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?

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Companies: ibm

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Comments on “Now IBM Wants To Patent Responding To Chaos”

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vampyre says:


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


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.

kureshii says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Danny says:

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.

Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

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).

angry dude says:

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)

Next time do you homework, little punk

angry dude says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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

JE says:

Re: Re: Re:4 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….?

angry dude says:

Re: Re: Re:5 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

John says:

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.

DanC says:

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?

Joe says:

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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