23 March 2009

Patent Commons: Uncommon but Patently Good

News that TomTom is joining the Open Invention Network (OIN) reminded me that the latter is an example of a patent commons, where patents are shared on a like-for-like basis:

OIN grants patent license to licensee

– All OIN patents and applications for all products

Licensee grants patent license to OIN

– All licensee patents and applications for the Linux System

Licensee grants license to other current and future licensees

– All licensee patents and applications for the Linux System

It's an interesting approach, and one that's gradually gaining adherents. For example, IBM set up something called the Eco-Patents Commons:

The Eco-Patent Commons is an initiative to create a collection of patents on technology that directly or indirectly protects the environment. The patents will be pledged by companies and other intellectual property rights holders and made available to anyone free of charge.

What's interesting here is that one commons - that of eco-patents - is being used to protect another - the environment. There's more information about the idea in this post by someone who works for IBM and is involved in the project.

No comments: