Google has made a statement on open source and patents, publicly making an Open Patent Non-Assertion Pledge and promising not to go after open source software on the basis of patents. This follows Microsoft’s launch of its Patent Tracker tool earlier today, which is a step towards patent transparency, something that has a solid place in the OPN pledge Google has taken.
Says Google: “We pledge not to sue any user, distributor or developer of open-source software on specified patents, unless first attacked.” It has kicked the pledge off with 10 patents related to MapReduce, a technology for large data processing with open source variants in common use.
Over time, the search engine giant plans to extend the pledge to additional patents, but regardless says that the OPN (or a similar alternative) is something it encourages other companies to take as well. By doing so, the companies will be promoting a few advantages and helping to reduce the number of patent-related lawsuits.
The advantages of taking such a pledge, says Google, include transparency, making it easier for developers and such to assertain patent rights. Breadth is another listed advantage, eliminating the limitations a specific open source license/project would present. The OPN pledge is also said to be a form of defensive protection, with Google only using it for defensive purposes. And finally, durability, with the pledge being in place for as long as the patent exists.
[via Google Public Policy]