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IBM Wants Patent On Finding Areas Lacking Patents

CmdrTaco posted about 6 years ago | from the all-for-me-none-for-you dept.

Patents 151

theodp writes "It sounds like a goof — especially coming from a company that pledged to raise the bar on patent quality — but the USPTO last week disclosed that IBM is seeking a patent for Methodologies and Analytics Tools for Identifying White Space Opportunities in a Given Industry, which Big Blue explains allows one 'to maximize the value of its IP by investigating and identifying areas of relevant patent 'white space' in an industry, where white space is a term generally used to designate one or more technical fields in which little or no IP may exist,' and filling those voids with the creation of additional IP."

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Too meta for me... (4, Funny)

Loibisch (964797) | about 6 years ago | (#25193777)

My head explodes at the sheer number of possible meta-jokes hidden here...

Re:Too meta for me... (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | about 6 years ago | (#25193875)

My head explodes at the sheer number of possible meta-jokes hidden here...

That's OK, Mach5 took care of it [slashdot.org] for you!

Re:Too meta for me... (4, Interesting)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | about 6 years ago | (#25194455)

question, if we could write a software to find out all the areas lacking patents and suggesting patents for that area/field, won't this render all the patents discovered by the software obvious for a person skilled in the area, as there is little to zero creative process involved?

My head has crashed... (2, Funny)

MindKata (957167) | about 6 years ago | (#25195039)

"if we could write a software to find out all the areas lacking patents and suggesting patents for that area"

The software would also recursively generate ever more patents as it searches the patent idea trees, until its patented everything and the value of all patents worldwide = $0.00

Then again, if it was a really smart program, it would see it was undermining the value of patents by flooding the world with ever more patents and so it would then have to invent an entirely new patent system, which it could then start to sell new patents from.

You could then get it generating ever greater generations of patenting systems, and ever smarter versions of its own program, until all computing power on the planet gets used up by its searches, until it achieves the Technological Singularity and all patents become worthless. :)

Re:My head has crashed... (1)

Ender_Stonebender (60900) | about 6 years ago | (#25195253)

That's it! I'm patenting the idea of granting exclusive-use rights of an idea or invention to an individual or group. I will then proceed to charge the US government $1 trillion/day for violation of my patent with their patent system. ...on second thought, I think I'll wait a few weeks after the patent is granted, then sue them for damages in addition to charging them fees for using my patent.

--Ender
(I know, I know: It's probably already been tried. Maybe I'll patent the idea of a bank instead.)

Re:My head has crashed... (1)

Loko Draucarn (398556) | about 6 years ago | (#25195605)

Kurt Gödel would like to patent device G, a device which can not be derived from the patents in the system, nor can be rejected on the basis of existing patents.

Re:Too meta for me... (1)

citizen_senior (1372475) | about 6 years ago | (#25194731)

I never meta patent that I really liked, and this idea aint gonna change that.

Re:Too meta for me... (4, Interesting)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 6 years ago | (#25193945)

"It is illegal to behave in an intelligent fashion without permission. We have articulated all the intelligent ways in which a human can behave that we are aware of, and you are not permitted to behave in any of these ways unless you have paid for the privilege. If you have no money, you are permitted to work like a slave in the employ of someone who has already paid. If you do not wish to do so, you are permitted to starve to death."

According to our rulers, whom we may disagree with but still materially obey, this is progress.

Incidentally, they also own the land, the sea, the skies, and your sorry ass. Better put your head down and get to work.

Has anyone ever noticed that it's hard to eliminate an armed and active military force, and yet you can eliminate those who created the weapons with a brick and a rope?

Re:Too meta for me... (5, Funny)

bcat24 (914105) | about 6 years ago | (#25194133)

Incidentally, they also own the land.

Burn the land and boil the sea
You can't take the sky from me

Re:Too meta for me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25194473)

*sigh* I miss firefly. Have you ever heard the acoustic version of this song by Joss himself? Good stuff :-)

This isn't Joss but wicked good as it is: Firefly intro Acoustic [youtube.com]

Re:Too meta for me... (1)

keithius (804090) | about 6 years ago | (#25194521)

Incidentally, they also own the land.

Burn the land and boil the sea
You can't take the sky from me

Nicely done. :-)

Re:Too meta for me... (1, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 6 years ago | (#25194525)

Funny. Try to launch a plane, or a satellite, or set up a radio transmitter. See how quickly you get caged or shot.

Re:Too meta for me... (1)

I'm not really here (1304615) | about 6 years ago | (#25194717)

Whoosh!


I guess you never were much of a Firefly fan?

Re:Too meta for me... (1)

msormune (808119) | about 6 years ago | (#25195403)

Oh yeah? What about Highlander 2?

Re:Too meta for me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25194845)

Has anyone ever noticed that it's hard to eliminate an armed and active military force, and yet you can eliminate those who created the weapons with a brick and a rope?

No, because it isn't true.

Re:Too meta for me... (3, Interesting)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 6 years ago | (#25194097)

I say let them do it. If they can find a way to find the holes where no patents exist, then they've found a way to make 90% of patents instantly obvious. If an analytical tool can figure out that something can be patented, then there was no need for creativity or ingenuity, right?

Re:Too meta for me... (2, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | about 6 years ago | (#25194291)

That's exactly what I was thinking. This is a patent end game 2 yard line play. Once it's obvious what patents don't exist, all patents are then obvious with or without prior art! Game over!

Re:Too meta for me... (1)

Catil (1063380) | about 6 years ago | (#25194689)

While that may be true, the public probably won't be informed that a pending patent was basically generated by a computer. Actually, looking at all those articles about ridiculously obvious patents here on Slashdot, they may be using it already.

It kind of reminds me of that professor who wrote a program to automatically write books on any given topic. I don't know the numbers anymore but I think he released hundreds of books without anyone noticing (he didn't sell that much though.)

Re:Too meta for me... (5, Insightful)

AlecC (512609) | about 6 years ago | (#25195009)

That doesn't work. It may be obvious that patents don't exist, but it is not obvious what the patents that fill the space would be. There are probably few patents on time machines and matter transmitters. But knowing that doesn't tell me how to invent one to get a patent to fill the space.

A bit like cryptography. I may have an encrypted message, and I may know which algorithm it was encrypted with, but the key is hard to find, and until I have it I know nothing.

Re:Too meta for me... (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 6 years ago | (#25195177)

And if they come up with a novel solution, then they should get a patent. However, if they identify something like the fact that there are patents on adjustable brake pedal height, and patents on using electronic sensors for brakes, but not a patent on using them together, well, that's obvious as soon as someone sees what the space is. Identifying a problem is part of finding a novel invention, and this program can show that the problem is an obvious one.

Re:Too meta for me... (0, Troll)

nimbius (983462) | about 6 years ago | (#25195631)

i for one welcome our new super-patent overlords.

Irony (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25193781)

IBM created computers for concentration camp computations (CCC) to kill Jews - but now they are even out-Jewing that horrible kike John Stewart.

Holy crap... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25193791)

A patent to patent things that haven't been patented yet, so they can later sue for patent infringment? :)

Respectfully,
Department of Redundancy Department

Is it can be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25193863)

...divide by zero tiem now plz?

Re:Holy crap... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 6 years ago | (#25194035)

That sounds Patently Unpatentable(tm) (patent pending)

Re:Holy crap... (0, Redundant)

pak9rabid (1011935) | about 6 years ago | (#25194111)

That sounds (C) 2008 Patently Unpatentable(tm)(R) (patent pending)

Fixed that for ya.

Re:Holy crap... (1)

jjrockman (802957) | about 6 years ago | (#25195289)

Department of Redundancy Department

I always thought it was the Department of Redundancy Reduction Department.

patent patents! (1)

Mach5 (3371) | about 6 years ago | (#25193809)

that's it, its time to patent the act of patenting. and then patent thinking about patenting things. and also patent every number up to a few hundred billion.

Re:patent patents! (1)

Cassini2 (956052) | about 6 years ago | (#25193843)

Newsflash: This was IBM's effort to patent thinking about patents. They just patented a method of finding new areas that don't have patents.

Re:patent patents! (1)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | about 6 years ago | (#25193995)

Newsflash: This was IBM's effort to patent thinking about patents. They just patented a method of finding new areas that don't have patents.

Newsflash: This is not a patent, it is an application for a patent.

Re:patent patents! (1)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | about 6 years ago | (#25194273)

Newsflash: I have the patent on newsflashes.

I am currently seeking out other similar patents that would allow me to deliver quips with similar stunning terms, but if this patent goes through, I'll only be able to patent things that I haven't discovered.

Re:patent patents! (1)

jeffasselin (566598) | about 6 years ago | (#25194241)

And the process would never end, according to Godel's Incompleteness theorem...

Re:patent patents! (2, Informative)

ribuck (943217) | about 6 years ago | (#25194315)

Yep. And, as usual, xkcd said it best [xkcd.com] .

Re:patent patents! (1)

Zarf (5735) | about 6 years ago | (#25194363)

Yep. And, as usual, xkcd said it best [xkcd.com] .

You can't link to that. I patented linking to XKCD.

Re:patent patents! (1)

lucas_picador (862520) | about 6 years ago | (#25194789)

and also patent every number up to a few hundred billion.

You can't generally patent numbers. But you can secure copyright protection on them (e.g., the number encoded by the bits on a DVD of When Harry Met Sally).

And you probably thought you were being hyperbolic...

Ingenious (3, Insightful)

kraemate (1065878) | about 6 years ago | (#25193845)

Isnt that called creativity or something?

Can they really get a patent on that? Really? Wont this start an infinite cascade of similar statements?

Re:Ingenious (5, Funny)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | about 6 years ago | (#25194027)

Basically what IBM wants is a patent that makes applying for a patent a patent infringement unless you pay them first.

Re:Ingenious (2, Funny)

Timosch (1212482) | about 6 years ago | (#25194943)

I can actually imagine IBM lawyers sitting in a room and laughing themselves to death after they files this patent...

Re:Ingenious (1)

eggnoglatte (1047660) | about 6 years ago | (#25195469)

No it doesn't. It makes it an infringement to, without license, write or use software that is based on the specific analysis algorithm IBM is attempting to patent.

Nice FUD, though.

Re:Ingenious (4, Interesting)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | about 6 years ago | (#25194061)

I'm can't expressly give my opinion of patentability, but I can say that there is a lot of case law on applications about filing patents (how, for what, automation, etc.) and none to my knowledge have gone through.

Re:Ingenious (1)

dword (735428) | about 6 years ago | (#25194151)

No, it won't be infinite. The cascade will end when we find the one that can patented fire.

Re:Ingenious (4, Funny)

Zarf (5735) | about 6 years ago | (#25194399)

Wont this start an infinite cascade of similar statements?

And that's how we'll break the patent system. They'll get so caught up in recursive patents that they'll chew up all available resources in the US government eventually causing an out of memory error. The whole government will crash because there will be no space left for log files. The result will force a reboot of the US government.

Re:Ingenious (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 6 years ago | (#25194941)

The result will force a reboot of the US government.

One can only hope!

Re:Ingenious (1)

mounthood (993037) | about 6 years ago | (#25195081)

Up next: Patent on attacking a bureaucracy by creating recursive regulations.

US Patent law, rule 6: There is no rule six.

Re:Ingenious (1)

jonas_jonas (1135553) | about 6 years ago | (#25195359)

too much catch 22?

Overreaction (1)

IPCanuck (1055714) | about 6 years ago | (#25195453)

First, you can't patent something that is already public knowledge. Since people have been inventing things for millennia, and patenting for centuries, this is an absurd fear.

Second, just because you run to the patent office with your money in hand doesn't mean you get to patent 'the wheel' or 'automobiles' or 'the page down key'. In typical /. fashion, someone read the title and assumed that was a good summary of the patent. I don't know how many patents I've read with the title 'semiconductor device' - does that mean the inventor claimed a patent on all semiconductors? No, of course not.

The patent application describes one particular novel system that could be used to identify areas with little patenting activity. This has been done for decades in many ways, so to get a patent IBM will have to prove that THIS method is substantially different from ALL OTHER ways that people have disclosed doing it in the past. If successful, IBM gets a patent on this and ONLY this system.

Before we trash the patent system (and it has its flaws), we should have at least a grasp of how the system works first.

patentdead PostBlocking devise sill not working (-1, Offtopic)

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IP aka Mortgage Backed Securities (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25193877)

Intellectual Property suffers from the exact same problems the real property market does. It is another market that is artificially inflated. Wait and see it all crash and burn within the next 10 years.

So when you see the word Patent simply think Mortgage Backed Security and you will understand

The problem with patents is a great number of them are "junk" and worthless but no one has realised this yet. When the cat gets out the bag its gonna crash down.

The ultimate recursion... (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 6 years ago | (#25193881)

The patent that invents itself.

I wonder if IBM's next innovation will be programs that write themselves.

Does a black hole get created when this happens? It seems like the universe would suffer a stack-overflow.

Re:The ultimate recursion... (1)

HisMother (413313) | about 6 years ago | (#25194401)

> I wonder if IBM's next innovation will be programs that write themselves.

Hells yeah, ever hear of MDA?

Re:The ultimate recursion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25194755)

I foresee patents becoming self-aware sometimes next year.

Re:The ultimate recursion... (2, Informative)

Nadaka (224565) | about 6 years ago | (#25194977)

We already have programs that write themselves (within limits). They are rather useful in the field of AI.

IDEAS (1)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | about 6 years ago | (#25193885)

You can't patent an idea, it has to be a working model or a workable model.

--
Oh well, Bad Karma and all . . .

Re:IDEAS (1)

TinFoilMan (1371973) | about 6 years ago | (#25193909)

So, if I come up with the concept of a - say a ion powered car - that just the concept is not patentable?

Re:IDEAS (1)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | about 6 years ago | (#25193937)

In short, yes.

Now if you had an actual working ion engine in the vehicle, you could patent the engine as it relates to ground transportation. You could also patent any new technologies to integrate the vehicle with the engine.
Of course, if it flew as well, there would be a whole bunch more patentable possibilities.

--
Oh Well, Bad Karma and all . . .

Re:IDEAS (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | about 6 years ago | (#25193975)

You'd have to come up with a method or process that actually works.

Re:IDEAS (1)

postbigbang (761081) | about 6 years ago | (#25194503)

Uh, no.

If that were the case, then a huge fraction of patents would be invalidated because as we all know, stuff doesn't work.

One doesn't have to show up at the patent office with a working model. Sorry.

But once you do patent something, remember that patents aren't valid in perpetuity-- although there's quite an effort to make them that way.

Re:IDEAS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25194073)

The design is patentable.

And next... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25193899)

... patenting the methodology of patenting new methods on finding empty patent areas. *STACK OVERFLOW ERROR*

What about brownspace? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25193927)

And by brownspace I mean anal sex. With a woman. Otherwise it's gay. Preferable a woman with a nice muscular build, flat chest, a deep voice, short hair, no makeup, and wearing work boots, denim pants, and a wife beater tshirt.

Uh, nobody should file patents, because uh... (2, Funny)

tjstork (137384) | about 6 years ago | (#25193981)

We're filing them all. Trust us. It will work ok. You just keep writing that stuff openly and let our lawyers take care of the paperwork...

No worries here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25194007)

No worries here, we only patent already existing ideas.

Looks like a technically good patent. (4, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | about 6 years ago | (#25194009)

It's useful. It's novel. It's non-obvious (at least to me, but I don't claim to be an expert).

Unlike so many other business method patents, which fail the last two tests miserably, this one cuts through the implementation details and shows why the whole concept of a business method patent is fatally flawed. I doubt that's what IBM intended however.

Re:Looks like a technically good patent. (1)

Oddscurity (1035974) | about 6 years ago | (#25195025)

Who knows, maybe they intend to let it discover un(der)-patented areas, to then fill them up with prior art to preclude patent trolls later on cashing in on obvious ideas.

Meaning that just because you haven't had a problem yet, doesn't mean that its solution can't be straightforward when you do run into it, particularly since a lot of ideas build on previous ideas. It'd be a shame to find out that once you do, someone else pseudo-randomly generated a patent purporting to cover your implementation.

Re:Looks like a technically good patent. (1)

VeNoM0619 (1058216) | about 6 years ago | (#25195029)

It's non-obvious (at least to me, but I don't claim to be an expert).

People have been joking about patenting the "idea" to make patents. Although because they implement this a different way (by "finding ideas that are NOT patented yet"). They may still have a case...

Joke Becomes Reality (5, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | about 6 years ago | (#25194037)

You have to love it when a common joke on Slashdot - that of patenting the process of patenting ideas - has finally come to pass. Reality has become a joke when a joke becomes reality.

Clarke's variant. (5, Funny)

DrYak (748999) | about 6 years ago | (#25194125)

Reality has become a joke when a joke becomes reality.

Or to misquote Arthur C Clarke's 3rd Law :
Any sufficiently advanced joke is indistinguishable from reality.

(Or Maybe shall we say : Any sufficiently advanced reality is indistinguishable from a joke.)

Re:Clarke's variant. (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 6 years ago | (#25194993)

That would explain the US electoral process.

Re:Joke Becomes Reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25194131)

totally it sounds like a monty python sketch

Re:Joke Becomes Reality (1)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | about 6 years ago | (#25194193)

You have to love it when a common joke on Slashdot - that of patenting the process of patenting ideas - has finally come to pass.

Fortunately for us your above summary of the situation is dead wrong. This is an application for a patent and not a patent itself. We do get tons of crazy ideas that come in our offices here everyday and if every one of them became a patent it would be a crazy world.

This application has around 2 years before it's even touched by an examiner and while there have been mistakes in the past (see Amazon one-click which did become a patent and then was repealed) I don't think you'll hear too much about this down the road.

Re:Joke Becomes Reality (1)

ShinmaWa (449201) | about 6 years ago | (#25194293)

This is an application for a patent and not a patent itself.

Even better then! It's an idea for patenting the process of patenting ideas!

It'll be interesting to watch this snake eat itself.

Re: Snake eating itself (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25194793)

Snake Pr0n!

Re:Joke Becomes Reality (1)

samkass (174571) | about 6 years ago | (#25194333)

You have to love it when a common joke on Slashdot - that of patenting the process of patenting ideas - has finally come to pass.

In Soviet Russia, the process of patenting ideas patents you! If patents were cars, this would be like patenting blank areas on your road atlas. And does this patent application run linux?

Re:Joke Becomes Reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25194431)

You have to love it when a common joke on Slashdot - that of patenting the process of patenting ideas - has finally come to pass.

That's business 3.0, aka "go for the ridiculous". They probably got the idea here. The problem is that Slashdotters come here and post these ideas openly and people at companies like IBM can read. Slashdot is actually one big open think tank. Or is that open septic tank? Er, open sewer?

Reality has become a joke when a joke becomes reality.

Yup. Almost eight years of Bush will do that to you.

Re:Joke Becomes Reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25194763)

Someone should submit that joke as prior art.

Re:Joke Becomes Reality (2, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | about 6 years ago | (#25194871)

The question I have is, did they use this method to discover that there was "whitespace" in this area of patents before deciding to try to patent it?

Re:Joke Becomes Reality (1)

Bogtha (906264) | about 6 years ago | (#25194947)

Reality has become a joke when a joke becomes reality.

Next thing you know, Bush will end the long national nightmare of peace and prosperity, and Gillette will make a five bladed razor with two lubricating strips.

!=Innovation (2, Informative)

Xerolooper (1247258) | about 6 years ago | (#25194091)

After reading TFA it seems the patent application is about going back over things they have already made. Then if they don't hold alot of patents on it they try to find new ways of patenting it. In their mind trying to protect what they see as theirs. You see most new innovations have multiple patents. Take the case of item A, B, and C. A = 2 patents B = 24 patents C = 12 patents Under their suggested method they would identify A as an item that has greater potential to find new patentable features.

Re:!=Innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25194119)

I lost you on the maths. Can you put it into a car analogy?

Obligatory Yakov Smirnoff joke. (0)

Chas (5144) | about 6 years ago | (#25194117)

In Soviet Russia, white space patents YOU!

Re:Obligatory Yakov Smirnoff joke. (2, Insightful)

jbeaupre (752124) | about 6 years ago | (#25194299)

Uh, you might be more insightful than you think. Russians came up with an invention methodology by analyzing massive numbers of patents http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRIZ [wikipedia.org] . It's used mostly for finding solutions in those white spaces, but could be adapted to find the white spaces.

I think I know where they're going with this... (1)

eagee (1308589) | about 6 years ago | (#25194139)

Maybe, just maybe if the USPTO grants this patent it'll open up an absurdity rift in the space time continuum and suck all existing and future software/ip patents into a temporal garbage heap where-they-belong. It's a long shot, but let's hope they can pull it off!

I KNEW IT!! ha ha ha ... (3, Interesting)

3seas (184403) | about 6 years ago | (#25194239)

... actually this is not a bad idea so long as it is used to support open source rather than to stifle it.

However, the idea of Open Source As Prior Art [linuxfoundation.org] being used to help just such a patent or use of such a process as this article is about. It shouldn't supprise anyone that IBM is a contributor to this OSAPA.... And IBM being a huge software patent holder.... uh errr FLOSS supporter...

Apparently if you try to help improve the patent system and you support software not being patentable, you then risk screwing yourself.

Stallman was right. The best thing to do is to ignore the patent system as it applies to software. OR Support "End Software Patents" [endsoftpatents.org] , Or better yet help prove Software is not of Patentable nature! [abstractionphysics.net]

This way mapping open source software for reuse becomes a clear benefit rather than a risk.

I too was on the OSAPA list and contributed in support of open source.... as non-patentable Abstraction Physics.

Given Industry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25194369)

Methodologies and Analytics Tools for Identifying White Space Opportunities in a Given Industry

Am I the only one wondering what rolls out if you input Porn-industry here?

This may not be an evil thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25194383)

But more or less IBM challenging the patent system bullshit and seeing if they can actually get the patent.

Weren't they even pointing out how flawed the system was a while back? I'm sure even though they have a ton of patents, they're threatened by the patent system because of all the overly broad patents that are being granted, especially those that overlap on some of their patents. Despite having the higher legal ground, they're bound to be faced by companies like SCO again over frivolous patent suits that will drag on for ages again at this rate.

Re:This may not be an evil thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25194967)

Correction: The SCO lawsuits were never about patents and only about Copyrights.

Perhaps it's fighting fire with fire (1)

WebCowboy (196209) | about 6 years ago | (#25194395)

It sounds like a goof â" especially coming from a company that pledged to raise the bar on patent quality

Taking this approach with patents could be a strategy similar to how the FSF and EFF approach copyright. Stallman was offended by how copyright was being used to rob software of its freedom, so he developed a license enforced by copyright that could protect software freedom. EFF will, to the best of its abilities, enforce open licenses using copyright law to ensure those who incorporate copyrighted Free software is used as intended.

Perhaps IBM has this in mind when patenting a process to find areas of "white space" and locate opportunities for patent applications. IBM is known to be in support of reforms to the patent system to increase quality of submissions, and it has declared for some of its patents that Free software communities would not be subject to royalties, licensing or injunctions. It is a promising track record and hopefully it reflects what they would do with patents issued as a result of their new "invention".

Filing a patent application is probably the most iron-clad "prior-art" that one could provide, so anything that would make it easier for "good guys" to file patents would probably help. I do wish, however, that tactics like those used by "big corporate" IBM were being employed by the EFF or some neutral foundation or other organisation. Big corporate legal depts. are not altruistic and always act in the self interest of the company to some degree. The best idea would be to establish an "anti-troll" corporation as a foundation that would accumulate patents and offer them up under a Free-software-like license.

Sometimes fire really is best fought with fire...

Wait... (1)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | about 6 years ago | (#25194477)

It sounds like a goof especially coming from a company that pledged to raise the bar on patent quality.

That IS raising the bar on patent quality. Golly, you have a lot to learn about how business works.

Gotta love recursion (1)

Joe Snipe (224958) | about 6 years ago | (#25194527)

I want a patent on the generation of patents created by large companies. Top that, blue!

where's that eternal golden braid (2, Interesting)

10am-bedtime (11106) | about 6 years ago | (#25194559)

around the lawyer-class necks we so desparately need?

Someone crank up the rpms; this reality is ready to shatter.

Its not the patents ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 6 years ago | (#25194599)

... its the licensing terms that matter. Go ahead, patent everything. But license it under GNU/OSS-like terms.

lots of work cut out .. (1)

savuporo (658486) | about 6 years ago | (#25194841)

Just today, to my delight i found out that some chap in australia has patented the wheel [newscientist.com] back in 2001 and won the prestigious IgNobel Prize [wikipedia.org] for it too.

Oh what other marvellous things have we forgotten to patent still, IBM will you enlighten us ?

Hmm, a meta-patent, eh? Two can play at that game. (1)

Phat_Tony (661117) | about 6 years ago | (#25194877)

So, they patented a method of figuring out what to patent. Well, I'm going to file for a patent on the method of getting patents on ideas concerning how to patent things. Or maybe even just cut to the chase, and get a patent on patenting methods of patenting ways to generate things to patent.

Wait, can we just define this as a recursive function, and patent that, therefore patenting all conceivable levels of meta-patent-analysis in one fell swoop?

They might use it in a beneficial way (1)

JackassJedi (1263412) | about 6 years ago | (#25194901)

Namely to stop patent trolling once and for all.

I'm all sure they're "just" a company too, but they indeed Think Different in a way that i can not yet fully grasp, but which shows. Everyone can clearly see that patent trolling (in the described form of "looky there's nothing invented here yet; let's make a patent, bring it through USPTO, do nothing with it and sue people to death") is not good for general business and the market as a whole.

It definitely makes me feel a lot better that IBM has filed this patent and not Microsoft, SCO, and/or other scourges ;)

== Relational Database? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25195121)

From TFA:

A method for analyzing predefined subject matter in a patent database being for use with a set of target patents, each target patent related to the predefined subject matter, the method comprising: creating a feature space based on frequently occurring terms found in the set of target patents; creating a partition taxonomy based on a clustered configuration of the feature space; editing the partition taxonomy using domain expertise to produce an edited partition taxonomy; creating a classification taxonomy based on structured features present in the edited partition taxonomy; creating a contingency table by comparing the edited partition taxonomy and the classification taxonomy to provide entries in the contingency table; and identifying all significant relationships in the contingency table to help determine the presence of any white space.

Does this not sound like a relational database utilizating a free-text search, where someone inputs all the text regarding the patent?

It would need a lookup table having concise information regarding the industry of the company in question or there would be too much ambiguity. TFA doesn't say anything about searching for prior art before identifying whether something can or cannot be patented. I assume the software in question would just spit out a list of things it thinks could be patented based on the function of the company vs. the existing patent portfolio. To me, it looks like IBM is trying to profit off the chaos present at USPTO.

None of You are Actually READING the patent app (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25195261)

Have any of you people actually read the Claims of this patent application?

First as some have mentioned it's an Application, not a patent yet.

Second, it's not as extreme as some are making it out to be.

In short form, what this is:

is a method of searching through existing patent databases with standard query options (such as searching by Company name), defining and editing categories of patent areas, and then sorting through the info. and categorizing the patents of a certain Company based on these areas.

The user then has to look at the data output and actually figure out if there is a "whitespace" area to pursue new patents or further research in based purely on the fact that a certain company has more or less patents in a certain defined area.

It may be obvious but it's certainly not "patenting the act the of patenting."

Most disturbing to myself (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 6 years ago | (#25195313)

Is that this would be a patent on finding whitespace.

Look, as an ethnic white person, our ethnosocial rights to our own space are under attack by IBM, the Big Blue.

If this is allowed to go forward, the entire world will be blue, and then our meals will look really really yucky.

Well, except for the blueberries. Those are good.

Is simple, again. (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 6 years ago | (#25195421)

Simply ignore software patents.

For my first wish, I wish for more wishes! (1)

Infirmo (449121) | about 6 years ago | (#25195577)

Aren't I a clever multinational?

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