Search giant Google has promised not to use its patent portfolio against the Linux operating system and other open source projects by becoming the first end-user licensee of the Open Invention Network.
By joining the OIN Google has licensed over 100 patents from the non-profit organization, which was formed in November 2005 by IBM, Novell, Red Hat, Sony and Phillips to stockpile intellectual property for use as a defensive weapon.
The OIN patents are available royalty-free to any company, institution, or individual that agree not to assert its patents against the Linux operating system or certain Linux-related applications. By becoming a licensee Google has therefore agreed not to assert patents against Linux, as well as the Gnome and KDE desktops, the Eclipse toolset, and the Apache web server project.
Google is a big Linux user, running the operating system across hundreds of thousands of clustered commodity servers to support its search and online application services. The company also uses an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution, known as Goobuntu, on its internal desktops.
Linux plays a vital role at Google, and we’re strongly committed to supporting the Linux developer community, noted the company’s open source programs manager, Chris DiBona. We believe that by becoming an Open Invention Network licensee we can encourage Linux development and foster innovation in a way that benefits everyone.
Since its formation, the OIN has received additional investment from OIN and has persuaded the likes of Oracle, Canonical, Alfresco, and Open-Xchange to become licensees.