A series of key Microsoft patents are reportedly on the verge of being sold to an open-source advocacy group.
A report in The Wall Street Journal citing sources within the Open Invention Network said that the group is in discussions to purchase a set of patents relating to Linux. The patents are currently owned by Allied Security Trust, which purchased the rights from Microsoft in an auction.
The Open Invention Network includes IBM, Cisco and HP. The group's web site states that its mission is to work for a "positive, fertile ecosystem for Linux, which in turn drives innovation and choice in the global marketplace".
The deal is believed to be primarily a legal manoeuvre. By purchasing the patents directly, the Open Invention Network can prevent Linux vendors becoming the target of suits from 'patent troll' organisations that purchase intellectual property for the sole purpose of collecting settlements from vendors.
The agreement is yet another twist in the ongoing saga between Microsoft and the open-source community. Open-source developers have long complained that Microsoft has not provided enough access to its products as agreed on in its anti-trust settlement.
Microsoft, for its part, has made renewed efforts to connect with Linux developers. Earlier this year the company joined forces with the Linux Foundation to overhaul controversial software licensing legislation.
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