The New York Times > Technology > I.B.M. to Give Free Access to 500 Patents: "I.B.M. will continue to hold the 500 patents. But it has pledged to seek no royalties from and to place no restrictions on companies, groups or individuals who use them in open-source projects, as defined by the Open Source Initiative, a nonprofit education and advocacy group. The group's definition involves a series of policies allowing for free redistribution, publication of the underlying source code and no restrictions on who uses the software or how it is used.
Just how far I.B.M. intends to go in granting open access to its patents is uncertain. The 500 patents are a small slice of its corporate patent trove of more than 40,000 worldwide and 25,000 in the United States. In recent years, software patents have accounted for about half of the patents granted to I.B.M."
Masterful PR, if nothing else.