By joining the Open Invention Network, Microsoft is offering its entire patent portfolio -- with the legacy exception of its Windows and desktop application code -- to all of the open-source patent…
Article word count: 1285
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18184830
Posted by MikusR
(karma: 4203)Post stats: Points: 237 - Comments: 52 - 2018-10-10T13:54:07Z
Several years ago, I said the one thing Microsoft has to do -- to convince everyone in open source that itʼs truly an open-source supporter -- is stop using its patents against Android vendors. Now, itʼs 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. OIN is the largest patent non-aggression community in history and represents a core set of open-source intellectual-property values. Its members include Google, IBM, Red Hat, and SUSE. The OIN patent license and member cross-licenses are available royalty-free to anyone who joins the OIN community.
Also: Hollywood goes open source
Keith Bergelt, OINʼs CEO, commented on Microsoftʼs announcement in an interview: "This is everything Microsoft has, and it 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."
In a conversation, Erich Andersen, Microsoftʼs corporate vice president and chief intellectual property (IP) counsel -- that is, Microsoft top patent person -- added: We "pledge our entire patent portfolio to the Linux system. Thatʼs not just the Linux kernel, but other packages built on it."
This is huge
How many patents does this affect? Andersen said Microsoft is bringing 60,000 patents to OIN.
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. Thatʼs serious cash -- even on lucrative Microsoftʼs balance books.
Andersen know the move is surprising.
Also: Open source: Why itʼs time to be more open
In a forthcoming blog post, Andersen wrote, "We know Microsoftʼs 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."
In an interview in September, Scott Guthrie, Microsoftʼs executive vice president of the cloud and enterprise group, told me that Microsoft has undergone a "fundamental philosophical change."
The Redmond giant has been on a journey, he suggested.
"We came from a place where we were not friendly to open source," said Guthrie. But you should "look at our actions over the last five or six years . . . at the end of the day, weʼve shown by our actions that weʼre serious about open source."
With this latest move, Guthrie explained, "We want to protect open-source projects from IP lawsuits, so weʼre opening our patent portfolio to the OIN."
Yes, thatʼs a top Microsoft official.
Also: Open-source licensing war: Commons Clause
Andersen added, "We are evolving. Weʼre addressing what our customers and developers need. You should judge us by our actions."
This is a major sea-change.
Their actions are showing Microsoft thinks it has more to gain by opening up its patents than by charging for them. And Andersen specifically thinks this is the "next logical step for a company that is listening to customers and developers and is firmly committed to Linux and other open-source programs."
Itʼs not April Foolsʼ Day
This move didnʼt come out of nowhere.
Besides Microsoft simply contributing more to open source, Microsoft has been seeking rapprochement with its former IP enemies.
Andersen noted Microsoft pivoted about two years ago with its Azure IP Advantage plan.This gave Azure users the shield of 10,000 Microsoft patents against "baseless patent lawsuits."
Then, he said, "We joined Red Hat in bonding GPLv3ʼs cure commitment language to open-source projects, such as Linux, covered by the GPLv2 code."
Also: Open source is 20: How it changed programming
Finally, Microsoft recently joined LOT, an anti-patent troll group.
"They arenʼt trying to sell you something. Microsoft really has been changing. No oneʼs made a longer journey than Microsoft from a proprietary software company to one that lives with open source," explained Bergelt, OINʼs CEO.
Why has Microsoft changed so radically?
According to Guthrie, "We recognized open source is something that every developer can benefit from. Itʼs not nice, itʼs essential. Itʼs not just code, itʼs community. We donʼt just throw code on the website. We openly publish our roadmap, and we have 20,000 Microsoft employees on GitHub. With over 2,000 open-source projects, weʼre the largest open-source project supporter in the world."
Andersen added, "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. They want to deploy technologies at the edge -- on any device -- that meet customer needs. We also learned that collaborative development through the open source process can accelerate innovation."
Also: Open-source vulnerabilities which will not die: Who is to blame?
So, it makes perfect sense for Microsoft to support open-source softwareʼs IP defenses. You see, Microsoft, with the major legacy exception of its Windows desktop and desktop application code, is an open-source company. I know it. It knows it.
"We see open source as central to our company mission and what our customers are trying to achieve," Andersen said.
He continued, "We believe the protection OIN offers the open-source community helps increase global contributions to and adoption of open-source technologies. We are honored to stand with OIN as an active participant in its program to protect against patent aggression in core Linux and other important open-source software technologies."
Let me remind you once again that thatʼs Microsoft -- not, say, Canonical, Red Hat, or SUSE -- talking.
Indeed, Guthrie, Andersen, and Bergelt all said they hope this Microsoft move will help spur other companies that may be reluctant to back up their open-source code and services with their patents and to join the OIN.
Specifically, Bergelt said, "Microsoftʼs participation in OIN adds to our strong community, which through its breadth and depth has reduced patent risk in core technologies, and unequivocally signals for all companies who are using OSS but have yet to join OIN that the litmus test for authentic behavior in the OSS community includes OIN participation."
If Microsoft can join the OIN, you can too
So, what if your company has already signed a Microsoft patent agreement covering Android, Linux, or other open-source software? Well, it depends, according to Andersen, on the exact contract. Iʼll add, although Iʼm not a lawyer, I think if you were an OIN member, youʼd be in a much better position to work out a new, better deal with Microsoft.
How do you do that? By agreeing with OINʼs community practice of patent non-aggression in core open-source technologies by cross-licensing your Linux System patents to one another on a royalty-free basis.
Also: Why open source is so important to Microsoft
As time has gone on, the definition of "Linux System" has grown wider and wider. OIN patents are similarly licensed royalty free to any organization that agrees not to assert its patents against the Linux System. You can sign the OIN license online. But, before you do that, you should have a long talk with your IP attorneys.
Microsoft took years of internal change and deep consideration to make this fundamental change in both its business model and how it develops it software. In the end, open-source has won, and Microsoft is now a fully fledged open-source company. If they can do it, you can do it.
So, it seems, a leopard can change its spots. A lion and a lamb can lie together. And Microsoft can become an open-source company.
The top open-source rookies, projects in... SEE FULL GALLERY
HackerNewsBot debug: Calculated post rank: 175 - Loop: 84 - Rank min: 100 - Author rank: 124
By joining the Open Invention Network, Microsoft is offering its entire patent portfolio -- with the legacy exception of its Windows and desktop application code -- to all of the open-source patent consortium's members.www.zdnet.com