The IPKat's friend Jordgubbar has sent him some thoughts on a recent announcement by IBM, the nature of which is self-explanatory:
"BBC News reported on Monday that IBM intends to license 500 of its US software patents on a royalty-free basis so that they can be used by the open source development community. IBM has described the step as a "new era" in the management of its patent portfolio and has indicated that further patents would be made more freely available in future. The patents include software for a range of functions, including text recognition and database management (a full list is available here).The IPKat wonders how many of his readers agree. Please post a comment and let him know.
Announcing the pledge, Dr John E. Kelly of IBM said that "True innovation leadership is about more than just the numbers of patents granted". The pledge applies to any individual, community, or company working on or using software that meets the Open Source Initiative definition of open source software. According to US Patent and Trademark Office, IBM was granted more US patents than any other company for the twelfth consecutive year. IBM remains the only company to receive more than 2,000 patents in one year. Indeed, the New York Times reports that IBM was granted 3,248 US patents in 2004. With reportedly more than 40,000 patents in its portfolio, IBM has not stated any intention to step down its filing activities, and since it intends to maintain the 500 "released" patents, the move is unlikely to make a dent (however small) in its portfolio maintenance costs. The position would obviously be different if IBM announced an intention to publish previously unpublished software inventions.
IBM's new logo?
Cautiously welcoming the move, it seems that the open source community is not altogether appeased by IBM's gesture (e.g. see here). Since IBM has not given up the notion of proprietary rights in software (a premise of open source) and the move is unlikely to make any significant cost impact, what is therefore meant by the "new era" in portfolio management remains unclear."