IBM Files Patent on Patenting Process

Is Big Blue Co-Opting Innovation?

It was reported in early 2011 that an application has been published for an IBM patent that apparently attempts to secure rights on the patent process.

As best I can determine the original source of the story is Wolfgang Gruener in Conceivably Tech.  Douglas Perry of Tom’s Hardware amplified it.

Aside from the audacity of such a broad patent, what I find interesting is the timing of the publication. Was the application filed in late June of 2009 (June 24 to be precise) so it would publish 18 months later, post-Christmas 2010, when business news and browsing are way down?

Click here for the published application, Intellectual Property Component Business Model for Client Services.

If IBM’s process patent issues, it will have symbolic if not literal value for a while. That it should issue at all is another matter. Can the company be faulted for trying?

Below is a reply from an IBM employee to Gruener’s post:

Chris@IBM says:

Wolfgang, I work for IBM and I’m glad you see some ingenious ideas in this patent application. We have thousands of inventors who file for and receive patents every year, backed by a $6 billion investment in R&D. Of course, you can’t receive a patent on filing for a patent because there’s obviously nothing new or novel about that. What this application is for is an IP management system, and how a company goes about making strategic decisions that may or may not lead to an application for a patent being filed, as well as for managing an IP portfolio. We’ve had many clients ask us for this kind of service, and since IBM actually practices its inventions, it is only natural that we’d file for patent protection so no one can prevent us from serving our clients.

Reply this comment (to Conceivably Tech).
To reply to this IP Insider post, see below.

Illustration source: kara.allthingsd.com

About Bruce Berman

Independent IP observer, adviser and author.

One Response to “IBM Files Patent on Patenting Process”

  1. I suggest that anyone interested in the published IBM application for covering the patent process and IP management do a quick review of U.S. patent 7,797,336 entitled System, method, and computer program product for knowledge management be reviewed. It was filed on May 4, 2001 and issued on Sept. 14, 2010. This patent was filed as a continuation-in-part of applications dating back to 1997 by Aurigin Systems. Inc.

    Here are a few exemplary claims from the ‘336 patent; note particularly claim 34:

    29. A system, comprising: a processor; and a memory having instructions stored thereon, that, in response to execution by the processor, cause the processor to organize and analyze information, the instructions comprising: instructions for searching a first group of documents according to one or more search functions to output a second group of documents, wherein the second group of documents is a subset of the first group of documents; wherein the one or more search functions are selected from a group comprising morphological functions, lexical functions, syntactic functions, semantic functions, discourse functions, pragmatic functions, full text functions, Boolean functions, or clustering functions; instructions for analyzing a third group of documents according to one or more selected analytical functions to output a fourth group of documents, wherein the third group of documents is not a subset of the first group of documents, and wherein the fourth group of documents is a subset of the third group of documents; instructions for selectively iterating one or more of the searching step or the analyzing step, wherein each iteration of the searching step or the analyzing step is performed using as input the second group of documents, the fourth group of documents, or output of a previous iteration; instructions for performing an additional iteration of the searching step using as input the second group of documents, to output a fifth group of documents, wherein the fifth group of documents is a subset of the second group of documents; and instructions for performing an additional iteration of the analyzing step using as input the fourth group of documents, to output a sixth group of documents, wherein the sixth group of documents is a subset of the fourth group of documents.

    30. The system of claim 29, wherein the instructions further comprise instructions for making one or more of the second group or the fourth group a permanent group.

    31. The system of claim 29, wherein the instructions further comprise instructions for performing a cluster analysis of the first group of documents to create a hierarchical arrangement of groups containing documents from the first group, wherein the second group is one of the hierarchical arrangement of groups.

    32. The system of claim 29, wherein the instructions further comprise instructions for performing a relevancy visualization analysis of one of the first group and the third group to identify how documents contained therein are inter-related with respect to key terms.

    33. The system of claim 32, wherein relevancy visualization analysis operates according to a rule book.

    34. The system of claim 33, wherein the rule book comprises patent specific rules.

    35. The system of claim 29, wherein the instructions further comprise instructions for generating an object corresponding to a search process component or an analyze process component of a work flow represented by the searching, the analyzing, and the selective iteration.

    36. The system of claim 35, wherein an object is generated using object definitions.

    37. The system of claim 36, wherein the object definitions comprise: a Boolean operation object definition; a corporate family operating object definition; an export object definition; a folder object definition; an import object definition; a list exploder operation object definition; a list object definition; a query object definition; or a patent family dedupe object definition.

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