Microsoft has announced that it is joining the Open Invention Network, a collective that aims to protect open source software and Linux from patent issues. The company acknowledges that joining the OIN is “surprising to some,” that due to its previous “friction” with the OSS community. Despite that, Microsoft has made more than 60,000 of its patents open source.
The move will help protect open source software and projects from falling victim to patent lawsuits. Microsoft says it hopes that, among other things, its action will encourage other companies to likewise join the Open Invention Network.
OIN works by providing patent cross-licenses between companies that have joined it, these covering Linux tech. As well, the community has worked over time to acquire patents directly beneficial to protecting the open source community. Around 2,650 companies around the world utilize the platform.
By joining the collective, Microsoft is offering up its patent portfolio to other OIN members in an unrestricted and royalty-free manner.
In a statement, OIN’s CEO Keith Bergelt said:
Open source development continues to expand into new products and markets to create unrivaled levels of innovation. Through its participation in OIN, Microsoft is explicitly acknowledging the importance of open source software to its future growth. Microsoft’s participation in OIN adds to our strong community, which through its breadth and depth has reduced patent risk in core technologies, and unequivocally signals for all companies who are using OSS but have yet to join OIN that the litmus test for authentic behavior in the OSS community includes OIN participation.