Microsoft today announced that they are joining the Open Invention Network (OIN)as a licensee. The company joins the ranks of IBM, Google, Red Hat who have been a long time OIN member. The company made a pledge that they will not use their patents against any Linux vendor. If needed they will use their patents only in defense.
“We love Linux. We are committed to be part of this vibrant Linux community and software patents was one big roadblock. We are removing that roadblock today,” said Satya Nadella in a press statement.
The surprise announcement comes just two days after the company announced Ubuntu for Windows, a joint initiative by Microsoft and Canonical to bring Linux dev tools to Windows 10.
Microsoft has invested heavily in Linux and other open source technologies. They are using Linux to power networking switches in Azur Cloud, they are open sourcing their extremely popular tools Visual Studio and platforms like .Net. They have made available all leading Linux distributions – RHEL, SLE, Ubuntu, Debian, etc – on their Azure cloud. They are working with the Linux Foundation on CII.
Jim Zemlin, executive editor of the Linux Foundation said in a statement, “We have been working with Microsoft on so many different areas. I am so happy to see this refreshing change at Microsoft.”
Microsoft today is actually more involved with the Linux and open source community than many open source vendors. As a result, their decision to join OIN and make a public gesture that they will not use their patents to attack any Linux vendor is a natural progression in the direction of them becoming a pure open source company.
Florian Mueller, one of the leading authorities on patents and intellectual properties who also works as an IP advisor to companies like Google, Red Hat and SUSE, wrote on his blog, “OIN is a great platform for Microsoft to make such a pledge. The reason being OIN is a soft platform. You can join OIN and still sue each other. Oracle and Google are great example of how OIN offers such great flexibility; the right to sue.”
The company is also expected to join the Linux Foundation as a member.