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Microsoft joins Open Invention Network
By Thom Holwerda, submitted by jonsmirl on 2018-10-10 21:28:22

I'm pleased to announce that Microsoft is joining the Open Invention Network ("OIN"), a community dedicated to protecting Linux and other open source software programs from patent risk.

We know Microsoft’s decision to join OIN may be viewed as surprising to some; it is no secret that there has been friction in the past between Microsoft and the open source community over the issue of patents. For others who have followed our evolution, we hope this announcement will be viewed as the next logical step for a company that is listening to customers and developers and is firmly committed to Linux and other open source programs.

Chalk this one up to the "good news, no ifs and buts about it" section.

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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-13
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Comment by Drumhellar
By Drumhellar on 2018-10-11 04:17:08
My first thought was "exFat patents are about to expire" but after reading about this other places, the exFat patents are only 5 years old (patents last for 20), so this isn't even pre-emptive good PR before the patents expire.

This should also put an end to exFat licensing to phone makers.

As far as I can tell, there literally is no downside to this.
Permalink - Score: 5
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RE: Comment by Drumhellar
By Brendan on 2018-10-11 06:22:45
Hi,

> As far as I can tell, there literally is no downside to this.

I think you're right; but...

If you read through section 2 of the licence agreement, the agreement can be terminated. This might (I'm not a lawyer) create the possibility of "rug pulling" - e.g. agree in the hope that other people will start to rely on your patents, then (at some point in the future when others are relying on your patents) terminate the agreement so that they're no longer able (under the same terms) to use their own code.

- Brendan
Permalink - Score: 1
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RE[2]: Comment by Drumhellar
By Drumhellar on 2018-10-11 07:32:53
Reading the license, it seems that the license remains in effect until the date that any patents used in the Linux System (as they define it) expire.

Beyond that, you can only terminate use of your patents if you are sued by an OIN licensee, and only for that company that sues you, and, you can only have your rights to use OIN-covered patents terminated if you sue a fellow licensee for use of covered patents in the Linux System.

It seems to me that there are strong protections in the license against "rug pulling."
Permalink - Score: 6
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Yet another community
By ultrabill on 2018-10-11 08:29:49
All those "communities", or "ventures", to protect and promot FOSS are driven by the same major patent companies : Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, aso.

Not sure if it's good for FOSS or only good for them.
Permalink - Score: 2
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RE: Yet another community
By nicubunu on 2018-10-11 10:12:12
Actually OIN was started by Red Hat in 2005, when they were not that big.
Permalink - Score: 3
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RE[2]: Yet another community
By darknexus on 2018-10-11 12:14:02
In 2005? They were pretty darned big back then, at least in the enterprise server space. Not as big as Oracle perhaps, but no small fish.
Permalink - Score: 1
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RE: Comment by Drumhellar
By kurkosdr on 2018-10-11 12:33:01
> My first thought was "exFat patents are about to expire" but after reading about this other places, the exFat patents are only 5 years old (patents last for 20), so this isn't even pre-emptive good PR before the patents expire.

This should also put an end to exFat licensing to phone makers.

As far as I can tell, there literally is no downside to this.


I 'll believe it when I see it. Even NuMicrosoft wouldn't relinquish such a source of passive income for the rest 15 years or so.
Permalink - Score: 1
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RE[3]: Yet another community
By nicubunu on 2018-10-11 17:57:48
Red Hat reported revenue for 2018 was $2.6 billion, compared with that, revenue for 2005 of $196.5 million IS small fish... less than one tenth.
Permalink - Score: 3
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RE: Comment by Drumhellar
By galvanash on 2018-10-11 18:59:48
Don't get too excited yet...

https://www.zdnet.com/article/wha...

Read about halfway down the page.

As of right now, exFat is not a part of the "Linux System" as defined by OIN, so their exFat patants are not required to be shared in the patent pool. The only current OSS example of an exFat implementation is one released by Samsung under the GPL, which has not been incorporated into the Kernel and is distributed out-of-band. Samsung is not an OIN licensee so Microsoft is not obligated to license their patents until that code is either incorporated into Linux proper or OIN redefines their definition of "Linux System" to include such out-of-band releases. Or ideally Microsoft could just submit their own code upstream and have this whole issue be done with...

ps. I'm not being Debbie Downer about it, this will probably get worked out in short order as it is probably the most contentious patent they hold as far as Linux goes, but it is not a done deal yet.

Edited 2018-10-11 19:02 UTC
Permalink - Score: 2
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RE[2]: Comment by Drumhellar
By Drumhellar on 2018-10-11 19:23:37
Well, Microsoft has figured out how to use Linux effectively and make money off of it. Coonsider Azure, which not only does Linux have an important role, but is also seeing huge growth (Azure revenue doubled last year), they certainly would if their other sources of Linux revenue were seeing significant growth - which they are.
Permalink - Score: 4

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