Open Invention Network and Partners Unveil Landmark 'Linux Defenders' Program to Give the Open Source Community Greater Freedom
December 09, 2008
Program to promote higher patent quality and reduce IP issues for Linux
Durham, NC (December 9, 2008) - Open Invention Network (OIN), a collaborative enterprise that enables open source innovation and an increasingly vibrant ecosystem around Linux, today unveiled the Linux Defenders program, which is designed to make prior art more readily accessible to patent and trademark office examiners, and increase the quality of granted patents and reduce the number of poor quality patents.
"Linux Defenders offers the Linux and broader open source community a unique opportunity to harness its collaborative passion, intelligence, and ingenuity to ensure Linux's natural migration to mobile devices and computing,>" said Keith Bergelt, chief executive officer of Open Invention Network. >"This landmark program will benefit open source innovation by significantly reducing the number of poor 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.>"
Co-sponsored by the Software Freedom Law Center and the Linux Foundation, Linux Defenders is a first-of-its-kind program which aims to reduce future intellectual property concerns about meritless patents for the Linux and open source community. The program is designed to accomplish this by soliciting prior art to enable the rejection of poor quality patent applications; soliciting prior art to enable the invalidation of poor quality issued patents; and soliciting high quality inventions that can be prepared as patent applications or defensive publications.
The Linux Defenders program is expected to enable individuals and organizations to efficiently impact the patenting process by enabling the contribution of relevant prior art, and by creating defensive publications which will establish a body of new prior art. The prior art can be used by examiners to screen patent applications more effectively and ensure only truly novel ideas are patented. The net effect of higher patent quality will be to provide greater freedom for the open source community to build on the Linux platform. Linux has enjoyed adoption in many industries and market segments around the world, and this program will help facilitate future progress in the expansion of the Linux footprint. Use of Linux Defenders is free of charge to contributors of prior art or inventions, and the hosting of defensive publications on databases accessible by patent and trademark office examiners around the world is borne by the program's sponsors. The Linux Defenders website is located at http://www.linuxdefenders.org.
"A large number of poor quality patents have the potential to stifle innovation," said Eben Moglen, chairman of the Software Freedom Law Center. "The Software Freedom Law Center is pleased to co-sponsor Linux Defenders with the goal of ridding the world of patents that unscrupulous organizations use to cripple the innovation inherent in freely redistributable, open source software."
"This is an important program that will give the community additional confidence in the code they develop," said Jim Zemlin, executive director of The Linux Foundation. "The open source community is getting an IP rights tool that will limit distractions created from organizations that like to play the FUD game. We enthusiastically encourage the Linux and open source communities to contribute to Linux Defenders."
"We are pleased to be working with Open Invention Network, Software Freedom Law Center and the Linux Foundation, as Linux Defenders is a natural extension of our 'Peer to Patent' and 'Post Issue' platforms and our explicit goal of working with industry to address core issues effecting the integrity of the patent system," said Mark Webbink, executive director of the Center for Patent Innovations at the New York Law School.
A Note on Defensive Publications
Defensive publications, which are endorsed by the United States Patent & Trademark Office as an IP rights management tool, are documents that provide descriptions and artwork of a product, device or method so that it enters the public domain and becomes prior art. This powerful preemptive disclosure prevents other parties from obtaining a patent on the product, device or method. It enables original inventors to ensure that they have access to their inventions by preventing others from later making patent claims against them. It also means that they do not have to shoulder the cost of patent applications.
The Defensive Publications program, a component of Linux Defenders, enables non-attorneys to use a set of Web-based forms to generate defensive publications. It relies on substantial participation from the open source community using a "Wiki"-like contribution model. OIN plans to work with participants to ensure that each defensive publication is an effective disclosure. The completed defensive publication will be added by OIN to the IP.com database, which is, in turn, used by IP attorneys and the patent and trademark office to search for prior art when examining patent applications.
About Open Invention Network
Open Invention Networksm is a collaborative enterprise that enables innovation in open source and an increasingly vibrant ecosystem around Linux by acquiring and licensing patents, influencing behaviors and policy, and defending the integrity of the ecosystem through strategic programs such as Linux Defenders. It enables the growth and continuation of open source software by fostering a healthy Linux ecosystem of investors, vendors, developers and users.
Open Invention Network has considerable industry backing. It was launched in 2005, and has received investments from IBM, NEC, Novell, Philips, Red Hat and Sony. For more information, visit www.openinventionnetwork.com.
Ketchum for Open Invention Network