[Fsfe-ie] IBM offers patents to Open Source projects

Barry Mahon barry.mahon at iol.ie
Thu Jan 13 10:39:23 CET 2005

IBM will begin allowing the use of 500 technologies covered by patents
it holds by developers working on open source projects. While IBM will
not forfeit the patents, it will seek no licensing fees from groups
that use them on projects that meet a definition by the Open Source
Initiative. Despite past donations of intellectual property to open
source groups, the new program is seen as a fundamental shift in the
company's approach because unlike those donations, this one does not
hold the potential to harm IBM's competitors. The 500 patents that
will be available involve 14 categories of technology and do not target
any specific open source project. IBM said it hopes to create a "patent
commons," including the initial 500 as well as other patents, that
other companies could join. IBM's new approach to managing its
intellectual property, however, has not diminished its pursuit of new
patents. IBM, which is the world's largest patent holder, collected
3,248 new patents in 2004, 1,300 more than Matsushita Electric
Industrial, which had the second-highest tally for the year.
New York Times, 11 January 2005 (registration req'd)

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