Google has announced PAX, the Android Networked Cross-License Agreement for devices in their software ecosystem.
PAX – no relation to a certain webcomic convention – is intended to make it easy for software developers within Google’s ecosystem to use one another’s work without fear of patents or royalties getting in the way of innovation. Named after the Latin word for “peace”, it sets out with an appropriately-themed mission of curtailing any potentially costly legal battles between developers due to software patents and royalties.
PAX is a voluntary system that developers can opt-in to. Members of the license agreement grant one another royalty-free patent licenses for the Android operating system and certain other qualified devices that make use of Google Applications. A few big names have already jumped on board the system: Google, Allview, BQ, Coolpad, Foxconn Technology Group, HMD Global, HTC, LG Electronics, and Samsung Electronics have all joined the effort. Collectively, all of the current members of the license agreement have over 230,000 patents between them.
Android itself is already distributed under an open-source license and that’s had a measure of success – 400 partner manufacturers (along with 500 cellular carriers) have produced over 4,000 distinct devices running the operating system in the last year alone. Google has shown a serious commitment to open source, signing up for several other initiatives such as the LOT network and the Open Invention Network. They had also developed the Open Patent Non-Assertion Pledge, an earlier attempt by the advertising behemoth to mitigate the threat of patent lawsuits and ease any concerns about weakening their patent portfolios under certain open source licenses.
What do you think of Google’s PAX initiative? Do you think it will encourage collaboration and innovation between developers in Google’s software ecosystem? Do you think PAX is redundant considering all of the various flavors of open-source licensing that have been available for years? Let us know in the comments below!