IBM pledges free access to patents involved in software standards

Big Blue opens the patent books to boost innovation and discourage

US IT vendor IBM has announced it is throwing open the books on some of its
patents in an effort to boost interoperability between various software

The company has said it will grant "perpetual and universal access" to
certain IBM intellectual property that relates to the 150 different
standards that are aimed at making software work on different platforms.

IBM is hoping that the move will promote and foster greater innovation,
allowing hardware and software to talk more freely to each other. The
company has made special emphasis on web services, meaning software and data
that is transacted over the internet.

The commitment from IBM is valid to distributors, developers and
manufacturers but with the proviso that no adopter of IBM's software patents
is suing anyone else over patented technology required to implement those
same standards.

"IBM is sending a message that innovation and industry growth happens in an
open, collaborative atmosphere," said Bob Sutor, IBM's Vice President of
Open Source and Standards. "Users will adopt new technologies if they know
that they can find those technologies in a variety of interchangeable,
compatible products from competing vendors. We think customers will like
this added assurance for the open standards upon which they have come to

In the past, IBM required that all adopters held a royalty-free license
agreement from the company but it hopes now that other intellectual property
owners will follow IBM's example.

The news from IBM is in distinct contrast to the moves being made by rival
Microsoft, which is looking to sure up its intellectual property rights with
various Linux operating system distributors through various agreements such
as the one signed on June 14 with Linspire.


Guilherme H. S. Ostrock
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