Designing some brilliant open-source code, but scared someone else might later try to claim they invented it — and sue you?
It’s called “patent trolling,” but now there’s a new defence: Linux Defenders, a site that promises to help defend open-source innovations from opportunistic and/or bogus patent lawsuits.
Here’s how it works: Open-source programmers file their inventions at the Linux Defenders website. Staff then document the invention and file attribution with IP.com, a site the US Patent and Trademark Office references when it’s trying to figure out if an invention is new. So when a troll later tries to claim original authorship, there’s a legal paper trail proving otherwise, saving programmers tedious legal legwork (not programmers’ strong suit).
And who pays for the services? The Open Innovation Network: a consortium of companies with a business interest (consulting fees, resales, etc) in seeing open-source technologies flourish. IBM (IBM), Novell (NOVL), and Red Hat (RHT) are all members.
Smart move. If the “one-click” patent case can still be under litigation after nine years, the more legal ammunition the open-source community can provide for itself the better.
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