IBM to save the earth with patents

IBM is doing another patent-pool dance. Maybe some day the entire industry will dance.

IBM, Sony, Pitney Bowes, and Nokia have joined in a patent collective designed to help the environment. Similar to patent collectives that IBM has helped form before, the premise behind the patent pool is that its participants pledge not to assert the patents against "anyone who is using them in an environmentally friendly way:

The project, dubbed the "Eco-Patent Commons," builds on the experience of the open-source software movement..., said David Kappos, IBM's assistant general counsel for patent law...."The advantage of using this commons approach is efficiency, scale and visibility."

It's unfortunate that IBM and others see the value in such efficiency/etc. for the environment, but not in their day-to-day businesses. We need more pooling of patent like this to encourage safe ground in which to innovate. We do not need more patent squabbling and FUD.

At any rate, perhaps these fledgling patent commons will morph into something larger in the future. I can hear John Lennon singing now, "Imagine all those proprietary software companies, sharing all the world, yoo-hoo!"

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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