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IBM Contributes 500 U.S. Patents to Open Source

IBM Pledges 500 U.S. Patents to Open Source in Support of Innovation and Open Standards

IBM Receives Most U.S. Patents for Twelfth Year in a Row

Armonk, NY, USA. January 11, 2005.

IBM today pledged open access to key innovations covered by 500 IBM software patents to individuals and groups working on open source software. IBM believes this is the largest pledge ever of patents of any kind and represents a major shift in the way IBM manages and deploys its intellectual property (IP) portfolio.

The pledge is applicable to any individual, community, or company working on or using software that meets the Open Source Initiative (OSI) definition of open source software now or in the future.

IBM intends for this pledge to form the basis of an industry-wide "patent commons" in which patents are used to establish a platform for further innovations in areas of broad interest to information technology developers and users.

Also today, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has released its annual list of the top patentees. With 3,248, IBM earned more U.S. patents than any other company for the twelfth consecutive year.

IBM had 1,314 more patents than any other company. This is the fourth consecutive year IBM has received more than 3,000 U.S. patents and remains the only company to receive more than 2,000 patents in one year. While IP ownership is an essential driver of innovation, technological advances are often dependent on shared knowledge, standards, and collaborative innovation. IBM's IP framework enables both while protecting truly new, novel and useful inventions. Open standards can accelerate the interoperability and expansion of the global infrastructure.

"True innovation leadership is about more than just the numbers of patents granted. It's about innovating to benefit customers, partners and society," said Dr. John E. Kelly, IBM senior vice president, Technology and Intellectual Property. "Continuing IBM's legacy of leadership in the strategic use of intellectual property, our pledge today is the beginning of a new era in how IBM will manage intellectual property to benefit our partners and clients. Unlike the preceding Industrial Economy, the Innovation Economy requires that intellectual property be deployed for more than just providing the owner with freedom of action and income generation."

Fostering Innovation, Interoperability and Open Standards

Open source software, based on collaborative innovation among developers around the world, is gaining significant marketplace momentum. IBM believes the patents it is opening up to open source developers will help foster continued innovation. They also can contribute to open standards and broader interoperability between applications by providing open source developers with a solid base of innovation they can use and share.

At LinuxWorld in August, IBM pledged not to assert any of its patents against the Linux kernel. Today's pledge covers thousands of open source projects and programs.

"This is not a one-time event," said Dr. Kelly. "While IBM will continue to demonstrate leadership in patent output, through measures such as today's pledge, we will increasingly use patents to encourage and protect global innovation and interoperability through open standards, and we urge others to do so as well. We will work with the USPTO and other commentators and policy makers to ensure that the U.S. patent system continues to evolve to address the challenges of the Innovation Economy."

Pledged Patents

Today's pledge supports IBM's desire to advance open standards and information technology interoperability. IBM has been making selected patents available on a royalty-free basis for use in open standards covering software protocols, file formats, and interfaces.

The patents included in this pledge relate to many aspects of software innovation. Several of the patents cover dynamic linking processes for operating systems. Another patent is valuable to file-export protocols. In total, the pledged patents cover a wide breadth, including patents on important interoperability features of operating systems and databases, as well as internet, user interface, and language processing technologies.

The pledged patents and further related information will be posted on IBM's Web site at:

Innovation that Matters to the World

IBM invests approximately five billion dollars annually in research and development and has made many discoveries and inventions that have improved quality of life.

IBM's focus on innovation goes beyond standard technology. For example, in 2004, IBM received dozens of patents related to accessibility for people with disabilities, including: advances in speech recognition, wireless Braille devices, Web site accessibility and a portable colorimeter for the colorblind.

The 2004 patent results were reported today by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. An agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the USPTO issues patents, administers the patent and trademark laws of the U.S., and advises the administration on intellectual property policy.

Results and ranking also were reported today by IFI CLAIMS Patent Services, which compiles the CLAIMS patent database and annually reports the number of U.S. patents issued to companies. According to IFI CLAIMS, IBM inventors were listed on 29 additional patents awarded to other primary assignees for a total of 3,277 patents.


IBM, Armonk
Willow Christie
Tel: +1 914-766-3362

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive. See details in the news story "IBM Proposes a Patent Commons for Royalty-Free Open Source Software Development." General references: "Patents and Open Standards."

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