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Heavyweights pledge patents for Java phone updates

IBM, Nokia, Samsung, others give access to patents for building software based on OSGI Alliance standards.

Six companies, including IBM, Nokia and Samsung Electronics, are expected on Wednesday to open up patents relating to software for remotely updating mobile devices such as cell phones.

The move will give developers royalty-free access to patents necessary to write software based on the OSGI Service Platform Release 4, according to the companies involved.

The OSGI platform is standardized software developed by the OSGI Alliance, named after the Open Services Gateway Initiative, for remotely managing and updating Java software that runs on mobile devices. These Java programs can run on cell phones or in embedded computing applications like those designed for automobiles.

Until now, only members of the OSGI Alliance standards body had royalty-free access to patents owned by the six companies. By opening up access to their patents, the companies hope to spur adoption of the OSGI Service Platform.

In addition to IBM, Nokia and Samsung, the other organizations participating in the pledge include Gatespace Telematics, ProSyst Software and the OSGI Alliance itself.

The practice of giving access to patented technology breaks away from the traditional method of licensing it. But more and more large patent holders are trying it, said Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT.

"Over the last couple of years, there's been a movement among a lot of vendors--IBM has been very active, but there are others--in recognizing that getting people on board with your intellectual property goes beyond the value of a short-term payment," King said.

He said the OSGI patent pledge will make it easier for developers to work with the participating vendors.