IBM Recognizes The Bigger Picture: Frees Up 500 Patents

from the stimulating-growth... dept

While 500 patents is a pretty small number for a company like IBM, the fact that they’re opening up that many patents for open source use clearly shows a major shift in the way the company thinks about intellectual property — and other companies would be wise to pay attention. While patent hoarding is still getting more attention, IBM has realized that being overly protective of intellectual property actually harms innovation. Not everything you have a patent on is core to your business — and stimulating growth in areas outside your core business can often open up plenty of new opportunities within that core. That’s what IBM has realized — and it’s exactly what plenty of other companies refuse to recognize. In other words, despite what some people keep saying, “free” actually is a great way to promote innovation and build up economic value while opening up new opportunities. Either that, or maybe IBM is just run by communists.

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Comments on “IBM Recognizes The Bigger Picture: Frees Up 500 Patents”

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Steve Mueller (user link) says:

Major Shift?

I’m not sure this is really a “major shift” for IBM. When I worked there (and, by the way, got a software patent), IBM didn’t patent all of its inventions; they had a publication they put out containing “technical disclosures”.

The way I recall it being explained was that technical disclosures were things created by IBM that they didn’t feel the need to patent but that they wanted to publish to establish prior art should somebody else try to patent them. Of course, anybody else could read the technical disclosures and innovate based on them, too.

Given that history and IBM’s participation in the open source community for years, I think it’s unfair to imply this is a recent phenomenon. This is just another sign of the continuing evolution of IBM into a more open company.

Of course, IBM also got more U.S. patents last year than any other company, so they still believe in intellectual property….

Green Williams says:


Well, a better approach would be to make it real cheap for others to use the patents. After that does not work then make them royalty-free. IBM is a for-profit company so it should try to get as much cash in-flow as it can. Besides, it cost money to develop and file a patent- something that needs to be recouped if possible.

If anyone does not like my comments and what to get vulgar-responding, well, just know your mother did not ask that way last night if you know what I mean 😉

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