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Red Hat is pleased to see IBM—the number one U.S. patent recipient and Red Hat’s parent company—announce today it is joining the LOT Network (LOT), a non-profit company we helped found. Since 2014, Red Hat and other top companies around the world have joined LOT to provide an innovative response to the threat patent assertion entities (PAEs) pose. IBM is an extraordinary addition to LOT’s more than 600 members, which together hold more than two million patent assets.
Both IBM and Red Hat use patents to further their strategic interests. IBM uses patents to protect and benefit from its substantial R&D investments. Red Hat uses patents exclusively to deter patent aggression against the company and the open source projects it supports. Both companies seek a patent ecosystem that protects their communities from patent aggression while encouraging open source innovation. Red Hat and IBM have approached this challenge from several directions.
In 2002, Red Hat was the first company to pledge it would not offensively assert its patents against open source software. In 2017, the company updated its pledge to expand and extend its commitment. In 2020, after its 2019 acquisition by IBM, Red Hat’s patents remain under Red Hat’s ownership, and its pledge for those patents persists.
Similarly, in 2005, Red Hat and IBM helped create the Open Invention Network (OIN), a patent cross-license for the Linux ecosystem that fosters greater open source collaboration and adoption. Both companies continue to lead and promote OIN’s mission.
In 2017, Red Hat joined Unified Patents, an organization seeking to combat the PAE problem and invalidate abusive patents. IBM recently announced it is also joining Unified—joining with OIN to help found Unified’s new Open Source Zone.
In helping to create LOT, Red Hat sought to reassure the open source community we are a trustworthy patent steward by agreeing to license our patents to other LOT members should our patents fall under PAE control. Today, IBM has agreed to the same commitment.
Red Hat is committed to LOT’s mission and to continuing its impressive growth. LOT is a significant tool to weaken the threat PAEs pose to operating companies, including those distributing free and open source software. We are excited IBM has joined this important effort and look forward to expanding LOT’s reach together.