Google is making the first step for an open source patent ecosystem

GoogleIn a surprising move, today Google announced the Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge, in which they promised not to sue any user, distributor or developer of one of their open patents, “unless first attacked”.

With this occasion Google reminded us once again that they are supporting open systems and this should also be expanded over patents. They also hope this pledge should encourage companies to stop defensive patent acquires that are going through ever since patent attacks started.

That’s a good start, but it’s a long way until Google can convince a company to stop suing another one over patents. Android is a good start and I think Open Handset Alliance members should discuss about Google open patent pledge and try to find compromise.For start Google is putting on the table 10 patents, all related to MapReduce (a computing model for processing large data sets first developed at Google) that is very used worldwide by companies like Amazon, Adobe, Facebook, AOL, IBM, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yahoo, Google and others. But that’s just the start, because Google planes to expand soon this portfolio of patents covered by the open patent pledge.

Besides Google, the OPN Pledge is also sustained by companies like IBM, Red Hat and the Open Invention Network. With the help of this pledge Google and their partners hope to build a patent agreement system that would further reduce patent lawsuits.

Here are some of the advantages OPN Pledge brings:

  • Transparency. Patent holders determine exactly which patents and related technologies they wish to pledge, offering developers and the public transparency around patent rights.
  • Breadth. Protections under the OPN Pledge are not confined to a specific project or open- source copyright license. (Google contributes a lot of code under such licenses, like the Apache or GNU GPL licenses, but their patent protections are limited.) The OPN Pledge, by contrast, applies to any open-source software—past, present or future—that might rely on the pledged patents.
  • Defensive protection. The Pledge may be terminated, but only if a party brings a patent suit against Google products or services, or is directly profiting from such litigation.
  • Durability. The Pledge remains in force for the life of the patents, even if we transfer them.

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