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January 11, 2005

IBM's Giving Away Candy

IBM has pledged over 500 of their patents for use in open source software, and depending on how this goes, they may release more. Basically, programmers can use their stuff in software as long as the software is to remain open source. Right now this news may only be really interesting to programmers, but (at the risk of sounding dramatic) this could end up being one of those "truly historic" events. This could change the way companies interact with open source software and the way consumers perceive it...or not.

IBM has called on other IP owners to pony up some of their patents, too. This could result in open source software getting a shot in the arm. It's certainly a chance for companies to prove their support of open source and free software instead of just issuing "lip service". Obviously there is plenty in it for IBM because while everyone else has to release the code for the software using their patents, IBM can just integrate an open source innovation into their proprietary software and sell it (the actual code released by the open source community may, or may not be able to be used by IBM in proprietary software, but the innovative idea can).

I've looked over some of the patents released and I have to admit that most of it makes little to no sense to me, but I saw a few that even I could recognize as significant. I'm looking forward to reading more about this after programmers have time to digest what is really in the patents and can say if a lot of it is just "fluff" or if there is some real substance to what was released.

Posted 15 years, 9 months ago on January 11, 2005
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