Google, a long time Linux user and supporter, is giving back to the open source operating system that has helped it reach its remarkable status by becoming Open Invention Network’s (OIN) first end-user licensee. OIN is an intellectual property company set up in 2005 for the purpose of acquiring and pooling patents to create a legal safe zone, or ecosystem, for those who work with Linux. Patents owned by OIN are available royalty-free to any company, institution, or individual provided that they agree not to assert its patents against the Linux System. This open source safe harbor allows companies to continue to invest corporate and capital expenditure in Linux without fear of intellectual property issues. Chris DiBona, Google Open-Source Programs Manager stated on the official Google Blog, that being an OIN licensee enables companies like Google to focus more on developing software and less on patent issues, “the legal equivalent of taking a long, deep, relaxing breath.” “As we look to grow the Linux Ecosystem, we are pleased to have Google become our first end-user licensee,” said Jerry Rosenthal, CEO of Open Invention Network. “Google is one of a growing number of companies, of all sizes, that value the openness and collaborative culture of the Linux community. We applaud their support for Linux.” Participants of OIN include names like IBM, Oracle, NEC, Sony and Alfresco, who have agreed to cross-license their Linux-related patents to the others free of charge. OIN has so far accumulated more than 100 strategic, worldwide patents and patent applications, all of which are available to licensees as part of the patent portfolio that OIN is creating for the Linux Ecosystem. The backing of the Linux Community by Google comes not long after an assertion by Microsoft that Linux is in violation of some 235 of its patents. If OIN continues to grow the way it is, such allegations will hopefully be a thing of the past. OIN was formed with investments from IBM, Novell, Koninklijk Philips Electronics, Sony, and Red Hat. Although the patents it currently holds represent but a small fraction of the 150,000-300,000 software patents that have been issued in the United States, we can expect to see OIN's roster continue to evolve. For more information about this growing Linux Ecosystem, visit the OIN website. Are you a Linux developer? We'd love to hear what you have to say about Google's support of OIN. Let us know what you think.