by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 22nd 2007 4:25pm
Have fun with this one. As seen on Slashdot and sent in by a few different readers, it appears that IBM is trying to patent the process of using a large patent portfolio for patent extortion. Technically, the patent is for "A system and method for extracting value from a portfolio of assets." Of course, if any company can claim credit for such a thing, it's IBM. After all, there's the famous story of IBM demanding patent licensing dollars from Sun. They accused Sun of patent infringement, but when Sun engineers and lawyers pointed out how they didn't infringe on the patents in question, IBM's lawyers responded: "OK, maybe you don't infringe these seven patents. But we have 10,000 U.S. patents. Do you really want us to go back to Armonk [IBM headquarters in New York] and find seven patents you do infringe? Or do you want to make this easy and just pay us $20 million?" Nice to see they're now patenting that process. One could hope that IBM is hoping to get this patent either to prevent others from doing the same thing or (maybe?) to show just how ridiculous the patent system has become. Either way, it's still only an application, so perhaps a patent examiner will realize that there's a bit of prior art around this particular concept.
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