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Today, we’re taking another step towards that goal by announcing the Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge: we pledge 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. Over time, we intend to expand the set of Google’s patents covered by the pledge to other technologies.
We hope the OPN Pledge will serve as a model for the industry, and we’re encouraging other patent holders to adopt the pledge or a similar initiative.Google's Open Source Patent Pledge: We Wont Sue You First, Unless Attacked [google-opensource.blogspot.co.uk]
If so, might "open source" be pretty much a thing of the past, at least in the US?
Hmm. Color me Deeply Suspicious. They seem to be saying "We're putting this stuff in the public domain, but we reserve the right to yank it out of the public domain any time we feel like it."