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, all of whom have agreed not to enforce their own patents against Linux-based projects, within limits.
This can help combat an activity commonly known as “patent trolling”, where people try to enforce their patents well beyond their actual 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 operations.
With the move, Amazon will entrust its entire patent portfolio to the set of patents that are free to use within OIN-defined open source projects.
Once the OIN agrees to protect a piece of software, all members are granted royalty-free community patent licenses to use that software.
Amazon says adding its patents to the pool helps reduce the risk of patent aggression for companies innovating with open source.
Nithya Ruff, the director of the Amazon Open Source Program Office, said, “Linux and open source are essential to many of our customers and a major driver of innovation at Amazon.”
We are proud to support a wide variety of open source projects, foundations and partners, and are committed to the long-term success and sustainability of open source as a whole.
They added, “By joining OIN, we continue to strengthen open source communities and help ensure that technologies like Linux remain thriving and accessible to all”.
It’s hard to say exactly why Amazon chose the recent move, but it’s certainly supported some open-source initiatives recently.
For example, in May 2022, Amazon Injection announced $10 million in funding (opens in new tab) in the Open Source Security Foundation (OpenSSF), along with other Big Tech backers like Alphabet.
Amazon is no stranger to patent-related litigation.
In October 2022, it was reported that Chinese technology giant Huawei is currently suing Apple an unnamed patent infringement. (opens in new tab)