More patents in the service of open source

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Open-source software has accelerated the pace of innovation in computing, leading to better products and services at lower cost. But as the impact of open-source software has grown, so too has the number of patent attacks against it.

In March, we announced an Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge—committing not to sue any user, distributor or developer of open-source software on specified patents, unless first attacked. Our goal was to encourage pro-competitive, defensive uses of patents to support open-source innovation.

Today we are pleased to pledge an additional 79 patents under the OPN. These patents cover software used to efficiently operate data centers, including middleware, distributed storage management, distributed database management, and alarm monitoring.

We acquired these patents from IBM and CA Technologies, companies that in 2005 were among the first to make open-source patent pledges. The goal of the patent system is to foster innovation, and we aim to use patents, whether acquired or developed internally, in support of that goal.

You can learn more about this second group of patents and the Pledge itself on our site, which we’ve also updated to make it easier to browse and download data on pledged patents.

To date, the patents we’ve included in the Pledge have generally related to “back-end” technologies: servers, data centers, and the like. But open-source software is also transforming the development of consumer products that people use every day—so stay tuned for additional extensions to patents covering those sorts of technologies.

By Duane Valz, Senior Patent Counsel