Open Source Risk Management (OSRM), a vendor-neutral provider of Open Source risk mitigation and management solutions, announced results of the first-ever evaluation of potential patent infringement by the Linux kernel, along with a patent insurance program for enterprise Linux users.

Well-known patent attorney Dan Ravicher, founder and executive director of the Public Patent Foundation and senior counsel to the Free Software Foundation, reviewed all U.S. software patents that have been litigated through appeal, examining whether the Linux kernel contains technology that could trigger patent claims against end-users. In conclusion, he found that no court-validated software patent is infringed by the Linux kernel. However, Ravicher also found 283 issued but not yet court-validated software patents that, if upheld as valid by the courts, could potentially be used to support patent claims against Linux. In response, OSRM will be expanding its risk mitigation and insurance offerings to cover this quantifiable risk.

Additionally, Ravicher found that about one-third of the 283 issued patents are owned by large corporations that are friendly to Linux - ones with some current financial interest in broad Linux adoption, including: Cisco, HP, IBM, Intel, Novell, Oracle, Red Hat, Sony and others. However, to date, no Linux vendor has publicly offered its customers legal protection for patent liability; nor has any entered into an explicit agreement promising never to use its own patents against Linux users. Also, 27 of the 283 patents are held by Microsoft, an outspoken opponent of Free and Open Source software; and still others by individuals or shell corporations who may have little to lose by making legal threats against enterprise Linux users in pursuit of settlement dollars.


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