Alan Hargreaves' Blog

The ramblings of a former Australian SaND TSC* Principal Field Technologist

Patent Grants

I make a point of reading Jonathan’s blog whenever he does a new entry. Not simply because I am an employee, but I find he almost always has something interesting to say.

In his latest he dwells a little more on the theme of commoditisation including some interesting references.

However, the part I found particularly interesting is the ps on the end of the item. It appears that all of those who have been commenting on the patent grants (both ours and IBM’s) at slashdot and osnews missed this.

I’ll quote it verbatim

You’ve got to love IBM’s ability to play the community. Going through some of the patents they “donated” to the open source community a few weeks back, it looks as if they all, curiously, seem to be due for payment – and thus potential expiration – this year. Were they destined for the bit bucket (turns out IBM is among the largest patent expirers in the world, along with its largest issuer).

And some of the patents have nothing to do with open source software – my favorite in the heap is this one. Not sure that’s going to be quite the comfort the community’s looking for. Here are a few others – for those working in gel embodiments; and for the open source doctors in the crowd.

We know we need to help the community understand how to take advantage of our grant – but at least all 1600 of the patents we’ve granted to the world were for operating systems and software (USPTO 700, for the wonks in the crowd).

Food for thought.


Written by Alan

January 30, 2005 at 10:52 pm

Posted in General

3 Responses

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  1. It would be great if someone with some sort of experience in intellectual property law in the US did a serious study as to what exactly the 500 patents from IBM are good for. As I understand these patents will only apply to licenses approved by the OSI at the date of IBM’s announcement – this would then leave out CDDL and possibly the next GPL revision.
    The patent release from Sun was kind of parcelled with the CDDL license, would it have been possible for Sun to have held these patents whilst releasing the code relevant to the patents under CDDL?

    Ché Kristo

    January 31, 2005 at 1:01 am

  2. Unfortunalely, I’m not in a position to comment on the patents that Sun would be making available as a result of the clauses in CDDL

    Alan Hargreaves

    January 31, 2005 at 1:23 am

  3. How silly of us all. After reading Johnathan’s weblog, I went to IBM’s site and, found the press release with all the disclosured patents. After a (small) random view, most of them are Hardware implementations of caching optimizations and stuff like that, things that aren’t even under the control of the O.S. but are implemented in the CPU architecture. but, don’t take my word for it, check it out on

    Jaime Cardoso

    January 31, 2005 at 7:24 am

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