Patents in the Service of Open Source
The Open Patent Non-Assertion Pledge (Open Patent Non-Assert or OPN) was developed by Google to decrease patent threats around open-source software (OSS). There are a variety of OSS copyright licenses and licensing organizations that provide for the responsible allocation of patent rights, emphasizing defensive use only. The Apache License 2.0 and the Open Invention Network are leading examples.
The OPN Pledge is designed to supplement existing OSS licensing alternatives, providing patent holders who care about reducing threats to OSS a more robust defensive capability against incoming patent aggression. It is a response to recent developments in the patent marketplace, whereby companies that increasingly seek the benefits of OSS in their own businesses nonetheless launch attacks against open source products and platforms as it suits their fancy. The OPN is also an encouragement to those patent holders who support OSS, but refrain from entering OSS licenses with patent provisions out of concern they might be giving away too many rights and leaving themselves vulnerable.
As set forth in the terms and conditions of the OPN Pledge itself, here are some of the key benefits of the OPN:
- Patent holders determine exactly which patents (and related technologies) they wish to Pledge and offer the public transparency in the process.
- Allows for defensive termination relative to a broader range of incoming patent attacks.
- Non-assert promise and defensive use only terms designed to remain in force for the life of the patents, even if sold or transferred.
Google has set forth its own Pledge and Pledged Patents at this site. As we see it, the OPN Pledge can be a useful instrument for other large operating companies, emerging growth companies, developer organizations and their investors.
Leading companies and organizations such as Cloudera, IBM, and OIN agree and endorse the OPN Pledge.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to understand more about the mechanics of the OPN Pledge or how it can be of service to your company or organization.