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

    by xzaph ( 1157805 ) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @09:14AM (#21054737)
    Why do I see the potential justification of this being similar to Amazon's justification of patenting 1-click ordering?
  • by jackharrer ( 972403 ) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @09:29AM (#21054821)
    Cosa Nostra, anybody?
  • 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?
  • by the_lesser_gatsby ( 449262 ) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @10:24AM (#21055099) Homepage
    But the process doesn't need to be patented. IBM could just offer the service as a business anyway.
  • Re:Shining example (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @10:43AM (#21055191)
    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.
  • by acvh ( 120205 ) <geek.mscigars@com> on Saturday October 20, 2007 @10:48AM (#21055213) Homepage
    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.
  • by acvh ( 120205 ) <geek.mscigars@com> on Saturday October 20, 2007 @10:55AM (#21055259) Homepage
    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 file. I enter said patent into the search function of my uber-patent GUI. I get a hit on something IBM has patented that could allow me to counter sue the troll. I hit the "license now" button and now I have a patent that I can use to discourage the troll's suit.

    I like it.
  • by stuntpope ( 19736 ) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @11:19AM (#21055429)
    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 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 budgenator ( 254554 ) on Saturday October 20, 2007 @04:22PM (#21057673) Journal

    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, if your a small=fry and some patent-trollish company is trying to bully you out of existance, you can acess IBM's patent pool and counter-sue. It works because some much trivial shit is patented so vaguely that you can't do anything without infringing on someones patent. if the troll argue the patent is invalid, then IBM has to step in and protect their stockholder's assets, and going against IBM's lawyers isn't for the faint of heart.
  • by KudyardRipling ( 1063612 ) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @12:40AM (#21060441)
    Those were the good old days. Work paid. Employment was secure. Housing was affordable. Diplomas and degrees had value. Vehicle choice was respected (take that California). Firearm choices were respected (take the OCCA of 1968). Borders were secured. Child abuse did not exist. Then, something happened. [wikipedia.org] Worse than that, this happened. [wikipedia.org] Now all that remains are those who care nothing about how these opportunites are protected from enemies foreign and domestic. They have acquired positional goods and retain security thugs.


    With IBM literally patenting organized crime, one puts his ear on the grave of J. Edgar Hoover:

    whirr, whirr, whirr,
    click, click, click, click,
    Tick, tick ,tick, tick,
    clack, clack, clack, clack,
    gock, gock, gock! GOCK! CRUNCH!

    He was spinning so fast, he spun a bearing and puked a rod!


"If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong." -- Norm Schryer