IBM is granting universal access to over 150 patents, mostly for web services, in what it believes is the biggest-ever release of this kind of intellectual property.
The announcement, made on Wednesday, is intended to defuse the growing tide of litigation around software IP, said IBM. The slice of IBM's vast intellectual property estate that has been released covers different components necessary for SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), which is used for exchanging XML-based messages across networks. The release also covers other XML protocols and components, as well as open document format (ODF) protocols and web services.
IBM's statement "pledged" to make the IP freely available for use by any company, to encourage the use of open standards and "discourage litigation". The standards involved are "typically under, or moving toward, stewardship by standards groups such as the World Wide Web Consortium and Oasis", IBM said.
Bob Sutor, IBM's vice president of open source and standards, said that IBM "is sending a message that innovation and industry growth happens in an open, collaborative atmosphere."
IBM stressed that the commitment applied to users or customers as much as to developers and distributors and the company hopes that it will encourage people to use IBM standards, rather than others that may be available.