IBM announced that it will be releasing the code for more than 500 software patents – allowing Open Source developers of the world to leverage the technology for the benefit of companies everywhere.
In a statement IBM said, “The pledge will benefit any open source software whose source code is published and available for inspection and use by anyone, and which is made available under a license agreement that permits recipients to copy, modify and distribute the program’s source code without payment of fees or royalties.”
The move is seen as protectionary against companies who might claim that existing open source technologies infringe on their own technologies.
The company said, “IBM reserves the right to terminate this patent pledge and commitment only with regard to any party who files a lawsuit asserting patents or other intellectual property rights against open source software.”
This could leave developers taking advantage of IBM’s offer vulnerable to a lawsuit.
The company has around 40,000 patents world wide and 25,000 US patents.
The pledge is applicable to any individual, community, or company working on or using software that meets the open source initiative definition of open source software now or in the future.
At the same time, the company announced that for the 12th consecutive year, it has been granted more patents than any other US company, with 3,248 granted last year alone – 1,314 more than its nearest rival.
“True innovation leadership is about more than just the numbers of patents granted. It´s about innovating to benefit customers, partners and society,” said John Kelly, IBM senior vice president for technology and intellectual property.