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Google joins board of Open Invention Network

Google has joined the board of the Open Invention Network, an organisation that offers free licences to a portfolio of patents as an incentive not to sue open-source software projects including Linux.

The company, which was already an associate member of the organisation, now joins companies such as Sony, IBM, Red Hat, Novell and NEC on the board.

The Open Invention Network (OIN) offers royalty-free licences to its patents to any company, institution or individual that agrees not to assert its patents against the Linux System. If a licensee sues, they lose their ability to use the patents. The aim of the project is to discourage lawsuits against the Linux system so that people and institutions can invest in and use Linux with less worry about intellectual property issues.

In a blog entry, Chris DiBona, director of open source at Google, said Linux “has spurred huge innovation in cloud computing, the mobile web, and the internet in general.”

“Linux now powers nearly all the world’s supercomputers, runs the International Space Station, and forms the core of Android,” he wrote. “But as open source has proliferated, so have the threats against it, particularly using patents.”

Google is the OIN’s first full new board member since 2007.

Google has historically taken a defensive approach to patents and supports anti-troll measures such as the Innovation Act. But in the past few years the company has significantly increased its patent applications to 4,000 per year. After losing its bid to purchase Nortel’s patent portfolio to a conglomerate of rival tech corporations, Google acquired Motorola last year for over $12 billion.

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