Thursday, October 11, 2018

Microsoft Opens Its Patent Portfolio

Nat Friedman:

Microsoft is pledging our massive patent portfolio – over 60,000 patents – to Linux and open source by joining OIN this morning. If you're looking for signs that we are serious about being the world's largest open source company, look no further.

Erich Andersen:

We know Microsoft’s 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. For others who have followed our evolution, we hope this announcement will be viewed as 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.

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Wow! Big news here.

Not long ago, Microsoft's response to companies using Linux was either to threaten to sue unless you "cross licensed" technologies (which was code for paying protection to prevent lawsuits) or proceed with such a lawsuit (there's also the shadow puppet strategy with Sco, but let's not go down that rabbit hole). The latter was well represented by Microsoft's lawsuit against Barnes and Noble. Funny thing about that particular trial, Microsoft payed hush money, I mean negotiated a settlement, after the fear of a disfavorable ruling invalidating some of their patent arsenal became more than a distinct possibility. Barnes and Noble received a bunch of money in exchange for making a Nook app for Windows. Not even kidding.

The Linux indemnification scheme with Novell, Xandros, et al. was similarly controversial, but I don't want to derail this vast sea change with such quibbles from the past. Not too much anyway. I know Microsoft has been trending towards open source collaboration for years now, but this is positively monumental. Collaboration in technology is always for the betterment of the market. You can still compete of course, but compete on services, pricing, etc. not with patent lawsuits.

This is fabulous news. Very excited here. No jive.

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