Published: Thu, October 11, 2018
Technology | By Lionel Gonzales

Microsoft joins Open Invention Network to protect Linux from patent risks

Microsoft joins Open Invention Network to protect Linux from patent risks

OIN works by providing patent cross-licenses between companies that have joined it, these covering Linux tech.

In a surprise move, Microsoft has announced its membership of the Open Innovation Network - and has specifically stated it is doing so to protect Linux, along with other open source software, from patent risk.

OIN's chief mission is to protect Linux from patent lawsuits by having members like Google, RedHat, IBM, and now, Microsoft. The group's CEO Keith said that apart from older Linux Kernel and Android patents, Microsoft's patent library also includes upcoming technologies like LF Energy (an open source initiative for power sector) and HyperLedger (an open source blockchain initiative).

In spite of this, the use of patents to extract royalties was one of the major sticking points within the open source community, used as evidence that Microsoft was not genuine in its commitment to open source principles.

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Andersen's mention of "friction" is putting it lightly. Now, this move should help quell those looking to the company to make good on its claims as an ally to the Linux community. 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.

Jim Zemlin, Executive Director, The Linux Foundation offers his thoughts below. 'For others who have followed our evolution, we hope this announcement will be viewed as the next logical step for a company that is listening to customers and developers and is firmly committed to Linux and other open source programs. Members of OIN get access to the OIN's roster of patents and cross-licenses among the licensees of OIN without needing to pay royalties.

For those unfamiliar, the Open Innovation Network is the world's largest patent consortium where members share their patents with other members loyalty-free, with each member agreeing not to sue Linux developers for their use of the shared patents in their applications.

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