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Pro-Linux group buys 22 patents to defend Linux

A pro-open-source group said on Tuesday that it has acquired 22 patents previously held by Microsoft in an attempt to defend the distributors of the open source OS, Linux, against the threat of patent litigation from the software giant.

The Open Invention Network (OIN) has reported on Tuesday that is has purchased a set of 22 patents once held by Microsoft from Allied Security Trust, (AST) following a report on The Wall street Journal. Although OIN has not confirmed the price it paid.

“Today’s announcement evidences OIN’s continued commitment to acquire patents that may be relevant to Linux,” OIN CEO Keith Bergelt said in a statement. “The prospect of these patents being placed in the hands of non-practicing entities was a threat that has been averted with these purchases, irrespective of patent quality and whether or not the patents truly read on Linux.”

AST has also expressed satisfaction that OIN, a practicing party on Linux has acquired the patents. AST also added that it would help to excel this important technology.

Microsoft has sold the patents to AST on July this year. According to OIN, they were not invited in the bid by Microsoft.

“These patents were deemed to be non-core to our business and non-essential for our IP portfolio,” Microsoft spokesman Michael Marinello said in a statement. “When an interested buyer for this technology was identified, after discussing it both internally and with the potential buyer, we felt this was the right direction to go in relating to these specific patents.”

Linux proponents are happy now that they have acquired the patents. Especially after the now-settled lLinux related patent infringement case by Microsoft against TomTom, which happens to be an OIN member now.

Bergelt said OIN acquired the patents to try to help Linux-based companies avoid becoming targets for more legal action. “In this case it’s not that we saw these patents as so fundamental that Linux was at risk,” Bergelt said. “Our goal is to reduce the potential challenges that are associated with patents.”

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