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30 August 2012, 12:24

OIN expands patent protection to Android components

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Open Invention Network logo The Open Invention Network (OIN) has expanded its definition of a Linux system to include the Dalvik runtime and other core components of the Android operating system. This definition sets out which patents are licensed and protected by the OIN's defensive patent portfolio, which aims to protect Linux and its associated applications from patent trolls and other patent aggressors.

Founded in 2005 by IBM, NEC, Novell, Philips, Red Hat and Sony, the OIN has set out to acquire or license as many Linux-related patents as possible to protect all members of the OIN. The OIN owns a number of patents now, but its main strength comes from its licensing agreement. Members of the OIN sign an agreement that grants them a royalty-free licence to the OIN portfolio in exchange for an assurance that they will not assert any of their patents that are covered by the definition against OIN members.

Earlier this year, the OIN expanded the Linux definition, with over 700 packages added to the original 2005 definition, which had 1124 packages in it. That expansion also included some Android components, but none of the core elements. Although the number of packages added this time is much less than that, they do address the mobile device market where there is a lot of patent litigation activity.

The inclusion of the Dalvik runtime – created by OIN member Google and over which OIN Member Oracle recently lost a patent case with Google – will likely affect neither party. In March, before the case went to court, Oracle made use of clause 2.2, a "Limitation Election" clause, in the licence agreement to stop adding patents to the OIN pool; the clause also stops them from gaining coverage from any changes to the Linux definition.


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