Google expands its open-source commitment, joins Open Inventions Network as full member

December 18, 2013

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    There are a lot of things that make Android great. To name just a few reasons why Android rocks: there is a wide range of hardware partners, you can customize the UI, and there are plenty of great 3rd party launchers and stores — the list goes on and on. As we all know, at the heart of this flexibility lies the fact that Android is an open-source operating system.

    Open-source software is very important to Google, with many of its products being based open-source efforts including both Android and Chrome (well, at least Chromium is). Android’s ability to be tweaked with custom apps and launchers makes the OS equally appealing to carriers and manufacturers.

    Of course open-source platforms like Android aren’t without their pitfalls, as they are often open to legal obstacles due to potential patent issues regarding Linux. In fact, Microsoft has already taken quite a few Android manufacturers to court and forced them into royalty agreements due to Linux-related patents.

    Open-source platforms like Android aren't without their pitfalls, as they are often open to legal obstacles due to potential patent issues regarding Linux.

    So what can Google and other companies that use Linux do to better protect themselves? One way is through the Open Invention Network, which basically is an organization that works to increase its own (currently 600–plus strong) patent library and then cross-licenses it to their members.

    Additionally, the OIN will grant royalty-free access to certain patents to companies that agree not to sue any OIN members over any matter regarding the use of Linux.

    While Google was already an associate member of the Open Invention Network, today Google has announced they are expanding their commitment to the protection of open-source efforts by becoming the first new OIN board member since 2007. This means Google will be joining other full members of the OIN including Red Hat, Novell, IBM, Sony, Phillips and NEC.

    Linux now powers nearly all the world's supercomputers, runs the International Space Station, and forms the core of Android. But as open source has proliferated, so have the threats against it, particularly using patents. That's why we're expanding our participation in Open Invention Network, becoming the organization's first new full board member since 2007.
    Chris DiBona
    Director of open source at Google

    While this new commitment doesn’t directly affect Android users, it does mean that Google is taking an even more active role when it comes to protecting open-source Linux projects. It also means that the Open Invention Network is now receiving significant financial backing from Google, which should allow it to continue to further its own patent library.

    All-in-all this is good news for both Google, the OIN and Linux (and Android) enthusiasts everywhere.

    Comments

    • Mike Reid

      >other full members of the OIN including Red Hat, Novell, IBM, Sony, Phillips and NEC.

      Once again, Sony seems to have one foot in the waters of “open”, and another in the patent troll swamp of the Rockstar Consortium: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockstar_Consortium .

      Large corporations DO tend to be psychopathic by nature, but perhaps they can have multiple personality disorders too.

      • AsakuraZero

        Sony may be a psychopathic OEM but atleast it delivers way more than samsung, i got 4.3 plus an unlockable bootloader on the same update, hell XDA forum was like a rave party!

    • Lee

      Pfft!

      Google can show REAL commitment to open source (at least in the Android/Linux space) by ensuring that both it and it’s Motorola unit publishes full AOSP source code for ALL it’s phones in addition to the basic GPL-mandated Kernel source drops.

      It doesn’t have to be the source code corresponding to the phone with all the proprietary skins & carrier-mandated crapware (although it can be if all parties are happy to release this kind of source). It can just be the source code for stock Android running on the devices – a la Nexus devices. Preferably with the ZERO (or at least, the very minimum of) “binary blobs”.

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