Google, Business, And Open-Source Patent Protection

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols | ZDNet | March 29, 2013

Summary: Google has just pledged that it won't sue other companies over open-source patents if they don't sue Google first, but this is actually a long established policy. Now if it could only stop the patent wars.

Google's Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge, in which Google promises "not to sue any user, distributor, or developer of open-source software on specified patents, unless first 'attacked", sounds good. Indeed, it is good. But this is far from the first time that Google has made such a pledge. Indeed, open-source companies have long banded together to protect themselves and their patents from outside attackers.

The most important protector of open-source patents is the Open Invention Network (OIN). The OIN was formed in 2005 by IBM, Sony, Philips, Red Hat, and Novell. Google joined the OIN in 2007.