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IBM Seeks Patent On Retailer-Rigged Driving Routes

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the go-here-you'll-like-it dept.

Earth 150

theodp writes "On IBM's Smarter Planet, you may drive further than need be to get to your destination. Big Blue's pending patent for Determining Travel Routes by Using Fee-Based Location Preferences calls for the likes of Walmart, Starbucks, and Best Buy pay a fee in return for having your route calculation service de-optimize driving instructions to make you do a drive-by of their stores, and an additional fee if GPS tracking of your car indicates you actually took the suboptimal route. The same IBM inventors also have a patent pending for Environmental Stewardship Based on Driving Behavior, which calls for yet another fee to be assessed when a retailer-friendly-but-suboptimal route causes your vehicle to enter a congested area and produce more pollution."

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150 comments

Golden Girls! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37505166)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a cosmonaut.

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you ever knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend.

Yes or No (3, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505180)

IBM gets bonus points if they patent these then sit on them, thus disallowing anyone from actually implementing them.
Of course they could turn "Evil"

How many other evil things can we thing of to patent to prevent people from actually doing them?

This is how IBM actually works: (5, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505376)

1. The head of a project takes his bunch of interns into a meeting room to brainstorm random things you could do which have any sort of tenuous tangential connection to the project.
2. Lawyers!!!
3. IBM pays dude a few thousand dollars bonus.
(4. Interns are eligible for bonus if they join IBM, but seek less-dysfunctional workplaces where they don't have to use Lotus Notes.)

Seriously, that's the reason I have my name on a patent which basically says "you could have a weight sensor on a bus, guess the number of passengers, and use that for capacity planning somehow." [slashdot.org] For bonus points, check out the flowchart.

Re:This is how IBM actually works: (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505526)

I can't tell if I like prefer figure 1 for its irrelevance or figure 2 for its obtuseness. When I grow up, I want to write patents like that.

Re:Yes or No (1)

WelshRarebit (1595637) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505814)

IBM doesn't patent things to "sit on them". They rake in billions of dollars a year trolling^H^H^H^H licensing their portfolio.

Re:Yes or No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37506266)

Nice, the IBM saves a visiting VIP from a kidnapping and a bank's armored truck from a heist by disallowing the implementation of the service to "de-optimize" the routes of the VIP's vehicle and the armored car by the kidnappers and bank robbers. Patents are clearly a force for good!

Re:Yes or No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37506432)

Idea of using ant or bee algorithms for this kind of problem is not new. Someone should shoot the guys who granted this patent.

Re:Yes or No (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37506626)

If these are actually implimented, do you expect the companies to admit it? I imagine it's be strictly need-to-know. Just a handful of executives, a lawyer or two and the programmer who has to actually impliment it. Such business practices are too potentially embarassing to announce to the world.

No doubt, there will be a user fee as well (5, Insightful)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505182)

I would bet that there is also going to be a way for the user to pay a fee not to be sent on the suboptimal route.

Re:No doubt, there will be a user fee as well (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505192)

That's funny, they already did that by purchasing the GPS software/device in the first place.

Re:No doubt, there will be a user fee as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37505314)

yeah, that fee will be buying a GPS that doesn't use that system. I am pretty sure that will become a selling point for some GPS.

"does not intentionally make you take a longer route"

Re:No doubt, there will be a user fee as well (1)

Plunky (929104) | more than 2 years ago | (#37506502)

yeah, that fee will be buying a GPS that doesn't use that system. I am pretty sure that will become a selling point for some GPS.

How will that compete with an ad-supported GPS unit that is installed to your car completely free of charge?

If you think that people won't stand for free services being provided in exchange for advertising opportunity, I think you might be a bit out of date.. and I don't think AdBlockPlus will run on the provided device.

Re:No doubt, there will be a user fee as well (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#37506604)

How will that compete with an ad-supported GPS unit that is installed to your car completely free of charge?

It might work in areas with low congestion, but in the UK a diversion via Asda or Starbucks could easily add an hour to a trip by taking you off a bypass and into the centre at peak times. For most people paying £100 to have an optimal route would be mony well worth spending

Re:No doubt, there will be a user fee as well (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37506650)

The cost to the user of most advertising is negligable. A few k of traffic, a moment to glance at the ad. The cost of suboptimal routes is more significent, in time and fuel.

Re:No doubt, there will be a user fee as well (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 2 years ago | (#37506700)

I kinda doubt that they're going to make the GPS units free, especially when we're talking about OEM devices. Car manufacturers LOVE overcharging for stuff like that.

And besides, as videogames have shown us adding advertisements doesn't mean the price will go down, it just means the execs' pockets get lined more.

Re:No doubt, there will be a user fee as well (2)

cynyr (703126) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505352)

there are times i'd like to be able to get one of these sub optimal routes...

for example:
Driving to my Uncles new home for a house warming thing, I'd like to stop at Target(for those that don't know www.target.com), a hardware store for something, and a ATM for cash for the week, somewhere between here and there, and go out of my as little as possible. I know the nearest target to my house is in the wrong direction, as is the hardware store, so i'd like googlemaps/etc to find the best route between my place and my uncles while getting to the other locations I need to go to.

Anyways, there have been a few times where I have wanted directions like that.

Re:No doubt, there will be a user fee as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37505404)

Microsoft Streets & Trips. You're welcome.

Re:No doubt, there will be a user fee as well (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505408)

Yeah, that's called "the traveling salesman problem", and it's.. well, it's a textbook computer science problem, and will probably be so for years to come...

Re:No doubt, there will be a user fee as well (3, Informative)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505432)

Yeah, that's called "the traveling salesman problem"

Odd - I call it 'Itinerary' - but that's only because my TomTom labels it as such. It's not entirely automated in that I can't specify a destination and then say 'along the route to the destination, find me X, Y and Z' - but I can look at the route it's already plotted for me and find said X, Y and Z on the map and add them as waypoints.

And if you really wanted to do a traveling salesman problem thing..
http://www.google.com/search?q=traveling+salesman+google+maps [google.com] ..plenty of options to choose from for a limited number of destinations.

Of course the question becomes what is more efficient.. shortest? fastest? least turns? most highways? least highways? most traffic congestion avoidance? etc.

Re:No doubt, there will be a user fee as well (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#37506176)

The traditional TSP exposition implies the fastest route is the most preferable, although there are some renditions based on bus/train fares.

Re:No doubt, there will be a user fee as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37505434)

That's why my garmin has via points... The problem was already solved years ago.

Re:No doubt, there will be a user fee as well (1)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505628)

That's not what this commenter is saying. Suppose I'm driving from Phildelphia to Washington, DC and I want to stop at a Starbucks for coffee. If I know in advance which specific Starbucks I want to go to, I can use a waypoint. But if I don't care which of the several dozen Starbucks between here and there it is (I just want to minimize the necessary detour), waypoints aren't any help.

Re:No doubt, there will be a user fee as well (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505692)

Yes, but you probably don't want to go visit the highest bidder. You'd probably want the one that's either the most convenient or the best coffee.

Re:No doubt, there will be a user fee as well (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 2 years ago | (#37506050)

But if I don't care which of the several dozen Starbucks between here and there it is (I just want to minimize the necessary detour), waypoints aren't any help.

Magellan already does that. As I'm driving, I decide I want to stop at the nearest [whatever]. POI, punch in [whatever], click 'Go There Now'. It shows the route, and reroutes to the original destination after the stop. Problem solved.
Now...if you want to quibble about exactly which Starbucks brings the least detour from the total route, it is probably the one in between your house and the freeway.

Of course, that's probably not the one you want. You want one when you are ready to have one. And TomTom/Magellan/Google does not know when you are ready (but they're working on it).

Re:No doubt, there will be a user fee as well (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505528)

Doesn't Target do cash back?

debit card cashback - I see what you're saying (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 2 years ago | (#37506108)

You seem to be suggesting debit-card cashback as an ATM substitute.

Target offers that, but they limit it to $40. Other places I used had similar limits: $35, $50. So that's a problem if you want a couple hundred, and going to multiple such stores cuts down on the "fewer trips" advantage. One has to buy at least a little something at each store (which is still better than ATM fees, especially if it's an item you'd buy anyway)

I became very familiar with the debit card cashback feature when taking a summer internship in an area that does not happen to have branches of either of the banks where I already had accounts.(Normally I go in a branch and fill out a withdrawal slip, let alone simply visit the ATM - I'm interested in amounts besides $20 increments, and items besides $20 bills.) Even large bank chains like the two I'm referring to often seem to be regionalized like that. Also, many banks will still make change for non-account-holders.

Re:No doubt, there will be a user fee as well (2)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 2 years ago | (#37506088)

Sub optimal for one purpose does not make it sub optimal. You're not asking for a sub optimal route, you're asking for the best route that satisfies some additional constraints.

Anyway, this kind of garbage is why the US inaugurated the numbered highway system in 1926. Before that, roads were promoted by private organizations that were not above directing travelers on sub optimal routes, in order to increase business at favored towns, which of course paid for the privelege. An example is the Bee Line Highway (now US 31) between Nashville and Birmingham. The original boosters lost control of the group that promoted the highway, and the new people tried to run the route through Gadsden, adding about 50 miles to the trip.

Re:No doubt, there will be a user fee as well (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505412)

I doubt it. it will just be a 'feature' that you aren't told about and cant turn off.

Thankfully you can still look at the map yourself and skip the 'helpful' directions. Too bad its getting hard to find a paper map..

Re:No doubt, there will be a user fee as well (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 2 years ago | (#37506188)

Its better than the units that tell you to drive off a cliff.

Re:No doubt, there will be a user fee as well (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 2 years ago | (#37506710)

That's not a GPS unit, that's your phone, connected to your mother-in-law.

Just what we need get off hiway and get back onm (3, Insightful)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505190)

Just what we need get off highway and get back on for each small town you pass by.

In the past I use to get stuff like that with on line maps where they keep having you get on off the same road but may of been a bug or just poor weighting.

Re:Just what we need get off hiway and get back on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37506084)

Sadly most of these places cluster near off-ramps near highways. Not exactly the exploring small towns notion you had in mind I suspect.

best buy GPS "ask geek suard for map updates" (3, Funny)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505210)

How long before it the gps says

"Go in to best buy and ask for geek suard for map update service Only $49.99"

Re:best buy GPS "ask geek suard for map updates" (1)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505634)

I just searched for "target store" in Google Maps and an ad came up on top of the map that says "Sears Store Finder www.sears.com"

I wouldn't be surprised if there's a destination I can search for that will make the Geek Squad pop up.

Re:best buy GPS "ask geek suard for map updates" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37506652)

He said Geek Suard, not Squad.

Dunno what the Suard is, but it sounds more awesome.

I've got a better one (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505240)

and then the GPS cuts off your engine / dumps your remaining fuel once you're right next to a service station, and the bio-chhip in your kids makes them hungry whenever you're close to a Mickey D. Off to the patent office for me !

Remote Control is Next (2)

qualityassurancedept (2469696) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505274)

Well if they are going to make you drive all over just to go past stores that have paid a fee to jack around with your GPS then why not do the same thing to the remote control for your TV... you push the button on your remote control on your TV to go to NBC or HBO and instead you are immediately redirected to a brief ad from whatever giant conglomerate paid to hijack your remote control after which you go directly to the tv station you requested by pushing the button in the first place. Moreover, they can sell an ad free version of the remote control for an additional $40. I MEAN WHY THE HECK NOT... it would be a goldmine.

Love it (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37505276)

I consider my paranoia validated.

Random thoughts (2)

cloudmaster (10662) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505284)

So, everything someone thinks of while high on pot is now eligible for patenting? This crap doesn't make any sense to me, but I'm not currently high.

Re:Random thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37505428)

hehehe, you said "but"

GPS craze (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505296)

I don't get this GPS craze. It seems that most of the regular population in the US thinks that a GPS is a "have to have" device/feature. What's the deal? Did everybody forget where they were going all em masse? I certainly don't need a GPs to get around my own town, and if I'm going out of town, I'll grab a "map" if I need one. They're made out of paper, and they generally cost about $5.

Re:GPS craze (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37505334)

now get off my lawn

Re:GPS craze (2)

JimMcc (31079) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505338)

I got a gps with voice prompting for my company van because I was afraid I was going to get in, or cause, a wreck trying to read the Thomas Guide. My short term memory isn't that great, especially if I'm thinking through my next job before I get to it. Having a gps system voice prompt me around a major metropolitan area is, for me, a significantly safer option. But then again, I don't blindly drive off the road into a river/ravine/building just because my gps told me to.

Re:GPS craze (3, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505356)

But then again, I don't blindly drive off the road into a river/ravine/building just because my gps told me to.

Wish I'd read your post five minutes earlier...

- Sent from under water

Re:GPS craze (4, Informative)

phorm (591458) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505348)

Let's see...

Pick up map. Look up destination. Try to find the street on the legend, correspond to a bunch of X/Y grid entries, and get there. Try to determine the best way through all the various highways, one-way streets, etc on the way. Get partway there and run into construction. End up taking a different route. Stop, and re-read map. Plot alternate route. End up discovering that street stops and starts in multiple sections and require a roundabout route to your destination. Arrive at destination, only to discover that it doesn't exist and that you should have been on 1st Ave East and not just 1st ave. (and yes, I've had this experience before).

OR

Turn on location services. Type in "Bob's Market" in your GPS-enabled device. Click "directions." Follow the route given and spoken aloud... which is auto-corrected whenever you are diverted or have to make an unexpected turnoff to pee.

I don't need my GPS when going places in town, but when you're travelling 200+km to a destination you've never visited before, it's sure a nice thing to have...

Most convenient is if you're in an unfamiliar location, and you want to find "Store X." Pop the name into maps, and a few of the most nearby locations pops up for easy navigation.

So then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37505312)

When i patent "A method for providing an optimal route between 2 user defined points on a map" and include information such as average mileage based on vehicle model, latest medical records, last time you ate, your passengers ate, your dog ate, your Google search data for stores you actively dislike or like, the age of your GPS device, cell phone, home electronics and appliances, term length remaining on your mortgage, and the last time you had a bowel movement"...

is that going to be considered a derivative or obvious work?

Oh and I plan to just intergrate your Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In accounts to your GPS to accomplish this....

Very convenient (2)

lucm (889690) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505316)

This is awesome because now you don't need to look for a wal-mart, strabucks, best buy and other when you want to go shopping, you just put your home address as the destination and you'll have a route all setup for you.

Re:Very convenient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37505846)

Are people that pathetic now that they need a GPS to drive them around their home town?

New Patent Laws (-1, Troll)

ebonum (830686) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505368)

The law is now "first to file." As long as there is nothing on file, IBM no long has to invent anything. Anything they see and think "that is clever" or "I wonder if there is a patent on that?" will be quickly written up as a new patent. By reading scientific research, watching for new apps, looking at every business process, etc., IBM can find things others haven't patented. They can start filing 10,000 patents a month on everything imaginable. The only problem is: I bet Microsoft already has a team of 500 lawyers already doing this, and I bet the first patent M$ filed was for this very process of patenting everything in site.

If I Microsoft, I would have teams sifting through the Linux source code filing patents on everything in site. As long as they are first to file, they get the patent and ownership.

Re:New Patent Laws (3, Informative)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505490)

As long as there is nothing on file, IBM no long has to invent anything. Anything they see and think "that is clever" or "I wonder if there is a patent on that?" will be quickly written up as a new patent. By reading scientific research, watching for new apps, looking at every business process, etc., IBM can find things others haven't patented.

Pure FUD. First to file does NOT mean that prior art is ignored. Prior art will invalidate a patent now just as it did before. The rest of the world has been "first to file" for, like, forever. If someone has published it, then no-one can patent it.

Re:New Patent Laws (1)

psxndc (105904) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505552)

+ like 1,000,000 Internets for you, whoever57. Whoever started this meme that first to file means prior art no longer counts or that now people can just copy ideas and file an application if no one else has needs to be beaten. Severely. I have seen it spread all over slashdot and it's just plain WRONG.

It makes me want to claw my eyes out so I can't read the stupidity.

Re:New Patent Laws: F2F+Process=Idiocy^2 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37505680)

Prior art must be disclosed. Prior invention, not so.

It's ludicrous that a business should have to publish all it's clever business methods and processes just to avoid having some troll pull it out from under them with a patent. At least with first-to-invent, they have a fighting chance to prove they were doing it first.

Of course, the optimal reform is that there should be no process or method patents, including those embodied in software.

Re:New Patent Laws: F2F+Process=Idiocy^2 (1)

psxndc (105904) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505944)

Prior invention in the sense of I saw somebody else do it, but I'm filing a patent on it?! It absolutely must be disclosed. In fact, it's inequitable conduct to file a patent on something you didn't come up with.

Text of 102(a) now:

`(a) Novelty; Prior Art- A person shall be entitled to a patent unless--

                `(1) the claimed invention was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention

If someone else publicly used it. YOU CAN'T GET A PATENT ON IT.

Re:New Patent Laws: F2F+Process=Idiocy^2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37506766)

Yeah, that kind of a side effect is likely, but I'm not sure anyone in Washington understands it. However, if you believe in the original justification of patent law, i.e. publication of ideas to promote the progress of science and useful arts, then it is definitely not ludicrous.

Re:New Patent Laws (1)

dlingman (1757250) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505620)

You do know, the rules about prior art don't magically vanish with first to file right? If something got published in a research paper, that will get cited as prior art, and IBM will have done little but enrich both patent attorneys and the patent office, and delayed useful patents (cause the examiner needed to find that paper) from being processed in a timely manner.

Re:New Patent Laws (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505798)

Posts like these are the reason why we need a "Wrong" moderation category.

If it makes you feel any better, you won't technically be wrong for another 18 months, when first-to-file goes into effect for newly-filed applications.

Re:New Patent Laws (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 2 years ago | (#37506660)

I went to mod the above post +1, Funny and got this:

User not allowed to moderate this comment.

WTF!?!????

Useful under user control (2)

erice (13380) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505418)

Under advertiser control it is pretty ugly, of course. But it would actually be nice if I could map a route and say "along the way, I need to find cheap gas, an Asian grocer, and try to get me to a Walmart or Target (don't care which) if it is it not *too* much deviation.

Re:Useful under user control (1)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505742)

Mapquest.com already lets you set up a route with more than one point besides the start point and end point. I don't have anything nice to say about their app though.

Re:Useful under user control (2)

jackbird (721605) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505788)

...but it can't handle an open-ended stopover request like "the closest Target to the highway between here and my brother's house 2 states over so we can get a toy for our niece"

Re:Useful under user control (3, Informative)

green1 (322787) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505850)

my 2 year old tomtom can handle that "waypoint along route" and it will list the target stores that are on your route, with each one listed as to how much of a detour it is, you then select the one you want.

Drive-bys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37505496)

make you do a drive-by of their stores

It may come to that.

Where is the Invention here? (0)

paulsnx2 (453081) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505520)

Seriously, what does it mean to route to a destination? On just about any device, you can route to a set of destinations. Obviously, you can route people by a destination that the user didn't specify. Obviously this could be a retailer or other business, if you had any reason to do so. Obviously if they pay you to do so, that would be a reason.

Where is the "invention" here? It uses all the existing APIs. It uses standard business practice (i.e. you do something if someone pays you to do it).

Seriously I am struggling here. Does this mean you can patent "route avoids streets that have restaurants that serve meat" to accommodate strict Hindus? "route avoids paths that would make the driver pass a church" to accommodate flaming atheists?

I can play this game all day. You can route trips for all sorts of random reasons other than quickest path, shortest path, avoids tolls, avoids highways, is acceptable for walking, is acceptable for bicycles. Heck, maybe if no patents exist for these, they can be patented "first" now.

All of this is obvious, but worse it is obviously not an invention. Just an idea and a bit of api work and common (sadly) business practice.

Mindboggling (0)

tgeek (941867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505600)

How on Earth could they plan on marketing something like this and who would buy it? ("Buy our device! It gives you worse routes by DESIGN!") And who would sell it? Target? Knowing that if they get outbid by Walmart the device you bought from their store is going to send you driving past Walmart? And while IANAL, I gotta believe there must be some sort of implied agreement or contract that if one is buying a GPS device that calculates routes, it should calculate the best possible route for the PURCHASER. I can't imagine using something like this even if it was given to me free.

Re:Mindboggling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37506340)

Two words: sponsored devices. You collect $50 per device from advertisements, pay $25 for the parts and $25 to patent owner, then sell the GPS device for $25.

Re:Mindboggling (1)

CycleMan (638982) | more than 2 years ago | (#37506374)

In complete agreement with you that I wouldn't want anyone interfering with my routing either. Reading the comments, I think the way they would successfully market this is by selling it cheaper than an average GPS -- and making up for the discount to you by receiving fees from retailers. This would be like how consumer PCs bundled with crapware or trialware sell for less than an identically-equipped business PC with a clean OS build. So you and I wouldn't buy it, but someone who didn't know better and was excited to find a really cheap GPS would... which then makes full sense as to why Target and Walmart and Starbucks are named as potential route-bidders, but not BMW or Crate and Barrel.

Entry submitted for a photoshop contest... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37505632)

about 2-3 years ago. Topic was "Product placement".

http://hakim.dragonhighlander.net/pictures/ProductPlacement.jpg

Does that qualify as prior art? :P

G

Wait...what?! (0)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505658)

"Sub-optimal" driving routes? Charging a fee if you actually use those sub-optimal driving routes in order to drive by those stores? GPS tracking of devices in order to be able to bill for inducing drivers to taking sub-optimal driving routes?

Any concern for the additional energy usage and contribution to pollution that all this extra driving will create? Additional wear on infrastructure? Heavier traffic? Additional public resources that will have to be spent dealing with all of this? If we actually had a non-corporate controlled government there would be people from IBM dragged in front of a congressional committee and grilled about all this. (I would like to add
"And then given lethal injections instead of Troy Davis" but that might be over the top. A trial in the Hague and then jail time would suffice.)

We're sitting here talking about how ridiculous and sick this is but I think it's safe to say there are already lots of other examples of corporations thinking up swell ways to get us to hurt ourselves in order to put a little extra profit in their pockets.

The scariest words in the English language are "I'm from private industry and I'm here to help." *

[*borrowed from someone else here on Slashdot.]

Re:Wait...what?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37505878)

FTFS: "The same IBM inventors also have a patent pending ... which calls another fee to be assessed when a retailer-friendly-but-suboptimal route causes your vehicle to ... produce more pollution."

Bad summary (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505676)

Where, exactly, does the second linked patent say anything at all about routes, fees, retailers, or congestion? As I read it, the second patent is about charging tailgaters a higher toll, based on the theory that tailgating causes everyone behind the tailgater to increase braking and acceleration, which is bad for the environment.

Re:Bad summary (2)

theodp (442580) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505882)

It's the first patent that points to the second patent:

"The additional fee is charged for proposing routes for any additional vehicles to travel through the congested area, thereby promoting environmental stewardship by potentially reducing the number of additional vehicles entering the congested area."

Also, check out the listed inventors - same team of five on both patent applications.

This might explain ... (3, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#37505678)

... all those octogenarian driving their Cadillacs thought the front walls of various businesses. Well, you paid to aim them your way.

Really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37505744)

How is it possible to NOT drive past a Starbucks when going.... anywhere.....

Stupidity Incarnate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37505782)

Why would this be allowed a patent.. as if not one person thought of it before. As if it hasn't been done before... come on people. Patent law is absolutely the suck.

I thought of it first! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37505848)

Seriously this is the best business idea ever you have no idea how many businessess, towns and other places could you get to pay you. Unless of course the customers figure it out and just choose another product.

or why you should never buy a GPS system by IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37505996)

Or why you should never buy a GPS system made by IBM.

Re:or why you should never buy a GPS system by IBM (2)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#37506078)

Or why you should never buy a GPS system made by IBM.

IBM doesn't usually sell GPS navigation software directly to consumers; instead what will happen is other companies OEM IBM's software in their consumer products, and people will have the software without ever knowing that their shiny new nav unit is actually a piece of hardware running an application written by IBM.

OF course.... the days of shiny new nav units are numbered, as Smart phones such as Android/iPhone, are obsoleting dedicated nav devices by having apps that perform the function.

Re:or why you should never buy a GPS system by IBM (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 2 years ago | (#37506510)

Wait.... people buy units that are only a GPS? That's absurd! Why would you buy a dedicated GPS when you can get an Android unit that's not only a GPS, but a telephone, a clock, text message client, email client, Web browser, Internet access point, dictaphone, camera, scanner, flashlight, radio, MP3 player, aircraft location scanner, video game console, flight simulator, and all the other things that a smart phone is, all in one?

Re:or why you should never buy a GPS system by IBM (1)

theodp (442580) | more than 2 years ago | (#37506612)

There is the $79 once (GPS) vs. $50-$99 every month (phone) tradeoff, that's a consideration for many. :-)

I'm going to try a positive approach to this (1)

overkill1024 (1016283) | more than 2 years ago | (#37506424)

Since we are talking commercial interest, why not give this sort of thing to the insurance companies? Instead of increasing rates for dangerous drivers we can route them away from confusing intersections, distracting billboards, cliffs, cities, other cars, and objects in general. Direct them around a parking lot for several hours if they've just left a bar, stop navigation if they're driving too fast, the possibilities are endless!

To think my original suggestions were directing people the wrong way over road spikes (sponsored by Joe's Tires) or through speed traps (courtesy your local government)

Privacy (2)

tgeek (941867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37506546)

I'm surprised nobody has brought up the subject of privacy yet. I'm pretty sure that any business paying to be routed this way is going to want some kind of statistics or metrics for their money. At the very least they're going to want to know how many times their locations were included in routes. And potentially much more - such as time of day, endpoints of the overall route, etc. So somehow the device is going to have to be able to communicate back to some central server - either in realtime or possibly in batch when maps are updated. Sounds like the old smartphone tracking mess all over again.

Suboptimal indeed (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | more than 2 years ago | (#37506654)

Of course my nearest starbucks is 300 ks away and the nearest walmart is 5000km or more - so that route for me would be suboptimal indeed.

IBM will patent just about anything (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37506706)

Put another way, don't confuse an IBM patent filing with IBM as a company having any ideas about doing something with it.

I worked for IBM until recently. The company collects patents like people used to collect stamps, on the basis that just about anything in a big patent portfolio is both protection from law suits and income from licensing. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to submit potential patents on anything that occurs to them, with rewards for successful filings, and more filings equaling bigger rewards. Employees with a record of successful filing screen new submissions and help improve them where appropriate. Promising submissions are filed in Europe, or the States, or wherever seems best, if they're seen as having a good chance of success. Ideas deemed not quite good enough are disclosed (to put the ideas in the public domain and stop someone else filing on them and using them against IBM). And whilst I wouldn't be surprised if there was the occasional discussion as to whether IBM ought to be associated with SOME submissions, and the company is clearly interested in patents in areas that relate to its business, and most filings undoubtedly WILL relate vaguely to its business (because that's mostly what its employees are thinking about all day) there are no guidelines on what can be filed, or "taboo" areas. I'm told that the company even has patents relating to sex toys. (Jokes here would be in debatable taste - I and many others were forced into early retirement when IBM right-royally shafted our pensions).

Defective by design (1)

Leemeng (970560) | more than 2 years ago | (#37506750)

http://www.defectivebydesign.org/ [defectivebydesign.org]

Mainly covers DRM products, but this sentence from their website is relevant:

These products have been intentionally crippled from the users' perspective, and are therefore "defective by design".

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