Microsoft could hand patents to Linux firms

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Microsoft could hand patents to Linux firms

Company said to be close to deal with open-source group.

A series of key Microsoft patents are reportedly on the verge of being sold to an open-source advocacy group.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal citing sources within the Open Innovation Network, 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.

Among the members of the Open Innovation Network are IBM, Cisco and HP. The group's web site states is mission as to work for "a positive, fertile ecosystem for Linux, which in turns drives innovation and choice in the global marketplace."

The purpose behind the deal is believed to be primarily a legal manoeuvre. By purchasing the patents directly, the group can prevent Linux vendors from becoming the target of suits from "patent troll" organisations that purchase intellectual property for the sole purpose of collecting settlements from vendors.

The deal could put yet another twist into 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 upon 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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