From robotics to analytics, why NASA is offering startups over 1,000 patents for'free' Startups could get a major lift from NASA if they can find a technology at the space agency that fits their commercial ambitions. Several years ago, I said the one thing Microsoft has to do -- to convince everyone in open source that it's truly an open-source supporter -- is stop using its patents against Android vendors. Now, it's joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), an open-source patent consortium. Microsoft has essentially agreed to grant a royalty-free and unrestricted license to its entire patent portfolio to all other OIN members. Before Microsoft joined, OIN had more than 2,650 community members and owns more than 1,300 global patents and applications.
You probably don't think of car companies as being Linux and open-source supporters. Toyota, the world's largest car manufacturer, has just joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history. Toyota has thrown its patents into protecting Linux. The OIN was formed by IBM, Sony, Phillips, Red Hat, and Novell in 1995 to defend Linux against intellectual property attacks. OIN's plan, then and now, is to acquire Linux-related patents.
Technology changed forever when Microsoft opened its patents by joining the Open Invention Network (OIN). The traditional enemy of all things open source is now not just using or contributing to open source, it's allowing other OIN members to use its 60,000 patent portfolio royalty free on the Linux system. Moreover, it's enabling its OIN brothers and sisters to use these patents to defend against patent trolls. Before going further, let me say: I am not a lawyer. But I have spoken to numerous intellectual property (IP) attorneys, and this is the gist of what the deal means.
From robotics to analytics, why NASA is offering startups over 1,000 patents for'free' Startups could get a major lift from NASA if they can find a technology at the space agency that fits their commercial ambitions. By joining the Open Invention Network (OIN), Microsoft is offering its entire patent portfolio to the open-source patent consortium's members. Immediately after the announcement, people asked: "Entire? At a keynote speech at Open Source Summit Europe in Scotland, Keith Bergelt, OIN's CEO, answered some of these questions. Later, in an interview with Bergelt and the OIN Linux System Definition director Mirko Boehm, more questions were answered. The answer, according to Bergelt, is simple: Open source. During a Open Source Summit Europe keynote, Stephen Walli, Microsoft's principal program manager for Azure, explained: Fifteen years ago, a CIO would have said, 'we have no open source, they would have been wrong, but that's what they thought.' Now, CIOs know open source's essential. . . Microsoft has always been a company by, of, and for developers. At this point in history, developers love open source."
Microsoft announced that it's joining the Open Invention Network, an open-source patent group that's dedicated to protecting linux from lawsuits. And in the process, Microsoft has made 60,000 of its patents open source. This is a surprise to many in the developer community as Microsoft has been notoriously protective of its patents. Android and Samsung have even had to pay billions because of infringements, so Microsoft has a vested financial interest in keeping a tight grip. But Microsoft wants to change its reputation, and show how developer-friendly it can be.