-backed rulers of Costa Rican hacktocracy?
    Also, Chinese IT admin jailed for deleting database, and the NSA promises no more backdoors

    In brief The notorious Russian-aligned Conti ransomware gang has upped the ante in its attack against Costa Rica, threatening to overthrow the government if it doesn't pay a $20 million ransom. 

    Costa Rican president Rodrigo Chaves said that the country is effectively at war with the gang, who in April infiltrated the government's computer systems, gaining a foothold in 27 agencies at various government levels. The US State Department has offered a $15 million reward leading to the capture of Conti's leaders, who it said have made more than $150 million from 1,000+ victims.

    Conti claimed this week that it has insiders in the Costa Rican government, the AP reported, warning that "We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack, we have already shown you all the strength and power, you have introduced an emergency." 

    Continue reading
  • China-linked Twisted Panda caught spying on Russian defense R&D
    Because Beijing isn't above covert ops to accomplish its five-year goals

    Chinese cyberspies targeted two Russian defense institutes and possibly another research facility in Belarus, according to Check Point Research.

    The new campaign, dubbed Twisted Panda, is part of a larger, state-sponsored espionage operation that has been ongoing for several months, if not nearly a year, according to the security shop.

    In a technical analysis, the researchers detail the various malicious stages and payloads of the campaign that used sanctions-related phishing emails to attack Russian entities, which are part of the state-owned defense conglomerate Rostec Corporation.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022