back to article The US patent yeast batch continues to swell

Once again, for the 19th year in a row in fact, IBM is the king of new US patents awarded in a year and talk will now turn to the utility and futility of patents. The annual rankings of patents awarded by the US Patent and Trademark Office used to come out of that government agency, but in 2007 it stopped because, as the …


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  1. scarshapedstar

    Honeywell just below TI!

    Damn, no wonder their desk fans are so nice.

    1. Allison Park

      Stock winners

      I always buy stock of companies on their way up in the patent race and short companies on their way down. Thanks to Mark Hurd I made a killing on shorting HP stock while everyone else thought it had nowhere to go but up. I am taking a few vacations to the Caribbean thanks to Mark and his cost cutting (the womanizing strangely enough was an unexpected bonus).

      Not ready to short Oracle yet. He seems to be just a spokesperson for hardware vs. really setting the direction.

      One thing is for sure when people cut R&D it takes years to reverse the trend vs. when people invest more its a quick ROI.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Perhaps now El Reg can stop posting flame bait apple patent stories and use some balance instead of trying to generate page hits.

    Second thoughts... Don't bother! I love watching the freetards getting their knickers in a twist!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      as stated...'s the quality not the quantity.

      If Apple stopped sueing over having rounded corners and stopped faking photo's to prove a case, then people may have less to bitch about.

      As for the rise of the Asian patents, well they are most likely doing this as defensive mesaures against the American companies sueing them over petty things like above.

  3. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

    Wow, the USPTO talking about patent quality. I'm surprised that they even know the word quality

    1. Thomas 4

      Incredible really

      Each of those 200,000 odd patents they approved represents a unique and genius idea that could only be thought up by some of the most brilliant minds. Like rounded corners and the idea that a tablet should have a screen on it.

  4. jake Silver badge

    "yeast batch"?

    ??? New one on me ... and I use several strains of yeast on a near daily basis. I'm not taking the mick ... I can see where it might come from, but what's the history on this phrase, please? I collect such trivia.

    1. tpm (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: "yeast batch"?

      It is my own usage, as a homebrewer who makes up batches of yeast before making ales and other weirder stuff.

      1. Allison Park

        any IPA's?

        I am a bitter person. LOL

      2. jake Silver badge


        Generically, I usually call 'em "the yeasties". I have roughly half a dozen strains[1] that I use day-to day, and a couple dozen that I use occasionally.

        Beer, wine, bread, whatever ... Yeasties are our friends :-)

        [1] Ale & Lager, bread, still wine, sparkling California wine[2], Sourdough caught in the attic of Columbia's[3] bakery, and a rather nice sourdough that I got from the owners of the "Bread Alone" bakery, in the Catskills of New York[4].

        [2] Not Champagne ... I'm in California, not France.

        [3] Columbia is a preserved mining town in California's Gold Country ... UC Davis tells me that both my yeast and my Lactobacillus is (according to DNA) older than most ... I'd like to think it tastes similar to what the miners were eating in 1850 ... But who knows? It's tasty, nonetheless :-)

        [4] Yes, real Sourdough, from a starter I got in New York State ...

  5. Wang N Staines

    Wow!!!!! So much innovations around the world judging by the total count of patents.

    Nice to see so many people with so many brilliant & original thinking.

    "a system for <... fill in blank...>"


  6. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge

    Out of interest, can I patent things that don't exist yet? Like a device that switches on a light by telepathy. I think David Bowie did that in "A man that fell to Earth", but if I get the patent first then these damn aliens will be screwed.

    1. Dick Emery
      Paris Hilton


      As long as you pay the fee to do so. Finding an original patent is harder than you think though.

      1. Chris Fox

        Original patent - non-sequitur?

        Indeed, most software-related patents I have seen cannot be described as "original" (at least, not as mere mortals understand the word). They are usually just scraps of prior art bolted together with the appropriate legal obfuscations. These Frankenstein monsters are then brought to life by the patent offices' and attorneys' seemingly wilful misinterperation of the nature of software and computers. This allows all concerned to bypass the clear intent of the relevant legislation, and collect the appropriate fees. To my eyes it all just looks like a global protection racket, where those who have the power to fix it are in the pockets of the perpetrators.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Planet for sale

    I'd be interested in the biotech patents. Didn't someone sell off all the planets to the stars too.

  8. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    I'm terrified

    I mean, there is no chance in hell I could verify that the software I write does not break any (software related) patents issued in US, without first employing an army of lawyers.

    I think (if I were to sell software) I would just ignore this market altogether and focus on selling it in the regions in the world where legislature is sane.

    1. richard 7

      We do a lot of custom electronics work and I have to say the same though scares the bejesus out of me. Specially as a fair amount of it falls into the remit of those big players listed.

      Its just a case of knowing the day will come and being ready for it. Right now we make no money from the US so its no big shakes but for a small business it really is becoming a case of 'will we cover the cost of lawsuits/licences with the sales should the worst acidentally happen?'

      I'm pretty sure thats doing the inverse of what patents are supposed to do.

    2. Chris Fox

      Not just a problem in the US, unfortunately

      Don't assume that software patents are only a problem in the US: they are also a long-standing problem in the UK and EU, although they have general evaded media interest. If we want to complain about the crazy US patent system, we should look at our own first.

      Although Europe is often cited as an area where software is not and cannot be patented (e.g. by lazy journalists and politicians), this is wishful thinking. Patents on software have been granted in EU countries for many years, including by UKPO/IPO and EPO, despite what the legislation and treaties appears to say. And there are numous examples of bad software patents in the UK and EU that match the worst excesses of the USPTO.

      The usual trick is to argue that it is only "software *as such*" cannot be patented. In the topsy-turvy world of EU and UK patent offices and courts, "software as such" is taken just to be some static representation of a program (and a computer is something which is capable of running a program). According to various rulings in the UK, the EPO and elsewhere, once a piece of software is running, then for the purposes of patentability it is no longer considered to be "software as such", and so can be patented (and once a computer is running software, it is no longer considered to be a computer).

      In the UK there is also the additional trick of appealing to a "technical effect". Anything that has a technical effect can be patented, even software. Technical effects can include solving a problem that has a physical manifestation, or producing a measurable change in a computer system's behaviour.

      So just as in the US, there are valid and enforceable UK and EU software-only patents that simply apply some combination of known data structures, algorithms and common techniques to a known computational problem. Such patents are granted provided the intended effect is identified, and the particular combination of methods does not turn up in any search for prior art relating to the given problem. Such software patents have been upheld on appeal (despite being obvious to those "skilled in the art").

      So pretty much anything can and does go in the UK and some other EU countries, provided you use the "right" language, as in the US.

      In my experience, there is not much point in complaining to UK MPs and MEPs about this sophistry and abuse of language in granting software patents, against the apparent intent of legislators. They invariable defer to the opinion of a colleague who has experience as a patent attorney. I have also found the UKPO/IPO to be rather obtuse and self-interested when dealing with such concerns. In my experience it wilfully misrepresenting the results of its consultations, and gives priority to the views and interests of patent lawyers, and US-based companies over those of software developers and companies based in the UK and EU.

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