Microsoft making patents royalty-free for Android OEMs

Angelica Greene
October 11, 2018

A month shy of its 14th birthday, the Open Invention Network (OIN) was obviously very happy to welcome the beast of Redmond, and 60,000 or so of its patents, into the group, which consists of almost 2,700 companies and includes the likes of Google and IBM.

In spite of this, the use of patents to extract royalties was one of the major sticking points within the open source community, used as evidence that Microsoft was not genuine in its commitment to open source principles.

The patents, as well as those on offer from other members including Google, IBM, Sony and Philips, are available to license royalty-free to anyone that joins the OIN community. This is noteworthy because the group's member companies cross-license their patents to each other to prevent future lawsuits in which companies may allege that another firm's technology infringes on their own patents. The company's past tussle with open source community isn't hidden from anyone, and its gesture surely seems like an effort to save open source projects from IP lawsuits.

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Open source development continues to expand into new products and markets to create unrivaled levels of innovation. In this process, in a way, Microsoft has open sourced more than 60,000 patents.

Microsoft sees open source as a key innovation engine, and for the past several years we have increased our involvement in, and contributions to, the open source community. Back in 2013, Samsung reportedly paid Microsoft $1 billion in patent-licensing over its use of Android.

'Joining OIN reflects Microsoft's patent practice evolving in lock-step with the company's views on Linux and open source more generally. In 2016, the company even became a member of the Linux Foundation.

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