Industry Rivals Join Forces in Cross-Licensing Agreement

In a move that could have major implications for the software industry, Computer Associates yesterday pledged open access to key innovations covered by 14 of its U.S. patents — and counterparts of these patents issued in other countries — for individuals and groups working on open-source software.

CA also announced it has reached a long-term, patent cross-license agreement with IBM, creating an exchange of license rights and releases between the companies.

Piquing Interest

Analysts were not surprised by the patent pledge, but the IBM connection piqued some interest from those who understand the past rivalry between the two tech giants.

Steve Garone, Ideas International Vice President for Applications and Integration Infrastructure Software, told LinuxInsider that the cross-license agreement between CA and IBM is fascinating.

“While I suspect that we won’t see a lot in the way of technology that really gets at the true competitive advantage of either vendor, it does reinforce the recognition of open-source as an important driver in the software business,” Garone said.

Cross-Licensing for Customers

The companies said the cross-license agreement will make it easier for customers to access and leverage intellectual property from IBM and CA to achieve their business goals.

“This agreement launches a new relationship between CA and IBM, allowing for innovation while preserving customer choice,” said Mark Barrenechea, executive vice president of technology strategy and chief technology architect at CA. “It will stimulate the development of new solutions and enable the flexible combination of products from both companies in an on-demand environment.”

Garone won’t go as far as to say the IBM-CA alliance is the beginning of a new industry consortium, but he said it is certainly an effort on the part of the two vendors to encourage other players to join in cross-licensing activities, individually or with partners.

“If this works the way it’s being described, it will be a way for end users to leverage cross-licensing of technology between the two compnies both from the convenience standpoint as well as a techhnology standpoint,” Garone said.

Pledging Allegiance

In making its patent pledge to the open source community, CA is joining IBM in encouraging other companies to create an industry-wide “patent commons” in which patents are pledged royalty-free to further innovation in areas of broad interest to developers and users of information technology.

IBM made a similar pledge earlier this year.

“CA is committed to make appropriate types of intellectual property available to open source developers and customers free of any royalties or licensing fees so that innovation and high-value development can flourish,” said Barrenechea, executive vice president of technology strategy and chief technology architect at CA.

Benefits of Open Exchange

Jim Stallings, IBM’s vice president of Intellectual Property and Standards, said everyone benefits when innovation is fostered through collaboration and the open exchange of technological advances.

“We are gratified to see CA respond so enthusiastically to IBM’s call for owners of intellectual property to accelerate interoperability and the adoption of open source software,” Stallings said.

The patents covered by CA’s non-assertion pledge address a wide variety of technology challenges and can be used in a full range of open-source projects. They include application development and modeling, business intelligence and analytics, systems management and storage management solutions, and network management and security tools.

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