☝ OIN’s New Linux Definition Excludes Consumer Devices

Are you safer from software patents today, or more at risk? The news that the Open Invention Network (OIN) has extended the definition of “Linux” so that more software is covered by its patent pool is good news, no question. But the new definition also includes carve-outs that put all Linux developers on notice that Phillips and Sony reserve the right to sue over virtualization, search, user interfaces and more – including Android, which is conspicuously absent from the list. Seems consumer devices powered by Linux are in the cross-hairs. Read about it in my column today on InfoWorld.

3 Responses

  1. I cannot comment on your article directly since it requires some account on services I don’t use. So let me just comment here:

    It is good to mention the pitfalls and corner cases, but you make them sound much more dramatic than they are IMHO.

    Google is an OIN member and almost all of Android is included in the new components list. e.g. android-base, android-build, android-sdk, astl, bionic, gerrit, gwtjsonrpc, libhardware, lk, mtpd, ril, etc. So basically everything except indeed Dalvik and its core class library, which is a pity indeed.

    Also the carve out of technologies is only for Phillips and Sony. And in both ways/directions. All other OIN members are covering each other for those same technolgies. And all other OIN members exclude Phillips and Sony for those technologies. So all of them cannot attack each other, but they can all attack Sony and Phillips.

    • If OIN had covered that in their press release, I’d probably agree (although I think the article itself is pretty balanced – the teaser here is intentionally dramatic!)

      But OIN didn’t. They were well aware how problematic it is to have founders carving out massive exceptions for themselves. We have already seen in the Google vs Oracle action that OIN members don’t stand together. So I think it needs highlighting. You of all people know that glossing over problems is no way to provoke change!

      I think the omission of the basic Android core, and the carve-outs by the big consumer products companies are both serious problems for OIN and I think we need to make sure they know we have noticed. In the coverage on Tuesday _no-one_ mentioned it…

      (Disqus will let you post without logging in to any of those services BTW, there’s an option for it somewhere in the list)

      • “You of all people know that glossing over problems is no way to provoke change!”

        Grin, OK. I’ll accept that you should also point out the shortcommings.

        But I do think you are overstating the case. Almost all of Android is included, just not that Dalvik interpreter, which would indeed be nice, but there are other free software implementations out there one could use if that is really an issue. And the carve out has been reduced to just those two companies, which is better than having it cover everybody.

        But yeah, would I like to see Phillips and Sony join in full? Yes. Would I like to see that last part of Android, Dalvik plus its core library implementation also on the system components list? Sure!

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