Square joins the Open Invention Network

Square's financial tech recognizes its dependence on open-source software by joining the OIN.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

What does one of the top retail credit-card endpoint companies, Square, have to do with open-source software? The answer, as it is for most businesses, is everything. So, it only makes sense that Square has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN)

The OIN, the world's largest patent non-aggression consortium, protects Linux and related open-source software and the companies behind them from patent attacks and patent trolls. The OIN recently broadened its scope from core Linux programs and adjacent open-source code by expanding its Linux System Definition to other patents such as the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and the Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) file system.

That may not sound to you like a natural fit for a retail financial services and digital payments company which is best known for its ubiquitous Square Reader for smartcards, but actually, it is. Behind it is a foundation of open-source software.  

As Bob Lee, Square's former CTO, once said, "Open source is part of our DNA. As a member of the open-source community -- and a company that's benefited from many open source libraries -- we have a responsibility to pay it forward. We always have the mindset to open-source our code when we build."

Now, by joining OIN, Square is demonstrating its commitment to patent non-aggression in OSS. "As a global leader in the effort to democratize financial services, we are pleased that Square is committed to patent non-aggression in core Linux and adjacent open-source technologies," said Keith Bergelt, OIN's CEO.

What makes this even more of a natural move for Square is that the company was already a founder of the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA). This is a collaborative consortium in which members pledge not to use their crypto technology patents, except for defensive purposes,

Max Sills, Counsel at Square and General Manager of COPA, added "We recognize the value in shared innovation, a fundamental characteristic of open source communities. In addition to joining OIN. Our participation in the OIN community demonstrates our commitment to support collaborative technology development."

OIN's community practices patent non-aggression in core Linux and adjacent open source technologies by cross-licensing Linux System patents to one another on a royalty-free basis. Patents owned by Open Invention Network are similarly licensed royalty-free to any organization that agrees not to assert its patents against the Linux System. Any company can join the OIN and obtain its patent protections simply by signing the OIN license online

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