Google gave technology entrepreneurs 79 more patents to play with as a part of its open-source pledge, which really means there are 79 fewer patents that you could be sued over.
The company announced it added these patents to its Open Patent Non-Assertion Pledge today as it tries to build an even bigger collection of open-source patents anyone can use. Many companies build their products with the fear that someone will pop up out of nowhere and say, “I own the tech you’re using; pay up.” Patent trolls scour businesses for violations trying to make a quick buck, and they often succeed.
Such trolling can shut businesses down.
To fight patent trolls, Google introduced the OPN in March. But while patents in the OPN seem fair game, everything comes with a catch. In its pledge, Google promises not to use any of these patents to sue other entities unless, of course, Google is attacked first.
Google still, in fact, owns the patents, which it purchased from IBM and CA Technology in 2005.
At the program’s launch, Google introduced only 10 patents. The majority of these play to cloud entrepreneurs and deal with back-end services instead of the more controversial mobile patents. Google acknowledged the narrow focus in a blog post saying:
“Open-source software is also transforming the development of consumer products that people use every day — so stay tuned for additional extensions to patents covering these sorts of technologies.”
Google isn’t the only company trying to bring a little more transparency into the problematic world of patents. On the same day that Google introduced its OPN, Microsoft released a database of every patent a company has owned — past or present. Facebook is also big on releasing its own open-source projects in the last few years, which involve both hardware and software.