Monday, April 11, 2005

IBM to profit by making patents available free?

I.B.M. is renowned for its rich storehouse of patented inventions. It once again led the research sweepstakes in America last year, collecting 3,248 patents, more than any other company. And it earned more than $1 billion last year from licensing and selling its ideas.

So why has I.B.M. shifted course recently, giving away some of the fruits of its research instead of charging others to use it? The answer is self-interest.

Diverging from conventional wisdom, the company has calculated that sharing technology can sometimes be more profitable than jealously guarding its property rights on patents, copyrights and trade secrets. The moves by I.B.M., the world's largest supplier of information technology services and computers, are being closely watched throughout the business world

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