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Microsoft just open-sourced 60,000 of its patents

11 October, 2018, 23:05 | Author: Rafael Roberts
  • Report: Microsoft making patents royalty-free for Android OEMs

A month shy of its 14th birthday, the Open Invention Network (OIN) was obviously very happy to welcome the beast of Redmond, and 60,000 or so of its patents, into the group, which consists of almost 2,700 companies and includes the likes of Google and IBM.

The OIN group formed in 2005 to protect proponents of the open source Linux operating system from legal actions, and now covers a broader range of open source technologies. This group includes startups, individual developers, and the biggest tech firms in the world.

"We know Microsoft's decision to join OIN may be viewed as surprising to some", wrote the software giant's deputy general counsel Erich Andersen. The OIN embraces - as Microsoft has done of late - Linux "as a key element of open source software". As a result, Android vendors were pressured to ink deals, forcing them to pay royalties to Microsoft.In 2001, Microsoft's previous CEO Steve Ballmer also famously derided Linux as a "cancer" on intellectual property.


Microsoft is open-sourcing its vast patent portfolio.

Jim Zemlin, Executive Director, The Linux Foundation offers his thoughts below.

The company has shown increasing warmth to the open source community in recent years, and this latest move means that other OIN members will have access to its patents - with the exception of those relating to Windows and desktop applications. "For others who have followed our evolution as a company, we hope this will be viewed as the next logical step for a company that is listening to its customers and is firmly committed to Linux and other open source programs". Without this, the threats can come back with a future leadership change at Microsoft, or with changes in OIN's own corporate structure and licensing arrangements.

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