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IBM Patents IT

IBM Grants Universal and Perpetual Access To IP 118

Posted by samzenpus
from the free-at-last dept.
StonyandCher writes "IBM is making it easier to utilize its patented intellectual property to implement nearly 200 standards in the SOA, Web services, security and other spaces. Under a pledge issued by the company Wednesday, IBM is granting universal and perpetual access to intellectual property that might be necessary to implement standards designed to make software interoperable. IBM will not assert any patent rights to its technologies featured in these standards. The company believes its move in this space is the largest of its kind."
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IBM Grants Universal and Perpetual Access To IP

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  • by arivanov (12034) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @05:21AM (#19835663) Homepage

    In most other industries and in fact in other parts of the IT industry you are mandated to do that as a part of the standards process. At the very least you have to guarantee that you will offer your IP on non-discriminatory terms.

    It is entertaining to see SOA getting to its supposedly standard and uberinteroperable status without anyone paying attention to this minute IP detail. Entertaining, but not surprising. If you actually can read a SOA spec, comprehend it entirety and have some functioning brain cells left after that you are mad anyway. Every time I have to read Xpath or god forbid one of the WS security or addressing space specs I remember Dijkstra. He was absolutely right:

    b> The problems of business administration in general and data base management in particular are much too difficult for people that think in IBMerese, compounded with sloppy English. Still right today. Just change data base management for interoperability and you got a description of WS/SOAP and the rest of that standard ilk.

    • by jnowlan (618290)
      lmao. That is something I've always thought, but never heard anyone else articulate.

      My head hurts from even reading your reply, though.

  • A bad thing? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sincewhen (640526)
    This may be a bad thing, as the IP/patent system is becoming so broken that a fix will be required. But acts like this may prolong the status quo as supporters of the current system can point to this example and say "Look, the system balances itself." Personally, I wouldn't rely too much on the kindness of large corporations (or small ones).
    • In fact the IBM move clearly indicates how useful the software patent system is. It is time to put the kibosh on it. The problem is not to eliminate trivial patents as all software patents are trivial.

      The United States Patent System is very smart. All public reform discussions are transformed into harmless "novelty" and "obviousness" discussions where professionals think they knew the purpose of these criteria. The system will implode once a powerful force will raise the issue of subject matter.

      Software pat
      • by samkass (174571)
        The problem is not to eliminate trivial patents as all software patents are trivial.

        As the core of your argument, this is a statement that you need to back up in order for your assertion to be meaningful. I've seen some extremely innovative software inventions. To me, there is no practical difference between "building" something in a software world and building it in real life, and making an artificial distinction between these two types of inventions will hobble the industry down the line.

        Quite simply, t
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by delt0r (999393)
      While I don't think its a bad thing, words like kindness and corporations don't belong together either. It pays to remember that the "evil" corporation in the 70's was IBM. So in 20+ years I have high hopes for M$.
    • Personally I believe this has less to do with the patent system and more to do with pimping SOA. The whole point of SOA is that you can build your applications independent of the hardware/OS. I can build a service for example on Windows server using SOA and another application can talk to it without having to know anything about Windows.

      Evens the playing field.

  • Maybe...maybe not (Score:3, Interesting)

    by djupedal (584558) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @05:50AM (#19835793)
    "The company believes its move in this space is the largest of its kind."

    If the definition of 'move' and 'space' mean that certain baseline/root information was made available in a manner that meant both easier access and freedom to use it, with the expectation that such a move would foster more information and more giving, etc. etc, I contend that when the printing press was unleashed, a much larger move occurred, in a similar place.

    Don't get me wrong - I'm not chipping on IBM, but if you are doing good for goods' sake, then do it, but please try to leave out the part where you paint yourself up as all warm and fuzzy and giving :)
    • by miro f (944325)

      Don't get me wrong - I'm not chipping on IBM, but if you are doing good for goods' sake, then do it, but please try to leave out the part where you paint yourself up as all warm and fuzzy and giving :)

      sorry, since when has any company ever done anything good for good's sake? Even Google says "Don't be evil" with a rarely quoted "because being evil for short-term profits means less mind-share and therefore less profits in the long-term."

      • by alexgieg (948359)

        sorry, since when has any company ever done anything good for good's sake? Even Google says "Don't be evil" with a rarely quoted "because being evil for short-term profits means less mind-share and therefore less profits in the long-term."

        Very true. But you should also consider that when a company "does good", this "good" must be good in the most general way, thus including the company itself. If they do "good for good's sake" in such as way that it's bad for the company itself, then this "good" is only a p

  • Motivation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bentcd (690786) <bcd@pvv.org> on Thursday July 12, 2007 @06:49AM (#19835985) Homepage
    The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if this is the payback for the "User Product" language in part 6 of GPL3 ( http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html [gnu.org] ) - which seems to be aimed at making GPL software cooptable for purely business purposes.

    The more rational side of me observes that IBM probably sees itself writing the business logic side of the web services architecture in the future, and doesn't really care much who wrote the middleware so long as it just works. Letting people write middleware without fear of IP lawsuits would tend to facilitate this.
    • by weffew... (954080)
      I can't agree with this. Last year, 37% of IBM's profit came from software, with the majority of that coming from middleware. IBM clearly cares who writes that.... it's one of the most profitable parts of the business. W
      • by bentcd (690786)

        IBM clearly cares who writes that.... it's one of the most profitable parts of the business.

        I expect that they foresee that this will no longer be the case in the future. As the open source movement has shown, it is very efficient at creating infrastructure software and this will inevitably extend into middleware with full force in the near future. Both Apache and JBoss are harbingers of this development.

        I expect that IBM is positioning itself as the integrator and customizer that will take whatever middleware is opportune, stitch together whatever general system the customer desires, and finally

  • To make SOA and web services workable, governance is a neccessary evil allowing for SLA's to be 'stapled' to a service, especially true when the service gets a new version and breaks exisiting consuming applications ...
  • Too slow! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Mr2001 (90979) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @07:01AM (#19836027) Homepage Journal
    BitTorrent has already been providing universal access to IP since 2001. Nice try, IBM!
  • by rw63phi (1016782)
    /me is glad to see this.  It might mean better driver functionality for older IBMs and maybe some Lenovo machines.
  • by dysfunct (940221) * on Thursday July 12, 2007 @07:40AM (#19836199)
    As far as I understand the article, there already was a royalty-free way to license their IP for those standards, only that as of now people don't have to explicitly fill out forms to be granted a license.

    Making standards easier to apply is always a good thing, but IMHO for a standard to make sense it's even more important to force people to actually implement it properly and in a conforming way. Which brings me to the licensing terms of Adobe's PDF stuff, which can be freely implemented as long as the implementation strictly follows the standard. In the same vein, it might have been a good idea to add a constraint to the license that makes the free use of IBM's IP only available to people who strictly adhere to the standard. Everybody else who thinks they have a good reason for adding their own "extensions" would have to fill out forms like it used to be and maybe have to make any documentation and patent portfolio regarding their changes freely available.

    As a result, people would either have to follow the standard or at least provide documentation and patent licenses to guarantee some degree of interoperability, in order to prevent things like Microsoft's bastardization of Kerberos.

    But I'm neither a patent lawyer nor do I have any special insight into licensing deals, so if this idea is stupid then please feel free to point out any potential issues you might see.

  • put your IP where your mouth is and make "interoperability" a fact and not a PR campaign.
  • This is about M$ (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    FTFA:

    "IBM has provided a non-assertion statement that says people are free to use any of its patents needed to implement the standards, provided they do not sue IBM or anyone else over use of their own patents involved in implementing the standards." The important part is "provided they do not sue IBM or anyone else..." - think about it - MS get free use of IBM patents UNTIL they sue someone over the use of their patents cover the same technology (OOXML, anyone?). Then the jig is up, no more free ride. I
    • (Confession: I was an IBMer for a few years in the early 90s, around the time Lou Gerstner took over. The difference between behavior in that era, when the new mindset had yet to percolate to the lower ranks, astonishes me. I still have bad memories of Not Invented Here syndrome, Who Needs Consumer Marketing disease, and the Grow Your Team Solely For Management Esteem epidemic.)

      I agree: let's not confuse this move with sheer altruism. IBM is simply smart enough to realize that advancing market trends makes

    • I believe it is insightful.
  • Is this "pledge" a PR release, or is it legally binding?

    If new management comes into power at IBM can they suddenly just decide to rescind the pledge and nail people for IP infringement and demand royalties?
    • You can't take it back when it's an official statement like this. Any attempt to enforce
      at this point will go down in flames as it was done deliberately and with intent. Witness
      what happened with SCO v. IBM when SCO ran that line of thought up the flagpole. AT&T had
      sent out a similarly natured release stating the actual licensing intent- which was NOT the
      interpretation SCO was trying to run up the flagpole and try to see if the Court saluted it.
      • by Pofy (471469)
        But there is a difference in granting someone the right/license to use what you have patented and just promise you won't take action (I would say you still infringe for example). It doesn't for example prevent someone else to take action. What if IBM should sell their patents to someone else? You then have no protection. There is also an increasing trent to turn almost every infringement of various "ip" rights into criminal offense. What if this would apply to patent infringement, then you have the govermen
    • by VENONA (902751)
      IBM is using 'By making this irrevocable patent covenant' language at http://www-03.ibm.com/linux/opensource/isplist.sh t ml [ibm.com], which is linked from TFA. TFA contains some content from Sun about "Necessary Claims" while the IBM page provides the following definition:

      IBM® Definition
      Necessary Claims
      "Necessary Claims" are those patent claims that can not be avoided by any commercially reasonable, compliant implementation of the Required Portions of a Covered Specification. "Required Portions" are those porti
  • As a child of I've Been Moved, I just have to say how nice this is. IBM is a wonderful company with a grand history. Like all successful companies, they have had their bad days. This is a great day for them.
  • Probably the best read on the subject right here: http://cafe.elharo.com/xml/north-and-south/ [elharo.com]
  • This is the most significant development I've seen in IP practice for years. This is the largest of the corporate entities saying that IP-sharing is a good idea; they don't go full FOSS because that has them making costly products and giving them away for free, which doesn't work under capitalism. But they're approving the idea, and that will inspire others to follow their line of thinking.
  • Why not just let the patent's slip then into the public domain? It costs a good bit, almost doubling each year that you renew a patent. So if they're allowing universal access the patents are then pretty much public domain except they can still say they are the owners. Sounds like they virtually GPL'd their patents :)
    • by slashbart (316113)
      They keep the patents for defensive use. If someone sues them for any patent violation they can sue them back

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