Takeaway: Microsoft dedicated all of their patents to the OIN patent pool network giving everyone the ability to use their technology without fear of infringement.
Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that it would be dedicating all if its patents to the Open Invention Network patent pool. This move is a surprise to many members of the tech community because Microsoft has been fairly vocal about their disapproval of the open-source community.
The Open Invention Network is a patent pool created to protect Linux and encourage innovation. One of the biggest benefits of a move of this type is the ability to implement cross-platform applications. In other words, when developers are creating software, they can more easily code their products to work on devices of all kinds when they do not have to worry about infringing the patents of major companies such as Microsoft.
This move may have been a great tactic for Microsoft to compete with Amazon’s cloud platform “Amazon Web Services.” By dedicating their patents to the open-source community, Microsoft will likely convert a large number of developers to their platform.
A common misconception of open-source communities is that they are anti-intellectual property or that developers will have to give their technology away for free. However, this is not always the case because some businesses develop software, and then dedicate their intellectual property to the open-source community to gain more users of their software, and in turn, are able to sell their product or services to more people. Once a product or service is open-source it does not mean that the company cannot sell their software, it just means that they allow developers to use the underlying technology to develop further products on top of their own platform.
It is still advisable to protect your business with intellectual property rights such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights. This is because going open-source without protection, someone else may obtain protection over a similar product and enforce it against you. However, once you obtain protection, it may be a smart move to go open-source if you are trying to create a cross-platform application.