IBM is moving into cloud patents, but that’s not necessarily going to upset established providers. In a pinch, they could end up as partners.
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.informationweek.com
IBM is one of the largest holders of patents on cloud technologies and processes, having been granted 1,200 in the last 18 months. For the last 20 years, IBM has been at the forefront of landing patents in emerging technology areas. The company appears to have every intent of continuing the practice deep into the cloud era, even though many cloud operations are based on Web standards, open source software, and open APIs. –However, there’s another aspect to IBM’s methodical pursuit. It also cross-licenses them to technology allies who may be under threat from a common adversary. Nevertheless, IBM tends to be a more of a defensive player with patents than an aggressive seeker of royalties from other companies. It’s also frequently willing to cross-license patents to other companies, particularly technology partners and allies, to ward off the claims of its rivals. Among the big league cross-licensers and patent buyers: Google, Twitter, and Facebook. – IBM has always sought to monetize its investment in R&D and resulting patent, trademark, and copyright portfolio. When all its IP activities are combined, they are believed to yield $500 million to $2 billion a year in revenues. Furthermore, IBM is sophisticated in how it uses patents to cement alliances, reward its friends, and stave off demands from competitors. “Arguably, it’s more of a know-how company today than a hardware one,” noted Bruce Berman, a spokesman for Envision IP. It can use patents to establish alliances and favorable relationships or to secure and retain clients. IBM also allows more patents to lapse than many companies do, showing a keen sense of which ones to retain and renew in terms of future market value. If nothing else, having 1,200 patents on cloud technologies and processes displays its investment stake in the cloud and gives it boasting rights as a leader in the field.