IBM Applies For A Patent On Finding Areas That Lack Patents

from the please-say-this-is-satire dept

Slashdot points us to the news that IBM has applied for a patent on a process for identifying markets where there isn't much patent coverage. Yes, think about the recursive silliness here. The application describes a process for looking for so-called "white spaces," where there doesn't appear to be many patents covering a topic in a patent database. Of course, you have to wonder if someone could make the argument that having such a process suggest areas in which to pursue patents would raise questions about whether or not those patents would pass the non-obvious test. Meanwhile, chalk another one up for IBM, which keeps claiming that it's trying to raise the bar on patent quality.

Reader Comments (rss)

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  1. identicon
    nick, Oct 1st, 2008 @ 9:29pm


    If it's not patented yet then it must not be that obvious, cause then someone else would have already landed the patents which lay in this "white space". We should applaud IBM for this brilliant and creative idea. Think of all the good that will come of this...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Ian, Oct 1st, 2008 @ 10:17pm

    This, in itself, is a white space. Good job, IBM.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Jake, Oct 1st, 2008 @ 10:23pm

    I swear they're coming up with these just so they can see what they can get away with now. Or maybe they had a particularly boozy working lunch and decided to see who could come up with the most outrageous patent imaginable, only someone from the legal department was listening and didn't realise they were kidding until it was too late.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Princess Simone, Oct 1st, 2008 @ 10:40pm

    Financial Domination


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Bubba Nicholson (profile), Oct 1st, 2008 @ 11:33pm

    Finding the edges is not easy sometimes.

    Automation is a great idea for this. How many times have I designed something novel only to find that it's old hat?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Ajax 4Hire, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 4:23am

    Automate the patent creation process.

    IBM does have a sense fo humor but it is a business.
    And business is in the business to make money
    not loose money to the endless parade of lawsuits on patent litigation, say SCO v. IBM.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 4:34am

    Looks like...

    IBM has been Ideating again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Sean, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 4:47am

    Just what Thomas Jefferson Wanted...

    Just one question: how is this NOT a gross misuse of the Patent System?

    So if there's lack of discoveries, in let's say widgets, IBM can go and create patents around those obvious things?

    Seems self defeating.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 5:45am


    @ #3:

    Yes. Yes they are. IBM surprisingly wants the patent system fixed. The way it currently exists is a liability to doing business. You almost HAVE to be a patent troll at this point just to keep the other patent trolls away.

    What sucks? Thanks to the wonderful apathy of the citizenry and congress its going to take decades to correct what is wrong with this country, and only if we start working yesterday.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 6:40am

    So, if I were to apply for a patent that did not yet exist .....

    would I be in violation of the IBM patent that should've found it before I did ?

    would I have to prove I did not use their process ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    johnny, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 6:45am

    as a former IBM employeei was called on the carpet...

    by my manager by writing software that didn't anticipate a recent invention

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 8:06am

    Are you kidding me? Hasn't anyone been listening? If you had, you'd know that this couldn't be better news! What do ridicuous patents do? Stifle innovation. If IBM has a patent on the process, they'll sue the pants off any patent hoarding firm that tries to use it. IBM's found a way to turn the patent system agent the firms that would try to abuse it. They're abusing the patent system for the sake of innovation. (Doesn't that sound odd?)
    I realize that this is a bit idealistic. I'm sure that IBM isn't as altruistic as that, but the result is the same.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    ben, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 8:45am

    props to ibm

    This is the patent to end all patents, hopefully in a literal sense.

    Sue us for infringement? You're admitting to violating our own patent!

    It's like they're going to patent patenting. I truly hope this one gets granted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Luther Woodrum, Oct 3rd, 2008 @ 10:50am

    exploiting the system

    Patent law was changed not long ago to grant a patent to the first filer, not to the first discoverer/implementer.

    That means anyone can file a patent on something that has not already been patented. The fact that it is already in use is not a problem. Something already in use for a long time will
    likely not have any prior art documented either, because it is too obvious.

    Nevertheless, patents are granted anyway. For example, I have found patents that were granted that have the EXACT SAME CLAIMS, except for slight differences in the wording, as the claims in some of my patents, which were granted decades before the other patents were filed.
    In this case the prior art was well documented, but it didn't make any difference. If there is an area with little or no documented prior art, then I have no reason to believe it would be a problem for a filer.
    So all the process would have to do is identify areas with
    little or no documentation.
    It is particularly easy for art before 1970 or so, because that patent art is not available online, and is not indexed.
    Apparently anything before 1970 is not considered art any more, until someone files another patent on it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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