IBM, Sony, Pitney Bowes and Nokia have released a patent-sharing plan for companies to donate patents that improve the environment. This new “Eco-Patent Commons” builds on the experience of the open-source software movement. IBM was a chief architect in this program and modeled it after their successful open source patent commons. It is also nice to see Sony on the side of the people this time. I hope who ever contributed to this decision can convince Sony to look into more progressive copyright and less DRM.
This type of patent sharing in the name of the environment and public interest is a large step in the right direction for patents, which are theoretically granted for the benefit of the people. I wonder if drug companies will ever step up and do something similar for the world’s poor regarding access to patented drugs. If not we need to seriously consider options to legally suspend patents when it is a matter of social justice.
Related press at WSJ:
Companies to Share Eco-Friendly Patents