The Open Invention Network (OIN) has launched with undisclosed financial backing from IBM, Novell, Philips, Red Hat and Sony, according to the companies.
The company's members said they would create an enterprising new model where patents are shared royalty-free "to any company, institution or individual that agrees not to assert its patents against the Linux operating system or certain Linux-related applications."
The idea is that sharing patents based on Linux will stimulate development of applications based on the open source operating system without fear of legal reprisals, said OIN CEO Jerry Rosenthal.
"A new model of intellectual property management for Linux must be established to maintain advances in software innovation - regardless of the size or type of business or organization."
Rosenthal went on to promise that OIN is not focused on generating profits from the patents, "but on using them to promote a positive, fertile ecosystem for the Linux operating system and to drive innovation and choice into the marketplace."