This can be done by supporting grassroots efforts like the FSF's End Software Patents campaign, or by Microsoft directly urging the US Congress to pass legislation excluding software from the effects of patents, or both.
After years of waging patent war on Google's Linux-based Android mobile operating system, Microsoft agreed Wednesday to join the Open Invention Network and cross-license more than 60,000 of its patents to participating members.
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Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's executive vice president of the cloud and enterprise group, said: "We want to protect open source projects from IP lawsuits, so we're opening our patent portfolio to the OIN". OIN CEO Keith Bergelt said it covers "everything related to older open-source technologies such as Android, the Linux kernel, and OpenStack; newer technologies such as LF Energy and HyperLedger, and their predecessor and successor versions". This resulted in frequent clashes with the Android community and others but Microsoft is intent on leaving that behind. "We hope this announcement will be viewed as the next logical step for a company that is listening to customers and developers", he added.
Why it matters: There's been plenty of friction between Microsoft and the open source advocates regarding patents over the years. Without this, the threats can come back with a future leadership change at Microsoft, or with changes in OIN's own corporate structure and licensing arrangements. Developers and companies can access and contribute to open source technology for free, unlike proprietary software like Microsoft's (msft) Windows operating system. More broadly, Microsoft has become more open to open source development (with projects such as TypeScript, Visual Studio Code, and.NET Core all being significant).