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IBM Gives FOSS Free Access to 500 Patents - Rethinks IP Management
Monday, January 10 2005 @ 11:56 PM EST

The New York Times is breaking the news. IBM is announcing that, after rethinking its IP management policies, it is giving the FOSS community free access to 500 of its patents:

"I.B.M. plans to announce today that it is making 500 of its software patents freely available to anyone working on open-source projects, like the popular Linux operating system, on which programmers collaborate and share code.

"The new model for I.B.M., analysts say, represents a shift away from the traditional corporate approach to protecting ownership of ideas through patents, copyrights, trademark and trade-secret laws. . . . The move comes after a lengthy internal review by I.B.M., the world's largest patent holder, of its strategy toward intellectual property. I.B.M. executives said the patent donation today would be the first of several such steps."

The patents, the article says, will be available to individuals as well as to small companies. They are [gasp] hoping to begin a "patent commons" which other companies will hopefully join. You can read their pledge for yourself [PDF]. Programmers who are not FOSS developers may wish to know in advance: there is the complete list of the patents in the pledge.

The patents fall into 14 categories, including those that manage electronic commerce, storage, image processing, data handling and Internet communications:

"I.B.M. will continue to hold the 500 patents. But it has pledged to seek no royalties from and to place no restrictions on companies, groups or individuals who use them in open-source projects, as defined by the Open Source Initiative, a nonprofit education and advocacy group. The group's definition involves a series of policies allowing for free redistribution, publication of the underlying source code and no restrictions on who uses the software or how it is used."

Oh my. They got it. Ta-Da!!

Larry Lessig is, naturally, quoted, speaking of a commons. "This is exciting," said Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Stanford Law School and founder of the school's Center for Internet and Society. "It is I.B.M. making good on its commitment to encourage a different kind of software development and recognizing the burden that patents can impose."

The BBC article has a reaction from OSDL's Stuart Cohen:

"Stuart Cohen, chief executive of US firm Open Source Development Labs, said the move could mean a change in the way companies deal with patents. 'I think other companies will follow suit,' he said."

I think so too, because they will have to. IBM has more patents than any of them. And if they have decided to carve out a protected zone for free and open source software, then it will happen. If the proprietary software world is enamored of patents and wishes to continue that system, at least for now, while making an exception for GNU/Linux software, I call that a positive move.

I know some would naturally argue that all software patents are bad. NoSoftwarePatents.org has taken that position and are critical of IBM's pledge.

I think software and patents need to get a divorce myself, but I also see that we are in a period of transition. Old business models are dying, and new ones are coming into being. And if there is a way to allow everyone to make money the way they want to, that may be, for now, as good as it gets. This is a creative response to the particular issue that GNU/Linux faces with patents, and I applaud it.

In honor of this moment, we have a new category of stories, Patents, so you can find only stories on that topic on Groklaw. I thought about doing it earlier, but it seemed like such a depressing topic. Now, the landscape just changed.

The Windows patent strategy is so over. And the next time Bill Gates tries to call this new kind of software development a kind of modern-day communism, as he did so offensively the other day, people will simply laugh in his face. Thank you, IBM. Thank you.

Jonathan Krim at the Washington Post got this further piece:

"Beyond litigation, patents held by proprietary firms could be used to block open-source software's ability to interact with those software systems, rendering Linux less useful. . .

"Stuart Cohen, chief executive of Open Source Development Labs Inc., which employs Linux creator Linus Torvalds, said many of the patents IBM is donating appeared to be significant and would greatly assist development of open-source software.

"One patent, [James] Stallings said, makes it easier for systems to identify and link to modules of software in other systems."

Stallings is IBM's vice president of intellectual property and standards. And Stephen Shankland connected the dots in the area of standards:

"The company plans to grant royalty-free access to more patents in the future for open source use, a representative said on Monday. It also plans to release patents for use in open standards -- a move that could make it easier to embrace such standards within open source and proprietary software."

Remember when IBM filed its counterclaims against SCO? They didn't put on a blindfold and just grab a handful of patents to use for a counterclaim. They made a deliberate selection that would impact directly on SCO's products. Similarly here, there seems to have been some careful choosing. Reuters says this:

"'I think other companies will follow suit,' agreed Stuart Cohen, chief executive of Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) of Beaverton, Oregon, an industry consortium that promotes open source software. He believes 10 companies may come forward to offer a pool of 1,000 or more shared patents.

"The 500 patents cover areas such as storage management, simultaneous multiprocessing, image processing, database management, networking and e-commerce, Stallings said.

"Examples of what IBM will contribute include 39 patents in storage management and patents covering Dynamic Link Libraries (DLLs) used to invoke larger programs, the IBM executive said."

And Infoworld adds this:

"IBM will not assert the 500 named patents against software meeting the OSI's definition of open source -- although it reserves the right to withdraw the pledge and assert the patents against any party filing a lawsuit asserting patents or other intellectual property rights against open source software, according to its Web site.

"The 500 patents include U.S. Patent number 5,185,861, registered in 1993, which covers technology that helps microprocessors use their memory caches efficiently; and U.S. patent number 5,617,568, registered in 1997, for allowing non-Windows based systems to act as file servers for Windows-based clients, according to IBM Asia Pacific spokeswoman June Namioka. Other examples include patents related to handwriting recognition, she said."

I also received an email from Peter H. Salus, and with his permission, I will share it with you:

"There's little argument that over the past dozen years, the world has come to view things differently: free software is one aspect of this; globalization of trade is another; both have been profoundly influenced by access to the Internet and the Web, and the easy access to information they provide. Knowledge is, indeed, power. As the models change, people who are stuck in the older mode, like Gates . . . look increasingly like Pope Urban VIII and rms looks more like Galileo: despite 'common knowledge' the world was moving. IBM's freeing-up of patents is another step toward proliferating knowledge."

Here is the preamble to their patent pledge:

IBM Statement of Non-Assertion of Named Patents Against OSS

IBM is committed to promoting innovation for the benefit of our customers and for the overall growth and advancement of the information technology field. IBM takes many actions to promote innovation. Today, we are announcing a new innovation initiative. We are pledging the free use of 500 of our U.S. patents, as well as all counterparts of these patents issued in other countries, in the development, distribution, and use of open source software. We believe that the open source community has been at the forefront of innovation and we are taking this action to encourage additional innovation for open platforms.

The following is the text of our pledge. It is our intent that this pledge be legally binding and enforceable by any open source software developer, distributor, or user who uses one or more of the 500 listed U.S. patents and/or the counterparts of these patents issued in other countries.

IBM's Legally Binding Commitment Not To Assert the 500 Named Patents Against OSS

The pledge will benefit any Open Source Software. Open Source Software is any computer software program whose source code is published and available for inspection and use by anyone, and is made available under a license agreement that permits recipients to copy, modify and distribute the program’s source code without payment of fees or royalties. All licenses certified by opensource.org and listed on their website as of 01/11/2005 are Open Source Software licenses for the purpose of this pledge..

IBM hereby commits not to assert any of the 500 U.S. patents listed below, as well as all counterparts of these patents issued in other countries, against the development, use or distribution of Open Source Software.

In order to foster innovation and avoid the possibility that a party will take advantage of this pledge and then assert patents or other intellectual property rights of its own against Open Source Software, thereby limiting the freedom of IBM or any other Open Source Software developer to create innovative software programs, the commitment not to assert any of these 500 U.S. patents and all counterparts of these patents issued in other countries is irrevocable except that IBM reserves the right to terminate this patent pledge and commitment only with regard to any party who files a lawsuit asserting patents or other intellectual property rights against Open Source Software.


  


IBM Gives FOSS Free Access to 500 Patents - Rethinks IP Management | 462 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
IBM Gives FOSS Free Access to 500 Patents - Rethinks IP Management
Authored by: llosee on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 12:21 AM EST
All I can say is WOW!!! What a comittment - IBM is truly acting as a commited
player to/in the FOSS community.

WOW!!!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic Here
Authored by: ankylosaurus on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 12:24 AM EST
Please use the clickable format for URL's:

<a href="http://www.whatever.com/whereever"> Text </a>

Thanks.

---
The Dinosaur with a Club at the End of its Tail

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections here
Authored by: ankylosaurus on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 12:25 AM EST
And wow - this is a big break if true!

---
The Dinosaur with a Club at the End of its Tail

[ Reply to This | # ]

IBM Gift to the Commons and Europe
Authored by: webster on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 12:28 AM EST
What will this do for our little Europe patent controversy?

---
webster

[ Reply to This | # ]

IBM Gives FOSS Free Access to 500 Patents - Rethinks IP Management
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 12:33 AM EST
I seem to remember ole Daryl challenging IBM to do such a thing with their
patent portfolio way back when.. He said something to the effect of he felt
their litigation was justified and that he didn't see IBM letting the FOSS
community use there patents, or some such thing.. But lo and behold.. it seems
IBM hass done just that.. I wonder what he has to say now?

I can also see how a move like this makes things a little more difficult for MS
and their patent threats against FOSS.

BuddhaJoe

[ Reply to This | # ]

IBM Gives FOSS Free Access to 500 Patents - Rethinks IP Management
Authored by: blacklight on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 12:35 AM EST
I will venture a prediction that IBM's gesture will pay for itself time and
again. Good will breeds good will.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Yeah, it's "commune-ism" all right
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 12:39 AM EST
One for all and all for one.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Remember when IBM used to be the bad guy?
Authored by: halkun on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 01:06 AM EST
I don't know about you youngin's but I vividly remeber Apple's 1984 Commercial,
where a slegehammer was tossed directly into the face of "Big Blue".

What do you think Microsoft's gonna be like in 20 years?

[ Reply to This | # ]

That's it...
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 01:09 AM EST
Just for that, the next three, maybe four servers I buy will definitely be from
IBM. Five, counting the one I just bought. So that will be one server purchase
for every 100 patents they free. I think that's fair... Could I get an ipod
with that, do you think? Oh wait, maybe I should get something I can use...
good idea...

[ Reply to This | # ]

PR value underestimated.
Authored by: penguin_roar on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 01:24 AM EST
I think the PR value IBM gets from me and others in FOSS is enormous. I find
myself wanting to buy stuff from IBM for no apparent reason other than that they
seem nice. I also wonder how this decision was taken. I think this day is
something special.

IBM, thanks!

The next server will be an IBM no doubt.

---
A computer is much more.

[ Reply to This | # ]

IBM Gives FOSS Free Access to 500 Patents - Rethinks IP Management
Authored by: producer on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 01:37 AM EST
Geeez.
First Bill gets a BSOD at the CES and now IBM is turning into his personal Big
Blue Monster.
You sow what you reap.
Welcome to it, Bill.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Celebrations Here....
Authored by: Anthony on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 01:38 AM EST
Hopefully just one of many companies to grok how IP should really work.

[ Reply to This | # ]

IBM Gives FOSS Free Access to 500 Patents - Rethinks IP Management
Authored by: rm6990 on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 01:38 AM EST
Novell and IBM should share ideas.

Novell has proposed to use its patent arsenal to defend F/OSS (mainly the
programs it relies on)

IBM has allowed the F/OSS community to use its patents.

Now Novell should allow the community to use its patents and IBM should vow (did
I spell vow right....it seems wrong for some reason) to use its patent arsenal
to defend F/OSS. I doubt Microsoft would dare test its patent arsenal against
the likes of IBM, Novell and Red Hat, as well as any other companies that happen
to have a)patents and b)a vested interest in F/OSS.

[ Reply to This | # ]

one thing missing?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 01:41 AM EST
While I certainly applaud IBM for the much needed break from the traditional
“Patent-portfolio” stock piling of legal munitions, but there is one thing
missing from this gesture in that the Open Source may gain the right to use this
IP, but does Open Source projects have the right to enforce these? Or to use
them as a corporation would to block a hostile IP attack by, lets say,
Microsoft? I think not, since IBM is retaining the patents, and just not
enforcing them when used for educational purposes or on open projects. In order
for Open Source to block those same IP attacks it would need a bank roll of IP
stashed away that even the most Ugly of corporations would not dare start a law
suit in fear of punctuated reciprocation.

Again I praise IBM for taking this bold step! I am after all a share holder in
the company, so my vote actually does count for something when I say I will
stand behind them on this. Whats more, If I were not a share holder I would
certainly consider doing it now. All I can say is thanks to all the IBM managers
that truly do understand!

[ Reply to This | # ]

The least they could do
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 01:58 AM EST
IBM has been discovered the amazing resource called The Free and Open Software Community fighting in their corner.
That they should give something back is only right.
I'm glad they did but lets not fall over our selves here; they still own and enforces patents worth $1.000.000.000/year.

Just a wee bit perspective

[ Reply to This | # ]

Wow!
Authored by: dcarrera on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 02:01 AM EST
All I can say is Wow!

I had to read the top paragraph a few times before I believed it. I'm speech
less.

I do have a question: Can these patents be used in any way as a counter-attack
if Microsoft or anyone else uses patents to attack FOSS?

Even if the answer is "no" (which I expect) the news are fantastic.
And IBM has officially recognized "the burden that patents impose".
This, in turn, gives us more ability to prevent software patents in Europe and
perhaps even reverse those in the USA.

Wow wow wow.

/daniel is bouncing on his chair.

Cheers,
Daniel.
OpenOffice.org volunteer.

---
Make a difference. Join OOoAuthors today.
http://www.oooauthors.org

[ Reply to This | # ]

Where innovation occurs
Authored by: Anonymous Coward on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 02:05 AM EST
Inovation tends to happen (more) at small companies where someone had a bright
idea and is now trying to sell it.
It looks like there are two options of getting your hands at this type of new
idea.
1) The stick.
Making sure that the only way that these new companies can run is by handing
over the idea to you in exchange for not executing a threat against the company.
Currently this threat is the software patents.
2) The carrot.
Hand this small company a bunch of technology with a restriction on use, that (
depending on the license used) new things developed out of this code or with
this code are to be handed back into this pool.

Option 1 seems more attractive to companies for which making software is the
corebusiness.
Option 2 seems more attractive to companies that use software as a building
block for other business endavours.

[ Reply to This | # ]

IBM Gives FOSS Free Access to 500 Patents - Rethinks IP Management
Authored by: eamacnaghten on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 02:22 AM EST
This is very good news, and hopefully will create a precedent. It seems they have not dedicated these patents (put them in the domain of the patent: or cancelled them) but, in effect, gave Open Source developers permission to use them while still using them as a defense against proprietary software, however....

Oh my. They got it. Ta-Da!!

PJ: You are being unfair to IBM, and Microsoft, by saying that.

IBM have always got it. What IBM have realized (approx 5 years ago) is the enormous potential for the FOSS community to rapidly develop scaleable, reliable and efficient software and they have simply positioned themselves to take advantage of this. These 500 patents are an extension of that. I can guarantee that they still have several thousand which they are not "commonizing". These 500 patents, however, is a continuation of this policy of FOSS positioning.

Microsoft also get it, and always have done. The stratergy they are following is not based on ignorance. It is ironic that one of the reasons for Microsoft's (initial) success was that IBM was not capable of "scaleing down" their softwar development process in order to write an OS for their new-fangled "Personal Computer", because now, Microsoft are so tuned into the "retail commodity software" model of making money that they cannot retune their business to be a service oriented one that IBM has developed. No matter what they do in this area they seem to fail (Passport? Anyone?). But they understand FOSS and Common IP OK, it is just that the FOSS model is destroying their business and they would quite like it to go away thank you.

Web Sig: Eddy Currents

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stop playing their game. Surrender.
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 02:49 AM EST

I notice in the quotes from PJ's article above, and in some comments, the word "strategy" is used a lot here.

Every company that has played MS' game on MS' ballfield has been beaten. Those of use that have been doing personal computers as a hobby noticed the pattern as early as the late 80's (love to hear from anyone that it struck earlier than that what was going on).

MS embraces and extends their OS monopoly sometimes for the sole purpose of killing off a competitor, sacrificing the ability of the OS to work properly and giving the end user (the customer) less for their money in the process. Quarterdeck learned the hard way. Stac Electronics won the battle, but lost the war. The list goes on. Hey, Groklaw has a page for that list now.

IBM has been beaten: Not by the recent sale to Lenovo, but by the OS/2 failure. Possibly the earlier PS/2 failure (historians please debate).

Now comes a simple and rather pedestrian 12-step approach: Surrender.

Let go.

Some Eastern philosophies noted it thousands of years ago. Take, for example, Lao Tzu:

"He whose ideas remain in the world, is present for all time."

The original "The Story of Doctor Dolittle" invented an animal to demonstrate the point. You can stop pushing now. Try pulling instead.

My experience as a 12-year old with Judo suggests the same strategy: Their own weight defeats them in the end; use their momentum against them. Move out of the way, they will fall flat on their face. Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff wrote songs about it. "The harder they come..."

This IBM news is so heartening I'm tempted to register at the NY Times web site to read the story. That's a rare feeling.

Any of the old companies could have done something like this. Netscape tried to open up, but it was too late. Novell needs a matching response to IBM's move: They need to loosen the restrictions on their Valuable IP (tm). Novell still won't let you use their logo without asking permission, this I consider old-think (We don't want your free advertising, we want to control everything). The Control Everything attitude has led these companies to control virtually nothing as the Dark Lord's shadow darkened more and more of our (common) landscape.

Other survivors need to follow, and try to best the leader of this strategy, the more they open up, the more they free the software, the more they loosen the restrictions on that Valuable IP (tm), the more business they win. MS is going down, it is a shark being denied its natural prey.

Finally, the same sentiment is found in the bromide, "If you love something very much, let it go free..."

[ Reply to This | # ]

IBM Gives
Authored by: rp$eeley on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 02:55 AM EST
That has a strangely unfamiliar sound in my ears for some reason, but it
certainly does sound great. The times they are a changin'! Oh how I'd love to be
a bug in the wall of IBM's war room these days.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What's that I see? A periscope?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 03:00 AM EST

Companies change. Management changes. Strategies change. Remember when SCO were one of the good guys?

I expect that this will be another Red Hat not-a-license license schemes, that not-quite-promises to (probably) not sue for patent infringement today.

If it doesn't offer full and explicit licenses irrevocably and in perpetuity, then all that this does is to highlight just how many patents FOSS projects are currently being threatened by.

Companies change.

[ Reply to This | # ]

and here is a lovely little kicker...
Authored by: star-dot-h on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 03:00 AM EST
"IBM reserves the right to terminate this patent pledge and commitment only
with regard to any party who files a lawsuit asserting patents or other
intellectual property rights against Open Source Software"

Beautiful just.

OT aside: I predict here and now that within 18 months Bill Gates will be
embracing FOSS like an old friend. Remember how late he was to the internet?
Well, the flodd gates are opening Bill, time to join the ride.

[ Reply to This | # ]

IBM Gives FOSS Free Access to 500 Patents - Rethinks IP Management
Authored by: Zarkov on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 03:04 AM EST
It will be interesting to see how far IBM's 'rethink' of its patent strategy
goes.

Giving IBM the benefit of the doubt, I can easily see them pulling their support
of European patents, which would ceratinly leave the hold-outs high and dry...

[ Reply to This | # ]

This sounds great but...
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 03:07 AM EST
If, as a for profit organization, happen to independently develop some software
that 'infringes' one of these 500 patents, am I *still* not at risk of
litigation? (in the US at least)

This is a great offer, but until software patents are gone, the threat to SMEs
remains.

[ Reply to This | # ]

looking a gift horse in the mouth
Authored by: unsubtle on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 03:17 AM EST
http://www.ib m.com/ibm/licensing/patents/pledgedpatents.pdf

  1. is this kind of unilateral pledge legally binding? i'd hope so, but i figure it's worth asking. also, why is this phrased as a pledge and commitment, not as a patent licence? is this significantly different from a patent licence?

  2. the pledge is said to be
    irrevocable except that IBM reserves the right to terminate this patent pledge and commitment only with regard to any party who files a lawsuit asserting patents or other intellectual property rights against Open Source Software
    i'm a little concerned about the possibility of termination of IBM's commitment if one asserts "other intellectual property rights". that presumably includes copyright or trademarks, which could lead to problems. perhaps the intent of the slightly odd wording (asserting rights "against Open Source Software"? aren't rights asserted against people or corporations?) is to cover attempts to make any OSS effectively cease to be open source. that would make perfect sense. but does this wording have just that effect, or is it broader?

  3. by when was IBM going to switch all their desktops to linux? :-)
    Filename:     ~9653746.doc
    Directory:   
    C:DOCUME~1ADMINI~1LOCALS~1TempnotesEA3
       12D
    yes, i know i'm cruel.
0

[ Reply to This | # ]

Hold it a second..
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 03:32 AM EST
Isnt there something in the GPL about patents, which says they either must be
licensed for everyones use or not at all?

without wishing to troll, Arent IBM Obligated to allow everyone wishing to
develop OS applications free access to any patents they have which may affect
stuff they use?

Not that i dont think that clarifying the air is not a good thing, and anything
to act as a counterpoint to BG's Patent FUD is a good idea.

[ Reply to This | # ]

IBM Gives FOSS Free Access to 500 Patents - Rethinks IP Management
Authored by: TToni on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 03:46 AM EST
Well, IBM started the whole Microsoft thing themselves (remember
IBM-PC+MS-DOS?). So they have the moral obligation to do something against it
:-)

Aside from that: Wouldn't it be wonderful, if the patents they used in the
counterclaim against SCO were among the 500? Then SCO could use them, but only
if they go Open-Source. Now *that's* what I would call irony...

Thank you, IBM, for brightening my day.

TToni

P.S.: Hmmm. I got fired and start working as a .NET-Consultant now (with better
payment). Maybe I should be more careful with statements about Microsoft :-P

[ Reply to This | # ]

IBM anti-american??
Authored by: ghost on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 03:56 AM EST
Does this make IBM an anti-american company?
At least, this would pretty much be true if they were to fit SCO's and
Microsoft's definitions of things, and as such, has to be hunted down.

Good luck....

Hat off, and i bow to IBM, to greet their generosity.
Once a bad guy, doesn't always make you a bad guy, especially not if you change,
and make good.

IBM, is gaining in trust and public confidence.


[ Reply to This | # ]

So what is this?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 04:29 AM EST
Is this leveraging dead technology, which might otherwise lie idle, or is it
supporting innovation through genuine sacrifice?

Lets wait to see the patents.

SJG

[ Reply to This | # ]

Some Implications and Issues
Authored by: afruss on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 04:36 AM EST
I am absolutely blown away by the generosity of this pledge, Thank you IBM.

I felt the patent landscape shift a little under my feet today, I didn't expect to read anything except pessimism into the future of patents.

A word of caution though:

I think that IBM, through this action, may have effectively lost the power to assert these patents to a pre-prepared proprietary vendor.

Consider the scenario where some proprietary code has some "Patent 500" issues in a highly modular part of their code.

The vendor then only needs to issue that section of their code under a BSD/Apache or even possibly a dual licence to get "Patent Immunity". They can continue to sell the combined work without a problem.

Of course this would take a courageous vendor to take on IBM in the patent minefield.

In terms of other implications:

This may encourage some vendors to attempt open source authorship, especially if additional patents are 'gifted' into this type of pledge agreement. Even to the extent that it may be a damage mitigation strategy for vendors to Open Source because it is too risky to attempt to negotiate the patent minefield (especially if it is not their core business). I could see this as a government strategy in a few years (although I am not sure about the US government situation).

Andrew.

[ Reply to This | # ]

This isn't just software, and it's very important
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 05:10 AM EST
The list of patents are available on IBM's website.

If you look in the PDF, you will see this little gem:

All licenses certified by opensource.org and listed on their website as of 01/11/2005 are Open Source Software licenses for the purpose of this pledge..

Looking at the patent list, a large number describe hardware implementations of very high end techniques. As a user and occasional (now more than occasional!) contributor to OpenCores.org, I use the GPL. Virtually every project up there is using a OSI approved license.

The upshot of this is I can now implement hardware in FPGAs for open source projects (including open source hardware implementations) using IBM patented techniques.

That's just huge

PeteS (not logged in)

[ Reply to This | # ]

500 out of how many?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 05:18 AM EST
Hm. Great and everything, but according to http://www.ibm.com/ibm/licensing/:
In 2003, IBM received 3,415 U.S. patents from the USPTO. This is the eleventh consecutive year that IBM has received more U.S. patents than any other company in the world
Don't know what IBM's total number of patents is, or how many are on software, but maybe opening up 500 of them isn't that significant. It's certainly in no way a fix for the current crazed patent legislation.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Wow, there's a lesson for Red Hat
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 05:38 AM EST
How to do it: "irrevocable", "legally binding".

http://www.ibm.com/ibm/licensing/patents/pledgedpatents.pdf


How /not/ to do it: "agrees to refrain from enforcing" [today]

http://www.redhat.com/legal/patent_policy.html

Red Hat's policy is looking a little mealy-mouthed now.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Analisys of the pledge (PDF)
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 06:43 AM EST
While I applaud the move by IBM, reading the comments here, there seems to be
some confusion as to how far-reaching this move is and what implications in will
have on the Open Source development process and on software and software patents
in general.

Could Groklaw do an analysis of this document, and maybe try to get an FAQ
session (or at least some answers) from someone at IBM?

I'm in heaven about this, but before I fly off, I would appreciate more clarity
about this move.

Darkelve (not logged in)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Some reasons why IBM is doing this?
Authored by: TH on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 06:44 AM EST
It would be very naïve to believe that IBM is doing this because they want to
spread peace and love in the world.

IBM, like any other company, are thinking about their bottom line. They have
figured out that they will never get any royalty revenue for their patents from
Open Source projects - that simply won't happen. So instead, they have the
choice of blocking the use of those patents in open source software, or giving a
free licence.

I think they choose to give the free licence for at least three reasons:

1) IBM knows that they have a very positive image in the FOSS world. This is
extremely rare for a megacorporation. This move costs them nothing in terms of
lost revenue, but further cements their position as the world's Open Source
champion.

2) More software is likely to be open sourced because of this - because it will
be the easy way to get around having to licence a patent from IBM.

3) In the areas the patents covers, it will give Open Source the first IP edge
over proprietary software from e.g. Microsoft. In the past, there's always been
a risk that we (open source people) couldn't make software that works like
something from e.g. Microsoft, because of patent issues. Now it's turned around,
and we can actually imagine a situation where it's Microsoft that can't make a
commercial clone of a piece of Open Source software.

All in all this is a huge benefit to the FOSS world. Kudos to IBM for being
brave, but before we start feeling all warm and fuzzy let's not forget that they
are doing it for their bottom line, not for idealistic reasons.

Anyway, just my thoughts and I might be completely wrong.

[ Reply to This | # ]

IBM Gives FOSS Free Access to 500 Patents - Rethinks IP Management
Authored by: daWabbit on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 06:58 AM EST
Yes, IBM does get it and this is a great day. I think we have to be a bit more
realistic about what this courageous move really does for us and take a
"wait and see" attitude. There is no doubt, though, that this is a
landmark action on IBM's part.

Unfortunately, we still have the issue of who will bear the huge costs of patent
litigation. IBM, even in concert with other companies, cannot devote too much in
the way of resources to such fights and I foresee things getting out of hand,
given the huge warchests MS and others can fund.

What I think would be hilarious to watch would be if MS uses some of these
patents recently freed by IBM in their wares and tries to get out of paying fees
and/or licensing things because in other cases IBM gives them away free.

Thanks to all who participate in this site and particularly PJ. Y'all make my
days better, more often than not.

Jack

---
"There ain't no reason I should work this hard when I can live off the chickens
in my neighbor's yard" -Bruno Wolfe

[ Reply to This | # ]

IBM Gives FOSS Free Access to 500 Patents - Rethinks IP Management
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 07:00 AM EST
> All licenses certified by opensource.org and listed on
> their website as of 01/11/2005 are Open Source Software
> licenses for the purpose of this pledge..

Why the delay to November?

D.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Two Words
Authored by: scottm on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 07:16 AM EST
Thank You!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Semi-relevant comment in today's Grauniad
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 08:04 AM EST
http://www.guardian.co.uk/online/comment/story/0,12449,1387575,00.html

Someone else "getting it". More about copyright, but mentions patents
too.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Wow! Thank you IBM!
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 08:12 AM EST
This is truly a great thing. First, it relieves so many
of the fears that have been created by M$. Second, it seems
like IBM just pulled off one of the legs from M$'s three
legged stool. Third, it really paves the way for some really
great and needed advances in the OSS community.

Thank you so much.

Rick

[ Reply to This | # ]

Does this mean Sun is not allowed?
Authored by: golding on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 08:13 AM EST
<snip>
All licenses certified by opensource.org and listed on their website as of
01/11/2005 are Open Source Software licenses for the purpose of this pledge..
<end snip>

Suns open/shared source licence has not been certified yet, does the above lock
them out from access to these patents?

---
Regards, Robert

..... Some people can tell what time it is by looking at the sun, but I have
never been able to make out the numbers.

[ Reply to This | # ]

IBM Gives FOSS Free Access to 500 Patents - Rethinks IP Management
Authored by: tredman on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 08:25 AM EST
This is a laudable attempt by IBM to "play nice in the sandbox", as it
were. However, if they really want to foster the development of this IP in the
F/OSS community, they should add a new section to their already awesome
developerWorks site.

I propose that this new section is devoted entirely to the patents that they
just released, along with any future IP that they want to donate. Those in the
F/OSS and legal circles of IBM could do writeups on each patent, explaining what
the primary impetus was of each filing, along with a short bit of
proof-of-concept code to demonstrate how it can be used in an application.
More importantly, they could prior art in relation to these patents, and how the
patent differs.

There's entirely too much legal "CYA" going on in a patent, it would
be nice for the sharper minds at Big Blue to explain exactly what the original
intentions were with these morsels.

If IBM adhered to a policy of only releasing patents that they could explain and
show proof-of-concept code to, it would deter them from releasing non-substative
IP.

Does this make sense to anybody? Whattaya say, IBM? Sound like a plan? And in
the spirit of things, I won't even ask for royalties on the idea. :) Not that I
could ever collect or anything....

Tim

[ Reply to This | # ]

How Legally Binding is This?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 08:43 AM EST
Will it ever be possible for IBM to revoke this? In the US and elsewhere?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Thank you IBM
Authored by: waltish on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 08:44 AM EST
If any IBM People read Groklaw I would like you to know that I Thank you all and
your company for this most magnanamous gift.

w

---
To speak the truth plainly and without fear,Is powerfull.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Thank you IBM - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 12 2005 @ 01:31 PM EST
Could be big money spinner for companies holding patents.
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 08:52 AM EST
This could be a lucrative way for companies wishing to
monetise patents to do so. However the open source
community will not accept this unless patents are granted
free and unencumbered use in combination with GPL etc. in
perpetuity.

It would make sense for any company with a patent that
they actually want to collect revenue from to grant it for
free use in perpetuity with GPL - particularly for file
format and protocol patents in order to make their use
widespread. Then proprietary vendors will be forced to
license use of the patent for compatibility and
interoperability reasons, and pay a tidy sum for the
privilege.

The thing is that is the patent holder needs to make
his/her patent ubiquitous, he/she would have to write an
application, market it, and win significant market share.
No sane proprietary (and GPL) vendors will knowingly use a
patent if it can be avoided, because it puts their
software under someone else control, since the right to
use it can simply be refused a whim, rendering them
vulnerable to extortion. Most patent holders don't have
the muscle to develop and market a patented application to
the point where it captures significant market share.
Allow free use in perpetuity for GPL software, and someone
else will develop, code, and maintain does it for you free
of charge. You don't lose anything from this anyway,
because GPL and other FOSS software is incompatible with
patents anyway, so you they will just code around the
problem if you don't to establish other protocols/file
formats as standards, which will make your patent
redundant.

The only type of patent use for which a grant of free use
in perpetuity for GPL etc. would not be beneficial is in
the case of submarine patents for extortion after a vendor
inadvertently invents the same invention independently and
incorporates it into their software, and use of patents to
block free market competition by competitors an existing
monopoly.


[ Reply to This | # ]

IBM *had* to do this!
Authored by: sunnyfla on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 09:21 AM EST
I was sitting around trying to understand IBMs motivation
for this, and, while looking at the patent list, it
occurred to me that IBM simply *had* to "open-source"
their patents!

They intend to deliver hardware working on open source
software. Yet, they are sitting on a mountain of
technology that is not open-source compatible.

In order to provide the highest technology solutions to
their customers, they would have to maintain superior
proprietary code (in addition to their low-tech
open-source alternatives), or simply open-source the
patents and free themselves to expend capital on high-tech
open source.

For them, simply a business decision. For the community,
a gold mine....

[ Reply to This | # ]

500 Patents
Authored by: kberrien on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 09:24 AM EST
I wonder how the list compiled (was is OSDL?) regarding possible patent issues
with linux some time back, matches up to the 500 IBM patents pledged to open
source.

Will it be found that all the "possible" patent issues in Linux that
are owned by IBM have been "opened" in this pledge?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Hey Scotty and Johnny, have you heard?
Authored by: ray08 on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 09:39 AM EST
What do you think of IP rights now, with regards to F/OSS? Hint: Get on-board or
get left behind!

---
Caldera is toast! And Groklaw is the toaster! (with toast level set to BURN)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Seed for defensive patent portfolio
Authored by: Stanley Chow on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 09:53 AM EST
One thing that may not be immediately obvious is that this is , in effect, a
patent portfolio that can be wielded on behave of OSS. The wording is towards
the end - despite the irrevocable grant, IBM reserves the right to assert the
patents against anyone who assert their own patents against OSS.

Clearly, The Optimum Event is that each company will emulate IBM and put their
non-essential patents into this patent commons. This basically turns OSS into a
significant patent player and effectively forces a cross-license with everyone.

It is interesting to see what he "essential or core" patents will be
worth - these core patents are presumably what will differentiate the products
of the holders. Clearly, other competitors cannot infringe, but what if OSS
infringes one of these core patents?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Finally read the pledge ...
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 09:59 AM EST
That is quite a list. Much more impressive
than FAT file system. Also, the last paragraph is
quite interesting. Seems almost to be aimed directly
at M$. ;)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Fire a shot across the MS ship's bow
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 10:13 AM EST
I love that final phrase:

[...] irrevocable except that IBM reserves the right to terminate this patent pledge and commitment only with regard to any party who files a lawsuit asserting patents or other intellectual property rights against Open Source Software.

This means that any attempt by MicroSoft to file a patent claim against FOSS is going to need vastly more planning and care that it would have needed yesterday. MS will have to make sure that any action they take is not legally tied to themselves. IBM has not limited itself to retaliation only against claims made against IBM - they retain the right to respond to any attack against Open Source Software. So, if MS were to file a patent claim against OpenOffice (just a "random" example where MS has taken explicit effort to keep their IP claim options open, when they negotiated the settlement with Sun), they would have to be worried that IBM might decide to act in response.

"Shot fired captain, they know that we have them outgunned in the Intellectual Property seas now."

"Keep a sharp lookout, number one. They'll be sure to try subterfuge of some sort. Keep a round the clock watch on the sonar for divers, use the satellite scanners to watch for any signs of outside reinforcements. Just because we have the advantage in our intellectual property doesn't mean that they can't try to use their sneaky property."

John Macdonald

[ Reply to This | # ]

Me? I'm more annoyed than elated
Authored by: raynfala on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 10:35 AM EST
Not that I think that IBM doing what they're doing is a Bad Thing. What really
gets my blood pressure elevated is looking at the patents that were actually
granted. Good golly, it's like watching patents get issued for the wheel, the
inclined plane, and the lever.

And the cynic in me notes that IBM donated 500 patents out of how many? *smirk*

--Raynfala

[ Reply to This | # ]

Waiting for Rob
Authored by: ralevin on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 12:11 PM EST
I'm really looking foward to Rob Enderle's interpretation of this. So far I can
think of two possible ways for him to go:

) This is stupid suicidal move by IBM playing to all those open-source
fanatics/commies that will destroy the company and take down western
civilization. (He'll have to fill in the mechanism - I can't do everything.)


) This is a good move by IBM, that Enderle suggested over a decade ago when he
was in the Executive training program and the obvious choice for future CEO.
That they don't credit him just shows the internal corruption, and proves SCO
will win.

I invite other suggestions. I haven't figured out how to work the Vroom Vroom
Ferrari notebook in.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Can IBM take another step?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 12:54 PM EST
What if IBM took another small step? What if they helped open source developers
to patent everything that they can? I know it costs alot ($500 or $1000???) per
patent, plus the time to prepare/submit, etc. If they assisted in the process,
we could *NAIL* the door closed on any future patent issues.

The problem is how to combat the existing ones? We invalidate them if we can, or
convince the companies to follow IBM's lead.

I am in awe at IBM. They get it. They know it. We know it.

THANK YOU, IBM!

[ Reply to This | # ]

IBM Gives FOSS Free Access to 500 Patents - Rethinks IP Management
Authored by: micheal on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 01:30 PM EST
" except that IBM reserves the right to terminate this patent pledge and commitment only with regard to any party who files a lawsuit asserting patents or other intellectual property rights against Open Source Software."

Does this mean that if the FSF files a copyright lawsuit against someone who tries to convert GPL licensed software to, say, BSD licensed software that the right of the FSF to use the patents is terminated?

I don't think that that is IBM's intent, but the pledge should be changed to clarify that point.

Perhaps the rights should only be terminated for patent lawsuits and not lawsuits for copyright and trademark violations. Another possibility is to allow copyright and trademark lawsuits only if the violations are clearly identified and the infringers have been given a chance to remove the violating code.

---
LeRoy -
What a wonderful day.

[ Reply to This | # ]

IBM Gives FOSS Free Access to 500 Patents - Rethinks IP Management
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 01:39 PM EST
I think IBM may be able to get a tax break for the value of these patents.
Also, the tax code might be changing soon to reduce the amount, place
limitations on, or remove this tax break, due to some 'bad apples' that ruined
this technology transfer by overvaluing their patents to get the increased tax
break. One example that FOSS may be able to follow is CATI in Racine,
Wisconsin, which is a repository/incubator for upstart companies that use
patents that other corporations choose not to pursue but donate to CATI but may
have economic value. www.thecati.com

[ Reply to This | # ]

Patent Law Question
Authored by: rp$eeley on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 01:54 PM EST
This may sound off topic to some, but it's not.
Hypothetically speaking, if the death of a corporation was somehow so rapid and
so complete that they never had a chance to sell or otherwise assign their
patents, what would then be the status of those patents?

[ Reply to This | # ]

What IBM "gets"
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 02:04 PM EST
IBM gets two things. They get how Open Source works, and they get how to make
money from Open Source.

Revising the old story of the goose that laid the golden eggs: IBM realises
that the penguin lays golden eggs. IBM then carefully investigates to find out
what kind of herring the penguin likes, and makes sure to keep penguin-eating
predators at bay. Should the penguin mind that IBM is doing this from selfish
motives, when the penguin gets a safe environment with lots of herring?
Probably not...

MSS

[ Reply to This | # ]

Wow.. This is going to be expensive on my part..
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 02:26 PM EST
IBM's decision to release 500 patents for FOSS use is magnificient. I hope more
companies follow in their example. Hopefully this creates some problems sleeping
for certain people.

Definitely going to be buying IBM for that next upgrade.

I am
Just an Obnoxious Twit

[ Reply to This | # ]

Dildo on "IBM Gives FOSS Free Access to 500 Patents - Rethinks IP Management"
Authored by: jim Reiter on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 03:32 PM EST

A Dildo quote "Didio also questioned which patents IBM was
sharing and said that the company still is not
indemnifying its open source customers against potential
patent infringement lawsuits."

My understanding of the IBM Linux product line is that
they (the IBM products) are applications that run "on"
Linux. What does Dildo think IBM should indemnify anyone
for?

Who do you think has a greater patent infringement
liability, M$# or IBM?



[ Reply to This | # ]

Consumer goods?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 03:35 PM EST
I wonder if IBM has figured out the economics of consumer goods. One of the
barriers to UNIX has been the high licensing fees. SCO's license was far above
the cost of a Microsoft desktop license. That is a major roadblock that pushed
a lot of folks to the Linux "free" software market. IBM has to se
that. If they can help other folks develop a consumer priced OS that they can
ride on with some consumer cost software they can come out ahead in the long
run. Do you get $1000 each form a 100 customers and your stuff bootleged or $1
each from 1,000,000,000 customers and few copy it because it is cheaper/easier
to buy a copy? I think IBM plans to tap the million either by providing
backroom services or a killer app. I think the Asian community is going to turn
Linux into the equivlent of the $10 watch over the next few years. You can
still buy a Rollex but my $10 Casio keeps time as well and no one wants to steal
it. I wonder which company makes a better profit. It will be interesting to
see here Gates gets left.

;-)

[ Reply to This | # ]

An Analysis of IBM's strategy
Authored by: ExcludedMiddle on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 03:39 PM EST
First of all, I think that this is a brave move for IBM, and I applaud them for
it. I consider this to be a win-win situation for them, and although it serves
their interest, it also helps the community. And for this, I thank them.

Now, on with an analysis of this. Let's remember our lessons from the excellent
postings here on Groklaw regarding patents. Most are easily granted--too easily
granted for the common good--and most are not tried in court. It costs a lot of
money to defend yourself against a patent violation, so most defendants settle
out of court for license fees. Thus, patents are only good to use against
companies with deep pockets. However, in reality, many patents are very possibly
unenforceable when it comes down to it, so most patent holders are quite
selective about who they go after, and which patents they enforce.

Now, there are two major reasons to hold patents. Firstly, you can extract money
from licensing. Secondly, you can use it to create a limited, legal monopoly in
a technology so that only you and your partners can use that technology for the
life of the patent, and shut out all competition.

The interesting thing we also learned here on Groklaw is that a monopoly can't
use their patents to just shut other companies out. Where the line is drawn is
unclear, but if Microsoft wanted to use patents to shut down OSS, it wouldn't be
an open-and-shut case, considering that they have been ruled a legal monopoly.

Finally, remember that it's never worth the time of a patent holder to go after
FOSS softare except for control of a technology, or to try to shut down a
project. Most licensing is about money. FOSS projects don't have money. They
usually don't have enough money that could be won from the project to even pay
your lawyer to consult with them about the case, and do the initial filing. And
using patents to shut down a FOSS project is dangerous for most companies. The
community loves finding prior art, and a plaitiff might just find themselves
having to defend against a pro-bono lawyer, and a huge research community which
tries to invalidate their patent. There's nothing to win from the FOSS project
if they succeed other than a shut-down project, and a lot of bad PR. Oh, and the
project will probably be picked up in some other country, since it's open source
anyway, and they'd have to go to court again, in some patent friendly country
like Laos or Bulgaria. On the other hand, if they lose, they could lose their
patent as unenforceable, a huge risk for almost no reward. Only mega-sized
companies such as MS, SUN, and Oracle would bother with this strategy, because
they have the deep pockets, and have the most to gain by destroying FOSS
software. The upside for FOSS is that MS, our most likely company to pursue this
strategy, has been ruled a legal monopoly, so since they have no money to gain,
the only reason to sue a FOSS project for patent reasons is to shut out
competition, which might make the entire action illegal in the first place, and
at least gives our FOSS defendant a nice affirmative defense.

With that background, let's look at IBM's position:

Firstly, IBM is making lots of money on FOSS. They make more money when FOSS is
used because companies can save money on licensing and spend that on more
consulting, hardware, and their own software applications than customers might
otherwise have bought. And even if the customers don't spend the savings on IBM,
they aren't spending it on their biggest competition: MS.

Secondly, IBM loses very little licensing fees for the patents that it just
released for FOSS use only. FOSS projects never pay for licensing patents. None
of the projects that might have already used these concepts are using it, and
any future ones would not have paid money to license it either. The only
licensing that IBM loses out on is a project that might have considered using
these patents to create a proprietary program that the developers decide to open
to get access to those patents. Remember, most patents are not enforceable
anyway, and with closed source, how do you know that they are using those
concepts? If a company wants to stay legitimately closed, they can still pay for
it. IBM did not remove their ability to continue to license it to
closed-sourcers, so they certainly haven't given up their rights.

Thirdly, IBM gets a lot of good-PR-mana for IBM, FOSS, and Linux for this move.

Fourthly, IBM undercuts reams of FUD from MS and other enemies of FOSS. They can
call it communist all they want, but logic says that when you prove a counter
example, the original premise falls apart. They may try to keep up this
communism tactic, but it's hard to argue that when one of the largest companies
in the world takes a move like this. There is one downside: IBM's release of
these patents underscores that FOSS should be concerned with patent issues,
which as we've discussed earlier in this post, is more of a perception than a
reality. This move just doesn't help this perception.

Fifthly, they encourage other companies to take the same action with their
patents. This is good for everyone, including IBM, which would get the benefit
along with everyone else.


To conclude, this feels like the best aspects of the Creative Commons licenses
taken to Patents. Imagine, you don't have to talk to a lawyer to build new
creations off of other people's ideas. Think of the creativity, projects, and
ideas that might flow from this action. What an exciting idea!

[ Reply to This | # ]

IBM attempts a check
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 05:16 PM EST
Microsoft has been very clearly adding patent licensing terms and conditions to as many contracts as possible. Their XML schemas even comes with clauses requiring users to accept patent licensing terms for patents that they do not even state as actually existing!

My impression of Microsoft's game is that it is desperately trying to establish patent licensing as the "norm" in the software field. It must do this before it could effectivily sue OSS, otherwise it will be visible as a clear and obvious anti-competitive trick. If they can say, however, it's somehow "normal" to patent license software, then they can try to claim their behavior is within those norms.

IBM basically offers another viewpoint, and one that does put a kink in the Microsoft plan...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Can you say "GNU Patent License"?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 05:36 PM EST
No?

Just a thought.

[ Reply to This | # ]

IBM Gives FOSS Free Access to 500 Patents - Rethinks IP Management
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 08:03 PM EST
Yes, it is fantastic that IBM has done this for the community.
I still choose to be a bit skeptical, When IBM dowsnt release all its patents,
one could fear that they release what they are legally forced to to
use/distribute GNU/Linux in compliance with GPL.

The very problem of patents still exists, though and IBM like any other company
wil enforce their patents it without regard of the FOSS community if nessecary
for economical (Profitable) reasons.
- With or against the FOSS community

Vidar

[ Reply to This | # ]

Patent Timeline
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 08:34 PM EST
Has anyone else noticed the pattern in the patents? They start almost perfectly
at the beginning Jan 1993 and cleanly end in Dec 2001 (this refers to patent
issue date, not patent filing date). So this does not appear to be selected
from IBM's entire software patent library (I have no idea what to think of
that... though with IBM's bureaucracy and age, one could speculate that those
before 1993 may not be in a computerized form for easy review). It is also (I
think/hope) an indication that there may be more to come (as they go through the
2002-2004 filing cabinets =) )

As others have mentioned, looking at the vast patent portfolio vs. the small
number that were opened up, remember that the largest producer of patents within
IBM is the microelectronics division... so most IBM patents are hardware
related. This: http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-980262.html actually does a
breakout in 2002 patents, to give some perspective.

[ Reply to This | # ]

IBM just remembered that is a service company
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 11:26 PM EST
IBM has always been a service oriented company (the old saw used to be no ever
got fired for buying IBM - meaning they stood behind their products). They
always out-sourced to the best OEMs to get the quality they needed to be
successful.

Considering the quality of some of the latest open source software, it makes a
lot of sense to leverage that development community any they can for new
products people actully want, and more importantly trust. No one company could
ever match its breadth and depth.

It is a good business strategy, especially in light of the fact that M$ is
particularly vulnerable in the areas of service and quality.

[ Reply to This | # ]

IBM Gives FOSS a greater gift.
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 11:32 PM EST
These are 500 patents with source code that can be added to many databanks
around the world to have on hand for fighting patents, if nothing else. This is
a rich, one time resource, one that its value should not be looked over. I find
that the move by IBM has been taken with open and clear ideas and opinions, and
this is the way a community should be.

IBM the first to do such a thing from the high ranks of the proprietary world.
It is a great thing, of business and community together, and IBM shows the way.

[ Reply to This | # ]

This may be of value to pc manufacturers for linux boxes
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 12 2005 @ 12:01 AM EST
Reading through the list of patents, many are hardware and interface related. I
can see these as a real resource for computer manufacturers who can make use of
these patents in the design of machines they sell as long as the OS and drivers,
etc., are all open source.

Perhaps this will be a significant step in the development of more Linux PCs
available direct from manufacturers.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The bottom line
Authored by: bbaston on Wednesday, January 12 2005 @ 01:10 AM EST
IBM has just bypassed the USPTO, a US Congress member from Utah, the entire M$ Lobby and Journalist Army, and all of TSCOG's massive FUD campaign, in one precisely aimed, calibered and timed chip shot to the heart of the matter - a hole in one at the Win-Win Country Club.

After it all sinks in at Redmond, will M$ continue with its threats against the newly-equipped FOSS community? Will the world continue to pay the M$ toll? Will Linus wink at the camera? Will PJ brush off her Red Dress? Tune in again tomorrow for "As the IP World Turns".

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Ben
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IMBW, IANAL2, IMHO, IAVO,
imaybewrong, iamnotalawyertoo, inmyhumbleopinion, iamveryold.
-+++->> Have you donated to Groklaw this month?

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Too broad?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 12 2005 @ 01:11 AM EST
It seems to me that the grant extends not just to open-source software, but also
to software licensed, e.g., to require notifying the copyright owner before
distributing a modified version, and identifying who got it. If that's what
they wanted to do, they are of course allowed to do it, but this sort of sloppy
legal language from IBM is surprising.

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Sugar coating on a bitter pill?
Authored by: Glen on Wednesday, January 12 2005 @ 08:43 PM EST
I hope this not the sugar coating on a bitter pill.
Some of the copyright bills floating through Congress.
For instance illegalizing the fast forward button and
giving Copyright powers of the court without review.

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Salus is talking crap! (in this snippet)
Authored by: Korpo on Thursday, January 13 2005 @ 02:57 PM EST
Freedom of information is nice, free software is nice. No argument about that. I
love those two things!

But "globalization of trade"? It has been bad for the majority of
Earth's population and mostly contributed to widening the gap between poor and
rich all over the globe.

NAFTA, WTO, IMF, World Bank, WIPO - that's your globalization of trade. That has
only to do with _taking away freedom_!!!

Don't intermix this with free software or freedom! Better read a Noam Chomsky
first - I recommend "War Against The People" or "Profit over
People". Or stick with UNIX history.

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Arithmetic coding??
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 13 2005 @ 07:31 PM EST
Can we finally stop using huffman in free projects? the original arithmetic
coding patents have expired, but IBM has since patented every variation that it
is very murky. We can finally switch back to bzip instead of bzip2.

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