Tech sector giants have been crying and moaning about how the patent system has run amok and needs to be scaled back, and continually beg for patent reform that would gut the patent system and weaken patent rights. Immediately after successfully lobbying for the America Invents Act (AIA), they are back at it again supporting new legislation aimed at making it more difficult to enforce patent rights pending in Congress. If they prevail with the passage of the Innovation Act, they will be back at it again no doubt. The longer term goal is to strip the International Trade Commission of its patent jurisdiction, which would make it impossible to stop the importation of infringing goods prior to entering the country. See Will the ITC Lose Its Patent Jurisdiction and Are Some Patent Holders More Equal Than Others?
The grumbling of the tech giants is increasingly being picked up by patent abolitionists who say “see, even Microsoft thinks there should be no patents,” which only adds to the hysteria. Of course, Microsoft is one of the top patenting companies year after year and they aggressively pursue software patens themselves. So while some of Microsoft’s public statements suggest that they do not like software patents, they aggressively seek them and then aggressively pursue licensing strategies. So it seems that Microsoft may talk a good game about software patents being undesirable and a real scourge, but when push comes to shove they will get as many patents as they can. Quite curious if you ask me!
So why do the tech giants want to make it hard for small businesses and individuals to get patents? Do you remember when “Wang” was synonymous with “computer,” or at least “word processor”? Perhaps not, but once upon a time it was indeed. The story of Wang is the story of technology companies generally speaking. What has always been true is that technology companies that reach the top are only passing through on their way down; to be replaced by smaller, leaner companies that pursue appropriate strategies and have solid and expandable innovations in demand.
Even mighty Microsoft couldn’t maintain their monopoly, and only the foolish would anticipate Google, Facebook and other tech giants to be on top indefinitely. That isn’t how the tech sector works, or is intended to work. But if a vibrant, robust and strong patent system is not there for start-ups today they will never become the giant, innovation shifting, growth companies of the future. That would be terrible for the economy, lead to stagnant innovation and guarantee that slothful, giant companies that have lost the ability to innovate would remain dominant rather than going the way of the dinosaur.
The International Business Machines Corporation, headquartered in Armonk, NY, is a major global manufacturer of computer hardware and software, especially for business applications. They provide physical products and consulting services designed to improve operational efficiencies for businesses in various ways. Recently, IBM announced the opening of its Accelerated Discovery Lab, a facility dedicated to finding new relationships between disparate data sets, providing the ability to use Big Data for increasingly groundbreaking discoveries in various fields. IBM is also getting involved in improving cloud security for businesses, recently announcing a business partnership with online security developer Akamai.
This week, IPWatchdog is taking some time in our Companies We Follow series to feature the undisputed top patenting company in the world — IBM. Today, we’re featuring a bevy of patent applications and issued patents featuring IBM developments in a wide range of computing services.
Our featured patent application describes a system of filtering social media messages sent to group members based on a recipient rating system. Negative ratings from group message recipients may be used to inform future methods of blocking similar messages from that sender. Other patent applications would protect more efficient systems of performing computer maintenance and identifying healthcare risks. Another patent application describes an improved coolant system for computing systems.
Today in IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series, we return to profile this American multinational corporation headquartered in Armonk, NY. A few patent applications filed with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office show IBM’s interests in improving online shopping experiences. One application provides a chronological timeline view for user review interfaces in an online store. Another application creates a virtual cart system that multiple users can interact with collaboratively, whether shopping online or at the store.
Other documents we feature here pertain more generally to computer systems, especially those with business applications. One recent issued patent protects a system of prioritizing e-mail to prevent against automated deletion of important data. A patent application filed by IBM would protect a system of analyzing a business’s computer systems and making suggestions for cloud computing resources. Finally, we look at a patent application that provides a system for recycling solid state devices discarded by users.
Headquartered in Armonk, NY, the International Business Machines Corporation, also known as IBM, is an international corporation involved in the development of business technology and computer consulting services. In terms of annual profits and number of employees, IBM is one of the top American companies in the technology sector. Recent announcements involving the upcoming development of mobile-based enterprise softwareshow IBM’s desire to continue providing computer solutions for the corporate world.
The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office deals with a heavy amount of paperwork each week that has been assigned to IBM, including both patents and applications. This week in IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series, we’ll take a look at the multinational technology corporation and some of the more intriguing applications and patents that have been published recently for the company.
Business interests and developments to enterprise software are seen in a number of applications we feature this week. One application assigned to IBM would protect a system of allocating software resources to a user’s network account once their presence is detected at a facility. An patent awarded by the USPTO protects an IBM invention involving a visual-based help tool for button icons within software applications.
By now most are likely already familiar with the unfortunate reality that the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a non-decision in CLS Bank v. Alice Corporation on Friday, May 10, 2013. There were 10 judges who heard the case en banc, with 7 of the 10 finding that the method claims and computer-readable medium claims were not patent eligible. While there may be reasonable room for a difference of opinion relative to those claims, it was the system claims that specifically and clearly recited tangible structure that has thrown the patent law of software into such disarray. 5 Judges would have found that the systems claims were patent ineligible (Judges Lourie, Dyk, Prost, Reyna and Wallach), and 5 Judges would have found the systems claims were patentable subject matter (Chief Judge Rader, Judges Newman, Moore, Linn and O’Malley). For more see Federal Circuit Nightmare in CLS Bank and 5 CAFC Judges Say Computer Patentable, Not Software and Did the CAFC Ignore the Supreme Court in CLS Bank?
Today, however, I want to write about one of the more bizarre passages I have ever seen in any decision, and then pose an almost unthinkable question: Is IBM’s Watson still patent eligible in the view of Judges Lourie, Dyk, Prost, Reyna and Wallach?
First, let’s start with the passage. Judge Lourie, who was joined by Judges Dyk, Prost, Reyna and Wallach, actually wrote: “At its most basic, a computer is just a calculator capable of performing mental steps faster than a human could. Unless the claims require a computer to perform operations that are not merely accelerated calculations, a computer does not itself confer patent eligibility.”
International Business Machines Corporation of Armonk, NY, is a technology development and consultant agency that provides information technology for business solutions. IBM is a huge player in the world of technology research and development, and the company currently has the distinction of being awarded the most U.S. patents every year for the past 20 years, according to business publication Bloomberg. These factors make IBM a major focus for IPWatchdog, as we continue our regular series of following U.S. Patent & Trademark Office publications regarding American technology firms. See Companies We Follow.
Within the past month, many IBM patent applications published by the USPTO show a desire to improve multimedia experiences on many computer devices. Patent applications filed by IBM include systems for improving secure access of licensed content and another providing a more viewer-responsive experience for watching live events.
IBM is still heavily involved with the development of business applications for computer systems. To that end, the company has filed patent applications for a system of capturing the workflow process of an employee accessing project software. Another application creates a visualization of temporal event data to aid in medical diagnostic processes. One official patent awarded to IBM protects a system of providing feedback to publishers from their subscribers.
The emergence of mobile computing as a technology platform has been a game changing development in many ways. The ability to be connected anywhere and to have real time information at our finger tips has transformed the way we do business and live our lives. As this computing paradigm has gained mass market acceptance we’ve witnessed a series of patent battles among firms vying for their share of this lucrative market. These so-called smart phone patent wars have in turn motivated patent system critics to vociferously decry the system as an impediment to innovation, which must be eliminated or radically overhauled. Defenders of the system respond that patent battles are a characteristic of market competitionoccurring with other breakthrough innovations throughout our history, and that patents address the need to protect innovations to encourage investment in innovation.
Despite all the chatter however, there is something that we have not heard in the discussions about these smart phone patent wars. The debate seems to have focused on patents and the patent system and it has ignored the fact that this current patent battle is really a battle between three competing business models advanced by the three highly competitive mobile OS providers and members of their ecosystems. Apple is pursuing a fully proprietary business model where mobile OS and mobile hardware are proprietary to Apple. This is consistent with Apple’s prior business model in traditional computing which has worked quite well for them. Similarly Microsoft is advancing a business model much like its successful traditional computing business model with a proprietary OS and an “open” hardware platform that allows third party handset makers to provide phones running the Windows mobile OS. Finally, Google is advancing an “all open” model in which it uses Android, an open source mobile OS and an open hardware approach.
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