Microsoft in an announcement has said that it’s joining the Open Invention Network (OIN), a community group designed to help protect Linux and other open source software programs from patent risk.
In addition, Microsoft also recently joined the LOT Network, an organization dedicated to addressing patent abuse by companies in the business of assertion.
After waging years of legal battles against firms working on open source technologies the decision to join OIN reflects a change in Microsoft’s attitude towards these communities which earlier it considered as a threat to its business.
Microsoft’s joining OIN is a big logical step forward for both sides, because OIN is getting thousands of Microsoft open source patents, while Microsoft is positioning itself committed to Linux and other open source technologies that it alleged of violating its patents.
In essence, this decision will give the company’s library of more than 60,000 patents open source and available to OIN members.
“We bring a valuable and deep portfolio of over 60,000 issued patents to OIN,” the company wrote.
OIN, which was founded in 2015 since then is helping open source communities with patent risks.
It has developed a patent cross-licenses voluntary system that provides a license platform for Linux for around 2,400 companies.
All members get access to both OIN-owned patents and cross-licenses between other OIN licensees, royalty-free.
The licensees range from developers to bring firms like Google and IBM.
“Now, as we join OIN, we believe Microsoft will be able to do more than ever to help protect Linux and other important open source workloads from patent assertions,” the company said.
“Joining OIN reflects Microsoft’s patent practice evolving in lock-step with the company’s views on Linux and open source more generally.”
This change as Microsoft says started over two years ago with programs such as Azure IP Advantage, which extended its indemnification pledge to open source software powering Azure services.
This approach got a boost with Microsoft efforts when it helped Red Hat and others to apply GPL v. 3 “cure” principles to GPL v. 2 code.
However, there are exceptions to what Microsoft is making available specifically, Windows desktop and desktop application code.
The company also had open sourced parts of ASP.NET back in 2008, as well as .NET Core, TypeScript, VS Code and Powershell.
“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.”
Today, the company is one of the biggest contributors to open source with Microsoft employees now contributing to more than 2000 projects.
Also, Microsoft through Azure is providing first-class support to all major Linux distributions.
Microsoft hopes that by joining OIN it will make the open source license network even stronger and that more companies will follow to OIN.