Microsoft to Shield Linux Developers From Patent Battles

Report: Microsoft making patents royalty-free for Android OEMs

Microsoft says that it understands that companies and developers don't want just a "binary choice between Windows vs Linux, or.NET vs Java", stating that access to all technologies for their platforms.

Microsoft today announced it is joining the Open Invention Network (OIN), a community of companies whose aim is to shield Linux and other open source software from patent aggressors.

OIN was originally founded in 2005 as an effort to protect Linux and its users from patent aggression. The OIN embraces - as Microsoft has done of late - Linux "as a key element of open source software".

Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's executive vice president of the cloud and enterprise group, said: "We want to protect open source projects from IP lawsuits, so we're opening our patent portfolio to the OIN". Those patents can now no longer be used as a threat against Linux and other open-source projects, but instead are provided royalty-free to any company, institution, or individual which in turn agrees not to assert its own patents against what the OIN terms the 'Linux System'. As a result, Android vendors were pressured to ink deals, forcing them to pay royalties to Microsoft.In 2001, Microsoft's previous CEO Steve Ballmer also famously derided Linux as a "cancer" on intellectual property. Microsoft will add almost 60,000 patents to OIN, vastly enlarging its existing pool of 1,300 global patents.

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Additionally, the technology giant said Wednesday it would contribute more than 60,000 of its patents to the Open Invention Network.

This is a surprise to many in the developer community as Microsoft has been notoriously protective of its patents.

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".

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