Microsoft open-sources 60,000 patents to protect Linux

Microsoft sign on building

Following yesterday's rather landmark move of Microsoft joining the Open Invention Network and thus allowing much of its vast patent collection now being allowed to help off patent attacks within the Linux/open-source ecosystem, the Free Software Foundation applauded the move but wants Microsoft to do more. 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.

"We know Microsoft's decision to join OIN may be viewed as surprising to some", wrote the software giant's deputy general counsel Erich Andersen. At Microsoft, we take it as a given that developers do not want a binary choice between Windows vs. Linux, or.NET vs. Java-they want cloud platforms to support all technologies.

'Joining OIN reflects Microsoft's patent practice evolving in lock-step with the company's views on Linux and open source more generally. This resulted in frequent clashes with the Android community and others but Microsoft is intent on leaving that behind.

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The patents, as well as those on offer from other members including Google, IBM, Sony and Philips, are available to license royalty-free to anyone that joins the OIN community. Back in 2013, Samsung reportedly paid Microsoft $1 billion in patent-licensing over its use of Android.

Microsoft is similarly upbeat about the arrangement, and points to its increasing involvement in the open source community. 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).

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