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IBM Patents Method For Paying Open Source Workers

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the i-heart-patents dept.

Patents 426

Frequanaut writes "Oh, the bitter, bitter irony. According to The Inquirer, in a strange move, IBM has patented a method for paying open source volunteers. By the way, if the future of software development is open source, how will anyone get paid when only IBM can do it?" The Inquirer quizzically notes, with regard to this patent: "It may be an ingenious way of paying open source developers and volunteers, Big Blue, but can it really be described as an invention?"

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Note to Recent Grads (5, Funny)

fine09 (630812) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091271)

One more reason you should take a job with McDonalds.

Would you... (1)

Atragon (711454) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091296)

Would like Fries with that McJob?

Re:Would you... (3, Funny)

originalTMAN (694813) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091432)

will I own them or do I have to buy a license?

Re:Note to Recent Grads (5, Funny)

Jargon Scott (258797) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091332)

When my brother graduated from undergrad, an older prof. at the gym he went to asked what his degree was. "Psychology", he answered. The old prof. said "Oh, that's nice. I hear Wendy's is hiring."

Re:Note to Recent Grads (3, Interesting)

fine09 (630812) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091375)

Yup, Funny thing is that I was a recent Computer Science Grad that was working at Wendy's up until this week. Sometimes you have to swallow your pride to pay the bills until you find your place. To end on a good note, I am now just starting my dream job (computer programmer) at a fun and interesting company

Re:Note to Recent Grads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8091450)

I'm happy for you, really.
Hearing about stories like yours boosts my morale, cause sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who sells coffee and donuts for a living, though I have a CS Bachelor degree :\

Good luck on your new job!

Re:Note to Recent Grads (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8091481)

The company will probably outsource your ass in a couple of weeks.

Re:Note to Recent Grads (4, Insightful)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091579)

Good for you.

Sometimes swallowing your pride is the best thing to do in the long term.

Re:Note to Recent Grads (0)

Dark Lord Seth (584963) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091406)

Who the hell is Wendy and why is she hiring people? Is she the village bus? 3 quid a ride?

Re:Note to Recent Grads (0)

dillon_rinker (17944) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091568)

Hamburger restaurant. Like McDonald's. #3 in the US, behind McD and Burger King.

Re:Note to Recent Grads (1)

Ryan Amos (16972) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091396)

Hah.. yeah except McDonalds often pays less than minimum wage. Take a horrible job that's not worth the minimum wage they pay you, add a manager with a raging cocaine habit who skims 2-3 hours a week off everyone's paycheck to fund it, viola. Nobody would challenge him, because that means they'd get drug tested and then lose their job, pretty much irrelevent of the results of the drug test. That pretty much describes what fast-food jobs are like. Now, would you like fries with that?

Re:Note to Recent Grads (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091538)

You're nuts...they run SCO UNIX.

It seems like we've got the future of commercial free software caught between a mad dog and a looming elephant.

In any case, I can see a couple of trivial ways around the first part of the patent. Not requiring two separate intent-to-submit notices, for one. Not requiring intent-to-submit notices, for another.

I will say, though, that their process does look pretty. I wonder what they'd charge to who to license it.

(On a side note, doesn't this make you think they might be trying to move OSS development outside from their main organization, in order to minimize future risk of litigation?)

Wow. (3, Funny)

njfuzzy (734116) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091288)

Talk about a development likely to elicit mixed feelings.

Re:Wow. (2, Insightful)

saden1 (581102) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091405)

Hay, better them then some idiot out of no where right? We all know the open source community can turn on you on a dime and I am sure IBM knows this. IBM will probably put the patent out on public domain and say something like "it's a gift to the open source community."

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8091483)

Yeah right,
dream on

Re:Wow. (3, Insightful)

njfuzzy (734116) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091545)

There is no point in applying for a patent if you are going to put it in the public domain. Doing that dissolves the patent. On the other hand, making it available under a free license might make sense. They control who gets it, but basically opens it up. That would probably work.

What do the numbers on that flowchart represent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8091293)

What do the numbers on that flowchart represent?

Re:What do the numbers on that flowchart represent (1)

PaulBu (473180) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091391)

Apparently you've never seen what patent attorneys do with even simplest ideas. Basically they are paid to put all those numbers next to every identifiable feature on all diagrams and then explain what's going on in "plain" ;-) text. As in, "After process step "define" (110) an "analyse" step (120) has to be taken"...

Paul B.

Re:What do the numbers on that flowchart represent (2, Funny)

saden1 (581102) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091443)

It's not a flowchart, it's a pyramid scheme!

Those at the top get most of the money.

Obligatory (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8091298)

This patent, what's it all about? Is it wack, or is it WAY wack?

IBM (5, Interesting)

Ianoo (711633) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091299)

I'd like to think that IBM won't enforce this patent to disrupt paid open source development because they now realise how important Linux, GNU, X, Gnome and KDE are to their business model. However, I suspect I'm just being naieve.

Re:IBM (4, Insightful)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091385)

IBM holds zillions of patents they don't enforce. Take a look at some of the lame ones they pulled out in reference to the SCO case. Really, it's just fodder for when you really piss them off.

The fault: The IBM patent reward system (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8091486)

Many companies, but especially IBM have "Patent Reward Systems". Essentially, they pay folks $1000 for Patent Applications, and the lawyers will try to send it as many as they can...after all, it's their job to do so. The more patents you write, the more money you get for successive patents, and having patents is the only good way to get to the "Distinguished Engineer" level. All in all, it encourages engineers to generate SPAM for the USPTO rather than innovative, but I knew numerous folks at IBM that would play the system.

Re:IBM (5, Interesting)

Carnage4Life (106069) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091577)

And they hold zillions which they do enforce. You should read up on IBM and Software Patents [] sometime. A number of software companies could learn a thing or two about monetizing their intellectual property from IBM [if that was their thing].

Re:IBM (4, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091497)

No, it could be likely a defensive measure, so that others don't hammer them.
Too, if you're a hardware vendor, stuff like this and OSDL make a truckload of sense.
Particularly if you have received a Massive Stab wound in your back Over Something, Too.

Re:IBM (5, Interesting)

Aumaden (598628) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091536)

This is almost certainly a "defensive" patent. Simply by obtaining the patent IBM prevents anyone else from hamstringing the development community.

Preventing OSD would be very much against IBM's best interests.

Imagine if SCO owned this patent. They would be doing their best to extort anyone trying to pay open source developers.

Patents are bad... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8091300)

So if you want to get paid for developing free software you should move to Europe where methods are not patentable (yet).

Defensive? (5, Insightful)

kid-noodle (669957) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091301)

One would hope they've done this defensively, to stop some (other?) evil corporation patenting it first and banjaxing things?

I said hope.

Re:Defensive? (1)

Lussarn (105276) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091400)

They could have published the "invention" on a website to achieve that.

Re:Defensive? (1)

aled (228417) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091495)

SCO has a patent on publishing inventions on a web site?

Re:Defensive? (3, Insightful)

KDan (90353) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091402)

IBM do that a lot. And they are a major supporter of Linux and Open Source in general - I would say it's pretty safe to assume it's a defensive patent. After all, IBM is renowned for patenting more things every year than you can shake a stick at...


Maybe it's time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8091569)

... for the US Patent Office to create a new product: Defensive Patents, i.e. patents that can only be enforced on entities that are suing yourself for patent infringement. They can even hold 2 for 1 sales every 3 months or so and make a killing. :P

heh (2, Redundant)

Vthornheart (745224) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091307)

Only IBM could take a good spirited, community driven idea like open source and turn it into a capitalist-oriented business concept. And patent it to boot.

Patents help. (-1, Troll)

conner_bw (120497) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091308)

Sure, one bad patent, OK. But overall, we must admit, that patents generally are a good thing. This is just an exception to the rule.

A bunch of exceptions to the rule ... (1)

jbensley (106834) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091380)

Heh, do you post the same exact phrase on every article involving a patent on /.? I swear I just saw this from you earlier this morning. Not complaining or anything, just an observation :P

Re:Patents help. (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091383)

But overall, we must admit, that patents generally are a good thing.

Overall, we must admit no such thing -- when it comes to "business method" patents, anyway. I'm all for patenting actual, physical, mechanical inventions; and I'm willing to let chemical (including drug) patents slide by on the edges. But patenting ways of doing things (which includes forms of payment and also ... hmmm ... software algorithms) is an absurd perversion of the intended purposes of the patent system. If the suits who think this kind of thing is a good idea had their way, we'd have one enormously rich company that had a patent on "a method of selling goods at a higher cost than that involved in producing said goods in order to realize a profit," and everyone else would starve.

Re:Patents help. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8091519)

Okay, everyone will just have to go back to patenting ridiculous circuit diagrams [] instead of software. That's very progressive-thinking.

Re:Patents help. (1)

sik0fewl (561285) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091398)

Actually, good patents are an exception to the rule that all patents are bogus, baseless "inventions".

Re:Patents help. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8091485)

I call troll. someone mod him down.

Plus, by his sig, he's probably a liberal extremist and a homosexual too. gross. mod this guy "-1 Fag"

IBM is investing heavily in OSS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8091309)

And they're burning bridges with Microsoft. It makes sense that they want to secure this method to protect their investment. This isn't a hobby or a game to them, it's a company's livelihood.

business idea (2, Funny)

pyros (61399) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091314)

Who wants to go halfsies with me to patent "method for paying open source workers" on the web? We'll make a fortune!

Re:business idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8091490)

How about we patent "method of capitialising^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hc orrupting Open Source development such that the existing meritocracy's are perveted by little in-groups trying to protect their 'job'"?

Patent only to be used defensively of course....

Hey!? (4, Funny)

DaRat (678130) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091315)

I didn't know that you could patent money!

Or, is IBM paying them with something else? Peanuts? Filtering their spam for them?

The Framers Had It Right (5, Insightful)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091316)

I am not a constitutional lawyer or any great expert in history, so if I get any details right or wrong I'll apologize in advance.

I personally don't have an issue with IBM or any other number of companies applying for patents in principle. After all, a lot of that is what I would call "defensive patents" which I have a whole separate issue with and won't go into here.

I do have one major problem with a lot of the patents I've been seeing lately on "business processes". I believe that the Founding Fathers had a basic idea about patents:

It was for inventions. Something you could build and use. If you couldn't build it, then details blueprints on how the "repeater rifle" was going to look at the end or "the automatic banana peeler".

Not a wish or a dream or some vague concept on how something is going to work, or a method of how to go from A to B by sticking your thumb up your ass turning in a circle and singing "I can fly". Not for the genetic code of a field mouse that Nature kicked up and you discovered the genetic sequence - though you could probably patent the gel used to discover the genetic markers. That's fair game.

Inventions. An actual item that can be built in the real world. And it seems that for whatever reason, our members of congress or the senate or whichever slick son of a bitch (or daughter, whatever) who seems to exist only to bend over and get reamed by the latest lobbyist promising that patenting "business procedures is good for the economy!" is not doing their job by the Founding Fathers.

Who, if they saw what patents are being used for today, would probably use a big old switch on the idiots allowing patents like this to go through. Lord knows, they didn't invent the "willow tree supple butt-swacker switch", but they probably knew how to use it when people acted like asses.

Of course, this is just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Re:The Framers Had It Right (5, Insightful)

Auckerman (223266) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091476)

Inventions. An actual item that can be built in the real world.

Computers that fit a specific task fall in this category. By extension, so does software (which do real world tasks). That is essentially why I'm not totally against software patents. As long as they solve real world problems in a non-obvious way, they are fair game.

Re:The Framers Had It Right (1)

XianDeath (543687) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091479)

I agree with a fair amount of what you're saying but there's one field of invention that I don't see you address... software. Since software isn't technically a 'real world' item and since it's based on similar methodologies as the patent in the article, how do you both protect the rights of those who develop software and yet not lapse into this silly business-logic model patenting. Just a thought.

Re:The Framers Had It Right (1)

tealover (187148) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091484)

A patent doesn't have to be an "invention". It merely has to be something that is novel.

The ignorance of the Slashdot editors/submitters once again gets in the way of an interesting story.

Well (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8091318)

Nobody will use it anyway.

What open source developer gets paid? Anyone? Bueller?

One thing to bear in mind... (5, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091323)

is that IBM has lots of patents on lots of things that they don't normally enforce. Lots of memory control and process control concepts are covered by their patents, yet they don't enforce them. SCO is giving them a reason to, though, as a defensive counterattack.

It might be possible that IBM is patenting this so that no one else *cough*SCO*Microsoft*cough* gets to the idea first. This is somewhat unlikely, but not impossible. Hopefully IBM's open source concepts will remain god for the public.

If that is the case... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091461)

IBM could protect themselves from others abusing such patents by patenting the process (this is legally possible?!!!) and then ASSIGNING THE PATENT TO THE FSF which will steward it for the public good. or something.

Re:One thing to bear in mind... (1)

originalTMAN (694813) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091494)

god for the public? The public has plenty of gods!

Re:One thing to bear in mind... (1)

cens0r (655208) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091572)

Microsoft generally has the same patent attitude as IBM. They both hold a gajillion patents and they both very rarely enforce them. Of course if you piss them off they might just hit you with hundreds of patent enfringement suits. But calling Microsoft bad, and excusing IBM really isn't fair.

Re:One thing to bear in mind... (2, Informative)

oZZoZZ (627043) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091576)

They DO enforce them... they just don't enforce them in things that we see... IBM doesn't care if joe blow writes and OS (or Richard Stallman) and uses some of their ideas... but if HyperGlobalMegaTech uses their 'inventions', and they get patents, IBM cross-licences with them to get access to their 'inventions'.. so IBM enforces patents selectivly.. mostly for cross licencing.

What about my method (1, Funny)

Raistlix (90622) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091324)

I'm convinced that the patent for my method of opening a door and walking through will be completed any day now. Then you'll all owe me big!

Open-source patent license needed! (4, Interesting)

LoonXTall (169249) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091327)

Virtually nobody is writing open-source software to place it in the public domain. Rather, much of it is licensed under the GNU GPL, which embraces the property rights of copyright and uses them to ensure that the code remains open. I propose a parallel license for patents: a perpetual, irrevocable license for open-source software[1] to implement, use, and improve the patented concepts and inventions free of charge.

If we patent our patentable work, instead of merely copyrighting our code, we can build a defensive patent portfolio. This would give us some leverage against patent infringement suits, as well as being good business sense in the current climate.

What is the harm in not adopting such a license? Besides the possibility of open-source ultimately being crushed by patents, there is the risk of our work becoming a de facto Microsoft R&D lab. We are already seeing that future with XUL (or libglade) and Microsoft's XAML.

In addition, this license would give Red Hat a graceful way to keep their promise [] that they will never charge licensing fees on their patents.

And now, IBM has patented something very much like the Open Source model itself. Can we afford to continue ignoring patents? IBM was once greatly despised, and there is nothing to say that if Microsoft falls, they won't become a new tyrant.

Of course, open-source developers would still need to apply and pay for the patent, but it is much cheaper to apply than retroactively fight one.

[1] Rather than "open-source software", the patent license would have to define which software licenses are considered open source. If the patent license relies on an external definition like "OSI-approved", then the OSI could change the license after the fact by changing their approvals. Since the proposed license is irrevocable, the patent couldn't be withdrawn from it if OSI added a license the patent-holder objected to.

(This post is based on the ideas of someone else. I'll drop them a line so they can take credit or elaborate as they see fit.)

bahaha (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8091330)

Suckers. None of you little open-source fanatics are going to get paid anymore. Unless, it's... illegal(?) *gasp* But we all know Linux kiddies never do anything illegal because you're all so perfect (sarcasm intended and noted for the absent minded).

BSD > *

*ding* Thanks for playing.

Re:bahaha (1)

scmason (574559) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091460)

At least you noticed our virtues! So often people like you tend to miss the value and beauty of productive people like us. Troll.

Could be a good thing (3, Insightful)

wizarddc (105860) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091333)

They might want to patent this just to simply hold the patent. They could let anyone who wants to use it, to use it for free, or donate it to the FSF. Maybe they just wanted to get it before another company with more devious plans got it. Think what Microsoft would do with this. They would kill Open Source, or do their damndest to do it, with the new tool.

I just think there might be a chance IBM has some pure intentions here.

You're unfamiliar with IBM patenting (4, Insightful)

melted (227442) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091453)

As opposed to Microsoft (who has never enforced any patents, so some people even think they don't have any), IBM has in the past enforced their patents and squeezed a great deal of money from others by doing so. Plus, IBM has 10x the patent portfolio that Microsoft has.

Re:You're unfamiliar with IBM patenting (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091513)

yeah, they just do things like hassle someone with the domain name ""

They're perfect angels there in Redmond.

Re:Could be a good thing (1)

MRoharr (243317) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091458)

Or it could be that they see it as a possible means of revenue being that Open Source Development is the future.

Re:Could be a good thing (1)

Frequanaut (135988) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091500)

Wah ha, ha ha..ohh thats a good one.

Yes, IBM is just patenting this for the public good.

Sure, because they've given so many other patents to the FSF.

btw. First Submission!

Microsoft (5, Funny)

chunkwhite86 (593696) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091342)

Next thing you know Microsoft is going to sue IBM for infringing on their patented methods of preventing OSS workers from getting paid.

In other news... (5, Funny)

uucp2 (731567) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091343)

...SCO patents method for being paid by Open Source workers

The "Open Child" is our Messiah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8091345)

Don't you open source contributers sometimes get the feeling that other people are getting rich off your hard work?

sounds exactly like topcoder (5, Interesting)

kesteloot (600073) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091346)

This is exactly how topcoder pays people for developing components, except the software isn't open source. x

Re:sounds exactly like topcoder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8091531)

Indeed, precisely what popped into my head when I read the preface.


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8091348)

That's the funniest thing I've heard this year!

All Your Open Source Base Are Belong To IBM!

I, for one... (2, Funny)

Unnngh! (731758) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091350)

...don't feel comfortable working outside of very rigid guidelines. For example, this patent will make my OSS development projects go much smoother, and increase my productivity in some ambiguous way. At least I'll know how to pay myself for my own work, it's pretty important I get all that money.

Hopefully soon, everything about software and computers will be patented, so I can curb my mind from its aweful tendency to stray outside of the box. Go IBM, Microsoft, et al.!

I don't see the problem (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091351)

I see this AS a PROPER use of patents. Granted what they are doing is something quite common, but I would bet that the way they do it is unique, In which case it would be patenting of a business method. Since when has this been evil?

Go SCO! (1)

sik0fewl (561285) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091354)


Let's hope SCO can pull of this lawsuit it has against IBM and drive IBM into the ground.

PS: I've not yet decided if this is a sarcastic remark.

Summary of the Payment Scheme (2, Funny)

The Clockwork Troll (655321) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091358)

First, you sign up to get paid (either with IBM or a designated OSR [open source recruiter]).

Next, you start recruiting volunteers. For every 25 volunteers you recruit, your base pay increases by paid $5/hr.

The best part is, every time one of your recruits signs up 25 additional developers, you get a $25 per week bonus!

Really, you can't lose!

Re:Summary of the Payment Scheme (1)

smackjer (697558) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091571)

Wow! You could really make a fortune doing this!

And then you can make ANOTHER fortune selling motivational tapes telling other people how THEY can do it!

So what? (3, Informative)

chill (34294) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091363)

It is a patent on A method, not the only method.

With the way the current business world works, anything that can be patented needs to be, if nothing else but for the defensive value.

IBM, who I believe is the #1 patent holder in the world, knows this better than anyone.

Patents on processes not necessarily bad. (0)

rmmeyer (84419) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091368)

Used to work at a place that regularly patented just about everything. The main reason given was that "if we don't patent it, someone else might and keep us from pursuing the process".

The main idea was that if we patent it, we can't be prevented from using it. IBM may have patented the process to keep someone else doing it and denying access to everyone else like Amazon is trying to do with it's "One Click" patent...

Just my 2c

This might be good or it might be bad... (1)

Attila (23211) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091373)

...but just imagine for a moment if M$ had patented it.

In related news (4, Funny)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091382)

IBM...patented a method for paying open source volunteers.

In related news, SCO claims this is only a derivative work on their system of now getting paid by open source volunteers, and promises to add it to their lawsuit.

doh, licensing (1)

MRoharr (243317) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091384)

" will anyone get paid when only IBM can do it?"
simply, by licensing the technology from IBM to pay developers.

Oh yeah (4, Funny)

CGP314 (672613) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091386)

Oh yeah... well I'm going to patent paying IBM workers. Take that big blue.

In London? Need a Physics Tutor? []

American Weblog in London []

Re:Oh yeah (2, Funny)

DragonMagic (170846) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091559)

You're applying for a patent in India?

In related news.... (1)

Dave21212 (256924) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091407)

Open Source Workers patent method for excluding IBM hardware and software from ever working with Linux

Don't count on IBM to screw anyone on this, they aren't the type of company to cut off their nose to spite their face.

You realize (0)

Unregistered (584479) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091418)

that IBM has tons of patents they get but don't enforce. They use them first, so nobody else can get them and fuck over IBM, and second, to use against people tht try to fight IBM. I expect that we will see lots of similar patents used against SCO. This specific one seems like the first category as IBM needs to be able to pay its OSS workers, imo.

Oxymoron? (1)

gerardrj (207690) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091434)

Aren't volunteer and paid worker mutually exclusive?

Defensive patent (1)

oneself (104209) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091436)

Maybe we got Big Blue all wrong. Maybe it's a defensive patent, much like the FSF do to prevent someone else from patenting something, and thus preventing anyone else from using it. Or maybe, IBM is going to start paying each and every open source developer in the world by themselves...

Or maybe not.

who would you rather (2, Informative)

trustedserf (700733) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091442)

who would you rather be holding such a patent, Microsoft, perhaps our friends SCO. In the climate of patent fever in america, it's not so much whether they have the patent as how they use it.

it's a bit early yet to really trust ibm IMHO.

Nimrod (1)

vlauria (14396) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091448)

Did anybody check out the patent webpage, check out the inventors:

- Megiddo, Nimrod (Palo Alto, CA);
- Zhu, Xiaoming (San Jose, CA)

Is it any wonder?

Yet another incentive patent (1)

mjfrazer (305120) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091456)

IBM employees get a bonus for filing and being granted a patent, right? I wonder how many of the garbage patents granted are a result of employees going for the bonuses associated with getting a patent.

Patent, patent, who's got the patent? (1)

al!ethel (713058) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091471)

Is there _anything_ in this world that doesn't need a patent? I think I will patent complaining and whining, and make a fortune off of celebrities alone. Then I could learn how to spell and be set for life!

IBM's patent culture (4, Interesting)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091477)

There was an interesting article in last week's Network World that described IBM's "domination" in the world of patents. Basically IBM makes it very worthwhile for their employees to come up with patentable ideas - they are rewarded with pay raises, bonuses, and the like. The idea is to foster and encourage innovation within the company.

Given this, it would not be unreasonable to assume that some individual within IBM saw this as an opportunity to play the wheel for some extra dough. It's not the only possible explanation - we've seen plenty of businesses overextend the US Patent Office before - but it certainly is a reasonable hypothesis.

Re:IBM's patent culture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8091562)

absolutely - when I worked there they gave awards just for submitting an idea even if it turned out to have been patented before. I got a hundred bucks or so equivalent for suggesting they patent sticky bubblewrap - it had already been done.

Just 1 patent more... (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091478)

a) A method -> there sure are other methods
b) Only IBM paying? Then all those OS developers must be working for IBM -> IBM shall be the new M$. Hallelujahh!
c) Not every OS developer is payed, right?
BTW: Wasn't IBM the same company that already has the largest number of patents in its portfolio, or am I mistaken there?

Barely about open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8091489)

This patent could be used be used for proprietary software or for outsourcing an internal development process.

Make open source the headline, and you've got yourself a thread with tons of messages.

Good Thing... (1)

GOD_ALMIGHTY (17678) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091491)

it doesn't cover Free Software developers and volunteers. I think the Free Software Foundation has some prior art. Also, doesn't a patent require a prototype? So where's the IBM prototype so all the out of work developers on here can go try to make some money?

The truth behind the SCO lawsuit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8091503)

IBM's new business plan:

1. Patent open source payment plan
2. License patent to SCO
3. SCO sues IBM for $3B
4. SCO collects $3B and shares with Linux contributors
5. IBM secretly pockets 10% in licensing fees, while writing off the $3B loss and screwing shareholders.
6. Profit!

Challenges Status Quo (0)

nil5 (538942) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091505)

The real question is will the developers of Linux and other open source software be retroactively paid for contributions?

Probably unlikely but in all fairness it owuld make sense

prior art? (1)

harveyswik (592377) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091543) []

Or does IBM own them too?

*Where* did they patent this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8091560)

"America!" - "America? Ohhh... A-m-e-r-i-c-a. That's nice."

Serious questions... (1)

Dave21212 (256924) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091566)

I hope I have these posed correctly, feel free to slap me around if I'm missing the point or being just too paranoid (yeah, 'too paranoid' on /.)

If IBM (or someone) pays you your write their module, and you do it and get paid, who owns the copyright by default ?

Hmmm, so IBM could then have the copyright on tons of "open source" works (GPL'ed of course)...

...and for those philosphers amount you, if IBM copyrights open source modules under a GPL, then SCO distributes them, and SCO invalidates the GPL, does IBM then own the SCO code ?

(Okay, that last one was only half serious)

hate to say I told you (1)

Knights who say 'INT (708612) | more than 10 years ago | (#8091573)

Gentlemen, I refer you to this Slashdot post [] .

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