Microsoft Joins OIN, Open Sources its Entire Patent Portfolio

Microsoft has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), the North Carolina-based open-source patent community that launched in 2005 with a mission to protect Linux and Linux-related software. In joining OIN, Microsoft is essentially granting an unrestricted, royalty-free license for its patents to the community’s 2,650 members. Microsoft’s corporate VP and chief IP counsel Erich Andersen said the company is pledging its “entire patent portfolio to the Linux system. That’s not just the Linux kernel, but other packages built on it.”

“OIN is the largest patent non-aggression community in history and represents a core set of open-source intellectual-property values,” reports ZDNet. “The OIN patent license and member cross-licenses are available royalty-free to anyone who joins the OIN community.”

According to OIN, the consortium “has strong industry support with backing from Google, IBM, NEC, Philips, Red Hat, Sony, SUSE, and Toyota.”

OIN chief exec Keith Bergelt said the Microsoft agreement “covers everything related to older open-source technologies such as Android, the Linux kernel, and OpenStack; newer technologies such as LF Energy and HyperLedger, and their predecessor and successor versions.”

“Andersen said Microsoft is bringing 60,000 patents to OIN,” explains ZDNet. “Keep in mind, as late as 2014, Microsoft made approximately $3.4 billion from its Android patents. Samsung alone paid Microsoft a billion bucks to license its Android patents.”

Scott Guthrie, EVP of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group, suggested last month that the company has shifted its philosophy in support of open source. In regards to this new announcement, he said: “We want to protect open-source projects from IP lawsuits, so we’re opening our patent portfolio to the OIN.”