Google takes a page from Twitter and announced the Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge, a new initative where the company promises not to sue any users, distributors, or developers of open-source software using some of the search giant’s patents “unless first attacked.” Mountain View has great appreciation for open-source software, its own Android being one of them.
“Open-source software has been at the root of many innovations in cloud computing, the mobile web, and the Internet generally,” said Duane Valz, Google’s Senior Patent Counsel. “And while open platforms have faced growing patent attacks, requiring companies to defensively acquire ever more patents, we remain committed to an open Internet — one that protects real innovation and continues to deliver great products and services.”
However, Google won’t be baring it all, contributing some ten patents to the pledge, stating that these are now widely used. These patents relate to MapReduce, a computing model used for processing large data sets. Over time, the company says it will pledge more Google-owned patents to the list, encouraging other patent holders to join in as well.
“We hope the OPN Pledge will serve as a model for the industry, and we’re encouraging other patent holders to adopt the pledge or a similar initiative.” said Valz, citing a number of advantages. Among these are transparency, breadth, and durability — where the pledge continues during the life of the patents, even when transferred. The pledge will only be terminated “if a party brings a patent suit against Google products or services, or is directly profiting from such litigation.”
The company continues in its support for patent reforms that would hopefully lessen the excessive litigation that plagues innovation today. It encourages other companies to put forward their own patents for open-source software.