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IBM is one of the biggest lobbyists for software patents (along with Microsoft).

Lobbying for software patents

The following are examples of IBM's pro-software-patent lobbying during consultations from patent offices, governments, and courts.

IBM is however against business method patents.[1]

EU software patents directive

IBM were constantly in the European Parliament lobbying for software patents. Can you help? Need to develop this and add refs; shouldn't be hard

Bilski at the CAFC, 2008, USA

In the 2008 in re Bilski case, IBM submitted a pro-swpat brief.[1]

EPO consultation, 2009, Europe

For EPO EBoA referral G3-08, see their amicus brief for the EPO's software patent consultation in April 2009.

Bilski at the Supreme Court, 2009, USA

Not only did they submit an amicus brief calling for patents on software, but they also lied and said that software patents benefit free software. See Fake representatives of free software#IBM.

Lobbying against software patents in 1972

Timothy B. Lee points out that IBM's amicus brief to the US Supreme Court for the Gottschalk v. Benson case argued that software patents would "have the inevitable effect [of] stifling developments in computer programming".[2]

See also: Changes in company policy over time

Patent pledges

IBM's pledge has been received positively by the free software community, with Richard Stallman saying "These are but a fraction of IBM's software patents, but still it was a substantial step".[3] It was however noted that the timing of this gesture seems to be part of a PR stunt to appease the free software community during the massive campaigning against the EU software patents directive.[4]

TurboHercules, 2010

(See: IBM and TurboHercules, 2010)

In April 2010, IBM sent a seemingly threatening list of patents to the free software project TurboHercules. However, there was no explicit threat, and no suits were filed. This raised the question of whether IBM broke its 2005 patent promise.

Selection of patents held

Key people

  • Fritz Teufel, patent department head of IBM in Germany and Europe

Related pages on ESP Wiki

External links


  3. "Nokia's patent announcement next to nothing". "Last year IBM took a significant step forward in cooperation with the free software community, by offering blanket licenses for 500 of its patents to all free software developers. These are but a fraction of IBM's software patents, but still it was a substantial step." 
  4. "IBM accused of hypocrisy over patent collaboration". ""IBM is just being hypocritical because they want to appease the open source community and make themselves popular," said Mueller. "In Europe, IBM is a driving force behind the extension of the scope of patentability with respect to software."