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IBM Patents

IBM Seeking 'Patent-Protection-Racket' Patent 169

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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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
  • Re:Sweet (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hasbeard ( 982620 ) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @09:48AM (#21054921)
    They haven't patented "patent abuse." Read the patent (if you haven't) and then read this post: http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=334389&threshold=-1&commentsort=0&mode=thread&cid=21054811 [slashdot.org] for a better understanding of what the patent actually entails.
  • 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.
  • by marcello_dl ( 667940 ) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @09:55AM (#21054967) Homepage Journal
    > "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?
  • by Vitriol+Angst ( 458300 ) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @10:31AM (#21055137)
    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 alliance very daunting.

    I think this is a good thing -- only in that it will make it almost impossible to conduct patent trolling -- at least if you are a company with enough funds to "buy in." It also illuminates that patents have been more of a protection and extortion racket for the big boys, and doesn't reward innovation. IBM seems to be fighting the good fight in general.

    The down-side I see, is that this furthers the trend of protection for the Haves. Small companies and individuals are going to be even more the low-hanging-fruit. We have FREE trade in the US, if you are a large corporation -- but not for small companies and individuals. No freedom of movement for people, but freedom of business and trucks passing from Mexico to Canada. You have freedom of speech, if you can afford to buy it on the TV and media and it doesn't offend the owners of those outlets -- but forget trying to say anything you want in the park.

    I only bring that up, because this is just another step where Corporations are acting like governments. I'm sure the fascade of who is running this joint is going to quickly rear its head.
  • Re:Shining example (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @11:46AM (#21055617)
    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.
  • by julesh ( 229690 ) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @11:58AM (#21055699)
    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.
  • We can only hope! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wannabegeek2 ( 1137333 ) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @02:19PM (#21056749)
    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 mega-business pandering mess we have now.
  • by petermgreen ( 876956 ) <plugwashNO@SPAMp10link.net> on Saturday October 20, 2007 @06:57PM (#21058769) Homepage
    that is why a truely effective patent troll makes sure that patent trolling is thier only buisness.
  • Re:Shining example (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Monday October 22, 2007 @10:27AM (#21071899)

    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 Soprano getting mugged. I'll be sure to cry and feel bad for the poor widdle patent trolls as soon as I stop laughing. This is an absolutely brilliant move from IBM.

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard