The Open Invention Network, which works with companies to share patents and technology revolving around open source Linux, is now adding OpenStack cloud technology to its”defensive patent portfolio.”

Red Hat (NYSE: RHT)  is a major backer of both OIN and OpenStack. It also is focusing heavily on OpenStack business opportunities, envisioning a market potential of $1 billion.

Red Hat and Dell announced plans in December to sell OpenStack-related cloud products. The world’s largest Linux-focused company also is the biggest contributor to OpenStack.

Also last month, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) joined the Open Invention Network, which acquires Linux-related patents.

The OIN, which is based in Durham, is backed by other tech giants include Google, IBM, Sony and SUSE, which is part of Novell.

OIN’s decision reflects the growing influence of OpenStack in cloud computing products and operations.

“Cloud computing’s flexibility and scalability are enabling previously unimagined innovation and value creation,” said Keith Bergelt, CEO of Open Invention Network. “Our objective with this important extension is to support that innovation.”

More than 700 companies and clients have access to OIN patents and intellectual property.

Alan Clark, chairman of the board of OpenStack Foundation, praised the OIN move.

“We applaud OIN’s efforts to promote patent non-aggression in the cloud by adding the OpenStack packages to its Linux System definition,” Clark said. “The OpenStack Foundation Board of Directors appreciates that the rapidly-growing OIN community has been, and is now explicitly, supporting freedom of action in the cloud of the future that OpenStack has been formed to enable.”

Patents owned by OIN are licensed without royalties to companies and individuals who agree to not assert patents against Linux.

OIN launched in 2005.