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IBM Wants Patent For Lotus Notes-Free Meetings 179

Posted by timothy
from the taketh-away-with-the-other dept.
theodp writes "Over at IBM, the Lotus Notes team has 'invented' preventing the use of their own product during meetings. Self-described patent reformer Big Blue has asked the USPTO for a patent covering Suppressing De-Focusing Activities During Selective Scheduled Meetings by forcing meeting attendees to 'submit to the computing system suspension requirements.' What's next — a patent for Verizon for blocking cellphone usage during movies?"
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IBM Wants Patent For Lotus Notes-Free Meetings

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  • by serps (517783) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @10:22PM (#27117359) Homepage
    Do you speak it?
  • Grrrrr (Score:5, Funny)

    by Spazholio (314843) <slashdot.lexal@net> on Sunday March 08, 2009 @10:22PM (#27117363) Homepage
    "What's next - a patent for Verizon for blocking cellphone usage during movies?"

    DON'T. GIVE THEM. IDEAS.
    • Re:Grrrrr (Score:4, Funny)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @10:33PM (#27117471) Journal
      Don't worry, Verizon would charge at least $5.99 a month for the "Vblock Premium Network Experience".

      You might have to talk to a supervisor two or three times a billing cycle to keep it off your account; but they wouldn't actually provide a service, even a worse than useless one, without being overpaid for it.
    • Re:Grrrrr (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 08, 2009 @10:43PM (#27117549)

      DON'T. GIVE THEM. IDEAS.

      It's not them you need to worry about...

      In other news, Microsoft has patented the process of buying products from companies that aren't Microsoft. So now, if you buy a Microsoft product you will pay them some money, and if you buy someone else's product you will still have to pay them some money because of their patent. Industry analysts say they haven't noticed any difference from the status quo.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by aztracker1 (702135)
      Don't know about a patent, but a gps addon to phones that automagically puts them in vibrate mode when entering a theater would be cool...
      • by iamacat (583406)

        How exactly are you planning to receive GPS signals inside a building?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by KlaymenDK (713149)

          Cat, meet A-GPS [wikipedia.org]. A-GPS, meet cat.

          • That explains why the last time I called 911 (I was in a building), they pressed me for an address. When I told them my phone had GPS, they said it was easier for them if I gave them the address myself.
            • by Bigbutt (65939)

              They always do that or at least confirm the address. Better to confirm your address than assume it's right on the screen. And it's easier to say that than it is to explain it to you :)

              [John]

      • by RMH101 (636144)
        This is one of the original selling points for Bluetooth. Ericsson envisaged that theatres and libraries would have Bluetooth beacons that politely asked Bluetooth phones to go into silent mode. Great idea, never happened.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by sortius_nod (1080919)

          I remember that... all they made was a highly vulnerable standard that creates frustrations galore for novice users.

    • by jabithew (1340853)

      Why? Sounds like a great idea!

  • Mean while (Score:5, Funny)

    by EEPROMS (889169) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @10:22PM (#27117367)
    3M Patents sticky notes for use when lotus notes has been restricted... :-P
  • IANAL, etc. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @10:25PM (#27117391) Journal
    But this seems pretty tepid. Software designed to enforce situation-specific social norms is not at all new(SMART's somewhat creepily named "Synchroneyes" is one that has been commercially available for a long while now, MS's "digital manners" application came out a while back, and I've run into a number of browser plugins and other utility programs designed to stop timewasting).

    The only novelty, and it is a slender one, is using a calendar event as a stimulus, rather than time or location or some other variable.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by johannesg (664142)

      ...I've run into a number of browser plugins and other utility programs designed to stop timewasting).

      You can just stick slashdot.org in your hosts file and be done with it, no need for a plugin...

    • Remember these patent filings can take 5-6 years. So you need to ask if it was novel back then.

      But your point is taken. I recommend people interested stopping non-novel patents try this website.

      http://www.peertopatent.org/ [peertopatent.org]

      • by Dun Malg (230075)
        I think "non-obvious" is the better test. Wishing there was some easy way to get fuckers to pay attention in meetings is nothing new. Programming a computer to limit their access to stuff during meetings is hardly a stroke of genius.
    • by foobsr (693224)
      Software designed to enforce situation-specific social norms ...

      There we have it all: a fruitful synthesis of scientific and technical progress to foster evolution. Soon we will arrive at a state (more like 'finite-state') were we will have an even more progressive 'enabling' technology, perhaps along the lines of "Google-life(tm) beta".

      Ick.

      CC.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 08, 2009 @10:28PM (#27117423)

    If IBM patents meeting without Lotus Notes, and doesn't license it, then that means everyone will have to have meetings WITH Lotus Notes! Most companies don't have it, so now they'll need to license it.

    • It's a great strategy for undermining the efficiency of companies everywhere!

    • It won't work. As I recall, you are required to file a patent in the US within a year of inventing, and preventing Lotus Notes use was something that the Notes user interface team perfected - and brought to market - far more than a year ago.
    • Or, they could always stop having Meetings! (I would prefer this choice!)

  • by dave1791 (315728) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @10:31PM (#27117453)

    The app seems like a verbose way of saying that the calendar system shuts down access to other apps during the meeting; which is a technical solution to a social problem (people banging away on laptop keyboards during meetings)

    • by high_rolla (1068540) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @11:39PM (#27117877) Homepage
      Indeed. We seem to be evolving a culture where we try to solve every problem with technology. Sometimes technology is not the answer. Sometimes you have to realise that technology is not curing the problem, it is just solving a symptom. And like most diseases, it will simply evolve around your attempt.
      • by hazem (472289) on Monday March 09, 2009 @12:52AM (#27118187) Journal

        We seem to be evolving a culture where we try to solve every problem with technology. Sometimes technology is not the answer.

        No. Clearly the problem is that people are invited to meetings when they feel there is more value in doing something else than actually paying attention at the meeting.

        Probably the best solution is to have fewer meetings and make them shorter and more focused.

        If you then still need the meeting and making it shorter and focused does not keep the attention of the people involved, maybe they need a different job where they won't be distracted by such meetings.

        I work for a large corporation and I believe we have far too many meetings that are not really needed. When I'm bored in one of these meetings, I like to look around the table and try to estimate the cost in salary and benefits of the particular meeting. With a VP, a handful of directors and several managers, a one-hour meeting easily costs the company a few thousand dollars.

        This kind of technology won't solve the problem of people doing other things in meetings and it will most likely just piss them off.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by iocat (572367)
          The actual solution, assuming your not on a videoconference, is to just bring a magazine or book to work and read that when you're not supposed to be using your computer in the meeting. Or a PSP. They haven't invented a way yet to get disinterested people to be interested in stupid meetings. Even if you're face tp face, you can always just extensively take notes during meetings as a way to take your mind off having to actually pay attention. (If what I just wrote seems counter-intuitive, try it sometime -
        • by Tom (822)

          Probably the best solution is to have fewer meetings and make them shorter and more focused.

          Which is kinda hard when half of your audience is busy being elsewhere with their thoughts.

          You have to start somewhere. Speaking as someone who is leading meetings on a regular basis, I would gladly take any and all technological solutions to shut down all electronic devices in the room. After a few meetings without, I'm sure people would notice how much more focussed, efficient and thus shorter these meetings can be - but getting there is the problem. And no, convincing people doesn't work, we've tried tha

          • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday March 09, 2009 @06:43AM (#27119605) Journal

            Several studies have shown that the productivity of a meeting begins to drop off rapidly when you add more than three people. The only real reason for bigger meetings is to share blame. Fewer meetings is not the correct solution, smaller and shorter (but potentially more) meetings is. If a lot of people need to know what was discussed at the meeting then email out detailed minutes, don't require them to all be there in person.

            If someone is not paying attention in a meeting, it means that they don't feel that the meeting demands 100% of their attention, and if that is the case then they are probably right. Rather than force them to sit in a meeting which only demands 50% of their attention on average, split it into two meetings, one where they do have to pay attention 100% of the time, and one where they don't have to attend.

            If you read any management theory textbook written in the last 30 years, you'll see exactly this advice.

        • What about taking minutes of the meeting on a laptop? I did that for a while, and nobody complained.

        • by Dun Malg (230075)

          I like to look around the table and try to estimate the cost in salary and benefits of the particular meeting. With a VP, a handful of directors and several managers, a one-hour meeting easily costs the company a few thousand dollars.

          We need to invent a big ol' tote board sign wired to a prox card reader at each seat. When you sit down the board logs you in and starts adding your hourly rate second by second to a giant total on the board, so these management fuckers can see how much they're costing the company as they talk about synergizing their core competencies.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Amen. A lot of people also like to blame new tech for these kinds of problems.
        Have we really become a society that believes that the only way to prevent anti-social or anti-productive behavior is to use tech and patents to make it impossible?
        If a company doesn't like what people are doing during their meetings, they should consider why people aren't paying attention (maybe the meeting wasn't necessary) and if they determine that the employees really are out of line, punish them.
        These days, we've ad
      • by msouth (10321)

        Did you mean

        Indeed. We seem to be evolving a culture where we try to solve every problem with government force. Sometimes government force is not the answer. Sometimes you have to realise that government force is not curing the problem, it is just solving a symptom. And like most diseases, it will simply evolve around your attempt.

        ? :)

    • by pecosdave (536896)

      Of course I typically have a minimum of three computers on my desk, and none have Lotus Notes. If I must bang on my keyboard however I use mute. Being the tech means I often have to bang on a keyboard for a while to enable others to get into the meeting.

    • by swillden (191260)

      Keep in mind that inside of IBM very few meetings take place in person. IBM is a very distributed organization, with a great number (probably the majority) of its employees working from home, so meetings are normally conducted via phone and netmeeting.

      Obviously you can't tell people in such an environment not to "bring their laptop", nor are there body language cues available to let you know if people are paying attention.

      However, IBM does not use this Notes-blocker internally, not that I've ever seen,

  • Uninformed summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 08, 2009 @10:31PM (#27117457)

    One part of IBM's strategy for patent reform has been to build as large a patent library as possible, but enforce only (what they see as) legitimate innovation while using the rest only to club patent trolls. While I have no objection to anti-software patent advocates, or full-blown anti-imaginary property advocates, insinuating that IBM is guilt of misrepresentation or hypocrisy with this filing is absurd.

  • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @10:32PM (#27117467) Homepage Journal

    IBM has been attempting to get patents for some of the craziest things lately, and I wonder how many of these were actually accepted. Are they trying an easy way to beef up their patent portfolio, for defensive tactics, to keep up the yearly count or simply to prove how broken the system is? In the meantime, they will ensure they keep getting noticed by Slashdot ;)

    • by Fluffeh (1273756)

      Are they trying an easy way to beef up their patent portfolio, for defensive tactics, to keep up the yearly count or simply to prove how broken the system is?

      Think about it. Big Company. Decides to manage patent portfolio. Hires patent manager. Patent manager is assessed on statistics. Manager decides he will ensure his figures look good.

      All hail bureaucracy!

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by technomom (444378)

        IBM has recently changed their internal patent awards so that patents are worth less now and publishes to ip.com are worth more, at least for individual inventors. I can't speak for the patent attorneys.

        So, they are, to a certain extent, putting their money where their mouth is. IBM does leverage its patent portfolio but it doesn't tend to "patent troll". Instead, it tends to use its portfolio defensively against patent trolls like SCO.

    • by Ashriel (1457949) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @11:19PM (#27117803)

      I'm guessing that they're trying to reform patent law by coming up with such ridiculous patents that the patent office can no longer take itself seriously, if indeed it still does.

      Either that, or they have some seriously messed-up people in charge over there - c'mon, patenting non-use of software? Am I the only person who laughed at this article? Never even mind the patent summary itself, which keeps referring to the act of not using Lotus Notes as an "invention".

      I think I'm going to go out and patent not using my personal computer between the hours of 6 pm and 10 pm EST. That way everyone else has to pay me for not using my PC during that timeframe.

      • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Monday March 09, 2009 @03:25AM (#27118761) Journal

        ... such ridiculous patents that the patent office can no longer take itself seriously, if indeed it still does.

        They're too late. Much too late:
        766,171 "Apparatus for signalling from a grave" (before horror movies even existed)
        1,749,090 "Apparatus for obtaining criminal confessions" (oooh, scary ghosts)
        2,929,459 "Rocket-propelled pogo stick" (yay for Wile E Coyote!)
        3,216,423 "Facilitating birth by centrifugal force" (I kid you not)
        4,016,875 "Penis locking and lacerating vaginal insert" (the mind boggles)
        4,429,685 "Surgical procedure for unicorns" (WTF?)
        5,443,036 "Method for exercising a cat" (fun with a laser pointer)
        5,456,625 "Jesus doll lights when crucified" (surreal BDSM toy, intended for kids!)
        6,025,810 "Faster than light communication" (physics from another reality)
        6,368,227 "Method of swinging on a swing" (eventually cancelled, alas)
        This is just a sampling from my collection of US PTO brainfarts. Other wierd wonders have titles such as "Body condom", "Santa Claus detector", "Making a drink hop along a counter", "Thermochromic urinal mat", "Motorized ice-cream cone", "Electrified table cloth", and so forth. I've also collected turds from the French, German, Japanese, and UK patent offices, but they are less profligate than the US patent orifice.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          766,171 is perfectly legitimate. With older medical technologies, burying people who only looked dead was an unpleasantly common occurrence. A signaling mechanism more effective than the traditional "horrified clawing at the enveloping darkness and screaming unheard until your strength gives out" strategy was very much of interest.

          Now, I'm not saying that 766,171 is novel, they might well have lifted the idea from somebody else; but it is hardly ridiculous.
  • It's great for creativity really. Imagine the proliferation of patents that are based on not doing something. I didn't eat at McDonald's today - can I patent that? Can I patent not using Windows?? This is fun. But as someone else noted above, IBM's true genius is the catch-22 ... if you choose to use Notes, you're paying for the privilege. IBM figured out a way to still make you pay when you choose not to use Notes.

  • This is the tip of the iceberg. If IBM ever invents a method of stopping people reading slashdot then we're screwed.
  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @10:46PM (#27117591) Journal
    called "cranio-rectal inversion".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 08, 2009 @10:48PM (#27117601)

    Want people's attention during your meeting? Try a few basic things:

    Start on time.
    Get to the point when speaking.
    Keep the discussion on topic.
    If the meeting is more than an hour, have a 5 minute break for email and bathroom.
    Never read your slides to the audience.

    Then again, I dislike speaking in front of people, even if I do it well, so I'm quick myself.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AliasMarlowe (1042386)

      Want people's attention during your meeting? Try a few basic things:

      Start on time.
      Get to the point when speaking.
      Keep the discussion on topic.
      If the meeting is more than an hour, have a 5 minute break for email and bathroom.
      Never read your slides to the audience.

      Then again, I dislike speaking in front of people, even if I do it well, so I'm quick myself.

      And remove the chairs from the meeting room (unless you really need a multi-hour drone-a-thon). The meeting then gets to the point faster, and finishes without excessive blather and time wasting.

    • by bazorg (911295)
      well, to get to the point one would need to advertise what the point of the meeting is. I shall patent the Meeting Agenda and methods for showing it to people in advance. Method for declining attendance and read the minutes will be a future development.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...would be to send a robot killer back in time to take out Ray Ozzie's mother before he was born.

  • by djdavetrouble (442175) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @10:48PM (#27117605) Homepage

    I have been riding a downhill slope of enterprise email systems for the last half decade.
    First I started working at a Novell shop, Groupwise was of course the flavor. Well, I thought
    it was lacking in usability and features, until we ditched it for a worldwide Lotus Notes
    enterprise solution. What groupwise lacks in features and usability, Notes takes and twists
    into infinitely complex knots, lashings, and tangles. Preferences? We got em all over the
    fucking place. Location preferences, user preferences, security prefernces, address book
    preferences, all dispersed throughout different menus and buttons. There is no way
    a non admin could properly configure this evil bitch. Want to archive some email and get
    it out of your active database (oh yes, this is not a mail file, this is a full fledged encrypted
    domino database, bitches) ? Ok, follow this simple 10 step process! To change the font size, you
    have to leave the application and edit a preference file by hand on Macs. We had to send out
    a small magazine to explain how to use an html signature. The default browser when you
    install? Notes browser. Ugh.

    I have come up with a fairly plausible theory that Lotus Notes is a conspiracy
    of complexity to keep huge numbers of IBM engineers and testers, as well as external
    Notes administrators in business. Witness the ease of use of modern email.
    We have well over 20 Notes admins for our global enterprise. REALLY?

    • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @11:23PM (#27117815) Homepage Journal

      I have come up with a fairly plausible theory that Lotus Notes is a conspiracy of complexity to keep huge numbers of IBM engineers and testers, as well as external Notes administrators in business.

      IBM specialise in this. Have a look at the entire Rational product line, particularly ClearCase.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by RingDev (879105)

      I fully agree with everything you've said. The US branch of my company switched from Exchange to Notes when we merged witht he European network. And Notes has been completely asstarded. Client side it has a huge memory foot print, it's damn near impossible to customize, and just recently we discovered a really nasty security issue with it (lotus script in emails FTL). Server side, well, it's called Domino for a reason. If one server dies, they all fall down.

      -Rick

    • by crossmr (957846)

      We used notes at my last company. it was garbage. It wasn't too bad at first but then some idiot got the idea that everything should be maintained in notes databases...
      we had a company phone list (for our local office) contained in a spreadsheet on a shared server. You could create a desktop link and find any phone number you wanted in about 8 seconds..
      someone decided we should maintain a company wide database, including our parent company and unrelated subsidiaries.
      need to find a phone number for a local p

  • by phillymjs (234426) <slashdot.stango@org> on Sunday March 08, 2009 @10:51PM (#27117627) Homepage Journal

    The only winning move is not to play.

    ~Philly

  • Hey, my grade-school teacher had prior art on that one, from "No chewing gum in school" to "There'll be a test at the end."

    This patent is just more bullshit. Didn't IBM get the memo on "in re Bilski"? Can't patent something that's not a product ...

  • Useless feature (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JeffTL (667728) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @11:09PM (#27117749)
    This looks like like a personnel management problem than a technological problem, and is easier and probably cheaper to approach it by traditional means. If one of your subordinates is goofing off with his email and not paying attention to you, tell him to stop. If he doesn't, call HR and determine the appropriate level of censure.
    • I agree, but on the other hand any technology that suppresses Lotus Notes is during meetings (or at any other time) is a boon for mankind, even if it takes out other apps as well.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by JeffTL (667728)
        I have to agree with you, as well. Notes is a pox on email, and while I understand it has a lot of programmability in theory, in practice at least 75% of people use it only for email, and a good chunk of the remainder use it for only email and calendar. And yet the Mac version of the app is as big as MS Office '04, and nearly '08. The PC version is little better.
        • The "In Theory" part is right. I worked for a large company with a huge Notes installation. We were supposed to be running with all sorts of customizations but I could never tell the difference.

          The REAL problem with Notes is not its arcane interface or weird scripting. Notes' fatal flaw is that although it may have seemed cool in 1995, its claim to fame (simple distributed database backed forms) would be better done by web apps. This was true in 2000 and it is certainly true now. Being obsoleted by newer te

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by bigsteve@dstc (140392)

      What happens if it is your boss who is not paying attention? Do you report him to HR?

      What if an attendee is not actually goofing off, but being distracted by email from his boss or subordinates who are not actually in the meeting?

      • by JeffTL (667728)
        If each employee gets his job done, i.e. meeting or exceeding assessment criteria without being a complete a-hole, I don't see the harm. In the example of an email from the boss, it may be a higher priority item that needs addressing sooner. Obviously if there are clients involved it's a different can of worms, but laterals and subordinates can put on their big boy pants, and your managers may vary.
        • So what you are saying is that as a meeting convener you would not see the need to use an email blocker for a meeting. What about people who might see the need to do this ... in the face of bosses, laterals and/or subordinates who don't know how to behave?

          My point is that I have experienced situations where an email blocker would have been a very helpful.

  • by vandelais (164490) on Monday March 09, 2009 @12:01AM (#27117963)

    Do nothing. Schedule meetings all day. Prevents termination by Lotus Notes. Works for middle management!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Newsflash: Woman patents rejecting a guy's advances. The technology, dubbed Method and Apparatus to Block Male Advances, is patented under U.S. Patent #562434645779680584735235644. What that means for us geeks is that if you ask out a girl, she must say "Yes" unless she licenses that patent.

  • ..no, there is too much. let me sum up...

    1. During meetings, people like to do other work. Shocking, I know.

    2. At IBM - as in many shops that use Lotus Notes and Lotus Sametime - a large amount of the things people work on, are done using these tools.

    3. IBM's customers, in some cases, want to prevent people from doing non-meeting things during their meetings. Probably, this is more about meetings using shared screens and browser based meeting software -- prevent it from being backgrounded.

    4. IBM Soft

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is a great idea if your some draconian control freak company. If your primary line of business is trying to stifle innovation and make your employees miserable please by all means get this software installed on your obsolete mail system.

    The concept of a "mail server" is slowly becoming obsolete. With Google Apps a company can do exactly what they did with Lotus Notes or Exchange just as securely for a fraction of the cost. Why do so many people still run mail servers and their own BES servers? They

    • The clean desk policy and security stuff is something I have seen at other places with cube farms too.
      And there are good reasons for it too. The last thing you want is some cleaner earning 5c a night spotting something someone left out on the desk labeled "confidential" and deciding to steal it and offer it to the highest bidder.

      • The clean desk policy and security stuff is something I have seen at other places with cube farms too. And there are good reasons for it too. The last thing you want is some cleaner earning 5c a night spotting something someone left out on the desk labeled "confidential" and deciding to steal it and offer it to the highest bidder.

        In my opinion, most stuff labeled "confidential" isn't really worth anything to anyone. Good luck trying to sell it... See the recent Cohen movie for instructions on how to (not) sell a former CIA agent's memoirs to the russians...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jonwil (467024)

          You clearly havent worked at any of the places I have. I worked at a cellphone manufacturer a while back (who shall remain nameless) and had access to a whole pile of sensitive information (including such things as prototype phones that had not yet been announced, ideas invented by the company and in the process of being patented, full source code to most of their (at the time) current phones and full details of exactly what customizations, lockdowns, restrictions and changes made for each carrier in the f

  • by Greyfox (87712)
    Now if they could patent Lotus Notes-Free everything else, life would be good. I live in constant fear that I'll get hired back into a Lotus Notes shop and have to use that steaming turd of an excuse for an e-mail client. Anything at all that restricts its usage is OK in my book.

    Most of the time we play solitaire in the meetings anyway.

  • It does sound like anyone bored by the meeting should be running their Lotus Notes in VMware. I run Windows in virtualization anyway, to stabilize hardware interactions with my desktop and laptop.
  • ...that 80% of meetings are unnecessary. I think I'll patent some technology which addresses this issue.
  • Dear Mr Anyanwu,
    I understand that you and your tribal chiefs held a tribal meeting without lotus notes last Tuesday. This is in direct infringement of our patent, and I hereby issue a cease and desist order. The fact that you have no computer or electricity does not give you the right to ignore our intellectual property rights. If you would like to cont
  • by ActusReus (1162583) on Monday March 09, 2009 @07:17AM (#27119769)

    I don't really understand the business problem that this "invention" is intended to solve. If a manager doesn't want people using their laptops during his meeting... he should, well, tell the guy sitting ten feet directly in front of him to kindly close his laptop.

    This is a technical version of your old college roommate leaving you angry notes [passiveagg...enotes.com] to clean up or change your habits... because the person was too weak and passive to simply have an adult conversation to your face. A manager who has to "communicate" with subordinates in such a manner should not be a manager in the first place.

    • by swillden (191260)

      If a manager doesn't want people using their laptops during his meeting... he should, well, tell the guy sitting ten feet directly in front of him to kindly close his laptop.

      You're assuming meetings are in-person. Many are not.

  • What's next -- a patent for Verizon for blocking cellphone usage during movies?

    The law should apply the same way to everyone. Why shouldn't Verizon patent an invention that could be patented if anyone else invented it?

  • The only mention of Lotus in the patent was that one of the people was part of the Lotus group. Kind of a stretch to say that it is _only_ Lotus to be banned. Basically what it said (as far as I could parse the crappy legalese grammar) was shut off your cellphones and computers.

  • Isn't this the same IBM that a few years ago decided to patent the patenting process?

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