Microsoft has joined a group of tech companies—called the Open Invention Network—which are pooling their open-source software patents to fend off lawsuits from outsiders, the company said in a blog post. It’s the latest sign of Microsoft’s about-face on open-source software, which began a couple of years before Satya Nadella became CEO but has accelerated significantly under his watch.
Microsoft said it will be contributing some 60,000 patents it has amassed over the years. This presumably means that instead of using its Linux patents to get companies such as Android device makers to pay it royalties, Microsoft will instead be using its patents to defend OIN members from patent trolls, which often seek to get a cut of revenue from companies that use open-source software in commercial products. We say “presumably” because Microsoft hasn’t yet said whether it plans to continue collecting Android royalties, a revenue stream that often exceeded what Microsoft generated from its own mobile products.