Microsoft Just Did Something Big With 60,000 Patents

Ruben Fields
October 11, 2018

Obviously there are exceptions to what Microsoft is making available.

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.

"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". In this process, in a way, Microsoft has open sourced more than 60,000 patents. This can be done by supporting grassroots efforts like the FSF's End Software Patents campaign, or by Microsoft directly urging the US Congress to pass legislation excluding software from the effects of patents, or both.

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'We know Microsoft's decision to join OIN may be viewed as surprising to some; it is no secret that there has been friction in the past between Microsoft and the open source community over the issue of patents, ' admits Erich Andersen, deputy general counsel for Microsoft, in the announcement. "The licensees range from individual developers and startups to some of the biggest technology companies and patent holders on the planet". We began this journey over two years ago through programs like Azure IP Advantage, which extended Microsoft's indemnification pledge to open source software powering Azure services.

Jim Zemlin, Executive Director, The Linux Foundation offers his thoughts below. Back in 2013, Samsung reportedly paid Microsoft $1 billion in patent-licensing over its use of Android. Any company, project or developer that is working on Linux, GNU, Android or any other Linux-related software is can join OIN to get access to thousands of patents free of charge or royalties.

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