Sorry for referring to a magazine article that most people can’t actually get to. My mistake.
Let me give a little bit more detail, for the benefit of those who can’t read the article in Linux Magazine.
1. What is OIN, and why do they matter?
OIN is the Open Invention Network. Prominent members include Red Hat, Sony, Novell, IBM, and Philips. (If I’ve left out your prominent organization, sorry.)
The idea behind OIN: throw a bunch of patents in a pool. Make those patents available to open source developers, and to companies who support open source developers.
More importantly: pool those patents to counterattack companies who might accuse us of infringing *their* patents.
One of the biggest weapons in OIN is the set of Commerce One patents. Basically, Commerce One got lots of potentially scary patents on e-commerce stuff, and then they went bankrupt — and the question “who’s going to buy the Commerce One patents” was hot for a while. When a mystery buyer scooped them up, it was big news in certain circles.
Turned out that the buyer was Novell. And they turned around and contributed them to the OIN pool. Well-deserved kudos to Novell.
For those who prefer the “nuclear patent war” analogy: OIN is the NATO of software patents — and the Commerce One patents are ICBMs.
2. Where does Mono fit in?
Mono is on the OIN list of “protected patents”. Meaning, “if someone sues you for allegedly infringing a patent on this list, you can use any of the patents in OIN’s arsenal to go after them.”
3. Why couldn’t you tell us this in January, when you first dropped Mono into Fedora trees?
The existance of OIN has been public knowledge for a while, but the specific applicatations that were to be protected were not. (And applicatations is a funny typo, so I’m leaving it in.)
We were waiting for OIN to publish their “protected list” of applicatations. We didn’t want to jump the gun. We started putting Mono stuff into our trees in January with the belief that OIN would be publishing their “protected list” any day now… any day now… any day now. For whatever reasons (good reasons, I’m sure), that didn’t happen as quickly as we expected. By then we were committed to putting Mono into FC5, though, and so we had to make an uncomfortable public statement about “certain business issues” and so forth.
I don’t actually know whether OIN *has* published this list — going to openinventionnetwork.com doesn’t show this list anywhere — but since our lawyer is now comfortable listing them in a magazine article, that’s good enough for me.
Hope this clears things up a little.
Disclaimer: I AM NOT A LAWYER. I AM NOT GIVING ANYONE LEGAL ADVICE. I AM MERELY EXPLAINING RED HAT’S POSITION FOR OTHER LAYMEN LIKE MYSELF. MARK WEBBINK’S ARTICLE IN LINUX MAGAZINE IS MUCH BETTER, IF YOU CAN GET A COPY OF IT. SORRY FOR SHOUTING. HAVE A GOOD DAY.