Ranging from independent developers to mammoth corporations, the coalition is a collection of companies and individuals who have agreed to offer their patents for use by the "Linux System".
The company has announced that it has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), a community that is dedicated to protecting open- source software from patent lawsuits by technology giants like Google, IBM, and, yep, even Microsoft.
"Microsoft sees open source as a key innovation engine, and for the past several years we have increased our involvement in, and contributions to, the open source community", said Erich Andersen, Corporate Vice President and Chief IP Counsel, Microsoft. "Through its participation in OIN, Microsoft is explicitly acknowledging the importance of open source software to its future growth", said Keith Bergelt, CEO of Open Invention Network. This has led Microsoft to soften its stance on the operating system and open source development. Now, this move should help quell those looking to the company to make good on its claims as an ally to the Linux community.
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But on Wednesday, Microsoft said the company was adding its own technology portfolio to OIN's patent defense pool, which now shields over 2,650 companies. This resulted in frequent clashes with the Android community and others but Microsoft is intent on leaving that behind. Previously, OIN only had ownership of 1,300 global patents.
This is a surprise to many in the developer community as Microsoft has been notoriously protective of its patents. By pledging these patents to the group, Android OEM members of the pool should have that same royalty-free access to the relevant patents, which cover Linux and Android-related technologies.