Microsoft today announced it is joining the Open Invention Network (OIN), a community of companies whose aim is to shield Linux and other open source software from patent aggressors. By joining OIN, Microsoft will open up more than 60,000 of its patents for royalty-free cross-licensing with other members.

“We know Microsoft’s decision to join OIN may be viewed as surprising to some; it is no secret that there has been friction in the past between Microsoft and the open source community over the issue of patents,” Microsoft Corporate Vice President Erich Andersen said. “For others who have followed our evolution, we hope this announcement will be viewed as the next logical step for a company that is listening to customers and developers and is firmly committed to Linux and other open source programs.”

OIN was originally founded in 2005 as an effort to protect Linux and its users from patent aggression. Today, OIN sports more than 2,650 community members and is funded by corporate juggernauts like Google, IBM, and Toyota.

Microsoft’s decision to join OIN is the latest in its relatively recent efforts to embrace the open source community. This is also the second major patent-related move for Microsoft in as many weeks. Last week, the company joined the LOT Network in another effort to protect against patent trolls through a royalty-free patent licensing with the network’s nearly 300 members, including Amazon, Google, Facebook, and others.

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