Blue Knights, Patent Trolls, and IP! Oh my!

The New York Times online edition has an interesting read on IBM’s move toward releasing some of its patents into the public domain. The gist of the article is that patents covering inter-operability and commerce may be in for a shake up. Since NYT is a (free) registered site, here’s a small quote (though you might seriously consider registering):

So why has I.B.M. shifted course recently, giving away some of the fruits of its research instead of charging others to use it? The answer is self-interest.

Diverging from conventional wisdom, the company has calculated that sharing technology can sometimes be more profitable than jealously guarding its property rights on patents, copyrights and trade secrets. The moves by I.B.M., the world’s largest supplier of information technology services and computers, are being closely watched throughout the business world.

Given the dramatic change in Big Blue’s standard operating procedure, I’ve got to wonder if the CEO didn’t get a copy of Seth Godin’s Idea Virus for his birthday.