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IBM Seeking 'Patent-Protection-Racket' Patent

CowboyNeal posted more than 6 years ago | from the any-reason-to-bust-kneecaps dept.

IBM 169

theodp writes "Wikipedia defines a protection racket as an extortion scheme whereby a powerful non-governmental organization coerces businesses to pay protection money which allegedly serves to purchase the organization's 'protection' services against various external threats. Compare this to IBM's just-published patent application for 'Extracting Value from a Portfolio of Assets', which describes a process by which 'very large corporations' impress upon smaller businesses that paying for 'the protection of a large defensive patent portfolio' would be 'a prudent business decision' for them to make, 'just like purchasing a fire insurance policy.' Sounds like Fat Tony's been to Law School, eh? Time for IBM to put-their-money-where-their-patent-reform-mouth-is and deep-six this business method patent claim!"

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I don't suppose anyone has considered (5, Insightful)

Mahjub Sa'aden (1100387) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054731)

I don't suppose anyone has considered that they might use said patent to sue trolls out of existence. Which would be neat, and altogether too ironic.

Shining example (2, Informative)

cab15625 (710956) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054791)

It may also be used as the example of just how screwed up the patent system has become. If any company has to have this patent, I can think of much worse companies than IBM to have this one granted.

Of course, there's the prior art. (3, Insightful)

Mahjub Sa'aden (1100387) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054815)

If the patent system is really as screwed up as all that, will the prior art in this case matter? Because as far as I can tell, patent trolls have existed since nearly the very beginning of the system.

Re:Shining example (2, Interesting)

Tim C (15259) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055191)

I can think of much worse companies than IBM to have this one granted.

There was a time when saying that would have been the equivalent of saying it about Microsoft now, or Eolas.

They changed; but can you be sure they won't change back?

A bad patent is a bad patent no matter who has it.

Re:Shining example (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055583)

How is this a bad patent? They're basically saying "pay us this fee and you're free to use any of our 900 billion patents in your own work". Sounds like they're opening it up.

Re:Shining example (2, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055617)

True, but given the current state of the US patent office, it seems to me this could be a case of IBM patenting it before someone else does.

Re:Shining example (1)

cab15625 (710956) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055993)

Not to condone IBM's prior misdeeds, but even when they were at their worst, IBM was still doing hard research and expanding scientific knowledge. That is much more than any modern patent troll can say. A bad patent is a bad patent no matter who has it. True enough. So, maybe this will finally wake some people up to the fact that there are some problems with the way the current patent system works. If the patent passes, they may be able to stop other patent troll's (I'm not sure the patent actually does what the summary says it does). If it doesn't, the reasons for denying the patent may make these activities more difficult in future anyway (is it possible to deny a patent because the activity being patented is unethical/illegal?)

Re:I don't suppose anyone has considered (2, Funny)

yorugua (697900) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054809)

Only problem is: Would a lot of people can claim "prior art"?.

Re:I don't suppose anyone has considered (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21055031)

I'm wondering can someone descide to trump that with a patent on patenting patent farming?

Re:I don't suppose anyone has considered (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21055073)

Mahjub Sa'aden - now that's a terrorist name if ever i heard one.

Re:I don't suppose anyone has considered (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055753)

You're a dick.

Re:I don't suppose anyone has considered (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055219)

I don't suppose anyone has considered that they might use said patent to sue trolls out of existence. Which would be neat, and altogether too ironic.

Well they could do. On the other hand when you see some of the latest patents IBM has applied for, then you get the feeling that IBM is trying to make a point. The point as I see it is how much the patents system needs fixing. IBM is a huge patent holder, but rarely do you see IBM actively pursuing any smaller players. From what I can tell most of IBMs patents are hardware related, so they don't lose out from a modified system that invalidates all software and business model patents. In many ways what you see here are more to the batch of 'defensive patents', ie patents that would never be used unless some shark decided to sue IBM for something ridiculous. I would even wonder whether a company could cite IBM's patent when defending themselves against these sharks?

Re:I don't suppose anyone has considered (1)

levin (170168) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055253)

That's not irony, it's karma.

I think somebody at IBM was reading Tolkien recent (1)

__NR_kill (1018116) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055403)

One ring to rule them all.. or in other words one patent to rule them all.

Re:I don't suppose anyone has considered (2, Interesting)

stuntpope (19736) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055429)

That was my reaction. Consider that a few days ago, this story [slashdot.org] generated comments such as "I should patent being a patent troll". Well, IBM has the money to do just that. Maybe they are as sick of this as the average slashdotter.

Re:I don't suppose anyone has considered (1)

nilbud (1155087) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055787)

Surely everyone could contribute to a defence fund. Whenever anyone sues over a software patent they get violently tortured to death and dismembered along with their family and business partners. The cost of the hit comes from the fund. Lawyers being the honourable upstanding fearless types they are,the fund will never need to be touched and once the software patent nonsense is repealed the fund can be used to buy flowers for orphans.

Re:I don't suppose anyone has considered (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#21056025)

I think they may well do that... as long as business is going well and the leadership stays the same. As soon as there is some need to "optimize revenue streams" then the potential short term earning power of the patent will likely be exploited. Until the big businesses that have to pay IBM for the right to be patent trolls push for legislation that actually fixes the patent troll problem.

Perhaps this is a means to stop the practice (5, Interesting)

PhotoGuy (189467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054733)

If IBM receives the patent, then it can disallow others from participating in the practice. This patent alone could be a jury-rigged bit of patent reform, for this particular abuse. (Assuming IBM doesn't go crazy and utilize the patent itself.)

I'd tend to think this is more their purpose, than to become the master bully.

Re:Perhaps this is a means to stop the practice (1)

hasbeard (982620) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054759)

Too bad there's already so much prior art.

Re:Perhaps this is a means to stop the practice (2, Interesting)

jackharrer (972403) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054821)

Cosa Nostra, anybody?

Re:Perhaps this is a means to stop the practice (1)

PhotoGuy (189467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054911)

True, there's a lot of prior art, but IBM has been around awhile (1888!), and might just be able to claim the lead in this practice; perhaps why they applied for the patent. Although claiming to be one of the first active bullies might not be great for PR value. :)

(I remember working at IBM labs in Toronto, and they had a little historical display in one building, showing some meat cutters and cheese slicers, early products of the company...)

Re:Perhaps this is a means to stop the practice (1)

hasbeard (982620) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054963)

Actually, I was making a the joke that there was too much prior art for patent abuse itself. I have no idea is there is prior art for this particular patent.

Re:Perhaps this is a means to stop the practice (1)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055135)

Too bad there's already so much prior art.

Oh, that is the briliance of the scheme, when IBM gets sued for patent infringement they bring up all the prior art in front of the jury and show what a rotten system the patent system is.

Another effective reforem of the patent system would be to close the Texas federal patent court. A big part of the patent problem is that the plaintifs bar has worked out how to identify which Texans are never going to question a government decision, i.e. the patent grant. Or at least thats what my patent lawyer tells me.

Mickeysoft will be screaming "Prior art!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21055001)

And Ballmer will be able to prove it, too.

Wouldn't it be hilarious if Mickeysoft opposes this patent on prior art grounds?

The power of self delusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21055887)

It's hilarious how all the Slashdotters have this vision of IBM as some kind of noble knight on a horse, who is going to protect their virtue and maybe marry them and make them a princess so IBM and teh Lunix can all live happily ever after.

IBM was the evil empire before any other tech company. Everyone else is just trying to walk in their footsteps.

Between Stallman and IBM, Lunix is just being used as a tool to attack Microsoft and try to gain dominion over the FOSS market. Do you really thing IBM is putting billions into Lunix just as an act of charity? IBM is a freakin' business! They are making money off teh Lunix! And Stallman is just trying to get all applications to use GPLv3 code so that he can start controlling the people who write the code and own the applications.

In Slashdot land, everyone uses Teh Lunix, Stallman tells them what software they are allowed to run (or write), and they are all using IBM hardware. Welcome to your future.

1-click again? (2, Interesting)

xzaph (1157805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054737)

Why do I see the potential justification of this being similar to Amazon's justification of patenting 1-click ordering?

Re:1-click again? (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055263)

Why do I see the potential justification of this being similar to Amazon's justification of patenting 1-click ordering?

Very different. Amazon was most definitely not using their patent in the defensive form. A defensive patent would be used when a company tries to sue you and you show them your patent portfolio and they quickly realise its time to back down or get sued in return. Amazon used their patent to get money out of competitors and non-competitors who were using a method similar to that described in the patent.

Why dispose of it? (1)

rumith (983060) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054749)

Such a patent, should it be granted, could become a perfect show-stopper for Microsoft's patent FUD and could also wipe out patent trolls as a side effect.

Patenting patent racketeering = A Good Thing(TM)?

Re:Why dispose of it? (1)

Divebus (860563) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054859)

Exactly - that's the only thing propping up most of Microsoft now. They'd have to figure out how to actually make good on marketing claims to survive.

Re:Why dispose of it? (1)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055361)

You assume IBM wouldn't use this patent for itself?
IBM may be an ally of yours today, but who knows what the future will hold. You guys (i.e. rebel-geeks) used to hate IBM with a passion, remember? You'll hate them again, be sure of that. As far as I can see, the OIN is already using its own patent portfolio to put fear into those that might have a legitimate beef with OIN member's violating patents of others. So IBM is already using the power of its patent portfolio against others.

Anyway, I don't see how one can "patent" this business mechanism. What's next, patenting the concept of incentive stock options? Patenting the concept of sub-contracting? Patenting the concept of retail sales as to how they differ from wholesale sales? This is stupid.

Prior art (1)

jeevesbond (1066726) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054769)

I think Steve Ballmer already has prior art [slashdot.org] on this method.

Re:Prior art (1)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055525)

I think Steve Ballmer already has prior art on this method.

IBM has been doing this sorta stuff since Steve Ballmer was a glint in his yuppy father's eye. Hell, IBM invented the modern "FUD" strategy that Microsoft is still trying to get perfect.

is it a defensive patent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21054787)

To block Microsoft from copying IBM business practices? On the bright side, IBM have to their credit never indicated they were going to sue linux distributors.

Of course Big Blue won't sue them... (2, Informative)

Chmcginn (201645) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055239)

IBM doesn't have any interest in suing distributors of software that they can get a service contract from.

IBM seems to get that technical support is a better way to make money than bundling software.

Sweet (5, Insightful)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054793)

I'm sorry, but this is beautiful. For IBM to patent the process of patent abuse raises legal sarcasm to a fine art form. This is a legal hack of the first order.

Whether it ought to be allowed or not is a different question, but it still brings tears to my eyes. ;)

Re:Sweet (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054951)

To poorly paraphrase a line from Scrubs, "this patent is so beautiful that I want to marry it and have little patents with it".

I hope IBM does the right thing and has lots of fun going on a rampage with it.

If it works (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055057)

Then it will be time to patent a number of other interesting (and unethical ) processes.

Re:Sweet (1)

jalet (36114) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055187)

Too bad there's probably some prior art in this matter...

Let's hope prior art is from IBM as well !

Wow, It's Real (3, Insightful)

resistant (221968) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054801)

At first, I thought this was a joke from The Onion [theonion.com] , but holy guano, Batman! It's for real!

I'm not particularly upset, though. I.B.M. already is known to systematically exploit their huge patent portfolio, as would be expected by their shareholders, but I've not heard of them doing so, recently at least, in an offensive manner. I.B.M. has been trying hard, for business reasons, to be a "good citizen". If anyone has to have such a patent, best that it be them. If nothing else, it'll put a bit of a damper on the true patent trolls.

Re:Wow, It's Real (1)

Homology (639438) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055893)

I'm not particularly upset, though. I.B.M. already is known to systematically exploit their huge patent portfolio, as would be expected by their shareholders, but I've not heard of them doing so, recently at least, in an offensive manner. I.B.M. has been trying hard, for business reasons, to be a "good citizen". If anyone has to have such a patent, best that it be them. If nothing else, it'll put a bit of a damper on the true patent trolls.

IBM has a very large patent portfolio and is able to obtain cross-licenses that small companies cannot in general. Just the fact that they have a huge patent portfolio backed with even more money is a sufficient deterrence to smaller companies: it is like holding a loaded gun to someones head. IBM fully uses this for their profit.

Good for small businesses? (5, Informative)

Archie Gremlin (814342) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054811)

This might be a great thing for small software companies. At the moment, they can't possibly afford defensive patent portfolios. This makes them extremely vulnerable to malicious suits from big companies that want to squash them.

Being able to buy a slice of protection from IBM would eliminate one of the biggest risks that small developers face. Of course, small companies can't pay millions of dollars in legal fees. IBM will have to offer to defend their clients in court in order to make this work.

Mod parent Insightul (1)

hasbeard (982620) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055015)

He seems to understand the patent.

Re:Good for small businesses? (2, Informative)

rking (32070) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055045)

So if I'm reading it right, the participants get a sort of "potential ownership" of a pool of patents. Then if they get sued by someone then that potential ownership crystalises into actual ownership with respect to particular relevant patents. Then they use those patents to counterclaim against the person suing them? Is that anywhere close?

Re:Good for small businesses? (2, Interesting)

acvh (120205) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055213)

Yup, that's it. Someone else mentioned here that IBM could sell this as a service regardless of the patenting of it, and it does sound like an innovative idea.

Re:Good for small businesses? (3, Interesting)

the_lesser_gatsby (449262) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055099)

But the process doesn't need to be patented. IBM could just offer the service as a business anyway.

Re:Good for small businesses? (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055671)

But if they patent it, anyone else who wants to make money that way has to pay IBM first.

I wonder if IBM sees that as a great opportunity to make loads of money from, say, Microsoft?

Oh, they're good at this.

Re:Good for small businesses? (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 6 years ago | (#21056127)

well, it does mean that anyone looking to implement said model has to pay IBM for the right, but most importantly, it's a patent on a business method, which is AFAIK the only class of patent that can be used against patent trolls (since they don't make products of any kind), so a large portfolio of such patents is a necessity for this business model to work.

Deep Six (4, Informative)

dancingmad (128588) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054829)

Possibly karma whoring, but I haven't heard the phrase deep six in a while and wondered where it came from.

That bastion of knowledge, The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy [bartleby.com] , says this:

This phrase is derived from the noun "deep six," meaning burial at sea and referring to the depth of water necessary for such a burial. The term was later used as slang for a grave (customarily six feet underground) and, by extension, as a verb meaning "to kill."

Re:Deep Six (2, Informative)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055115)

There are bastions and there are bastions...google your way to the Leadsman's Chant. "By the deep, six" means it's six fathoms deep, which is safe water for a deep-draft ship. "By the mark, twain" means it's two fathoms, which is safe water for a Mississippi riverboat, and another esoteric reference is resolved.

Depths of 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 13, 15, 17, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 fathoms are indicated by "marks" on the leadline. The other depths are unmarked and are called "deeps". The leadsman estimates the depth to a quarter fathom and calls out the fraction, mark or deep, and number.

By the mark, five: 5 fathoms
And a half, deep six: 6-1/2 fathoms
Less a quarter, mark ten: 9-3/4 fathoms.

rj

Oh, I thought of something completely different. (1)

roeland (633635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055141)

Guess I must be the only one to immediately think that to deep-six means to screw someone thoroughy up the arse. I put it past any of the other decent Slashdot readers to have such thoughts.

If this is granted... (2)

NewToNix (668737) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054839)

The only truly graceful thing to do would be to transfer the patent to the EFF.

Then let the fun begin.

Re:If this is granted... (1)

hasbeard (982620) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054865)

Could the EFF use this? I wasn't aware that the EFF held any patents?

Re:If this is granted... (1)

NewToNix (668737) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054955)

Could they use it? I would think so... at least as well as anyone might for the community.

Do they hold any patents? Not that I'm aware of, which was sort of the point.

Re:If this is granted... (1)

hasbeard (982620) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054971)

What I am saying is that I believe (through the help of someone else's comment ahref=http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=334389&threshold=-1&commentsort=0&mode=thread&cid=21054811rel=url2html-9793 [slashdot.org] http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=334389&threshold=-1&commentsort=0&mode=thread&cid=21054811> ) that to use this patent the patent holder would need to hold a portfolio of patents itself.

Re:If this is granted... (1)

NewToNix (668737) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055113)

Here let me fix that link for you: Fixed link [slashdot.org]

Actually there is nothing in the patent that requires the owner of the patent to have any other patent. It is simply a patent application for a business process whereby one uses a patent portfolio to compel other companies into a pattern of behavior that suits the patent portfolio holder's idea of 'how things should be done', via threat of endless lawsuit.

And it quite exquisitely displays the horror of patents for business processes.

Re:If this is granted... (1)

hasbeard (982620) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055129)

But you have to have a patent portfolio to actually use the patent don't you? That was my point.

Re:If this is granted... (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055255)

I think the goal of this patent is to provide protection for small, innovative organizations. IBM's bread-and-butter right now is selling its servers and software to these small companies and it would stand to reason that it is in IBM's best interest to protect a small company who is their customer.

Consider an example: A small player is developing technologies to enable the commercialization of space-flight. They hire IBM to provide technological support and services, but after two or three years of successful innovation this small company gets sued by a patent troll organization. Their ability to innovate would be stifled as management is forced to deal with the nasty legal issues. IBM could handle the case by using this patent to say STFU to the troll company (or at the very least by forcing them to identify real areas where innovative ideas have been stolen). Meanwhile, if the small company continues to innovate their business will grow and they will be able to afford more support and services from IBM.

Thus, IBM grows because their business is supporting other businesses. After all, they are the 'International Business Machine'.

Re:If this is granted... (1)

NewToNix (668737) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055261)

No, other then the patent in question, you need no other patent. You simply use it against others who are using their patent portfolio as a weapon or as leverage in a business deal.

It isn't a patent to own patents, it's a patent about the use of patents as a business process. So any business using their patents as a part of a business process, say leverage in negotiation or if simply acting as a patent troll, would have to pay up or license the right top use this 'business process' from the holder of the patent in question.

Re:If this is granted... (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055163)

Better for IBM to keep it. After all, they have the means to enforce it.

Re:If this is granted... (1)

NewToNix (668737) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055235)

Well IBM isn't all good or all bad, but aside from that, you are assuming they would use this as a weapon against patent trolls, but the patent as applied for, would apply equally well to any company that uses it's patents as leverage in any business deal. Because it's not a patent about having or requiring patents for the holder of this patent, it's about a patent on the process of using patents as part of a business process.

A fine distinction, but a rather important one.

Re:If this is granted... (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055309)

Oh, my, no. Give it to PJ over at groklaw.net. Now *that* would be fun, since PJ has consistently shown more understanding and nerve than any statements from EFF attorneys. This is partly because EFF attorneys work for people with enough money to be sued, but the resulting press releases and announcements would be far more entertaining.

Re:If this is granted... (1)

NewToNix (668737) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055349)

I humbly bow to your vastly superior idea... and wish I'd have thought of it first!

Wow, IBM showing their since of humor... (3, Funny)

3seas (184403) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054849)

...What else could it really be?

How many joke have been writing about patenting the patent process?
Well looks like a very large patent portfoilo company has money to toss at such a joke..

Kudos to IBM (5, Insightful)

xednieht (1117791) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054869)

Do realize ladies and gentlemen this is a bold and rather cavalier move on behalf of IBM. It's more tongue in cheek really, laughing at patent trolls and a majority of large corporations long bereft of the spirit of true competition.

It a rather elegant, subtle, and expensive way of inviting said patent trolls to "kiss my hairy ass". hehe

go go IBM

I hope this patent is granted (1)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054877)

Further, I hope IBM aggressively enforces it.

Just imagine a set of deep pockets like IBM going around suing every large firm that aggressively impresses upon smaller firms that it would be prudent to pay for 'the protection of a large defensive patent portfolio.'

Would that not make the world a better place?

Attempting to translate the claims to English (5, Informative)

julesh (229690) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054895)

1. A method for extracting value from a portfolio of assets, comprising:granting a privilege to a second party by a first party at time t1 to permit the second party to exercise the privilege upon the occurrence of a predetermined event occurring at time t2 where t2>t1, and wherein the exercise comprises obtaining an interest in one or more assets residing in a dynamic pool of assets comprised of assets from the portfolio of assets at time t2, wherein zero or more assets are in the dynamic pool at time t1 and said zero or more assets are not in the dynamic pool at time t2.

So a company has a pool of assets. It gives somebody else a right to in the future, after some event has occurred, gain one or more of those assets. Some of the assets may have left the pool by the time they do this. Basically, we're talking about the standard financial instrument known as an "option", but over any of a pool of assets rather over a specific asset.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the privilege is defined in a floating privilege agreement between the first and second parties, the floating privilege agreement having a term and specifying the predetermined event and the type of interest to be conveyed to the second party upon execution of the privilege.

The right can be time limited, and constrained to a certain kind of selection of assets.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein a number of assets in which the second party receives an interest is limited based on the floating privilege agreement.

The selection can be the number of assets acquired.

4. The method of claim 2, wherein the assets are intellectual property assets.
5. The method of claim 4, wherein the intellectual property assets are patents.
6. The method of claim 4, wherein the intellectual property assets are copyrights.
7. The method of claim 4, wherein the intellectual property assets are trade secrets.


Obvious.

8. The method of claim 2, wherein the assets include intellectual property assets selected from the group consisting of patents, copyrights and trade secrets.

But it doesn't have to be only IP. There can be other stuff as well.

9. The method of claim 4, wherein the privilege is exercised by the first party transferring rights in one or more of the assets in the dynamic pool of assets to the second party.

Pretty obvious, really.

10. The method of claim 9, wherein the transfer is by assignment.
11. The method of claim 9, wherein the transfer is by license.
12. The method of claim 11, wherein the license is an exclusive license.


OK, so there are multiple ways of transferring the rights.


13. The method of claim 4, wherein an occurrence of the predetermined event is a trigger event defined in the floating privilege agreement.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein the trigger event is a litigation-related event.

15. The method of claim 13 [sic, should clearly be 14], wherein the litigation-related event is a filing of a complaint against the second party.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein the complaint against the second party alleges that the second party infringes an intellectual property asset of a third party.


Now we get to the meat of the patent. This is not a patent on patent-trolling, it's a patent on a mechanism for defending against patent trolling. What they're patenting is a legal agreement that says "if you get sued for patent infringement, we'll grant you a patent license for one of our patents so you can smite the bastards".

17. The method of claim 13, wherein exercising the privilege comprises the second party selecting an asset from the dynamic pool of assets in response to occurrence of the trigger event.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein exercising the privilege further comprises the first party qualifying the selected asset for transfer to the second party to ensure the selected asset is appropriate for use by the second party for the trigger event, and if the first party qualifies the selected asset for transfer the first party transfers rights in the selected asset to the second party.


Yep, so the rights licensed are selected to enable the second party to successfully sue the third for patent infringement.

It's a patent mutual protection pact. Nothing like what the summary says at all.

Re:Attempting to translate the claims to English (2, Insightful)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054967)

> "if you get sued for patent infringement, we'll grant you a patent license for one of our patents so you can smite the bastards".

which works against the evil corporations. But, as already pointed out in a recent discussion, what if a patent troll, which is not utilizing any of its patents, comes up against you?

This is the "patent troll" patent. (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055533)

But, as already pointed out in a recent discussion, what if a patent troll, which is not utilizing any of its patents, comes up against you?

Then you refuse to license this patent to the patent troll, so they're in violation of your patent troll patent.

Re:This is the "patent troll" patent. (2, Insightful)

julesh (229690) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055699)

Except it isn't a patent troll patent. Read it, not the summary or the conclusions other people have jumped to. The patent is about patent-pooling for mutual defence from patent claims.

Re:This is the "patent troll" patent. (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055765)

The claims are cumulative. A patent troll wouldn't violate claim 15, for example, but they could still be in violation of earlier claims as well as claims that don't reference claim 15. Claim 1 is (of course) particularly broad.

Now depending on such broad claims won't make a strong case, but they don't need to be able to make a strong case to make it too much of a risk for a patent troll to take them on.

Re:This is the "patent troll" patent. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21055919)

Sorry, that's too weak a defense against a true patent troll; they will be able to claim (at least) their own previous activities as prior art against this particular patent, thereby voiding your defense while still being able to attack since you won't be able to find any patent in your pool that they are violating (excepting that you may be able to use some vague business method patent, but that won't help much vis-a-vis them having some probably more concrete [submarine] patents).

As another poster said; this is a good defense against other actual companies, but it won't help you force a quick settlement against a true patent troll.

Running faster than the bear. (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21056069)

You're assuming you have to run faster than the bear.

The point is not to force a quick settlement, it's to discourage them from taking you on in the first place. They usually don't have to go after any particular company, and if your company has something that can complicate the case they'll chase a company that can't run as fast.

Re:Attempting to translate the claims to English (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 6 years ago | (#21056051)

A patent troll uses computers, which use software. Does any of that software violate software patents? Perhaps ones held by IBM?

"It's easy to protect yourself. Just use software patented by OIN members. We have a deal with them."

Re:Attempting to translate the claims to English (2, Insightful)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055137)

Sounds like a Corporate version of what governments have been doing for years;
A mutual defense treaty.

You sign up with NATO, and rubber-stamp what we want at the UN, and we will defend you if Costa Rica decides to invade. I'd look for some 'feedback' agreement wherein IBM gets some security from the group buying in as well. Anyone trying to sue a member, has to look at EVERY patent in the arsenal, to see if it remotely resembles what they are trying to sue for -- that alone would make suing the IBM patent alliance very daunting.

I think this is a good thing -- only in that it will make it almost impossible to conduct patent trolling -- at least if you are a company with enough funds to "buy in." It also illuminates that patents have been more of a protection and extortion racket for the big boys, and doesn't reward innovation. IBM seems to be fighting the good fight in general.

The down-side I see, is that this furthers the trend of protection for the Haves. Small companies and individuals are going to be even more the low-hanging-fruit. We have FREE trade in the US, if you are a large corporation -- but not for small companies and individuals. No freedom of movement for people, but freedom of business and trucks passing from Mexico to Canada. You have freedom of speech, if you can afford to buy it on the TV and media and it doesn't offend the owners of those outlets -- but forget trying to say anything you want in the park.

I only bring that up, because this is just another step where Corporations are acting like governments. I'm sure the fascade of who is running this joint is going to quickly rear its head.

you can patent something like that? (5, Insightful)

fontkick (788075) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054929)

Patents like this are proof that America has too many lawyers and MBAs and not enough engineers. Or maybe I'm just nostalgic for the good 'ole days when patents actually had to be material... a new and novel application of a technology or product feature that was a result of, you know, actual WORK originated by the person/company submitting the patent. This patent is basically a patent on a business type. It's kind of like patenting the concept of a bank, whereby you erect a building with a "vault" that allows "customers" to "withdraw" and "deposit" money. The American patent system is starting to exist primarily to employ lawyers... patent everything (no matter how stupid or obvious), and sue everybody.

Glad IBM is getting this.... (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054945)

I'm imagining that not only will this be used to sue MS, and Patent Trolls but once IBM has sued them hopefully the "mainstream" media catches on, and congress will reform patents to only include physical inventions (For example you can patent the Blu-Ray disk itself, but not the encryption key for it) Sure MS can claim prior art, but the goal of this I don't think is to sue patent trolls/MS but rather to bring attention to the patent system and how flawed it is. But Im glad IBM is getting this rather then some other company (MS, SCO, Apple) because IBM seems to know that Open-Source is the future and is moving towards it and I doubt will sue them with a large patent portfolio.

Funny, +5 (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054947)

This is obviously a jab at the concept of business process patents. It is a common practive today, and thus has a great deal of prior art to invalidate it.

Re:Funny, +5 (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055007)

It is a common practive today, and thus has a great deal of prior art to invalidate it.

      Prior to IBM? I doubt it :)

Re:Funny, +5 (1)

rs79 (71822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055285)

"This is obviously a jab at the concept of business process patents. It is a common practive today, and thus has a great deal of prior art to invalidate it."

Haven't we seen enough things where there was prior art and the patent was granted anyway?

I worked at a manufacturor of PC graphics cards in the 80s and we were hit with the "xor cursor" patent troll. I dug up the appropriate prior art but was told "they only want 15K, tektronix hp and sony have paid. We will to; it's cheaper".

Has IBM ever abused it's patent/copyright arsenal? (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054987)

Msft has filed hundreds of bogus patents. And braying jackass Steve Ballmer uses msft's bogus patent arsenal to threaten the world on a regular basis.

Msft's err, "business partners" : scox and acacia, have actually gone as far as filing lawsuits, apparently on msft's behest. Scox has sued Autozone, Chysler, IBM, and Novell.

How about IBM? I don't remember IBM constantly threating everybody with harassment lawsuits. IBM certainly has the patents - and unlike msft, those patents are for real.

So, I don't know, but maybe this is a defensive move on IBM's part?

Or their lawyers have a sense of humor (2, Interesting)

smchris (464899) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055013)

Isn't it true that IBM invented this in the 50s and 60s? They held Microsoft's place long before Customer Assurance was a gleam in Bill Gates' eye. Maybe a kinder, new millennium IBM wants a patent so they can sue any other company that uses the tactic instead of relying upon government prosecution?

I told them they shoiuld have .... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055023)

...mailed the application to the USPTO two days earlier due USPS delays....

See application filing date...

The solution is obvious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21055083)

I am going to patent the process for filing patents. Then I'll sue the fuck out of anyone who tries to file a patent for anything. This plain can not fail!

I think its a good idea for now (1)

cdn-programmer (468978) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055117)

I don't agree with the nay sayers on this. I do agree that it is a racket.

The issue is that this will likely cost IBM a great deal of money in both litigation and administration. Unfortunately the facts are that the extortion is already taking place and its by the legal community.

We might note that patent trolls often come from the legal community.

I think this will serve to highlight the problems.

Re:I think its a good idea for now (2, Interesting)

acvh (120205) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055259)

My take on this is as follows:

I'm a small company developing some new kind of networked mass storage system with what I think are novel ways to manage the backup and restoration of applications and data. Given that many others have done similar things I run the risk of infringing some obscure patent out there. Rather than devote resources I don't have to lawyers and research, I subscribe to IBM's new "super-patent" service.

I get sued by a patent holder over a method of deciding where and when to backup a file. I enter said patent into the search function of my uber-patent GUI. I get a hit on something IBM has patented that could allow me to counter sue the troll. I hit the "license now" button and now I have a patent that I can use to discourage the troll's suit.

I like it.

Prior Art?!?!? (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055177)

Aren't there several instances which would demonstrate prior art [wikipedia.org] ?

Not "non-governmental" (1)

rueger (210566) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055189)

FWIW the wikipedia entry for "Protection Racket" [wikipedia.org] has been edited to remove the term "non-governmental" from the first line. That phrase has a fairly specific and widely accepted definition [wikipedia.org] which is significantly different from its usage above.

A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a legally constituted organization created by private persons or organizations with no participation or representation of any government. In the cases in which NGOs are funded totally or partially by governments, the NGO maintains its non governmental status as far as no government representatives are part of the organization.

kinda makes a hoodlum think... (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055207)

Kinda makes a hoodlum think;"shaking down neighborhood businesses for 'insurance'is small potatoes".
Selling home and family "insurance" to IBM bigwigs who actually have money is a prudent business move.
I predict this will be more common business trend in the '10's.Probably for government officials too.(no,wait they already deal with hoodlums under a different business model,LOL)

Umm...this is bad how? (1)

Tuckdogg (550113) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055229)

This is not exactly what I'd call a bad thing. IBM patents the process of running a patent extortion racket. Then they sue MS for patent infringement for trying to extort money from Red Hat and other Linux companies.

Everybody wins! (prior art not withstanding...)

Prior art can be found on Slashdot (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055241)

Come on - every time Slashdot posts an article on a patent troll, some wag suggests taking out a business model patent on patent trolling - its the law!

Slashdot's Prior Art (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055273)

This patent is invalid, by the mass of prior art published on Slashdot alone.

Most times any patent frivolity is discussed on Slashdot, there are any number of "business method designs" for patenting patents, or patenting extortive intellectual property methods or business models. Many in the handy format of " 1. XXX / 2. YYY / 3. ZZZ / 4. ??? / 5. PROFIT!!! [google.com] "

Though this post would make a great joke, the patent crusader Homer Simpson [google.com] would say " It's funny because it's true. [google.com] ©.

Vercoti Brothers Patent Protection Agency (2, Funny)

underworld (135618) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055313)

That's a nice patent you've got there. We wouldn't want anything to happen to it.
It'd be a real shame if ... well.

My brother and I have got a little proposition for you.
We can guarantee you that not a single patent will get done over for fifteen hundos a week.

This is the "stupid patent" patent... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055503)

This is the "let's patent stupid patents" patent that has been so often discussed on /.

You know the joke, you patent the process of patenting obvious things, and then none of the patent trolls could operate unless you licensed them to. Which, of course, you wouldn't.

The question is, is IBM going to use this as a defensive patent against patent trolls, or try and get into the patent troll business directly?

Tool against M$? (1)

unixluv (696623) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055577)


Perhaps IBM is doing this as a tool against Microsoft and their friends. Wouldn't it be cool for IBM to claim patent infringement against MS when they use that tactic against someone?

I'll join the anti-patent trolls on THIS one... (1)

Uart (29577) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055579)

...because business method patents are pointless and unnecessary. Why are we issuing a patent to a company that spent about 15 minutes in a board meeting, and 0 dollars on an entirely obvious business plan?

My main problem with this... (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055705)

...is that after twenty or so years, it expires. Then (assuming lack of prior art in the first place) they can't sue the patent trolls out of business any more.

A case for prior art (1)

SpacePunk (17960) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055789)

If they do get the patent, will the Mafia sue IBM for infringement? Or, will IBM go after the Mafia?
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