"Big Blue collects about $1 billion a year in licensing fees
from its hoard of 40,000 patents. So it came as quite a surprise to
some on Jan. 11 when IBM pledged to make 500 of its software
patents, valued at about $10 million, freely available to
open-source software projects such as the Linux operating system
and the Apache Web page server software. Why would IBM allow others
to use its intellectual property free of charge?
"In a word: Microsoft. The move is central to IBM's efforts to
fend off Microsoft and its Windows monopoly..."