Under the umbrella

Dropbox covers itself with Linux patent safety net

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 cloud-friendly 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



Lucy Carey

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