Google dramatically expanded the number of open-source patents it is making freely available to anyone, without fear of legal repercussion.
The Web giant announced Thursday the addition of 79 patents to its Open Patent Non-Assertion Pledge, which aims to foster development of open-source software by pledging not to sue any user, distributor, or developer of open-source software based on their use of the patents -- unless first attacked. The new patents, which were acquired from IBM and Computer Associates in 2005, cover software used to manage data centers, including middleware, distributed storage management, distributed database management, and alarm monitoring.
"To date, the patents we've included in the Pledge have generally related to 'back-end' technologies: servers, data centers, and the like," Google senior patent counsel Duane Valz wrote in a company blog today. "But open-source software is also transforming the development of consumer products that people use every day -- so stay tuned for additional extensions to patents covering those sorts of technologies.
Patent-related litigation has been rampant in the technology sector, with many critics and companies arguing that it is stifling innovation. Google hopes the pledge, which remains in force for the life of the patents, will serve as a model for the industry and promote greater transparency around patent rights.