Google promises to not sue over patents ‘unless first attacked’


Google today promised users and developers that it will not sue them for using some of its patented cloud software “unless first attacked.” In an attempt to avoid the legal logjam that has turned the mobile industry into a craggy mess, the Internet giant hopes the pledge will entice other companies to free their cloud software and big data processing software patents.

The so-called Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge specifically deals with 10 patents related to Google’s MapReduce software, an open-source program used to process large amounts of data. According to Duane Valz, Google’s in-house patent attorney, the company plans to “expand the set of Google’s patents covered by the pledge to other technologies” at some point in the future. Valz did not specify which patents may be eventually freed from their litigious prison.

The OPN Pledge is directed mostly at developers and other parties that wish to use Google’s MapReduce software. But the end result should be more innovation and new products for users, as developers will be able to use the open-source software however they like, without fear that Google’s lawyers will one day come knocking. That’s potentially good for everyone involved –including us.

For patent trolls and other entities that wish to abuse the patent system, Google is not so nice. The OPN Pledge remains in place for anyone, unless “a party brings a patent suit against Google products or services, or is directly profiting from such litigation.” In which case, Google’s lawyers will come ‘a knockin’.