back to article IBM files patent for shorter meetings

Excellent news for employers who can't help feeling business is being hit hard by traditional meetings where one hour is set aside for the get-together, regardless of whether there's actually an agenda substantial enough to fill the time: IBM has filed a patent aimed at tackling the "arbitrary hour-based scheduling paradigm". …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bloody hell..

    ...I've taken crack and not even noticed...

    No doubt it will get approved.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    ..are IBM smoking and can I have some please.

  3. Dave Parry

    Swap the 'problem' around

    Don't allow multiple units of a fixed standard length of time - only allow single units of multiple lengths of time - eg 'this meeting will last for one jiffy, real soon now', 'this review will occur when pigs fly for one moment', 'the project final release pub-crawl will occur when hell freezes over and last the rest of your life'

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    .. how much time was wasted geting this patent to the office and having meetings about a anti timewasting patent!

  5. Liam Johnson

    Prior art

    They may find that the minute and even the second have already been invented.

  6. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    IBM invent new April Fools Day?

    Seriously, did they just have too many shorter meetings to get the job done and missed the April 1st deadline?

  7. Britt Johnston
    Thumb Up

    Lotus Notes upgrade needed

    That warhorse meeting planner of the '90s, Lotus Notes, assigns a standard meeting slot of 60' , and is fiddly to change. Roll out the next upgrade.

    Maybe a patent will allow them to charge for the improvement.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Any lawyers here

    This is an infringement on my patent.

    you may have heard of my patent by it's proper name of "Time Management".

    All this requires is a "watch" also patented to me.

    Some "self control", also patented to me,

    and at times the ability to "breathe" (patented to me) slowly.

  9. Camilla Smythe Silver badge

    Hope that one gets kicked into touch

    By default, if granted, people not licensing this new technology from IBM will be forced to schedule and have meetings lasting exactly one or one half of one hour. Deviation by mere pico or even atto-seconds will result in instant filing of lawsuits.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Prior Art

    I think even the railways have thought of this one.....

    I seem to remember they had a problem where they only had 1 minute slots on their platform rosters and so as to fit things in they made extra minutes in the hour.... something like that anyway.

    Perhaps if everyone stopped spending so much time dreaming up crap patents they would get more done!

  11. Adrian Esdaile

    Sorry, the prior art is MINE.

    In November 2019 I patanted time travel and have since been working my way backwards. If IBM would be so kind as to read their patent law correctly, they will find that I retrospectively patented not only the hour (royalities at modest indexed rates, please) but also the minute, second, femtosecond, 'business-oriented-multi-attendee-space-time-locus' or "meeting" as the plebs call it, time travel, and the concept of retroactive patent trolling.

    Small, non-marked low denomination notes, please. In the truck over there, I'll say when to stop.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Software and business method patents

    One more patent for the "intellectual property" landfill.

  13. Gerard Krupa
    Thumb Down

    Wasted time

    I've wasted more time trying to schedule meetings through IBM's shitty Lotus Notes software than I ever did by making a meeting run to an integral number of hours. I mean seriously, what kind of software is so anally context-sensitive that it refuses to attach a file if your text caret is in the subject field?

  14. Anonymous Coward

    It gets worse

    I've worked for these chumps and the time recording software which they forced me to use was a joke.

    For starters it was a remote (telnet) login to some creaky old mainframe somewhere.

    It recorded time in units of 6 minutes. Now, that's less than an hour, I'll grant you. What the f**k can anyone do in 6 minutes? Well, they can be driven nearly to suicide...

    I frequently had to ask my boss things like "They called me to ask for important technical information and it took 3 minutes. Should I book 6 minutes for this or not?"

    ...then later in the day, someone else would call for 2 minutes about another project and I wouldn' t know whether to record that call etc etc

    All of the work was for one client too, so why IBM were so f**king anal about it was (and is) a total mystery!

  15. Joe K

    OK, seriously now...

    Hey El Reg, my brain can't take anymore of these US patent stories. The flash of anger and disbelief every time i see them is taking years off me.

  16. Dan


    Only some einstein-haired brainiac at Big Blue could conceive of this AND think a patent would be a good idea. Genius.

    Pi(Beard + Sandals) = tank top

  17. Ken Hagan Gold badge
    Thumb Up


    Glad to see the patent people at IBM have a sense of humour. Perhaps they read El Reg and wanted to wind up the commentards?

  18. Lionel Baden

    there should be

    automatic Fines for retarded Patents

  19. Anonymous Coward

    oh please let me...

    ...patent "quantitative enumeration of workload by comparative analysis of a plurality of fibrous tensile components arranged in a helicoid configuration".

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    But but but

    This is a violation of Halliburtons patent on patent trolling, is it not??

    non-patentable due to prior art --> Paris Standard Unit of Time, aka 'all night'

  21. g e

    You think this is daft?

    Wait till it's GRANTED

  22. Simon B

    IBM, you'll save LOTS of time by packing up and going home!

    IBM, you'll save LOTS of time by packing up and going home! With stupid ideas like this it's time to call it a day and give up.

  23. Simon B
    Paris Hilton

    And just in, Paris Hilton is running IBM ...

    And just in, Paris Hilton is running IBM ...

  24. Dave

    Prior Art

    Sounds to me that they are trying to get a patent on Metric Time. While that would be a good change, it is hardly a new idea.

    Also, I have just checked my ancient Palm 75, and it does scheduling in 5 minute blocks.

  25. James

    That'll be another bounty then

    When I used to work for them there was a bonus to for coming up with a patentable idea. If I remember correctly it was £500 for your first and rose as you kept coming up with more. I'm guessing they've still got the same system.

    Turns it into quite a good scam. Submit some blindingly obvious idea warped into patent speak to the point where it'll slip past the Patent Office and you end up with a completely unenforceable business patent and a nice wad of bonus in your back pocket.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Joe K

    Ditto! I think my brain went into a circular loop trying to determine why the Fuc.. IBM would waste money on something so obvioulsy a waste of time???

  27. Daniel Silver badge


    Seen IBM's share price recently?

    Oh yes that's right, it's going up like a rocket, where the vast majority of the competition has hit the bottom and started digging.

    But hey - just think of how much better they'd be doing if they'd only listened to your advice about what's clever and what's not, eh?

  28. Neal

    @adrian esdaile

    Sorry mate, i got there before, or was it after you, anyway due to a lapse in the space time continuum your patents got filed in a parallel universe where IBM don't exist and you have to wait for the new atomic clock to miss a second, approx 300 million years according to elreg.

    however you quantum shift has not enabled you to return to our universe and therefore any prior art you claim, in fact belongs to me,(patented) and therefore I am master of the universe not you.

    If you have the time(patented by me) we could of course meet in any court(patented) of law(patented) and discuss the compensation for which you will pay me for infringement upon my patent(patented)s.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    maybe another reason

    in our place time is wasted by pointless meetings because of the finance department. Meeting rooms are free to book and use, but if you book one and don't use it you get charged. (well your department does, and if you cause your department to be charged too often you have to answer questions)

    Sounds reasonable on paper, but if you have a meeting booked in for an hour, but for whatever reason sort it out in 10mins, you still have to sit there for most of the hour or get charged for using the room!! Seriously, i've seen groups of people in there watching tv on a projector before, just to use up the time.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Re: @everyone

    "Seen IBM's share price recently?"

    Nope. Is it still 1999 with that stock ticker applet on your desktop?

    "Oh yes that's right, it's going up like a rocket, where the vast majority of the competition has hit the bottom and started digging."

    And? If your company sells weapons it probably has a "healthy" share price, too. Is that a good thing?

    Sheesh: you'd think the whole financial crisis would have undermined the "stock market values everything in every way" attitudes from people who try and unsarcastically reduce everything to an Adam Smith quote, but nope.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Easy workaround...

    Even if this patent does slip through and get granted, there's an easy way to avoid litigation from IBM (although I might patent it and sue you instead).

    "To avoid the problem of defining multiple time intervals in order to accommodate a plurality of meeting lengths, meetings may instead be specified by means of (a) a starting time and (b) an ending time. Either or both times may be approximate."

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ty to the editor earlier who fixed the link!

    title first!

    but also looking at the claims there is nothing new there that i can see, nearly all of thse claims should be chucked out (and its the claims that really matter with the patents i believe) and the others specifaclly relating to the software side of it there will be prior art for! Why go through the expense of trying to patent this!

  33. Chris C

    IBM and patents

    Don't forget, this is the same IBM that applied for, and was granted, a patent (USPTO patent number 6329919) for "an apparatus, system, and method for providing reservations for restroom use". There's a reason that IBM has topped the list of granted patents for the past 16 years (4186 patents granted last year).

  34. Stephen Channell

    Long meetings are needed to "archive" Lostit Notes

    It is rather ironic that the company responsible for more “productivity” time waiting is trying to patent something that easier to do without their awful software.

    A good-long-meeting is an ideal time to kick-off one of those infuriating Lostit Notes housekeeping tasks that can take forever, but lock you out of email.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Standard Units

    Has El Reg patented its "standard units"? Bulgarian Funbags, the nano-wales etc.

  36. Charles Wolfe

    Invalid patent

    I have been doing this same thing manually (pencil, paper and my brain) for at least 45 years for many organizations, including governmental bodies. There is nothing new here from what I read in the article. The patent is merely describing the partial automation of existing, prior art.

  37. Anonymous Coward


    That's ridiculous. Shorten the hour HAHAHAHAHA.

    How making it a 45 minute meeting? No, that would never work. Why wouldn't it work, because it's not an hour.

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