IBM grants standards bodies free access to patents to develop open standards

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IBM's healthcare and education practices this week announced a major initiative to grant royalty free access to its patented technology to standards bodies in an effort to boost improve interoperability and IT developments through open software standards in healthcare and education.  
IBM has cited the fact that industry growth and service delivery in healthcare and education is currently diminished by widespread use of incompatible document formats and proprietary technology. Allowing standards bodies access to a full range of technologies to pick and choose from, without worrying about fees or penalties, will hopefully help promote the development of standards.

"What we're trying to do is make it easier for standards bodies to come up with standards," said Neil de Crescenzo, vice president, Global Healthcare, IBM Business Consulting Services, "to try to promote the ease with which they develop them around interoperability across healthcare."

In the healthcare industry particularly, access to IBM's patents could spur worldwide development of such things as standardized electronic health-record networks, and push forward health IT efforts.

"Certainly around imaging you don't need to convince people of the value of standards. Now that we have DICOM, people probably can't imagine that we didn't have DICOM," de Crescenzo said. IBM has a business interest in seeing that the evolution of standards in healthcare -- around the areas such as Services Oriented Architecture (SOA), electronic forms, and web services, and open document standards -- are recognized by standards bodies, not just things that a lot of people use, added de Crescenzo.

This initiative follows the company's pledge earlier this year to provide 500 software patents to the open source community.