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Several well-known nonprofits have joined the call for freer access to innovative technology for charities.

United Way of America, the American Diabetes Association, Network for Good and the Electronic Frontier Foundation announced their support for the Nonprofit Innovation Alliance and have called for a “business-ethod patent-free zone” for the nonprofit sector.

The alliance, a coalition of technology and consulting companies that provide products and services to the nonprofit sector, have agreed to cross-license their business-method patents so their nonprofit clients can benefit from them royalty-free.

Rather than covering innovative technology solutions, the alliance says business-method patents cover processes of doing things on the internet, like Amazon’s one-click purchase option.

Abuse by patent-holders is a problem, the alliance says, because they can sue other groups that use similar processes, demanding licensing fees.

Such abuse means nonprofits often must use scarce dollars that otherwise would go to programs to pay for licensing fees for activities like advocacy and fundraising over the internet.

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