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We are excited to see Microsoft – a top 10 recipient of U.S. patents - announce today it is joining the LOT Network (LOT), a company we helped form. Since 2014, Red Hat and other top companies around the world have come to recognize LOT as an innovative response to patent assertion entities (PAEs). Microsoft is a welcome addition to LOT’s almost 300 members, which together hold more than one million patent assets.
Like many companies, Red Hat is concerned about potential abuses of the patent system that can threaten innovation and harm our customers. But, what is the best way for technology companies to protect themselves and their communities from potential patent aggression without discouraging open source innovation? Red Hat has approached this challenge from several directions.
Red Hat recognized the need to develop a defensive patent portfolio to discourage patent aggression against it and the open source projects it supports. In doing so, Red Hat needed structures to help prevent its patents from being used against open source innovation.
So, in 2002, Red Hat was the first to pledge it would not offensively assert its patents against open source software. Similarly, in 2005, Red Hat helped create the Open Invention Network (OIN), a patent cross-license around the Linux ecosystem, to foster greater open source collaboration and adoption. And, in helping to create LOT, Red Hat sought to reassure the open source community that it was a trusted patent steward by agreeing to license its patents to other LOT members should its patents fall into the hands of a PAE.
Red Hat is committed to LOT’s mission and to broadening its reach. We believe that LOT is a significant tool in weakening the threat that PAEs pose to operating companies, including those that distribute free and open source software. We are pleased Microsoft has joined our ranks, and look forward to working with them to expand the reach of LOT.