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IBM Patents

IBM Seeking 'Patent-Protection-Racket' Patent 169

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the any-reason-to-bust-kneecaps dept.
theodp writes "Wikipedia defines a protection racket as an extortion scheme whereby a powerful non-governmental organization coerces businesses to pay protection money which allegedly serves to purchase the organization's 'protection' services against various external threats. Compare this to IBM's just-published patent application for 'Extracting Value from a Portfolio of Assets', which describes a process by which 'very large corporations' impress upon smaller businesses that paying for 'the protection of a large defensive patent portfolio' would be 'a prudent business decision' for them to make, 'just like purchasing a fire insurance policy.' Sounds like Fat Tony's been to Law School, eh? Time for IBM to put-their-money-where-their-patent-reform-mouth-is and deep-six this business method patent claim!"
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IBM Seeking 'Patent-Protection-Racket' Patent

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  • by Mahjub Sa'aden (1100387) <msaaden@gmail.com> on Saturday October 20, 2007 @09:13AM (#21054731)
    I don't suppose anyone has considered that they might use said patent to sue trolls out of existence. Which would be neat, and altogether too ironic.
    • Shining example (Score:2, Informative)

      by cab15625 (710956)
      It may also be used as the example of just how screwed up the patent system has become. If any company has to have this patent, I can think of much worse companies than IBM to have this one granted.
      • by Mahjub Sa'aden (1100387) <msaaden@gmail.com> on Saturday October 20, 2007 @09:26AM (#21054815)
        If the patent system is really as screwed up as all that, will the prior art in this case matter? Because as far as I can tell, patent trolls have existed since nearly the very beginning of the system.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tim C (15259)
        I can think of much worse companies than IBM to have this one granted.

        There was a time when saying that would have been the equivalent of saying it about Microsoft now, or Eolas.

        They changed; but can you be sure they won't change back?

        A bad patent is a bad patent no matter who has it.
        • How is this a bad patent? They're basically saying "pay us this fee and you're free to use any of our 900 billion patents in your own work". Sounds like they're opening it up.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by uglyduckling (103926)
            How is this a bad patent? They're basically saying "pay us this fee and you're free to use any of our 900 billion patents in your own work". Sounds like they're opening it up.


            Because it's effectively money for menaces. "Pay us this fee because you might infringe on one of our patents, and you wouldn't want anything nasty to happen to you, would you?"

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by ultranova (717540)

              Because it's effectively money for menaces. "Pay us this fee because you might infringe on one of our patents, and you wouldn't want anything nasty to happen to you, would you?"

              If granted, this patent lets IBM to extract money from such protection rackets. Its intended victims are, therefore, the very people you described. "A nice protection racket you have here, better get insurance for it, 'cause you wouldn't want anything to happen to it."

              This whole thing is about as tragic and unjust as Tony Sopra

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jimicus (737525)
          True, but given the current state of the US patent office, it seems to me this could be a case of IBM patenting it before someone else does.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by yorugua (697900)
      Only problem is: Would a lot of people can claim "prior art"?.
    • I don't suppose anyone has considered that they might use said patent to sue trolls out of existence. Which would be neat, and altogether too ironic.

      Well they could do. On the other hand when you see some of the latest patents IBM has applied for, then you get the feeling that IBM is trying to make a point. The point as I see it is how much the patents system needs fixing. IBM is a huge patent holder, but rarely do you see IBM actively pursuing any smaller players. From what I can tell most of IBMs patents
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by budgenator (254554)

        The system of claim 45, wherein the assets in the dynamic pool of assets are intellectual property assets comprising one or more of patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets, wherein the privilege is governed by a floating privilege agreement, and wherein when the privilege is executed rights in the at least one asset in the selected set of assets are transferred from the first party to the second party. United States Patent Application 20070244837 [uspto.gov]

        I'm reading it as it is also a renta-patent system,

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by petermgreen (876956)
          that is why a truely effective patent troll makes sure that patent trolling is thier only buisness.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stuntpope (19736)
      That was my reaction. Consider that a few days ago, this story [slashdot.org] generated comments such as "I should patent being a patent troll". Well, IBM has the money to do just that. Maybe they are as sick of this as the average slashdotter.
      • by LingNoi (1066278)
        I'm sure it was all just one big private joke down at the IBM patent dept.. you know.. "well, we've patented everything else.."
    • I think they may well do that... as long as business is going well and the leadership stays the same. As soon as there is some need to "optimize revenue streams" then the potential short term earning power of the patent will likely be exploited. Until the big businesses that have to pay IBM for the right to be patent trolls push for legislation that actually fixes the patent troll problem.
  • by PhotoGuy (189467) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @09:13AM (#21054733) Homepage
    If IBM receives the patent, then it can disallow others from participating in the practice. This patent alone could be a jury-rigged bit of patent reform, for this particular abuse. (Assuming IBM doesn't go crazy and utilize the patent itself.)

    I'd tend to think this is more their purpose, than to become the master bully.
    • by hasbeard (982620)
      Too bad there's already so much prior art.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jackharrer (972403)
        Cosa Nostra, anybody?
      • by PhotoGuy (189467)
        True, there's a lot of prior art, but IBM has been around awhile (1888!), and might just be able to claim the lead in this practice; perhaps why they applied for the patent. Although claiming to be one of the first active bullies might not be great for PR value. :)

        (I remember working at IBM labs in Toronto, and they had a little historical display in one building, showing some meat cutters and cheese slicers, early products of the company...)
        • by hasbeard (982620)
          Actually, I was making a the joke that there was too much prior art for patent abuse itself. I have no idea is there is prior art for this particular patent.
        • by joto (134244)

          True, there's a lot of prior art, but IBM has been around awhile (1888!), and might just be able to claim the lead in this practice; perhaps why they applied for the patent.

          Irrelevant. You can't patent something everybody has done the last 100 years, and claim that the patent is valid because you were the first to do it. Sure, there is the US-speciality of a "grace period" of one year, but patent extortion is a bit older than that.

      • by Zeinfeld (263942)
        Too bad there's already so much prior art.

        Oh, that is the briliance of the scheme, when IBM gets sued for patent infringement they bring up all the prior art in front of the jury and show what a rotten system the patent system is.

        Another effective reforem of the patent system would be to close the Texas federal patent court. A big part of the patent problem is that the plaintifs bar has worked out how to identify which Texans are never going to question a government decision, i.e. the patent grant. Or a

  • 1-click again? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by xzaph (1157805)
    Why do I see the potential justification of this being similar to Amazon's justification of patenting 1-click ordering?
    • Why do I see the potential justification of this being similar to Amazon's justification of patenting 1-click ordering?

      Very different. Amazon was most definitely not using their patent in the defensive form. A defensive patent would be used when a company tries to sue you and you show them your patent portfolio and they quickly realise its time to back down or get sued in return. Amazon used their patent to get money out of competitors and non-competitors who were using a method similar to that described in
  • Such a patent, should it be granted, could become a perfect show-stopper for Microsoft's patent FUD and could also wipe out patent trolls as a side effect.

    Patenting patent racketeering = A Good Thing(TM)?

    • by Divebus (860563)
      Exactly - that's the only thing propping up most of Microsoft now. They'd have to figure out how to actually make good on marketing claims to survive.
      • You assume IBM wouldn't use this patent for itself?
        IBM may be an ally of yours today, but who knows what the future will hold. You guys (i.e. rebel-geeks) used to hate IBM with a passion, remember? You'll hate them again, be sure of that. As far as I can see, the OIN is already using its own patent portfolio to put fear into those that might have a legitimate beef with OIN member's violating patents of others. So IBM is already using the power of its patent portfolio against others.

        Anyway, I don't see ho
  • I think Steve Ballmer already has prior art [slashdot.org] on this method.

    • by julesh (229690)
      Nah, this is _far_ too subtle for Ballmer. See my analysis of the first few claims [slashdot.org].
    • by _KiTA_ (241027)
      I think Steve Ballmer already has prior art on this method.

      IBM has been doing this sorta stuff since Steve Ballmer was a glint in his yuppy father's eye. Hell, IBM invented the modern "FUD" strategy that Microsoft is still trying to get perfect.
  • Sweet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Angst Badger (8636) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @09:23AM (#21054793)
    I'm sorry, but this is beautiful. For IBM to patent the process of patent abuse raises legal sarcasm to a fine art form. This is a legal hack of the first order.

    Whether it ought to be allowed or not is a different question, but it still brings tears to my eyes. ;)
  • Wow, It's Real (Score:3, Insightful)

    by resistant (221968) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @09:25AM (#21054801) Homepage Journal

    At first, I thought this was a joke from The Onion [theonion.com], but holy guano, Batman! It's for real!

    I'm not particularly upset, though. I.B.M. already is known to systematically exploit their huge patent portfolio, as would be expected by their shareholders, but I've not heard of them doing so, recently at least, in an offensive manner. I.B.M. has been trying hard, for business reasons, to be a "good citizen". If anyone has to have such a patent, best that it be them. If nothing else, it'll put a bit of a damper on the true patent trolls.

    • by Homology (639438)

      I'm not particularly upset, though. I.B.M. already is known to systematically exploit their huge patent portfolio, as would be expected by their shareholders, but I've not heard of them doing so, recently at least, in an offensive manner. I.B.M. has been trying hard, for business reasons, to be a "good citizen". If anyone has to have such a patent, best that it be them. If nothing else, it'll put a bit of a damper on the true patent trolls.

      IBM has a very large patent portfolio and is able to obtain cross-licenses that small companies cannot in general. Just the fact that they have a huge patent portfolio backed with even more money is a sufficient deterrence to smaller companies: it is like holding a loaded gun to someones head. IBM fully uses this for their profit.

  • by Archie Gremlin (814342) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @09:25AM (#21054811)
    This might be a great thing for small software companies. At the moment, they can't possibly afford defensive patent portfolios. This makes them extremely vulnerable to malicious suits from big companies that want to squash them.

    Being able to buy a slice of protection from IBM would eliminate one of the biggest risks that small developers face. Of course, small companies can't pay millions of dollars in legal fees. IBM will have to offer to defend their clients in court in order to make this work.
    • He seems to understand the patent.
      • by nostriluu (138310)

        So what if $IBM decided they didn't want (or couldn't be bothered) to sell a company access to their patent portfolio? What's the company going to do, sue them? It could just as complicated as things are now.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by rking (32070)
      So if I'm reading it right, the participants get a sort of "potential ownership" of a pool of patents. Then if they get sued by someone then that potential ownership crystalises into actual ownership with respect to particular relevant patents. Then they use those patents to counterclaim against the person suing them? Is that anywhere close?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by acvh (120205)
        Yup, that's it. Someone else mentioned here that IBM could sell this as a service regardless of the patenting of it, and it does sound like an innovative idea.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      But the process doesn't need to be patented. IBM could just offer the service as a business anyway.
      • by cp.tar (871488)

        But if they patent it, anyone else who wants to make money that way has to pay IBM first.

        I wonder if IBM sees that as a great opportunity to make loads of money from, say, Microsoft?

        Oh, they're good at this.

    • by SoopahMan (706062)
      Good point, they could sell what amounts to patent lawsuit insurance.

      The knee-jerk reaction "IBM is evil!" to this is short-sighted... and amazingly short-sighted around here. After all they've spent dealing with SCO, I think they deserve some trust in applying this patent for good means. The only evil I see is the USPTO if they grant something this insane - and I bet they will.

      It's sad it's come to this, but this is a smart way to fix a broken system: submit the "Breaking the system is illegal" rule to the
  • Deep Six (Score:5, Informative)

    by dancingmad (128588) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @09:30AM (#21054829)
    Possibly karma whoring, but I haven't heard the phrase deep six in a while and wondered where it came from.

    That bastion of knowledge, The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy [bartleby.com], says this:

    This phrase is derived from the noun "deep six," meaning burial at sea and referring to the depth of water necessary for such a burial. The term was later used as slang for a grave (customarily six feet underground) and, by extension, as a verb meaning "to kill."
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Deadstick (535032)
      There are bastions and there are bastions...google your way to the Leadsman's Chant. "By the deep, six" means it's six fathoms deep, which is safe water for a deep-draft ship. "By the mark, twain" means it's two fathoms, which is safe water for a Mississippi riverboat, and another esoteric reference is resolved.

      Depths of 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 13, 15, 17, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 fathoms are indicated by "marks" on the leadline. The other depths are unmarked and are called "deeps". The leadsman estimates the depth to
  • The only truly graceful thing to do would be to transfer the patent to the EFF.

    Then let the fun begin.

    • by hasbeard (982620)
      Could the EFF use this? I wasn't aware that the EFF held any patents?
    • Oh, my, no. Give it to PJ over at groklaw.net. Now *that* would be fun, since PJ has consistently shown more understanding and nerve than any statements from EFF attorneys. This is partly because EFF attorneys work for people with enough money to be sued, but the resulting press releases and announcements would be far more entertaining.
  • by 3seas (184403) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @09:36AM (#21054849) Journal
    ...What else could it really be?

    How many joke have been writing about patenting the patent process?
    Well looks like a very large patent portfoilo company has money to toss at such a joke..
  • Kudos to IBM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xednieht (1117791) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @09:40AM (#21054869) Homepage
    Do realize ladies and gentlemen this is a bold and rather cavalier move on behalf of IBM. It's more tongue in cheek really, laughing at patent trolls and a majority of large corporations long bereft of the spirit of true competition.

    It a rather elegant, subtle, and expensive way of inviting said patent trolls to "kiss my hairy ass". hehe

    go go IBM
  • by julesh (229690) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @09:44AM (#21054895)
    1. A method for extracting value from a portfolio of assets, comprising:granting a privilege to a second party by a first party at time t1 to permit the second party to exercise the privilege upon the occurrence of a predetermined event occurring at time t2 where t2>t1, and wherein the exercise comprises obtaining an interest in one or more assets residing in a dynamic pool of assets comprised of assets from the portfolio of assets at time t2, wherein zero or more assets are in the dynamic pool at time t1 and said zero or more assets are not in the dynamic pool at time t2.

    So a company has a pool of assets. It gives somebody else a right to in the future, after some event has occurred, gain one or more of those assets. Some of the assets may have left the pool by the time they do this. Basically, we're talking about the standard financial instrument known as an "option", but over any of a pool of assets rather over a specific asset.

    2. The method of claim 1, wherein the privilege is defined in a floating privilege agreement between the first and second parties, the floating privilege agreement having a term and specifying the predetermined event and the type of interest to be conveyed to the second party upon execution of the privilege.

    The right can be time limited, and constrained to a certain kind of selection of assets.

    3. The method of claim 2, wherein a number of assets in which the second party receives an interest is limited based on the floating privilege agreement.

    The selection can be the number of assets acquired.

    4. The method of claim 2, wherein the assets are intellectual property assets.
    5. The method of claim 4, wherein the intellectual property assets are patents.
    6. The method of claim 4, wherein the intellectual property assets are copyrights.
    7. The method of claim 4, wherein the intellectual property assets are trade secrets.


    Obvious.

    8. The method of claim 2, wherein the assets include intellectual property assets selected from the group consisting of patents, copyrights and trade secrets.

    But it doesn't have to be only IP. There can be other stuff as well.

    9. The method of claim 4, wherein the privilege is exercised by the first party transferring rights in one or more of the assets in the dynamic pool of assets to the second party.

    Pretty obvious, really.

    10. The method of claim 9, wherein the transfer is by assignment.
    11. The method of claim 9, wherein the transfer is by license.
    12. The method of claim 11, wherein the license is an exclusive license.


    OK, so there are multiple ways of transferring the rights.


    13. The method of claim 4, wherein an occurrence of the predetermined event is a trigger event defined in the floating privilege agreement.

    14. The method of claim 13, wherein the trigger event is a litigation-related event.

    15. The method of claim 13 [sic, should clearly be 14], wherein the litigation-related event is a filing of a complaint against the second party.

    16. The method of claim 15, wherein the complaint against the second party alleges that the second party infringes an intellectual property asset of a third party.


    Now we get to the meat of the patent. This is not a patent on patent-trolling, it's a patent on a mechanism for defending against patent trolling. What they're patenting is a legal agreement that says "if you get sued for patent infringement, we'll grant you a patent license for one of our patents so you can smite the bastards".

    17. The method of claim 13, wherein exercising the privilege comprises the second party selecting an asset from the dynamic pool of assets in response to occurrence of the trigger event.

    18. The method of claim 17, wherein exercising the privilege further comprises the first party qualifying the selected asset for transfer to the second party to ensure the selected asset is appropriate for use by the second party f
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by marcello_dl (667940)
      > "if you get sued for patent infringement, we'll grant you a patent license for one of our patents so you can smite the bastards".

      which works against the evil corporations. But, as already pointed out in a recent discussion, what if a patent troll, which is not utilizing any of its patents, comes up against you?
      • But, as already pointed out in a recent discussion, what if a patent troll, which is not utilizing any of its patents, comes up against you?

        Then you refuse to license this patent to the patent troll, so they're in violation of your patent troll patent.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by julesh (229690)
          Except it isn't a patent troll patent. Read it, not the summary or the conclusions other people have jumped to. The patent is about patent-pooling for mutual defence from patent claims.
          • by argent (18001)
            The claims are cumulative. A patent troll wouldn't violate claim 15, for example, but they could still be in violation of earlier claims as well as claims that don't reference claim 15. Claim 1 is (of course) particularly broad.

            Now depending on such broad claims won't make a strong case, but they don't need to be able to make a strong case to make it too much of a risk for a patent troll to take them on.
            • by julesh (229690)
              A patent troll wouldn't violate claim 15, for example, but they could still be in violation of earlier claims as well as claims that don't reference claim 15. Claim 1 is (of course) particularly broad.

              A patent troll wouldn't violate _any_ of the claims, though, because what this patent is about, in every single claim, is operating a pool of assets (patents being a specific example thereof) and licensing them to people when some event occurs. This is not, in reality, what patent trolls do.
      • A patent troll uses computers, which use software. Does any of that software violate software patents? Perhaps ones held by IBM?

        "It's easy to protect yourself. Just use software patented by OIN members. We have a deal with them."
        • Interesting but can IBM sue them for using e.g. Office while leaving other Office customers unscathed? Can you avoid them getting the matter to their software supplier?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Vitriol+Angst (458300)
      Sounds like a Corporate version of what governments have been doing for years;
      A mutual defense treaty.

      You sign up with NATO, and rubber-stamp what we want at the UN, and we will defend you if Costa Rica decides to invade. I'd look for some 'feedback' agreement wherein IBM gets some security from the group buying in as well. Anyone trying to sue a member, has to look at EVERY patent in the arsenal, to see if it remotely resembles what they are trying to sue for -- that alone would make suing the IBM patent a
    • What they're patenting is a legal agreement that says "if you get sued for patent infringement, we'll grant you a patent license for one of our patents so you can smite the bastards
      In other words, it's like that scene near the end of Robocop when Dick gets fired on the spot in the board room, immediately freeing Murphy to take action against him since he's no longer an OCP executive and protected by Directive 4. At least, that was the first thing that came to mind for me.
  • by fontkick (788075) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @09:49AM (#21054929)
    Patents like this are proof that America has too many lawyers and MBAs and not enough engineers. Or maybe I'm just nostalgic for the good 'ole days when patents actually had to be material... a new and novel application of a technology or product feature that was a result of, you know, actual WORK originated by the person/company submitting the patent. This patent is basically a patent on a business type. It's kind of like patenting the concept of a bank, whereby you erect a building with a "vault" that allows "customers" to "withdraw" and "deposit" money. The American patent system is starting to exist primarily to employ lawyers... patent everything (no matter how stupid or obvious), and sue everybody.
  • This is obviously a jab at the concept of business process patents. It is a common practive today, and thus has a great deal of prior art to invalidate it.

    • by Dunbal (464142)
      It is a common practive today, and thus has a great deal of prior art to invalidate it.

            Prior to IBM? I doubt it :)
    • by rs79 (71822)
      "This is obviously a jab at the concept of business process patents. It is a common practive today, and thus has a great deal of prior art to invalidate it."

      Haven't we seen enough things where there was prior art and the patent was granted anyway?

      I worked at a manufacturor of PC graphics cards in the 80s and we were hit with the "xor cursor" patent troll. I dug up the appropriate prior art but was told "they only want 15K, tektronix hp and sony have paid. We will to; it's cheaper".
  • Msft has filed hundreds of bogus patents. And braying jackass Steve Ballmer uses msft's bogus patent arsenal to threaten the world on a regular basis.

    Msft's err, "business partners" : scox and acacia, have actually gone as far as filing lawsuits, apparently on msft's behest. Scox has sued Autozone, Chysler, IBM, and Novell.

    How about IBM? I don't remember IBM constantly threating everybody with harassment lawsuits. IBM certainly has the patents - and unlike msft, those patents are for real.

    So, I don't know,
  • by smchris (464899) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @10:03AM (#21055013)
    Isn't it true that IBM invented this in the 50s and 60s? They held Microsoft's place long before Customer Assurance was a gleam in Bill Gates' eye. Maybe a kinder, new millennium IBM wants a patent so they can sue any other company that uses the tactic instead of relying upon government prosecution?
  • ...mailed the application to the USPTO two days earlier due USPS delays....

    See application filing date...
  • I don't agree with the nay sayers on this. I do agree that it is a racket.

    The issue is that this will likely cost IBM a great deal of money in both litigation and administration. Unfortunately the facts are that the extortion is already taking place and its by the legal community.

    We might note that patent trolls often come from the legal community.

    I think this will serve to highlight the problems.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by acvh (120205)
      My take on this is as follows:

      I'm a small company developing some new kind of networked mass storage system with what I think are novel ways to manage the backup and restoration of applications and data. Given that many others have done similar things I run the risk of infringing some obscure patent out there. Rather than devote resources I don't have to lawyers and research, I subscribe to IBM's new "super-patent" service.

      I get sued by a patent holder over a method of deciding where and when to backup a fi
  • FWIW the wikipedia entry for "Protection Racket" [wikipedia.org] has been edited to remove the term "non-governmental" from the first line. That phrase has a fairly specific and widely accepted definition [wikipedia.org] which is significantly different from its usage above.

    A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a legally constituted organization created by private persons or organizations with no participation or representation of any government. In the cases in which NGOs are funded totally or partially by governments, the NGO main

  • Come on - every time Slashdot posts an article on a patent troll, some wag suggests taking out a business model patent on patent trolling - its the law!

  • This patent is invalid, by the mass of prior art published on Slashdot alone.

    Most times any patent frivolity is discussed on Slashdot, there are any number of "business method designs" for patenting patents, or patenting extortive intellectual property methods or business models. Many in the handy format of " 1. XXX / 2. YYY / 3. ZZZ / 4. ??? / 5. PROFIT!!! [google.com] "

    Though this post would make a great joke, the patent crusader Homer Simpson [google.com] would say " It's funny because it's true. [google.com] ©.
  • That's a nice patent you've got there. We wouldn't want anything to happen to it.
    It'd be a real shame if ... well.

    My brother and I have got a little proposition for you.
    We can guarantee you that not a single patent will get done over for fifteen hundos a week.
  • This is the "let's patent stupid patents" patent that has been so often discussed on /.

    You know the joke, you patent the process of patenting obvious things, and then none of the patent trolls could operate unless you licensed them to. Which, of course, you wouldn't.

    The question is, is IBM going to use this as a defensive patent against patent trolls, or try and get into the patent troll business directly?
  • ...because business method patents are pointless and unnecessary. Why are we issuing a patent to a company that spent about 15 minutes in a board meeting, and 0 dollars on an entirely obvious business plan?
  • ...is that after twenty or so years, it expires. Then (assuming lack of prior art in the first place) they can't sue the patent trolls out of business any more.
  • If they do get the patent, will the Mafia sue IBM for infringement? Or, will IBM go after the Mafia?
  • The idea is that only IBM can be a patent troll!!! IBM is putting their mouth where it aught to be. IBM then can sue all patent trolls for - well being patent trolls!!!!! I love this idea! GO IBM!!!
  • by mysticgoat (582871) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @01:28PM (#21056345) Homepage Journal

    This is a wonderful, delightful piece of work!

    If this patent is to be successfully contested on the basis of prior art, some corporation is going to have to go public with the details of its patent protection racket. That company would be exposing itself to a lot of nasty business risks (possibly RICO, possibly anti-trust measures, more probably loss of sales and market cap, very definitely some image problems). I doubt that there are very many CEOs who would like the risk/benefit ratio of such a plan, especially as this kind of thing could break their personal career even if it is successful in blocking the patent.

    If IBM is awarded the patent, it can use it to publicly expose the backroom details of the MS - SCO deal, the MS - Novell deal, and similar deals where there is good cause to suspect that some form of patent protection was involved. Through lawsuit and discovery, the secret clauses in those contracts would become public. This would stifle a lot of those kinds of activities, which would be a Good Thing for anyone favoring competition of products based on their technical merit.

    IBM could also put the patent in the Linux patent protection pool. I cannot see anything negative for FOSS coming out of that.

    But basically I see this patent as a way of demonstrating just how absurd the entire business model patent structure is.

    Go IBM!

    • by evilviper (135110)

      some corporation is going to have to go public with the details of its patent protection racket.

      Pick one that has long-since gone out of business, and possibly long enough ago that many of its former owners are deceased. Or better yet, pick a company that has ALREADY faced prosecution for a similar scheme, so the details are already public record. Problem solved.

  • We can only hope! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wannabegeek2 (1137333)
    Though I have to laugh at the "patenting of being a patent troll", I can see ultimate irony if IBM donated the patent to the Open Invention Network, Open Source Patent Protection pool.

    Consider the potential outcomes, it just has to bring a smile to your face!

    And hey, maybe the absurdity of the patent, coupled with its devastating use against a few notorious patent trolls, would wake someone in power up to the need for a return to the protections for IP the Founding Fathers intended. Instead of the obscene m
  • Nah (Score:3, Funny)

    by Joey Vegetables (686525) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @02:30PM (#21056847) Journal

    Sounds like Fat Tony's been to Law School, eh?

    Nah. Me [slashdot.org] and Fat Tony go waaay back, and that gnocchi-eating paisan couldn't fit through the door of law school, much less graduate from one. If youse'a askin' me, my money's on Benny the Brain.

  • Its funny enough that IBM are actually doing what we have joked about for so long. However, what will be far funnier is watching all the patent trolls squirm as they realize that opposing the patent by citing prior art is the equivalent of an admission of guilt as patent trolls. If they don't oppose they are open to patent infringement claims. If they oppose they publicly identify themselves as patent trolls. Laughing my ass off!

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