Google announces ‘Open Patent Non-Assertion Pledge’, promises not to sue users and developers of open-source software unless sued first


In the midst of ongoing legal battles in the tech industry, there has arisen what some may consider to be a beacon of hope: ‘Open Patent Non-Assertion Pledge’. Open Patent Non-Assertion Pledge (OPN) is an initiative recently announced by Google that has Google promising “we pledge not to sue any user, distributor or developer of open-source software on specified patents, unless first attacked.”

The key to OPN is it only applies to open-source software (i.e. not proprietary software) and only applies to patents specified by Google — not all Google-owned patents. So far Google has listed 10 patents as part of OPN and plans on adding more, but Google wants other companies to join OPN and add their own patents to the mix. The idea here is the more companies and patents join OPN, the more protected open-source users, distributors, and developers will be which will then help foster the whole idea behind open-source software: innovation and collaborative thinking.

Of course OPN is not legally binding. It is only as strong as the companies that join OPN make it. So while on paper OPN looks to be, as I mention, a beacon of hope in the lawsuit-riddled tech industry, only time will tell if it is effective in helping foster innovation and preventing opportunistic lawsuits. You can hit up the link below to learn more about OPN, if you are interested.

Open Patent Non-Assertion Pledge homepage

[via Google Blog]

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