Google Offers 10 Free Patents To Open Source Developers

Google on Thursday released 10 patents for use by open source developers. The company announced its decision by claiming to be “taking a stand on open source and patents.” The search giant promised not to sue “any user, distributor or developer of open-source software on specified patents, unless first attacked.”

The first 10 patents released by Google are related to MapReduce, an algorithm that is used in the processing of large-scale data.

Google has named the program OPN Pledge, and the company hopes it will help open up the tech industry while allowing for faster and better innovation breakthroughs. OPN Pledge asks other patents holders to pledge which patents they are willing to share at no cost and under the promise of no legal action.

According to Electronista, the pledge includes the ability for patent holders to “determine which patents they wish to pledge, breadth not confining pledges to a specific project, defensive protection allowing holders to terminate the pledge but only if a party brings any patent suit against holders of the pledged patent, and durability leaving the pledge in force for the life of the patents even if transferred.”

On its official blog, Google says, “Open-source software has been at the root of many innovations in cloud computing, the mobile web, and the Internet generally. 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.”

The pledge has built-in failsafes that allow patents to sue a developer if that developer first files suit against the patent holder.

The release of several high profile patents are largely seen as Google’s attempt to appease federal officials in response to accusations that Google has too aggressively gone after patent violators.

Do you think more companies should open up their patent libraries to developers of open source programs?

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