IBM Adopts Open Patent Policy

I.B.M., the nation’s largest patent holder, will publish its patent filings on the Web for public review as part of a new policy that the company hopes will be a model for others. From the NY Times article:
The policy, being announced today, includes standards like clearly identifying the corporate ownership of patents, to avoid filings that cloak authorship under the name of an individual or dummy company. It also asserts that so-called business methods alone — broad descriptions of ideas, without technical specifics — should not be patentable.
and
I.B.M. is not the only institution interested in using Internet collaboration to help improve the patent system. Last month, the patent office agreed to try a pilot project of soliciting outside comments on patent filings, including claims of prior art and originality.
I.B.M. is one of several companies that have agreed to submit some patent applications for open peer review as part of the project, beginning early next year. The others include Microsoft, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, Intel and Red Hat.

Great to see IBM stepping up and attempting to address what is a growing problem. They cite the delay in the legal system, specifically mentioning Congress, as one reason for moving ahead on this. I thought it was interesting to see Microsoft on the list of names of Technology companies participating in the more open USPTO pilot project. While I doubt we'll see then end of software patents any time soon, getting rid of business methods patents is a good first step. That fact that large patent holders such as IBM are admitting there is a problem with the system and actively doing something about it may give Congress the push they need to move forward on the issue. Let's just hope they get things right this time.
–jeremy
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