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back to article Google vows no patent prosecution for open source cloud tech

Google has vowed to not sue users, distributors, or developers of technologies covered by some of its key patents, and has started out by protecting the cloudy Hadoop community. The Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge was announced by Google on Thursday, and will initially see 10 MapReduce patents receive protection from the …

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OPN Pledge.

"Under OPN Pledge protection, developers have another incentive to play around with Hadoop without the threat of a patent lawsuit hovering over their heads. Unless they shoot a suit at Google, that is."

Use Google's stuff; make yourself a hostage. Google is not exactly trustworthy. They have almost certainly left themselves plenty of loopholes.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: OPN Pledge.

Use Google's stuff; make yourself a hostage. Google is not exactly trustworthy

Yup. Amazing how much of the Microsoft business model they are adopting, including breaking laws and considering the resulting fines simply the cost of doing business. The problem is that anything you touch of Google leaks data. Use the fonts, you're giving them a hook into your visitors and traffic. Use Gmail for business in Europe, and you will have the liability instead of Google for breaking Data Protection laws. Use Android and you're handling Google spyware (they have openly admitted it acts as a replacement for the Streetview WiFi scanning). Use their maps in a product without telling your customers the implications and you end up with a privacy problem (something that, for instance, Audi is presently having a bit of a panic about).

Oh, and as for a "pledge" - that has no value until someone creates a product that competes with a Google service and they leave it alone. Until then that pledge has about the same value as "don't be evil", and we know what happened there, right?

No sirree, me no trust. Not in a googol years.

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Boffin

Very misleading...Re: OPN Pledge.

More smoke and mirrors and a bit of a reach.

First Google cant make a pledge and say that they won't sue companies that support and use apache licensed code, and then attempt to assert patent enforcement on a company that creates a derivative based on Apache which is permissible under Apache's license.

It doesn't wash.

The statement is more about image management than about protecting an invalid patent.

A lot of the techniques used have been around longer that the ability to register a software patent.

Sorry, but when you see pledges like this, you start to realize why software and business process patents are so wrong.

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A lot of large websites uses open source versions this type of technology, which was originally developed at Google, so this is good news for a lot of companies that Google aren't going to come knocking at their doors and start demanding they stop using Google technology or license it.

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Boffin

I don't think you understand...

First I think you have to see which patents google has.

To your point, google releases GWT.

They can't now go after companies who use it because they are infringing.

Even if they embed GWT into their product, a lawsuit will be tossed.

What google is saying is that if a company creates or uses software in their own products which are based on the open source code that violates a google patent , then they might sue.

While google wont win, they will spend you into the ground. This was clearly a warning shot meant at a specific large company.

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Re: I don't think you understand...

This has nothing to do GWT.

This is about the technology Google developed in house to build their databases and server management software, such a HADROOP and MAPREDUCE, all of which have been replicated by various open source projects, using research papers published by Google. These have been and still are use by companies like Facebook and Twitter and many others in their own server farms.

Google has never given permission for these technologies to be replicated by the open source communities, and until now there was nothing stopping Google from simply sending cease decease notices to any firm which use these open source versions of this technology and to shut down the projects themselves, as mention companies like Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook.

Google has now basically said that its cool that everyone using its technology without paying for it and that it will not be suing anyone with these patents unless they sue first. Obviously I expect those open source communities will examine those patents closely to see if there are ways to engineer around them, but that will likely take years and Google likely kept some powder dry just in case.

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It's not _bad_ news, but it's more PR than anything else for the most part. Google's statement that they wont sue anyone unless they are sued first sounds very noble on the surface, but it attempts to present suing as the only way in which one party can do a wrong to the other. As Google is quite weak in patents compared to other big players, it's far more the case that Google would do another party a wrong by infringing on their patents. Naturally the infringed party would then sue at which point Google hoists their flag of "We didn't sue first". But the reality is that they don't have to sue first in order to be the transgressor. Furthermore, the caveat that Google is only extending this offer to Open Source projects, is fine for Open Source projects, but it makes it meaningless in terms of whether this is actually costing Google anything. All their real rivals are Closed Source. There is only two viable contenders in the Open Source world to Google and these are Ubuntu and Firefox OS (potentially). The Mozilla Foundation is currently dependent on Google and Ubuntu is not a rival in the mobile space, only Desktop, which Google does not value highly because they feel they cannot realistically compete with Windows or Mac there. They are rolling out ChromeOS, but I really don't think they see Ubuntu as a threat there. So basically, this gesture from Google costs them nothing. Which again, is no bad thing for Open Source, but diminishes how generous this appears.

There are two other takes on Android - that by Amazon, and that by Samsung. Neither of these will be impacted by this as the distinctions between these and Google's own Android lines, are in the proprietary level of stores, apps, etc.

Is this a bad thing? No. Is it more than PR from Google? Not much.

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Seems like a good idea on the surface

It'll be interesting to see if it makes any difference to anything in the long run.

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It's a little unfair limiting your inclusion of Microsoft to just the .NET stuff. Since the mid-2000 Microsoft has operated the Open Specification Promise (OSP) - Google it - which provides access to specifications for most of their protocols and file formats. No prosecution will ensue from using this information even where covered by patents and even if you want to sell stuff. Sure, features of the Windows kernel and storage formats like FAT are not covered but there's a lot that is.

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Ummm...

Software and 'business related process' don't actually count in most of the world. If you want to sell in the US you obviously need to include some insurance in your pricing to cover actions from the trolls. So this statement is basically marketing flim flam.

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