Because it will enable you to use more patents, because it will
provide you with a greater bargaining position to use when
convincing others to similarly license their patents for
your use, because it will help you keep your most innovative
employees, because it will give them reason to innovate even
more, and last of all, because it's a way of making your
competitors work for you.
The question of whether to participate is a combination
of an ethical choice and a cost-benefit analysis.
Most businesses, and their engineer and scientist
employees especially, tend not to want to overly restrict
the use of intellectual properties through royalties and threats
of lawsuits, but they rarely disagree with using patent portfolios
for defensive and cross-licensing purposes.
The OPL allows you to retain the defensive
benefits of a patent portfolio while
increasing your bargaining position in intellectual
property negotiations, and will help you convince another
company to similarly cross-license the patents of theirs
that you need.
The reason is that when you aim to convince your
opponents to submit their patents to the OPL Pools by
using one of the OPL Options, (as opposed to convincing
them to submit their patents to a private cross-licensing
pool), instead of just bargaining with your
own patent portfolio on your side, you will be bargaining with
the entire set of patents from relevant OPL patent pools
on your side.
Participating in the OPL will also help convince your
engineers and scientist employees that the ideas they generate
are open for all to use. That can have deeper repercussions
than might appear at first glance.
Granted, giving the world access to increased scientific
knowledge and engineering techniques sounds pleasant, but
from a business perspective, why might this be
even more of a concern? Well, do you
want your employees to be afraid to come to you
with their ideas and innovations? When you patent their
ideas and license the patents restrictively, you limit what
they can do with those ideas
in the future.
Whether you like to think about it or not,
most of your employees will have considered
the possibility of pursuing their ideas on their own, or
even with one of your competitors at some time in the future.
The normal corporate response to such a possibility is
to have a policy of restricting the use of the ideas their
employees generate. In other words, corporations generally
tell their employees that any of their ideas will be owned by
this company, controlled by this company, and only be permitted
to be used by others under restricted conditions.
Employees who present their ideas and innovations to such
companies do so at their peril--if they present these
ideas and innovations to you, they may never be able to use
them themselves. They know that helping
you destroys their future--or at least it closes doors to
They will tend to want to help you solve problems with
patentable methods when they perceive short-term gains
that outweigh the long-term risks of strengthening your
monopolies. You can increase the short-term gains, (pay
them more, provide for a better workplace, etc.), but you can
also lower those long-term risks. You can lower those long-term
risks by agreeing to a high-enough option of the OPL.
After so agreeing, they can freely and eagerly solve problems
for you without worrying that doing so might be putting their
own future in jeopardy.
Even if they do decide to leave your company in the future,
use these patents of yours to take unfair advantage of you.
Those terms and conditions of the OPL in effect mean that they
can't keep from you any patents derived from your OPL-Pooled
patents. If you licensed your most
valueable and broad patents widely enough under certain OPL
Options, you will still be able to use innovations based on
your patent, even when made by an ex-employee who now works for
a competitor. The reason is that the OPL only allows use
of patents in a work when all patents incorporated in the
work are similarly licensed. By making your most broad,
most useful, and most valuable patents available under OPL Options
such as Option 2, 3, 4, or 5, instead of getting simple monetary
royalties from anyone using the patents, you will instead get
as royalties the right to use your competitors' patents and
your ex-employees' patents that are incoporated in any product
that need to use this valuable patent of yours.
Adopting the OPL is a way of fostering innovation, a way of
making your ex-employees work for you, and a way of making
even your competitors work for you.
All patents submitted under the OPL appear in OPL Patent
Pool F, the Free Software/Open Source pool. If you write
software, (which by its nature cannot be be monopolized
by its writer), you may incorporate any patents from
OPL Patent Pool F.
If you write non-Open Source software that only contains
patents from OPL Pool 1, the license will allow you to
incorporate any of those patents. If you need to incorporate
a patent that is not in OPL Pool 1, it will probably be cheaper
to have that patent added to OPL Pool 1 than to separately
license the use of all incorporated patents.
If you write non-Open Source software that only contains
patents from OPL Pool 2, the license will allow you to
incorporate any of those patents, but only if you agree to
license all of the intellectual property that OPL Option 2
covers. If you need to incorporate only one additional patent
that is not in OPL Pool 2, it will probably be cheaper to have
that patent added to OPL Pool 2 than it would be to separately
license the use of all incorporated patents. If instead, you
have not agreed to PPL Option 2, it is even more likely to be
cheaper for you to agree to Option 2 than to separately license
all incorporated patents.