News Archive (1999-2012) | 2013-current at LinuxGizmos | Current Tech News Portal |    About   

Linux patent program finances “defensive publications”

Dec 11, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Patent holding company Open Invention Network (OIN) has launched a “Linux Defenders” program, co-sponsored by the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) and the Linux Foundation (LF). The program is designed to make prior art more readily accessible to patent and trademark office examiners, says OIN.

Linux Defenders aims to increase the quality of granted patents, and reduce poor quality patents, says OIN. Specifically, it plans to:

  • solicit prior art to enable the rejection of poor quality patent applications
  • solicit prior art to enable the invalidation of poor quality issued patents
  • solicit high quality inventions that can be prepared as patent applications or defensive publications

OIN was established by IBM, Sony, Philips, Novell, and Red Hat back in 2005, and has since been joined by NEC. The company acquires patents and licenses them royalty-free to companies that agree not to enforce their own patents against Linux and “certain Linux-related applications,” says OIN.

Defending against trolls and strategics

To limit bogus patent claims, Linux Defenders will finance and organize “defensive publications” that establish a body of new prior art by placing it into the public domain. Examiners can then use these publications to improve patent application screening, thereby theoretically leading to higher patent quality. Endorsed by the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), defensive publications are said to provide a form of preemptive disclosure that prevents other parties from obtaining a patent.

Linux Defenders is developing a set of Web-based forms that let non-attorneys generate defensive publications. It will also offer direct consulting, and establish a “Wiki”-like contribution model that calls upon community involvement. Linux Defenders will then post the publications to the database. The services are free to contributors of prior art or inventions, says the group.

Linux Defenders is also helping to extend two programs developed by the Center for Patent Innovations at the New York Law School. The Peer-to-Patent program, developed with the USPTO, offers a public forum for contributing information relevant to pending patent applications. The Post-Issue Peer-to-Patent uses a similar community-based peer review approach to patents that have already been issued.

Stated Eben Moglen, chairman of the SFLC, “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.”

Stated 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.”

Stated Keith Bergelt, CEO of OIN, “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.”

More information on Linux Defenders may be found here. OIN's site may be found here.

This article was originally published on and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

Comments are closed.