back to article IBM patents making money from patents

Sometime computer maker and intellectual property clearing house IBM has threatened the fabric of space-time by attempting to patent profiting from patents. A filing at the US Patent Office, entitled "system and method for extracting value from a portfolio of assets" stages a landgrab on the thoroughly original idea of letting …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Frivolous patents

    Shouldn't there be some sort of penalty for wasting the Patent Office's time with obviously farcical patent applications? Like having your next 10 patents refused and published for free use? There's *so* much prior art on this.

  2. Stuart Gray

    Thge next filing will be

    "A method for restricting the use by an unlicensed third party of an idea or business process with commercial value, for a defined and agreed period of time, whilst allowing the details of that idea or business practice to be published."

    In other words, I wish to patent patents. I should make a mint - there are millions of them, and of course I shall request that the patent apply retroactively. I'll just have to remember to pay myself the fee for using my own patent.


  3. Anonymous Coward

    Patent for the use of oxygen to support life

    In reality who cares, or pays any attention its all off to china where they dont dig that crap anyway :)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Has IBM been reading The Register ?

    I'm pretty sure that Anonymous Coward here came up with exactly that idea, just a few weeks ago.

    "Only one remaining good patent ...

    By Anonymous Coward

    Posted Thursday 4th October 2007 11:08 GMT

    would be for somebody to patent the idea of registering a bogus patent like this and to waste people's time and money by wholly unjustified litigation."

    Which is a shame, because the prior publication here probably makes IBM's patent void.

    OK, they've deleted the word "bogus" but I'm not sure it makes a lot of difference. Any patent that goes through USPO should have the word BOGUS stamped prominently across it, whether it says so or not.

  5. Morten Ranulf Clausen

    What I don't get... why the rest of us continue to recognize US patents? There's obviously no checking involved so anything could be patented. I move that we test the idea and simply kill off any idiocy (patent on patents, war in Iraq etc.) that slithers across the pond. Then we'll have a nice empirical study of whether patents are still needed... :-)

  6. Dunstan Vavasour
    Thumb Up

    The Best Defence ...

    Yes, obviously at one level this is a frivolous patent application, but:

    It can also be interpreted as a protest against the low threshold of inventiveness of many granted US patents.

    If it is not granted, it might set a reference point against which other poor patents can be compared "how is that more inventive than IBM's application number xxxxxxx?"

    If, by some travesty, it is granted, it helps IBM's defence against patent trolls - anybody who acts against them, they immediately have a counter claim. Who knows, in East Texas their claim might even be upheld

    Do I think IBM truly believe that this application has merit? Of course not. It is an acknowledgement that they are having to work within a badly broken patent system.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If it wasn't prior art already...

    ...I'd like to patent stupidity. Would have made one or the other fortune with lincencing it to filthy patent agents.


  8. Brian Miller

    IBM's way of patent reform

    Think about it: this could be IBM's way of causing patent reform. This gets approved, so then the whole patent system goes kablooey, and then no more software patents.

  9. amanfromMars Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Touching Base ........ Al Qaeda Rocks?!.

    Is that Area 51 stuff? It would make Perfect Sense to a Fleeting Visitor.

    Pretty High Stakes, IBM. I trust you have more Bottle than UK Brown Source. That's more Ninny than Ninja.

    "Has IBM been reading The Register ? " ..... Anonymous Coward, It would be Kudos all round if they were/are....... and very Timely Fortunate too, considering the moribund State of Great Game Play.

    PS ...If you don't understand that, don't worry at all, IT is in dDutch for RAIDers of the Lost Arks... CyberFleet AIR Arm.

    GCHQ Flexing ITs Gaming Protocols....... ?!. .... Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more, Squire. :-)

  10. Charles Spalton

    Prior Art

    If the USPO doesn't reject this one, it would pretty much prove that they don't apply ANY checks on validity - they of all organisations should be aware of the "prior art" in this case, since they facilitate it in the first place.

    Mind you, I wouldn't mind watching the USPO challenge a patent it awarded itself when they realised that, as they are one of the vital links in making use of a patent portfolio, they themselves owed licensing fees to IBM ;) Just imagine them having to give evidence against themselves...

  11. Andy
    Thumb Up

    I want to patent...

    ...the idea of patenting patents !!!!

    and then sue IBM for bajillions !!!!


  12. Jeff Deacon

    Another "I want to patent ..."

    I want to patent the standards of inventiveness and the business process that ought to be used by a competent patent office for the examination of patent applications.

    Then in the ensuing court case, if the US Patent Office can prove that they haven't breached my patent, we will all know that they are not applying the correct standards and business process.

    Surely, the only thing that the grant of a US Patent shows currently is that the examiner wasn't awake enough to spot a problem with the application form. Why oh why did it take a private individual from New Zealand to point out to the USPO that Amazon were pulling a fast one with their "one click" patent? The examiner who granted that application must have been asleep, drunk, or bribed!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ive got an idea for a patent....

    How about Patenting the idea of patenting patenting ?, or even how about patent the idea of patenting patenting patents ?. How many levels can we go to ?. Lol ,what a con it all is.

  14. David S


    But I will patent the idea of patenting the patents of patents, and sue YOU for bajillions plus one!


  15. Chris C

    Reporter is wrong... It's not about licensing

    While the reporter is trying to make a sensational story, his understanding of the patent is wrong. In order to learn what a patent is about, you have to do more than read the description. Technically, the description is meaningless. It's the claims that are important.

    And the claims of this patent are not about patent licensing. IBM is not trying to patent patent licensing. What it *IS* about is creating a pool of IP that can be used by multiple licensees. Now, while this may sound like your typical patent licensing, it's not. First, this pool encompasses patents, copyrights, and trade secrets. Second, when one of the licensees needs to use the selected IP, it is then legally transferred to them and thus unavailable for anybody else to use until they transfer it back.

    So no, it's not about patent licensing. It's about temporarily transferring your IP to another company so they can use it as a bargaining chip. Mind you, I still think it's a ridiculous notion that such a thing can be patented. But at least read the claims and get the story right.

  16. Mark
    IT Angle

    Don't give too much credence to IBM benevolence.

    IBM loves patents and it loves money. If IBM can exploit a weak patent system, it will. In their own words:

    I interpret any blather from IBM about patent reform as self-serving. Perhaps the recent rise of the patent troll has simply been upsetting IBM's traditional apple cart so it's time to change the rules.

    By the way, is this patent anything other than Big Sam Parmagiano formalizing an IP protection racket, or did I miss something?

  17. yeah, right.

    Might be good

    If IBM decides to not license the patent to anyone, then all the patent trolls suddenly open themselves up for some seriously nasty litigation. This could be a good way to put a stop to the patent trolls - use the completely fucked up American patent system against them.

  18. Chris Williams (Written by Reg staff)

    @Chris C


    I do, and did, appreciate the distinction you and IBM sought to make. It's worthless unfortunately.

    As I wrote in the story, the application is an attempt to patent the "idea of letting other people use your ideas", whether they be patents, copyrights, or trade secrets - temporarily, as a license (which _is_ covered by the application), and if they are exclusive, or otherwise.

    You write: "Second, when one of the licensees needs to use the selected IP..." A licensee requires a license.

    Whichever way you slice it, it's beyond satire. Cheers,

    Chris Williams

    El Reg

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