It's good news for GNU/Linux fans as Google joins the Open Invention Network (OIN), a patent-sharing organization that creates a legally protected environment for anyone who works with Linux. All OIN licensees agree to cross-license any Linux-related patents they might have to the others free of charge. According to Chris DiBona, Google Open Source Programs Manager,
Patent issues therefore become a much smaller concern inside the community, and OIN members can focus their energy on writing and releasing software rather than vetting their code for intellectual property issues. It's the legal equivalent of taking a long, deep breath.
While many open source advocates argue vehemently that software patents are a) evil, b) granted frivolously, c) impossible to avoid, or d) all of the above, OIN members are in effect saying that even assuming the patents are valid, we're giving Linux a pass. Unfortunately only Linux is covered, and not other free and open source programs.
So, do you think Microsoft will be next to join? Just kidding.