The Open Invention Network, a company formed to enable and protect Linux, extended its community with the signing of KDE and The Document Foundation as licensees. Patents owned by OIN are available royalty-free to any company, institution or individual that agrees not to assert its patents against the Linux System. TDF is the developer of LibreOffice, a free office suite for personal and corporate productivity, while KDE creates free and open-source software for desktop and portable computing.
OIN has amassed a broad portfolio of patents, including patents held by nominees on its behalf. These patents are available to all licensees as part of the patent portfolio that OIN is creating in support of free software. "We view an OIN license as one of the key methods through which open-source innovators can deter patent aggression," said Adriaan de Groot, vice president of KDE. "We are committed to freedom of action in Linux, and in taking a license we help to address the threat from companies that support proprietary platforms to the exclusion of open source initiatives, and whose behaviors reflect a disdain for inventiveness and collaboration."
Among KDE's products are a modern desktop system for Linux and UNIX platforms, office productivity and groupware suites and hundreds of software titles in many categories including Internet and Web applications, multimedia, entertainment, educational, graphics and software development. KDE software is translated into more than 60 languages and its applications run natively on Linux, BSD, Solaris, Windows and Mac OS X.
By becoming a licensee, KDE and TDF have joined the growing list of organizations that recognize the importance of leveraging the OIC to further spur open source innovation, the organization said. "Given its leadership in creating a user-friendly computing experience, including its advanced graphical desktop for the Linux community, we are pleased to have KDE become a licensee," said Keith Bergelt, CEO of OIN. "By doing so, KDE affirms its continued support for open source. We applaud their foresight in taking this step to support both itself and the open source community broadly."
The OIC was launched in 2005 by IBM, NEC, Novell, Philips, Red Hat and Sony, and has since received supplemental financial support from open software supporter Canonical. The organization holds the Commerce One Web services patents (previously acquired by Novell for $15.5 million), which cover several fundamentals of current business-to-business e-commerce practice. OIN's founders said they intend for these patents to encourage others to join, and to discourage legal threats against Linux and Linux-related applications.
"The Document Foundation is a major free software project, and LibreOffice a key office suite for creating, managing and sharing documents," said Charles Schulz, member of the TDF steering committee. "By becoming a licensee of the Open Invention Network, we fight software patents - which stifle innovation and encourage predatory business practices - and at the same time we improve the protection of our software projects."
Open source CRM (customer relationship management) software developer SugarCRM announced its membership to OIN in Nov. following the addition of Mozilla, the developer of software applications including the popular Firefox web browser, in Sept. The organization currently boasts more than 100 licensees-- during the first quarter of 2010, OIN signed 40 new licensees.