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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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  • Shining example (Score:2, Informative)

    by cab15625 (710956) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @09:23AM (#21054791)
    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 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.
  • 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."
  • 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
  • by rking (32070) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @10:11AM (#21055045)
    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:Deep Six (Score:3, Informative)

    by Deadstick (535032) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @10:27AM (#21055115)
    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 a quarter fathom and calls out the fraction, mark or deep, and number.

    By the mark, five: 5 fathoms
    And a half, deep six: 6-1/2 fathoms
    Less a quarter, mark ten: 9-3/4 fathoms.

    rj
  • by Chmcginn (201645) * on Saturday October 20, 2007 @10:53AM (#21055239) Journal
    IBM doesn't have any interest in suing distributors of software that they can get a service contract from.

    IBM seems to get that technical support is a better way to make money than bundling software.

  • Re:Shining example (Score:3, Informative)

    by uglyduckling (103926) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @02:56PM (#21057077) Homepage
    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?"

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