IBM, Sony, Nokia, and Pitney Bowes recently announced their Eco-Patent Commons initiative through which the four companies will be releasing environmental conservation-related patents to the public. The effort is designed to help other companies leverage effective methods of cutting down waste and inefficiency. IBM, for example, has eliminated Styrofoam from its packaging and shipping because of its patented packaging design for a five-sided, shock-absorbing tray. Nokia is giving away patents related to its methods of re-tooling old mobile phone components into new electronics such as clocks and calculators. Together, the four companies are giving away 31 patents, all of which are available on the Web site of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. It’s great to see these companies taking such a progressive leap forward in terms of opening up their intellectual property for the greater good. Learn more at Bloomberg and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.