Some months back, Google announced that it would be open sourcing its patents under the Open Patent Non-Assertion Pledge. This pledge lets everyone use these the technology which these patents describe without having license them and thus be safe from patent disputes. Google will not proactively sue anyone for using these patents as long as it is not attacked first. This was the first major step by any technology company to actually do something about the confusing and rather legally dangerous nature of technology innovation. The first of the 10 patents added to this pledge by Google had to do with MapReduce, a large scale computing technology first developed at Google.
Now, Google has announced that it has added 79 more cloud and big data related patents to this pledge. These are the ones that Google acquired from IBM and CA Technologies. These patents were originally filed in Europe, Asia and the US. Most of these new patents cover backend technologies and the company will be looking at adding more frontend technology related patents to the list in the future.
The open source model of computing and development has had a major impact on the world of software and technology in the last decade. This has changed developmental paradigms whereas patent law in most cases hasn’t changed much to accommodate these new ways of development and discovery. This step by Google is a big deal because, ultimately every development heavy company feels that patent law in its current form inhibits innovation. Many big technology companies and services like Google, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and Github to name a few, are built from the ground up on open source technology.
With this step Google feels that it will provide a positive precedent towards the nature of patents and their usage. If most influential tech companies get on board with this idea, then patent trolls will not get to strangle technological progress. Patent Trolls are companies or people who sue companies for using patents they own, which describe generic things in technology, thus misusing patent law to their benefit and winning settlements and court cases and disturbing the path of progress. This has had such a negative impact on companies themselves because many of them now have now joined this faulty system just so that they don’t get sued pointlessly. There was no way out until recently when most technology companies and policy makers have started understanding that this deficiency in the law and its understanding of software patents needs to be rectified and updated. Google has taken the first practical step. It remains to be seen how many other influential companies join them on the road towards patent reform.
You can view the patents listed on the OPN pledge here.
Source | Techcrunch
Patent Troll image courtesy of Rackspace