« SS Easy to Fix: Remove the Cap | Main | Raising Cap No Increase in "Investment" for Most »

January 11, 2005

IBM: Bold Plan for Free Access to 500 Patents

Innovation is increasingly stifled by fears that patent claims will bury any new idea under lawsuits. Despite conservative odes to intellectual property as the key to rewarding innovation, even many business leaders increasingly recognize the patent regime as a barrier not a boon to creativity.

IBM is taking a bold step to encourage innovation and expand open source technology development by giving developers free access to 500 patents:

I.B.M. will continue to hold the 500 patents. But it has pledged to seek no royalties from and to place no restrictions on companies, groups or individuals who use them in open-source projects, as defined by the Open Source Initiative, a nonprofit education and advocacy group. The group's definition involves a series of policies allowing for free redistribution, publication of the underlying source code and no restrictions on who uses the software or how it is used.
IBM had already gave strong support to the development of the Linux operating system, but this is a much broader program that is intended to jump-start a commitment by other companies to similarly release IP into the public domain:
I.B.M. executives said they hoped the company's initial contribution of 500 patents would be the beginning of a "patent commons," which other companies would join.
A nice bit of news for a change.

Posted by Nathan at January 11, 2005 08:45 AM