U.S. patent leader IBM said late on Monday it plans to donate 500 patents for free use by software developers, marking a major shift of intellectual property strategy for the world's top computer maker and a challenge to the high-tech industry.
Jim Stallings, IBM's vice president in charge of intellectual property, said in an interview that the move was meant to encourage other companies to unlock patent portfolios in order to spur technological innovation.
"This represents by far the largest pledge of patents in U.S. history," IBM said in a statement to be issued on Tuesday, January 11, 2005. "You can use them and grow and innovate (and)...to build something new," Stallings said in remarks aimed at developers.
The IBM move is meant to encourage other patent holders to donate their own intellectual property in order to form what the company refers to as a "patent commons," a modern twist on shared public lands set aside under traditional laws.
from the Boston Herald, Jan. 12:
Jeff Bates, vice president of editorial operations for the Open Source Technology Group, said the patents will be useful for developers toiling away at creating programs to be distributed free.
But Bates, whose company oversees a number of open-source Web sites,said IBM's donation is also a ``very canny move'' that helps it ``curry favor'' with open-source proponents and the European Union, which is thinking of cracking down on the issuance of many software patents.
Jonathan Zuk, president of the Association for Competitive Technology, said IBM's ``motives aren't hard to figure out,'' considering its past support for the Linux operating system, which IBM makes applications for and sells.
Sutor said IBM's patent giveaway is not aimed at currying favor with anyone.
IBM is the nation's top patent receiver, nabbing more than 3,000 technology patents last year, the company said yesterday.
Boston will play host to a LinuxWorld Expo next month that will attract open-source groupies from around the world.