I.B.M. to Give Free Access to 500 Patents
January 13, 2005 1 Comment
The NYTimes has an article about how IBM is allowing 500 patents to be used in Open Source software. From the article:
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.
Reactions to this release have been extremely mixed and I can really see the point to both sides. On the one hand, kudos to IBM on continuing to move ahead with their dedication to Open Source. They have more patents than anyone and hopefully this move will prompt others to do that same. In itself, that is good. On the other side, IBM still has almost 40,000 patents and registers for 1,000s more a year. They are also one of the driving forces behind the extension of the scope of patentability with respect to software in Europe. You can get more info in this Groklaw article.