Under the umbrella

Dropbox covers itself with Linux patent safety net

Lucy Carey

Acquisition of cloudy licensee marks move by OIN to protect Linux mobile and virtual storage environments from hungry trolls.


The Open Invention Network (OIN), a company set up to
protect the Linux operating system through theuseful
htmlacquisition of patents for cross-licensing purposes, has now
added Dropbox
to its roster of licensees.

Member and licensees of the OIN can gain royalty-free
access to a variety of Linux related patents, protecting them from
litigation hungry trolls and other troublemakers.

This move marks a shift in focus for the business
towards venture-backed cloud startups and mobile – an area which
the company believes is growing ever more plump and inviting for
potential extortionists. Dropbox will be joining Sony, IBM, NEC,
and Google, among 640 others, under the OIN umbrella.

Commenting about the move to The Register, OIN Chief
Executive Keith Bergelt said, “These are the kinds of companies we
are spending more time with – growth companies, strong,
venture-backed companies going public or who are in a position
where they could go public in the next two to three years.”

Earlier this year, the OIN added a series of
Linux software packages to its 2,173 strong
artillery of software, including packages from OpenStack, Python,
MongoDB and Ruby. Bergelt has told users to expect further cloudy
packages in the near future.

The OIN has said in the past that it sees mobile as a
key “catalyst” for the future of Linux, noting in a 2012
press release
that, “Smartphones and other mobile devices are
important catalysts for market players continuing to adopt open
source solutions.”

Dropbox is expected to go public within the next year
or so, and any patent suit would be incredibly damaging to investor
confidence. As cloud and mobile startup companies grow up, it’s
inevitable that more will be looking to cover their backs, and
organisations like the OIN will have a vital role in this.

Image by kyle simourd

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