You may never have heard of The Clearing House (TCH), but you use its services every day. Its US payment network clears and settles more than $2 trillion of wire, Automated Clearing House (ACH), check image, and real-time payments every day. How does it do it? With open-source software. And that means it’s a target for open-source patent trolls. So, ACH this week joined the Open Invention Network (OIN) — the world’s largest patent nonaggression consortium.
The OIN has long protected Linux and Linux-related software from patent aggression by rival companies. With the increase in patent troll attacks, the OIN is also defending companies from these assaults.
You may not think financial companies and banks are subject to such attacks. I mean, TCH’s roots go all the way back to 1853. Think again.
As Keith Bergelt, CEO of OIN, said in June, “The most sophisticated and compelling global banking and fintech companies have essentially become technology companies that employ open-source software to deliver their services at scale.”
Further, patent trolls “appear to be targeting them for this reason, along with the fact that financial services companies have not historically been active patent filers.” That’s because, historically, they’ve purchased most of their tech from third-party vendors.
That was then. This is now. Today, financial institutions generate more tech in-house, so they’re more concerned about being granted patents, building patent portfolios, and related patent issues. Indeed, these days fintech businesses have their own Fintech Open Source Foundation (FINOS), the financial sector branch of the Linux Foundation.
So, Bergelt said in a release Wednesday, “Advancements in financial services and fintech increasingly rely on open-source technologies. As the most experienced payment company in the US, and a keystone for the financial services industry, we are pleased that The Clearing House is committed to patent nonaggression in core Linux and adjacent open-source technologies.”
You don’t have to be a $2-trillion-a-day transactional company to get OIN patent protection. Even the smallest businesses can sign the OIN license online.