IBM giving open source software developers free access to 500 patents

Tuesday, January 11th 2005, 3:16 pm
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ IBM is making the information in 500 of its patents freely accessible to anyone working on open source software development, the company said Tuesday.

IBM is trying to encourage business clients to rely on open source software, rather than Microsoft Corp. programs, and use companies such as IBM to manage their systems.

Open source software includes programs that are not controlled by a single company. The software can be developed by anyone, with few restrictions. The best known such software is the Linux operating system.

``Through measures such as today's pledge, we will increasingly use patents to encourage and protect global innovation and interoperability through open standards,'' said John E. Kelly, an IBM official for technology and intellectual property.

The announcement reflects a shift in how IBM manages and uses its intellectual property. The company previously collected royalties on the 500 patents, which would be worth slightly more than $10 million if sold.

Any individual or group using software that meets the standards of the Open Source Initiative will have now have access to the patented information. Some of the company's patents are already available for free.

Open source software has made major strides in the past few years. It has been promoted by some governments including those of China, France, Germany, Japan and South Korea.