IBM has released the code on 500 software patents to allow developers to use the technology to freely develop open source technology.
In a statement IBM said, “The pledge will benefit any open source software whose source code is published and available for inspection and use by anyone, and which is made available under a license agreement that permits recipients to copy, modify and distribute the program’s source code without payment of fees or royalties.”
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The company is protecting itself against any move from other suppliers who might claim Linux or other open source software infringes their own technology.
The company said, “IBM reserves the right to terminate this patent pledge and commitment only with regard to any party who files a lawsuit asserting patents or other intellectual property rights against open source software.”
This could leave developers taking advantage of IBM’s offer vulnerable to a lawsuit.
The highly publicised legal action launched by SCO against IBM in 2003, which claims that IBM and Linux infringed patents, has yet to be settled.
The company has around 40,000 patents world wide and 25,000 US patents.