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The FSF Wants Microsoft To Do More To Help Fight Software Patents

11 October 2018

Microsoft has officially joined the Open Innovation Network (OIN) and will share their massive portfolio of patents with the 2,650 members of the community. The OIN embraces - as Microsoft has done of late - Linux "as a key element of open source software".

Microsoft's membership of OIN is no paper tiger, either: The company has pledged a huge patent portfolio, now 60,000 strong with tens of thousands more to be included in the partnership once they have gone through the issuance process.

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This makes some 60,000 Microsoft patents available to OIN and the Linux community, which will likely make it easier for Linux developers to do further work without the threat of legal action.

We know Microsoft's decision to join OIN may be viewed as surprising to some; it is no secret that there has been friction in the past between Microsoft and the open source community over the issue of patents. Microsoft will add almost 60,000 patents to OIN, vastly enlarging its existing pool of 1,300 global patents. This resulted in frequent clashes with the Android community and others but Microsoft is intent on leaving that behind. It's also worth noting that the members of OIN can cross-license their patents to other members.

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Jim Zemlin, Executive Director, The Linux Foundation offers his thoughts below.

The Open Invention Network was created by IBM, Red Hat, and others back in 2005 as a patent pool in which members agreed to cross-license their patents to each other in exchange for agreeing not to assert those patents against companies working on Linux-based projects.

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"At Microsoft, we take it as a given that developers do not want a binary choice between Windows vs. Linux, or.NET vs Java - they want cloud platforms to support all technologies", Andersen wrote in his blog post.

The FSF Wants Microsoft To Do More To Help Fight Software Patents