In a move that might surprise a few people, Microsoft announced yesterday that it's joining Open Innovation Network (OIN) - an open source patent consortium - and making its entire portfolio of patents open source. Founded back in 2005, OIN's mission has been to shield Linux developers from patent lawsuits - a legal tactic Microsoft has used time and time again to extract royalties from industry vendors.
Additionally, the technology giant said Wednesday it would contribute more than 60,000 of its patents to the Open Invention Network. 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; 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. In return it expects that licensees do not assert their patents against the Linux community. Microsoft will add almost 60,000 patents to OIN, vastly enlarging its existing pool of 1,300 global patents. This is also the best way for Microsoft to show that it does not intend to use patents as a weapon against any free software, beyond just that free software which is part of OIN's specific list.
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Microsoft hopes its move to support the group "will attract many other companies to OIN, making the license network even stronger for the benefit of the open source community".
The Verge added some things, like Windows desktop and desktop application code, will not be going open-source, though that's to be expected. We believe the protection OIN offers the open source community helps increase global contributions to and adoption of open source technologies.