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IBM patents method for paying open source volunteers

The Mothers of Invention
Mon Jan 26 2004, 08:00
A PATENT IBM was granted last December is for an "invention" that allows independent programmers who might work together to produce a unified software product.

In fact, the patent, 6,658,642 goes further and gives examples such as open source software development such as Linux as the basis for its patent.

The patent says that selected module programmers could earn money while those who don't win might get a "pre-authorised" small payment as an extra incentive.

Those payments, it continues, would be awarded to developers that submitted letters of intent and who submit modules that pass the module tests but are not selected.

After this vetting, the modules will be integrated into a software package. It adds "those skilled in the art will recognize that the invention can be practiced with modification within the spirit and scope of the appended claims".

Well, it may be an ingenious way of paying open source developers and volunteers, Big Blue, but can it really be described as an invention?

There's even a little flowchart to show how it works. Perhaps journalists should try patenting our "inventions"? µ



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