Their paticipation brings the number of free patents available for use by anyone in the world to 69, more than doubling the original number.
Hosted by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) the Commons was established in January this year by IBM, Nokia, Pitney Bowes and Sony in response to a growing dilemma among large businesses.
Many find that during their research and development processes they discover new environmentally friendly techniques or processes which are then subsequently patented.
However as that technique is not part of the company’s core business it is often passed over for development into an actual product and instead remains just part of that company’s internal processes.
The programme’s aim is to allow such patents to be used under licence but without cost. This in turn enables other companies to benefit from these techniques at a fraction of the cost, thus fostering innovation and shortening future product lifecycles.
Companies pledging their patents to the programme are protected by a mutual agreement not to sue each another for breach of the patents while they remain a member of the Commons.
Do you think this is a worthwhile development, or just an opportunity for companies to greenwash by hiving off commercially unproductive parts of their system? Please add a comment below and let us know!