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IBM Is First Company To Get 8,000 US Patents In One Year, Breaking Record (silicon.co.uk) 94

Reader Mickeycaskill writes: For the 24th year in a row, IBM received the most patents of any company in the US. But for the first time it got more than 8,000 -- the first firm in any industry to do so. In total, its inventors were granted 8,088 patents in 2016, covering areas as diverse as artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive computing, cloud, health and cyber security.
That's equal to more than 22 patents a day generated by its researchers, engineers and designers, with more than a third of the patents relating to AI, cognitive computing and cloud computing alone. IBM is betting big on cloud and other services, having spun off its hardware units like servers and PCs to Lenovo. The other nine companies in the top ten list of 2016 US patent recipients consist of: Samsung electronics (with 5,518 patents), Canon (3,665), Qualcomm (2,897), Google (2,835), Intel (2,784), LG Electronics (2,428), Microsoft (2,398), Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (2,288) and Sony (2,181).

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IBM Is First Company To Get 8,000 US Patents In One Year, Breaking Record

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Not 8086 patents? They should fire their patent lawyers, or their trademark lawyers, or both.

    • You can't trademark a number in the US. That's why we have Pentiums rather than 80586s.

      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        You can't trademark a number in the US.

        Better get this news to Boeing.

      • by tim620 ( 1052986 )
        You are correct. Back in the day, companies like AMD, also had 80486 (or "486") and "386" processor chips. Intel couldn't patent the number. So they renamed the upcoming (at the time) 80586 chip as the "Pentium". The rest is history...
    • by Burdell ( 228580 )

      History fail; IBM used the Intel 8088 CPU in the original PC, not the 8086.

    • by Holi ( 250190 )
      What was wrong with the 8088, besides the 8bit bus?
      • How about segment registers. This single abomination hamstrung software for nearly two decades. All sorts of stupid limitations in languages and compilers. Short jumps vs. long jumps. Arrays that cannot exceed 64K. Etc.

        Why not just have made it have a 20 bit address space in the instruction set, or even better 24 bit address space, even if there were only enough external address pins on the early chip models to support, say 640 K, which ought to be enough for some people.

        There was plenty wrong wi
  • This is the very definition of Patent Industry. What we hear as a bad thing, is a Very Good Thing for the Patents Office.
    And yet, this is such a low investment for these companies in comparison with the idea monopoly they generate... oh boy.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Just consider that every one of these patents costs at least $10k for the company (the paperwork preparation alone is probably that much)... that's a lot of R&D dollars.... most of which will never serve a useful revenue-generating purpose (except to pad the resumes of the `researchers' involved).

      • It may cost at least $10 K to file each patent, but the USPTO must cover the costs of its patent application processing.

        Psssssssst. Here's a secret: Patent applications are processed by throwing them into a room full of kittens that have rubber "PATENT APPROVED" stamps affixed to their feet.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It will be Over 9000!

  • "its inventors were granted" Inventors. Yeah, right!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Can anyone honestly say that: Samsung electronics (with 5,518 patents), Canon (3,665), Qualcomm (2,897), Google (2,835), Intel (2,784), LG Electronics (2,428), Microsoft (2,398), Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (2,288) and Sony (2,181) are NOT in violation of any of the 8,088 IBM's ones??? (and this is just for 2016!).

    If they can't, then why do we even bother to have such a crappy system in the first place???

    What what is this AI patent business? Are they patenting how my brain is determining what's b

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Looks like USPTO's approach is to grant all patents and let the courts sort it out.

    • Re:Violations? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @02:37PM (#53635933) Homepage
      Q. Why do we have such a crappy patent system?
      A. In order to keep new, smaller, innovative companies from entering the marketplace.

      Hope that was helpful. That concludes this tech support call. Please take the automated survey at the end of the call. Your call is important to us. Please enjoy this Justin Bieber 'music' while you wait.
  • by vvaduva ( 859950 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @02:01PM (#53635613)

    Using the power of government to protect your shitty minor inventions and intellectual property, is not something to brag about. The headline should read, "IBM has 8,000 new ways to infringe on innovation and keep competition down!"

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      To their credit, IBM whilst maintaining the world's largest patent portfolio, appears to largely use it defensively (as they did with SCO vs IBM). IBM is prepared to be the ultimate patent troll, but mostly if someone comes after IBM first. Their portfolio is comprehensive enough that just about any given hardware or software vendor is likely infringing on multiple IBM patents. IBM also knows that's bad optics and bad for business to try to sue their competitors for patent infringement. You might think

  • Thank you IBM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @02:06PM (#53635649)

    IBM is betting big on cloud and other services, having spun off its hardware units like servers and PCs to Lenovo.

    Thank you, thank you, IBM. You will finally succeed in killing off this "cloud" thing (a.k.a. somebody else's servers) because you have successfully turned the entire category into a patent minefield. When the Nazgul start sending demand letters these next three years, the whole thing will dry up and blow away. Nobody can stand against the Nazgul.

  • by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @02:07PM (#53635667) Homepage Journal

    Here we are a tech site for nerds.

    Instead of articles about interesting discoveries described by patents, new and interesting scientific insights, or discussion and debate about technical issues facing society, we get...

    IBM gets a record 8,000 patents in a single year, wow!
    Atlassian acquires Trello (for $425M), wow!
    Streaming is now #1 way to listen to music, wow!
    LG threatens to put Wifi in every appliance! (They threatened to do this? The very cheek!)
    Apple's IPhone turns 10.

    Oh, but if you're not interested in an article, you don't have to read it so it's OK.

    • by skam240 ( 789197 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @02:36PM (#53635923)

      IBM getting 8,000 patents in a year isnt of concern to techies? Nonsense

      For those concerned about inovation in any tech field these numbers are terrible news but worth being aware of. It's essentially highlighting what many of us perceive as an ever growing problem.

      LG including wifi on all it's products? Glad to now know that so i can avoid their products as i dont need the risk of malware on my fridge. Your average consumer doesnt care of even understand what something like this means. A good amount of this site's readership likely does.

      Apples iphone turns 10 isnt worth mentioning on a tech news site? I generally have no use for Apple products but the iphone was a truely revolutionary piece of tech and marking its 10th anniversary is (while a bit on the light news side) completely in line with the site. (I just wrote this post on my phone by the way)

      A quick tip, just because you dont find it interesting doesnt mean it doesnt belong on the site. I've been reading Slashdot since the 90's and it has always had a huge variety of articles posted to it and for almost just as long had people wanting the site to focus on just what they wanted. I remember the last time I addressed someone complaining about slashdot articles they were complaining about a "slashdot new low", an article about the Simpsons. I just replied with a post with about 7 or 8 links going all the way back to the 90's of slashdot stories about the simpsons.

  • by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @02:07PM (#53635671)

    I'm guessing most will serve to pad the team's pay packet and IBMs "defensive" patent portfolio that all tech (and other) companies seem to need today.
    It's all just a giant bullshit bluff game...how many, if seriously challenged, would really turn out to be genuinely innovative, non-obvious, no prior art etc.?
    IBM used to patent real stuff that went on to be built into real products - hard drives today all use discoveries made by IBM researchers, for example. Hell, when I was working there we had people who had won Nobel prizes working in R&D...
    Nowadays? Not so much...sad.

  • In a country where you can patent everything including a business model and a fart, this is no surprise. The initial idea (the one which was put forward) of patents was to protect the hard work of single poor and lonely inventor. However, it never worked very well for that purpose. In the last couple of decades it was completely converted in a weapon of big companies to battle each other in and outside court, and to protect them from smaller companies and real start-ups (not those money pampered "unicorns")

  • by AndyKron ( 937105 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @03:00PM (#53636103)
    This is why is doesn't make sense to even try. Even if you had a good idea, you''ll spend the rest of your life defending it in court against nebulous patents, and end up eating out of dumpsters while the mother fuckers in industry make the money.
  • Sold out (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thunderclees ( 4507405 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @03:01PM (#53636109)

    IBM and others are looking at big money in surveillance.

    Things like Watson were not built to explore or advance AI (though they may have had that effect). Watson was built to provide meaningful, timely answers using the giant pile of data various corporations and government entities are collecting on everyone.

    IBM has had brain drain since Neo-Con management has taken over, gutting the company in a desperate race toward a Nike model where the corporation is reduced to, IP, executives and lawyers with outside contractors doing everything else.

    I think, given who the IBM target company is, I feel our purpose is to be essential to our clients. - Ginni Rometty

  • ... nobody needs more then 640K.

  • They should patent it.

  • They probably just dredged up 7000 old ones and added "on the internet" to them.
  • Would an effort to publish non-patended and original ideas online be a plausible measure to "fight" patents? One could have an online community of people working together to come up with the ideas that could be patented and publish the idea before these mega-companies claim ownership of the idea and file them away to rot. Once it's "out there" it can't be patented, right?
  • "IBM is betting big on cloud and other services, having spun off its hardware units like servers and PCs to Lenovo" IBM still sells a lot of hardware. They mostly sell "big iron" stuff with higher profit margins than commodity Intel based servers. They still manufacture servers based on the Power processor, running AIX UNIX and IBMi (formerly AS/400). They still manufacture mainframes. Plus, they are still a big player in the enterprise storage server market. I'm guessing quite a number of patents sti
    • indeed, I"m amazed people think "servers" == x86-64 boxes. Had a hard time recently explaining to an exec why certain AIX wares we use won't run on a machine in vmware.

      IBM got itself out of the commodity crap space including Wintel PC's and intel based servers. No profit margin there.

  • As we learned years ago from IBM's "Think" magazine, #5, 1990

    You get value from patents in two ways," says Roger Smith, IBM Assistant General Counsel, intellectual property law. "Through fees, and through licensing negotiations that give IBM access to other patents.

    The IBM patent portfolio gains us the freedom to do what we need to do through cross-licensing--it gives us access to the inventions of others that are the key to rapid innovation. Access is far more valuable to IBM than the fees it receives fr

  • If you're not growing, you're dying!

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