Google is deepening its involvement in protecting open-source software through the Open Invention Network (OIN).

The company announced today it will be joining IBM, NEC, Novel, Philips, Red Hat and Sony as a full member of the OIN. The OIN is an organization, formed in 2005, that aims to protect the open-source community through patent cross-licenses for open-source software projects, specifically Linux.

A cross-license agreement is a contract between two or more parties allowing each party rights to intellectual property included in the agreement. For example, in 2008, Microsoft agreed to cross-licensed patents with JVC. The exact details of the patents were not disclosed, but according to Microsoft IP chief Horacio Gutierrez, the collaboration between technological leaders through intellectual property licensing allows for greater innovations that benefit customers, consumers and the IT ecosystem.

“Linux is one of the most innovative platforms ever invented. It has helped to spark unprecedented levels of mobile, networking, and computing capabilities while dramatically lowering costs,” said Keith Bergelt, OIN’s CEO.

(More on patent issues: Oracle revives claim that Google’s API uses violated patents)

Google has supported the OIN in the past; in 2007, it became OIN’s first end-user licensee, more recently as an associate member, and now as a full member of the board.  

“Linux and open source are at the core of the software industry. Protecting open source is critical to us, our users, and to the ongoing health of the Internet,” said Chris DiBona, director of open source at Google. “We’re proud of our new role within OIN.”

The OIN believes Google’s new involvement will further drive collaboration, innovation and IP non-aggression in Linux and open source.

More information on OIN can be found here.