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Google adds 79 open-source patents to lawsuit-free pledge

Web giant adds patents related to software used to manage data centers to the patent collection it's making freely available to anyone, without fear of legal repercussion.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Steven Musil
2 min read

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.

Google kicked off the initiative in March when it pledged not to sue over use of 10 patents related to MapReduce, a model for processing large data sets. That technology, which gives users the ability to quickly analyze huge sets of data, is supported and used by Yahoo, Cloudera, and many other companies.

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.