FFII Lampoons OIN

[ Written for Simon Says column on Computer World UK ]

In a communication released yesterday April 1st, the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) lampooned the Open Invention Network (OIN) and its declared objective to defend the Linux kernel  thanks to a massive patent pool targetting Linux related systems.

Founded in 2005 by major ICT actors including Novell, Philips and IBM — whose indefectible support to software patents was incidentally reiterated in an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States on the Alice vs CLS Bank case — OIN aims to protect open source companies against the infamous threat of Patent Trolls by promoting “a refined model of intellectual property management”.

Among the projects carried out by the organisation, the Defensive Publications and Peer-To-Patent programs endorsed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office are apparently not of the taste of the FFII, notably known for its leadership role in defeating the Software Patent Directive nine years ago.

“Patents serve as a good incentive for litigation, which can be a new business model for financing open source development,” President Benjamin Henrion quips. “We are now launching two parallel projects: the OffensivePublications and Coin2Patent initiatives”, he announces as April Fool.

Defensive Publications are documents that provide descriptions of a product so that it enters the public domain and becomes prior art. According to the OIN website, “this powerful preemptive disclosure prevents other parties from obtaining a patent on the product, device or method. It enables the original inventor to ensure that they have access to their invention by preventing others from later making patent claims on it. It also means that they do not have to shoulder the cost of patent applications.”

“OffensivePublications is basically the patents themselves, which is going to only include patent claims and no documentation”, FFII spoofs. “This powerful preemptive document prevents other parties from making, using, selling products, devices or methods. It enables the original inventor to ensure that they have access to their invention by preventing others from later making products on it. It also means that they do not have to shoulder the cost of making products.”

Peer-To-Patent as for itself is “an online system that aims to improve the quality of issued patents by enabling the public to supply the USPTO with information relevant to assessing the claims of pending patent applications”, OIN website says. “The community supplies information and research based on its expertise. The patent examiner makes the final determination on the basis of legal standards.”

“The Coin2Patent project is a distributed crowdfunding decentralized platform, where anybody can help patent trolling by sending anonymous donations”, FFII overbids. “The central blockchain of Coin2Patent is nevertheless regulated by the EPO and USPTO, which acts like central banks to fluidify the economy, and limit the number of patents in circulation.”

Thank you Benjamin for this refreshing satire!