Google announced the 'Open Patent Non-Assertion' Pledge today, saying that it pledges not to sue any user, distributor or developer of open-source software on specified patents, unless first attacked.
"We’ve begun by identifying 10 patents relating to MapReduce, a computing model for processing large data sets first developed at Google—open-source versions of which are now widely used," says Senior Patent Counsel Duane Valz (pictured). "Over time, we intend to expand the set of Google’s patents covered by the pledge to other technologies."
On the pledge site, Google maintains a list of pledged patents, which include: System and method for analyzing data records, Large-scale data processing in a distributed and parallel processing environment, System and method for efficient large-scale data processing, System and method for analyzing data records, Joining tables in a MapReduce procedure, Processing data in a MapReduce framework, System and method for analyzing data records (another one), System and method for large-scale data processing using an application-independent framework, Joining tables in a MapReduce procedure (another one), and Processing data in a MapReduce environment.
Google says it hopes the pledge will serve as a model for the industry. We'll see.
As far as Google is concerned, the benefits of the pledge are: transparency, breadth, defensive protection and durability.
"Our pledge builds on past efforts by companies like IBM and Red Hat and the work of the Open Invention Network (of which Google is a member)," says Valz. "It also complements our efforts on cooperative licensing, where we’re working with like-minded companies to develop patent agreements that would cut down on lawsuits."
Google notes that it will also continue to support patent reforms to improve patent quality and reduce "excessive" litigation.