IBM Joins Sony, Nokia in Sharing Ecologically Friendly Patents


Bloomberg, 14th January 2008

By Matthew R. Miller

Jan. 14 (Bloomberg) -- International Business Machines Corp., the leading recipient of U.S. patents, is joining Sony Corp., Nokia Oyj and Pitney Bowes Inc. in offering the rights to environmentally friendly technologies for free.

The effort, called the Eco-Patent Commons, is designed to help companies save energy and water and curb pollution, Armonk, New York-based IBM said today in a joint statement with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development in Geneva.

Companies are taking steps to show they're fighting global warming and promoting sustainable development. The Eco-Patent Commons is the first forum for sharing intellectual property with environmental uses.

``There's no one industry, innovation or technology that provides a silver-bullet solution,'' said David Kappos, IBM's lead patent attorney. ``There's going to be a long series of development involving many industries.''

The Eco-Patent Commons will start with 31 patents, 27 of which were contributed by IBM. The company has received more U.S. patents than any other for 15 years. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued 3,125 to IBM last year, Kappos said.

IBM is contributing a patent for a catalytic reactor that uses low-radio frequency energy ions to help covert pollutants into stable gases. Another patent covers a packaging design for a five-sided, shock-absorbing tray that replaces the need for Styrofoam peanuts.

Sony, the world's second-largest consumer-electronics maker, is donating a patent for the use of a natural coagulant to purify wastewater. Nokia, the biggest maker of mobile phones, is giving the rights to a way of transforming old phones into new electronic devices, such as clocks and calculators.

Persuading companies to turn over intellectual property is the project's biggest challenge, Kappos said. He argues that the sharing of patents may help companies make more money.

``The increased scale that occurs when someone adopts a piece of technology causes the costs for us to come down,'' Kappos said.

The patents will be made available today on the Web site for the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

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