Use of 500 Patents Could Boost Collaboration on Free Software
IBM Corp. plans to announce today that it is giving away rights to 500 of its software patents to help a growing community of developers who build software collaboratively and distribute it for free.
The donated patents span a wide range of technologies, from data storage to networking to electronic commerce. The company said the patents could be used by any individual or entity that is developing open-source software, which grew from the work of a handful of programming enthusiasts into a potent challenger to vendors of proprietary software systems such as Microsoft Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc.
This is a terrific development. It is also a wise move on IBM’s part. Politically it would be impossible to promote open systems and simultaneously defend its patents.
Just one more sign that open source is the way of the future.