In a surprise move that would have been unthinkable not too long ago, Microsoft has announced that it is joining the Open Innovation Network (OIN) and will open source nearly 60,000 patents. The other members of the OIN, which include Google, IBM, Red Hat and SUSE, will be able to use Microsoft’s patents without paying royalties. The OIN is dedicated to defending Linux and other open source projects from patent lawsuits.
We “pledge our entire patent portfolio to the Linux system,” said Erich Andersen, Microsoft’s corporate vice president and chief intellectual property (IP) counsel. “That’s not just the Linux kernel, but other packages built on it.”
The decision was unexpected because as recently as 2014 Microsoft generated $3.4 billion from its patents related to Android. “We are evolving,” said Andersen. “We’re addressing what our customers and developers need. You should judge us by our actions.”