Focused on Patents, Google Joins Board of Open Invention Network

by Ostatic Staff - Dec. 18, 2013

As 2013 ends, it will go down as a year in which significant stances toward the patent system started to make a difference. We've seen strong patent-focused legislation, and support for new anti-troll patent bills, with The Innovation Act serving as a prime example. It stands an excellent chance of being passed into law.

Now, Google is stepping its involvement in the arena of open source patents by joining the board of the Open Invention Network, a group focused on cross-licensing patents, which can protect open source developers using software platforms and components in open source projects.

Google has already been an associate member of the Open Invention Network, but will join other heavy-hitting tech companies on the board of OIN. The companies include Red Hat, Sony, Novell, NEC and IBM.

In a blog post, Chris DiBona, Google's longstanding open source policy guru, writes:

"Linux now powers nearly all the world’s supercomputers, runs the International Space Station, and forms the core of Android. But as open source has proliferated, so have the threats against it, particularly using patents. That's why we're expanding our participation in Open Invention Network (OIN), becoming the organization’s first new full board member since 2007."

"OIN protects the open-source community through a patent cross-license for Linux and related open-source technologies. The license is free and available to companies, organizations, and individual developers if they agree not to assert their own patents against Linux. OIN also defends against anti-open-source patent aggression through education, reform efforts, and its own defensive patent portfolio."

There are many people at Google who have grown increasingly upset with the patent system and offensive patent-related moves from big tech companies. In particular, the company has grown wary of the many patent attacks on Android. Market research continues to show patent troll activity on the rise.

By increasing its role with OIN, Google is sending a clear message that it intends to step up its involvement with policing the patent system and keeping it fair for open source communities, in particular.