Google pledges to only strike back (not first) in open source patent cases

Google pledges to only strike back (not first) in open source patent cases

Summary: Google pledges that it won't sue any company over patents for open source software -- unless it gets attacked first.


Google is taking a firmer stance on open source technology and patent wars all at once with a new pledge.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based enterprise has published what it is calling the Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge.

In the plainest terms, Duane Valz, senior patent counsel at Google, explained in a blog post on Thursday morning that this means Google promises "not to sue any user, distributor or developer of open-source software on specified patents, unless first attacked."

Our pledge builds on past efforts by companies like IBM and Red Hat and the work of the Open Invention Network (of which Google is a member). It also complements our efforts on cooperative licensing, where we’re working with like-minded companies to develop patent agreements that would cut down on lawsuits.

And, in addition to these industry-driven initiatives, we continue to support patent reforms that would improve patent quality and reduce excessive litigation.

Valz added that Google has already outlined 10 patents relating to MapReduce, a computing model for processing large data sets first developed at the company, that are protected by this pledge. He continued that Google will be expanding these patents covered by the pledge to other technologies.

Google has long defended its mantra and beliefs in open source technology, which is especially demonstrated through the openness of the Android and Chrome platforms.

Additionally, Google's interest in open source technology and patents might ring a few bells for followers of the Internet giant's legal battle with Oracle that played out in a federal courtroom last year.

In that particular case (which is still ongoing in the appeals process), the open source technology surrounding the Java programming language and how Google used it for its Android mobile operating system was at center stage throughout proceedings.

More specifically, Oracle sued Google in 2010 over copyright infringement in regards to 37 Java APIs used on Android.

Google argued they were free to use because the Java programming language is free to use, and the APIs are required to use the language.

But Oracle tried to make the case that Google had knowingly used the APIs without a license from Sun Microsystems, which was bought by the hardware and software corporation in 2010.

Topics: Patents, Google, Government, Government US, Legal

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  • In other words...

    What Google is saying is if you develop some really cool technology, patent it and Google goes and "Open Sources" the tech, they will bury you if you try to defend your time, money and effort in trying to drive innovation forward.
    • BS

      they are talking about their own patents saying if you use their patents and you are open source they wont sue you and that is a bad thing? how can anybody open source the patents of other people and how did you come up with this BS?!
      • Bruizer makes a good point though.

        Google has a nasty habit/reputation for taking things developed by other companies and throwing it into their open source efforts. Then watching what how they purchased and tried to wield the Motorola patents makes this pledge seem very half hearted.

        Google has been sending a lot of mixed messages as of late, so it can be difficult to take what they say at face value.
        • what the fudge are you talking about?!

          so basically you are saying they steal the patents of other companies and make them open source?! can you give us an example (not using patented stuff but steal them and make them open source)
          • Forbes does a better job than I can with some examples.


            Google just lost almost all of their motorola cases against apple/microsoft which makes the timing of this openeness seem questionable.
          • according to your link they steal from books,piracy,youtube etc

            interesting haven't seen that much pile of craps altogether in an article !
  • What Good is a Promise in Business Today?

    They'll throw it out at next year's spring cleaning if it's convenient at the time.
    • Promise doesn't mean much business

      It is true it is only a promise, but Google has been one of only a few company that have been avoiding lawsuits. Their past behavior shows that at least at this time they seem to follow these principles (tomorrow is always a different story). At this time they are open sourcing many products and once open sourced it is very difficult to get rid of. People would come out with many altered version and would continue the original.

      Google is a little at odds with itself lately. I would have like to have seen them open source all the code for Google Reader when they discontinued it. That would have proven their point better that a 'Promise'
      • Google avoiding lawsuits?

        What's the weather like on your planet?
  • Google pledges to only strike back (not first) in open source patent cases

    Google is taking the high road.....good for them.
    Over and Out
  • Nobody trusts Google

    How can Google strike first? They have ZERO IP and most of their products are copied and stolen from open source projects.

    Google is pretending that they are part of elite companies who developed their own IP... what a joke.
    • ZERO IQ


      As dumb as a bag of hammers.
    • A good site for you

      Don't forget to include Motorola in your searches :-P
    • Define "zero ip"

      You don't even help your cause - try to be more assertive - just a polite free advice.
      • I knew some Google fanboi's will reply

        A polite free advice :-)

        - A lot of free dictionaries are available online, Bing it.
        • nice

          So you admit your just trolling to illicit a response.

          Well done, may evolution come to you one day!
        • Bing is going to give bad results :-P

          You suck at giving advice. ;-)

          But you got your replies - you made it, congratulations... but you know something, if you take the non sense of your posts even more to the extreme you will get more replies :-)
  • Where's the Beef?

    “Google also reached an accord with the FTC to give competitors access to patents covering "critical standardized technologies" on fair licensing terms.”

    Even as they violate their pledge by suing Microsoft for billions of dollars over Motorola patents.

    Nice PR ploy, Google. Until people look how empty and untrustworthy it is.
    • so

      If I pledge to give up smoking from today, tomorrow you can call me out for smoking yesterday?

      Nice logic!

      We'll just have to see in the future.