Google joins patent swap group

Open source patent-swap body the Open Invention Network (OIN) has announced that Google has become a member, which means that it has agreed not to assert its software patents against members of the Linux community.

OIN allows members full access to its collection of over 100 patents, but in return companies must agree not to take patent infringement action against Linux developers. The scheme was conceived as a way to help open source developers to avoid patent infringement lawsuits.

Founded by IBM, Novell, Sony, and Redhat in 2005, the OIN provides a mechanism by which companies developing open source software can increase the protection offered to them.

With members such as Oracle, NEC and Phillips, membership of the organisation now guarantees immunity from patent suits from a wide range of patent holding companies, since all members must allow other members to use their technology on a royalty-free basis.

"For us, today’s announcement marks the latest development in a long, fruitful relationship with the open source community," said Chris DiBona, open source programmes manager at Google on the official Google blog.

"We believe Linux innovation moves fastest when developers can share their knowledge with full peace of mind. We’re proud to participate in an organization that’s making that possible," said DiBona.

“As we look to grow the Linux Ecosystem, we are pleased to have Google become our first end-user licensee,” said Jerry Rosenthal, chief executive officer of OIN. “Google is one of a growing number of companies, of all sizes, that value the openness and collaborative culture of the Linux community. We applaud their support for Linux."

OIN is a company that now owns over 100 patents, ensuring their availability, it said.