NEW YORK, April 11 (UPI) -- IBM is reportedly pursuing further profits and setting a precedent by freely sharing many of its formerly secret patents.
In January, the company announced what it called a "new era" in how it controls intellectual property, by making 500 patents -- mainly for software code that manages electronic commerce, storage, image processing, data handling and Internet communications -- freely available to others.
It also said more would follow.
"The layer of technology that is open is going to steadily increase, but in going through this transition we're not going to be crazy," John Kelly, a senior vice president, told the New York Times. "This is like disarmament. You're not going to give away all your missiles as a first step."
The world's largest supplier of information technology services and computers collected 3,248 U.S. patents last year and yet showed earnings of more than $1 billion last year from licensing and selling its ideas.
"The business world today is engaged in a huge experiment in figuring out what different parts of intellectual property should be open and closed," said Steven Weber, director of the Institute of International Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.