Now IBM Wants To Patent Responding To Chaos

from the no-one-but-IBM-can-do-that... dept

theodp writes "Thanks to IBM, the next time a crisis of 9/11 or Katrina magnitude strikes, you may have to worry about patent infringement. Just-published USPTO documents reveal that Big Blue has a patent application for Optimizing the Selection, Verification, and Deployment of Expert Resources in a Time of Chaos, which covers responding to 'episodes of profound chaos during hurricanes, earthquakes, tidal waves, solar flares, flooding, terrorism, war, and pandemics to name a few.' If anyone from Homeland Security is reading, it's apparently this easy." Yes, this is actually a patent application for a computerized process (not, as theodp suggests, just for responding), but it still seems rather bizarre that you would patent such a thing. Does one firm really deserve to have a monopoly on a computerized system for responding to a chaotic event?


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Koala Meatpie, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 12:02am

    It's stories like this that make me look at the entirty then pounder the taste of Lead and blastpowder.

     

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  2.  
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    Mark, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 12:35am

    Now IBM Wants To Patent Responding To Chaos

    Isn't running in circles, screaming and shouting, considered prior art?

     

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  3.  
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    vampyre, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 1:42am

    yes

    "Does one firm really deserve to have a monopoly on a computerized system for responding to a chaotic event?"

    Yes.

    this article is kind of weak. IBM isn't trying to own chaos itself, or the ability to respond. they are trying to own just one way in which you can respond to that chaos. How is this a bad thing? Its not like anyone else is stepping up to the plate anyway.

    As long as this "save the world" computer doesn't use windows, im fine with it.

     

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  4.  
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    Jake, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 3:29am

    Hard to call this one. What they're trying to get the code to do seems obvious, but I can't tell exactly what they're trying to patent; the idea itself or the source code of the program they're using to do it.
    I have to say, though, that some of what I picked up from that sounded somewhat... ambitious, not to say optimistic.

     

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  5.  
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    kureshii, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 4:03am

    At first look it looks downright laughable, but on reading (a little of) the patent it doesn't seem that unreasonable after all.

    This is what I think is going on:

    1) There are many algorithms for crisis management
    2) IBM thought of one and is trying to patent it (in a computerised context)

    It seems reasonable, because what [the system] does is "find skills and resources for responding to an event" (if I read it correctly). That's only one small aspect of crisis management. I'm sure the rest of the world can find something useful to contribute to the development of computerisation of crisis management even with this patent in place.

    Of course, implementation is everything; it remains to be seen if IBM's going to use this patent to make a monopolised killing from natural disaster management.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 5:00am

    Re:

    A bad example because pharma patents are sacrosanct, but if you had a monopoly on the cure for cancer, what're the odds that anyone's going to get it for anything but top dollar? What good does that do? Even if you just have a monopoly on a key piece of the cure, it doesn't matter if others can "build the rest" -- they still have to come through you.

    The same in this case. Anyone who's looking to protect people from such chaotic events -- and wouldn't you know it, they seem to be pretty prevalent these days -- would have to go through IBM. If the patent isn't granted, then we'll get a number of companies competing to make their "disaster recovery system" better and cheaper than the rest, which can only be a GOOD thing.

    It's one thing to argue for software patents when you're talking about an MP3 player or an operating system. What we're talking about now is something that could cost lives.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 5:12am

    can we sue them when the end of the world comes and they aren't available to provide resources?

    Oh my, what will we do?

    ^..^

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 6:28am

    I thought FEMA was already using a random chaos generator program.

     

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  9.  
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    Oliver Wendell Jones, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 6:44am

    IBM isn't usually very sue-happy

    IBM tends to patent a lot of ideas that they never implement and I often times think they do it just to keep some potential patent troll from acquiring the patent and mis-using.

    Imagine if a patent troll had patented this, then after the next disaster if FEMA had used anything even remotely similar, they would jump out of the woodwork and shout "You Owe Me One Hundred Billion Dollars!" and the US Government may end up having to pay some idiot a large sum of money (or at least pay a lot of lawyers to try and stop from having to pay).

     

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  10.  
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    Four Horsemen., Apr 10th, 2008 @ 6:52am

    Stupid Stuff

    I wonder if they outsourced the help line for this to India?

    I can see it now, "Sorry sir, your license agreement has expired. Goodbye." Go and die in chaos.

     

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  11.  
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    sonofdot, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 7:47am

    Re: IBM isn't usually very sue-happy

    Exactly. IBM is doing this as a protection mechanism, not as a cudgel to use against competitors. This is a direct result of our screwed-up patent system.

     

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  12.  
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    angry dude, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 8:31am

    Re: IBM isn't usually very sue-happy

    Perhaps you should know that IBM is in fact the biggest "patent troll" in the world
    (if by "patent troll" you mean the ability to squize royalty payments right and left from all kinds of companies based on IBM's mostly junk but HUGE patent portfolio of some 40,000 patents)

    http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/53836.html

    Next time do you homework, little punk

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 9:52am

    Yet another reason third-world nations are catching up with us... They don't have to deal with this kind of stupidity.

     

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  14.  
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    sonofdot, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 9:53am

    Re: Re: IBM isn't usually very sue-happy

    Ah, ad hominem attacks. Always the last resort of the literacy challenged. Since I'm sure you don't know the meaning of that phrase: ad hominem

    Now go back to your pretend patents.

     

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  15.  
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    angry dude, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 10:23am

    Re: Re: Re: IBM isn't usually very sue-happy

    big deal, ad hominem

    how bout "interlocutory appeal" punk ?

    Hah ? just shut up already

     

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  16.  
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    DanC, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 11:07am

    Re: Re: Re: IBM isn't usually very sue-happy

    You'll have to forgive angry dude. He lives in a skewed version of reality where the patents of big evil corporations are "mostly junk", but the small innocent inventors' patents are always valid and enforceable.

     

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  17.  
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    angry dude, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 11:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: IBM isn't usually very sue-happy

    Right dude

    IBM patents are *mostly* junk
    MShit patents are even more *mostly* junk

    Independent inventors usually can't afford filing like 5000 junk patents a year so the percentage of junk patents for independent inventors is significantly lower
    Got it now ?
    or ask Greg Aharonyan about IBM's patents, he did some research on them and published his findings

     

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  18.  
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    DanC, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 11:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: IBM isn't usually very sue-happy

    I'm merely commenting on the fact that every time a post shows up about someone suing a "big evil corporation" over patent infringement, you immediately start defending their actions regardless of the merit of the patents.

     

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  19.  
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    sonofdot, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 11:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: IBM isn't usually very sue-happy

    Oh, you must have woken up on the wrong side of your test tube today.

     

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  20.  
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    JE, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 11:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: IBM isn't usually very sue-happy

    Agreed --- the small little guys that Angry Dude is so supportive of have some pretty ridiculous patent claims themselves. If you are arguing that IBM is a patent troll, what classification can you give to the "innocent innovators" like MercExcahnge, DataTreasury, Polaris, etc....?

     

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  21.  
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    angry dude, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: IBM isn't usually very sue-happy

    DataTreasury ?

    AS far as I remember ALL of their patent claims were recently upheld on reexamination after being challenged by the entire banking industry
    Also, they filed their patent claims long before paperless check processing became a standard way of doing business
    and btw they had an operating business of 100 or something people before banks stole their technology

     

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  22.  
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    John, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 12:44pm

    IBM is a patent troll

    The comment section is full of IBM shills, who are well known for invading message boards and forums to spread FUD and lies about IBM competitors.

    1 - No other company in the world rackets as much useless patents as IBM.
    2 - IBM ACTIVELY uses those patents against competitors and frequently forces companies to license their software and hire their services in exchange of not suing those companies.
    3 - IBM talks about the evils of patents and at the same time actively lobbies for software patents in the European Union.

    Conclusion: IBM is full of sh*t.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    DanC, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 1:08pm

    Re: IBM is a patent troll

    The comment section is full of IBM shills, who are well known for invading message boards and forums

    Disagree with some of these people, and you automatically get labeled as a corporate stooge or shill, despite the fact that it isn't true. Apparently, this guy has no issue with spreading his own "FUD and lies" to support his own position while accusing others of doing the same.

    Why do they find it so hard to believe that some people don't buy their arguments because they don't make any sense?

     

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  24.  
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    Joe, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 2:36pm

    This patent can and will be definitely be used to sue competitors.

    In 2006 IBM sued Amazon using "we-own-the-Internet" 1990s patents on "electronic catalogs." (see angrydude's link above).

    This is not a patent on a particular algorithm; if it was, they would have to disclose it in the patent, and it's not in there. They can keep that algorithm a trade secret and hold this patent as a means to sue a competitor using _any_ method of responding to chaos.

     

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  25.  
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    Joe, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 2:37pm

    Correction to above

    I meant to write, "could definite be used."

    Obviously, I don't know what they intend to use it for. But, the possibility is there.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Danny, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 8:56pm

    Re: Many algorithms

    Yeah, many algorithms. We had a different algorithm for multi-person multi-criterion decision making for resource allocation during a crisis that we wrote up and built for the military back in the mid-1990s. Since we did this on a government contract, I presume our work is in the public domain. It may not be exactly the same as the patent, but it is related prior art.

     

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