Google Promises Not To Sue Open-Source Developers For Patent Infringement


Today, Google pledged that it will not sue any users, distributors or developers who have implemented versions of its patented MapReduce programming model. Google took out an Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge, which states that they will not take legal action against distributors and developers of open-source software.

The OPN does not give developers access to Google’s entire patent library – at this precise moment in time, the OPN Pledge applies to 10 specific outgoing patents within the entire MapReduce framework. The MapReduce programming model is a virtual computer model which is used to process large data sets, which are developed at Google.

Google firmly believes that it’s OPN Pledge will serve as a model for its partners and competitors which will hopefully follow Google’s lead and introduce some transparency, breadth and security to the OPN process.

Google posted on its Open Source Blog a detailed article, explaining the advantages of the OPN Pledge, these advantages can be read below;

  • Transparency. Patent holders determine exactly which patents and related technologies they wish to pledge, offering developers and the public transparency around patent rights.
  • Breadth. Protections under the OPN Pledge are not confined to a specific project or open- source copyright license. (Google contributes a lot of code under such licenses, like the Apache or GNU GPL licenses, but their patent protections are limited.) The OPN Pledge, by contrast, applies to any open-source software—past, present or future—that might rely on the pledged patents.
  • Defensive protection. The Pledge may be terminated, but only if a party brings a patent suit against Google products or services, or is directly profiting from such litigation.
  • Durability. The Pledge remains in force for the life of the patents, even if we transfer them.

Google’s pledge builds on previous efforts by companies such as IBM and Red Hat and the continuous work of the OIN (Open Invention Network). Google hopes to expand the OPN Pledge to cover more patents as time progresses, and attempting to persuade other patent holders to do the same thing.