03.12.17

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IBM is Hoarding a Lot of Software Patents But Disguises Them as ‘Cloud’, ‘AI’, and Other Buzzwords

Posted in IBM, Patents at 7:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As if drawing some diagrams of so-called ‘clouds’ renders an old idea suddenly “innovative”

Bird and cloud

Summary: IBM, its disturbing software patents advocacy, and the new wave of bogus software patents, which hop and ride the wave of the latest buzzwords (the generation preceding that was “on a computer” or “over the Internet” patents)

EARLIER this year and last year we took note of IBM’s dubiously large pile of patents. Statistics about these showed that many of these were about “AI” or “cloud” — something along the lines of “on a computer” or “over the Internet”. We remind readers that IBM is one of the, if not the, proponent/s of software patents and eradication of Alice-related tests. IBM even took leadership role in task forces to that effect and it employs David Kappos as a lobbyist, after he worked both for IBM and for the USPTO.

“They are ‘cloudwashing’ (our term) old stuff in an effort to make new software patents seem like they have merit or are novel.”According to this, “analysis from Envision IP which found that IBM had sold more than 15,000 patents since 1991, with Google the biggest customer” [sic] (customer is the wrong term).

We kindly remind readers that IBM patents a lot of dubious things that should never be granted a patent at all. They are ‘cloudwashing’ (our term) old stuff in an effort to make new software patents seem like they have merit or are novel. IBM is also ‘openwashing’ its operations whilst attacking large GNU/Linux users. IBM was one of the earliest allies of GNU/Linux, but that is no longer the case. The company now has a strategic partnership with Apple and many of its ‘contributions’ to Linux seem to be antifeatures like Treacherous Computing. We are therefore saddened to let go of the myth of IBM as protector if not flag bearer of GNU/Linux interests.

Incidentally, about software patents on so-called ‘cloud’ (a nebulous concept) there is this new article which takes note of trolls’ role in it. To quote a couple of portions:

NPEs (Non-Practising Entities) are businesses that assert patents through litigation to achieve revenues from alleged infringers without practising or commercialising the technology covered by the patents they hold. NPEs are uniquely well placed to monetise their patents at each stage of the litigation cycle. They have access to capital and all necessary forensic and legal resources; and an NPE doesn’t practise its patents so is immune to a counterclaim that a defendant might otherwise be able to bring against a competitor, or a cross-licence that the defendant could otherwise offer.

[...]

Although the number of patent litigation cases filed in the USA has declined from a high point of 6,500 in 2013 to 5,600 in 2015, this is still almost double the 3,000 or so launched in 2009, and correlates fairly steadily over the last few years at around 2% of US patents granted.

The above decline is often attributed to AIA and/or Alice. We should add that, based on recent patent filings from IBM, the company is exploiting the AI hype (not a new thing, but the hype is newer), with silly marketing like “Watson”, in order to hoard yet more software patents. There is this new article titled “Of Patents and Artificial Intelligence” and it totally misses the point that patents on AI are typically if not inherently software patents and should thus be denied. Pay attention to who authored the article though; don’t ask lawyers about it. They say what brings them the most income, disregarding actual cases such as Alice.

“They say what brings them the most income, disregarding actual cases such as Alice.”The bottom line is, forget (at least for a moment) about these notorious “on a computer” or “over the Internet” patents and pay attention to the latest wave of “AI” or “cloud” patents, which represent no expansion of innovation but a more creative way to bypass patent restrictions and fool examiners.

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