I.B.M. to Give Free Access to 500 Patents
As techdirt points out, the number of patents IBM are realeasing to Open Source is rather small, but may signify a shift in thinking regarding Intellectual Property. There has been much dirersion over Bill Gates' CNet interview where he essentially labeled free software advocates as "modern day communists". In light of that, and much more to be found all over the web it's refreshing to see a company like IBM make even a small step in, what I beleive, is the right direction.
From the NYT article threadlinked above:
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 conventional practice is to amass as many patents as possible and then charge anyone who wants access to them. I.B.M. has long been the champion of that formula. The company, analysts estimate, collected $1 billion or more last year from licensing its inventions.
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.
and further on..
"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."
I.B.M. has already made substantial contributions to open-source software projects in the last few years. The company has been the leading corporate supporter of Linux. It donated computer code worth more than $40 million to an open-source group, Eclipse, which offers software tools for building programs. Last year, I.B.M. gave to an open-source group a database program called Cloudscape, which cost the company $85 million to develop.
Im sure there's a whole bunch of nasty stuff you could dig up to countermine such a good press but it really is nice to read something about a large corp that for all appearances seems to get the point of Open Source.