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IBM Pledges Free Access to Patents Involved in Implementing 150+ Software Standards


IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is granting universal and perpetual access to certain intellectual property that might be necessary to implement more than 150 standards designed to make software interoperable.

One likely result of the pledge to commercial and open source communities is that it will be easier for more computing devices and software to be compatible with one another. The move, which IBM believes is the largest of its kind, is also designed to spur industry innovation, while discouraging litigation.

The software specifications and protocols involved in the pledge underpin industry standards, such as those reflected in Web Services: programming, transactions and data exchanged on the Internet and Web. These are typically under, or moving toward, stewardship by standards groups such as the World Wide Web Consortium and OASIS.

“IBM is sending a message that innovation and industry growth happens in an open, collaborative atmosphere,” said Bob Sutor, IBM’s Vice President of Open Source and Standards. “Users will adopt new technologies if they know that they can find those technologies in a variety of interchangeable, compatible products from competing vendors. We think customers will like this added assurance for the open standards upon which they have come to depend.”

IBM’s commitment not only applies to the distributors, developers or manufacturers that are implementing the specifications involved, but also extends to their users or customers. It is valid as long as adopters are not suing any party -- not just IBM -- over necessary patented technology needed to implement the standards.

Previously, all adopters of these specifications and protocols needed to secure royalty-free licensing terms from IBM. This move clarifies and makes more consistent the intellectual property usage rules, encouraging even wider implementations of open standards. IBM hopes that others companies and intellectual property holders make similar commitments.

The pledge involving more than 150 specifications and protocols is consistent with commitments that IBM previously has made, and which have since inspired pledges by other vendors. Previous pledges from IBM include commitments not to assert intellectual property rights for hundreds of patents involving the open source, healthcare and education communities.

Please visit to see the list of specifications and to obtain more details about IBM’s commitment.


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