Can You Patent Purchasing Underwater Options?

from the but-why? dept

The latest in bizarre patent applications is a business model patent being applied for by JP Morgan for the concept of buying underwater stock options. How is this patentable? That’s unclear, but the folks at JP Morgan think they’ve hit onto something. They think that many companies trying to help employees get rid of underwater options may sell them to Morgan – following Microsoft’s lead (where Microsoft let employees switch over from stock options to restricted stock). Of course, now that the economy is starting to pick up again, companies (and their employees) may be more interested in holding on to their options. Either way, it doesn’t explain how making a risky investment is patentable. It’s certainly not an original idea. I remember discussing just such a business model with some people in 1998 – when we knew a few people who had left jobs where their options were underwater, and who had no interest in buying them. Of course, we realized that the risk of buying underwater options on a regular basis meant that it could be quite difficult to ever actually make any money – but the folks at JP Morgan are betting the market is turning around and are hoping to buy up now before anyone realizes it.

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