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HTC and LG share patents to defend Android

HTC and LG have joined forces to repel legal attacks on Google's Android operating system.

HTC and LG have joined forces to repel legal attacks on Android. The two companies have joined a collective of companies, including Google, Facebook and Sony, that share patents against external threats -- handy as Apple battles Android in court.

HTC and LG have joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), a coalition dedicated to protecting Linux by sharing patents. Members agree not to assert those patents -- patents are a bit like copyright for inventions -- against other members, so all involved can get on with developing new Linux-based innovations.

Android, the Google software that HTC and LG build into many of their phones, is based on a Linux kernel.

The OIN was founded by a cadre of companies including IBM, NEC and Sony. Current licensees include Google, Facebook,  Twitter, Yahoo, HP, Cisco, Mozilla and TomTom.

LG has also signed a deal with Intellectual Ventures, a company that owns thousands of patents and makes money by enforcing them.

You could think of these coalitions as a bunch of hard-riding mobile phone companies on a wagon train across the frontier of Linux innovation, circling the wagons against attack. Or perhaps as the Justice League, only with Linux patents instead of capes and tights. Or Roman legionaries locking shields against arrows like in Asterix... anyway, you get the idea.

Patents are proving to be a vital weapon in the battle between smart phones. Apple is set on attacking Google's Android operating system with legal challenges against the manufacturers of Android phones. Apple and Samsung are locked in legal battle all over the world, while Google recently forked out £7bn to secure important patents by buying Motorola.

Image credit: Regien Paassen /