Amazon joins Open Invention Network to keep its Linux patents safe

A hand writing the words Open Source
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Amazon and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have joined the patent non-aggression consortium the Open Invention Network (OIN).

Founded in 2015, the OIN buys patents and then licenses them royalty-free to its members, who have all agreed not to enforce their own patents against Linux-based projects, within limits. 

This can help to fight an activity that is commonly known as "patent trolling", where people try and enforce their patents far beyond their true legal rights, often in an attempt to extort payments. 

What role will Amazon play?

Amazon uses a variety of Linux-based software as part of both Amazon Web Services (AWS) and its retail business. 

The move will see Amazon commit its entire patent portfolio to the body of patents that are free to use within OIN’s defined open-source projects. 

Once the OIN agrees to protect a piece of software, all members are granted royalty-free, community patent licenses for the use of that software.

Amazon says that adding its patents to the pool is helping to reduce the risk of patent aggression for companies that innovate with open source.

Nithya Ruff, the Amazon Open Source Program Office director, said: "Linux and open source are essential to many of our customers and a key driver of innovation across Amazon."

 We are proud to support a broad range of open-source projects, foundations, and partners, and we are committed to the long-term success and sustainability of open-source as a whole. 

They added: "By joining OIN, we are continuing to strengthen open source communities and helping to ensure technologies like Linux remain thriving and accessible to everyone".

It's hard to say exactly why Amazon opted for the recent move but it has definitely recently been throwing its support behind some open-source initiatives.

For example, in May 2022 Amazon injected announced $10 million in funding into the Open Source Security Foundation (OpenSSF), joining other Big Tech backers like Alphabet. 

Amazon is no stranger to patent-related legal disputes.

It was reported in October 2022, that Chinese tech giant Huawei is currently suing Apple over an unnamed patent violation.

Will McCurdy has been writing about technology for over five years. He has a wide range of specialities including cybersecurity, fintech, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, cloud computing, payments, artificial intelligence, retail technology, and venture capital investment. He has previously written for AltFi, FStech, Retail Systems, and National Technology News and is an experienced podcast and webinar host, as well as an avid long-form feature writer.