Bonum Certa Men Certa

IBM is a Massive Patent Bully That Amasses Software Patents, So Invalidation or 'Sharing' of One Single Patent Misses the Point Entirely

Today's IBM is not Samuel Palmisano's IBM but a shameless patent aggressor and legal bully

Samuel J. Palmisano
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore



Summary: IBM's patent gold rush and worldwide lobbying for software patents yield lawsuits but also draw complaints -- to the point where IBM resorts to face-saving moves and the Patent Office looks foolish for accepting bogus patent applications

FOR A rather large number of years (nearly a decade) we were mostly supportive and friendly towards IBM. Readers and especially longtime readers can agree. We were never inherently biased against IBM, maybe only the contrary (primarily because IBM supported ODF, GNU/Linux and so on). A lot of this changed, however, when IBM became an active patent bully again (2016), not to mention a vocal lobbyist for software patents (it had done this more covertly in the past). In a sense, IBM has become even an anti-FOSS bully. We cannot tolerate this because it directly and unequivocally betrays our values and principles. What on Earth happened to the 'old' IBM that Samuel Palmisano ran for quite some time with great success? IBM can barely sell its crown jewels anymore (stuff like mainframes), it lays off a lot of staff, and so it tries converting software patents -- its last potent 'asset' (many of which due to expire soon) -- into some kind of Mafia culture led by Ginni Rometty. For shame! What did IBM foresee -- if it brothered with any projections/forecasts at all -- as the impact to its brand and reputation which it so uniquely relies on? People don't spent half a million dollars on a single machine unless they have great confidence in the brand (like the old saying, "Nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM").



"What on Earth happened to the 'old' IBM that Samuel Palmisano ran for quite some time with great success?"A couple of days ago, prolific sites noticed yet another one of these notorious IBM patents. Slashdot in this case has many comments about it and this is far from the first time that Slashdot nitpicks or criticises IBM patents, resulting in public concessions and/or apologies from IBM. But the whole debate started like this not at the beginning of this month but at the end of February, courtesy of the EFF. It called it "Stupid Patent of the Month" and explained it as follows:

On January 17, 2017, the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted IBM a patent on an out-of-office email system. Yes, really.

United States Patent No. 9,547,842 (the ’842 Patent),“Out-of-office electronic mail messaging system,” traces its history to an application filed back in 2010. That means it supposedly represents a new, non-obvious advance over technology from that time. But, as many office workers know, automated out-of-office messages were a “workplace staple” decades before IBM filed its application. The Patent Office is so out of touch that it conducted years of review of this application without ever discussing any real-world software.


""Watson" is another such marketing stunt -- selling that old illusion of IBM being sharp and ahead of the curve.""IBM Shamed Into Giving Away Awful Patent On Email Out-Of-Office Messages," TechDirt wrote soon afterwards. TechDirt typically reprints the "Stupid Patent of the Month" series, but it didn't do it this time around. TechDirt's coverage was better than the rest because it emphasised the real reasons for IBM's 'generous' giveaway. To quote: "IBM basically tries to patent everything, no matter how stupid. The company has (no, really) been at the top of the patent recipient list in the United States for an astounding 24 straight years. Really. And, yes, sure, the company has done some innovative things and yes, Watson's pretty cool, but does anyone actually think IBM is the most innovative company around for the past two and a half decades? It gets tons of patents because IBM has an army of lawyers who just try to patent anything. Earlier this week, the EFF put out its regular Stupid Patent of the Month post, and it was about an incredibly stupid patent from IBM. The patent (US Patent 9,547,842) is for an out-of-office email messaging system."

IBM is somewhat of a fake innovator, which (as we last explained in January) exploits the illusion of patents as surrogates of innovation to sell the idea that it's the most clever company out there and thus worth the high cost of hardware and/or services. "Watson" is another such marketing stunt -- selling that old illusion of IBM being sharp and ahead of the curve. IBM was a leader in many areas several decades ago, but this has not been the case for a good number of years. All that IBM has to show now is a big pile of patents, many of which are worthless and should never have been granted. It likely helped them when they had one of their own running the Patent Office.

"All that IBM has to show now is a big pile of patents, many of which are worthless and should never have been granted."The latest patent controversy was covered in many places and sites, and not just in English. There were about a dozen press articles about this 'Out-Of-Office' patent in English alone (e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]). It's only this kind of negative publicity which drove IBM to putting aside one simple patent, simply out of shame.

This is still making headlines/news in some circles, but the story has lost momentum by now, hence we decided to do a media survey of sorts. We believe it's exhaustive or at least comprehensive. This might help next time IBM does it, as it did the above many times before. Instead of IBM doing the right thing, like Infosys, it keeps pursuing just more and more of these patents, simply adding buzzwords like "cloud" or "AI" to old ideas (to make them appear novel/innovative and thus worthy of a patent grant).

"Victory!" wrote the EFF, "After EFF's Stupid Patent of the Month post, IBM dedicates patent on out-of-office email to the public."

"It's like that old (a decade-old) EFF campaign where they went after one patent at a time, striving to squash some high-profile 'nuisance' patents rather than the entire class of such patents."But it would be an even bigger victory if Big Thug IBM (or International Bullying Machine, as Florian Müller once called it) altogether stopped pursuing software patents, gave away all its software patents, surrendered all lawsuits it had initiated over software patents, and ceased lobbying for software patents. Better yet, it would be nice if the EFF compelled the USPTO to stop granting software patents, and not just to IBM. There are many thousands of IBM patents like the above patent; that's a lot more where that came from and some of these are actively being used to shake down IBM's smaller competitors. So the key problem isn't solved. It's like that old (a decade-old) EFF campaign where they went after one patent at a time, striving to squash some high-profile 'nuisance' patents rather than the entire class of such patents.

"Fighting patents one by one will never eliminate the danger of software patents, any more than swatting mosquitoes will eliminate malaria."

--Richard Stallman



Recent Techrights' Posts

linuxsecurity.com Still At It! 98% Probability Chatbot Generated, According to GPTZero!
"The Internet is mostly made by AI... but that's ok, it's all being deleted anyway."
 
Ireland Exits Microsoft's Vista 11
Microsoft can't be doing too well in Ireland because Microsoft had tons of layoffs in that country last year
A Recognition for Hard Work
Running this site is a lot of work
The Web We Lost...
Vintage War Censorship Poster...
Daniel Pocock (IND) in European Election Debate
In this segment he speaks of the effects of social control media and phones on children
[Meme] Next Target: Sub Domains
Deb.Ian.Community
The "D" in Debian Stands for Dictatorship That Extents to Censorship at DNS Level
Of course the registrar, which charged for domains until 2025, just went along with it
In Republic of (South) Korea, as of This Month, Android Climbs to Record High of 48%
Judging by statCounter anyway
"Linux" is Second-Class Citizen at IBM
sends the wrong message to Red Hat staff and Red Hat clients
Links 24/05/2024: More Software Patents Invalidated (US), New Fights to Protect Free Speech
Links for the day
"You Touched the Wrong Lady"
What Rianne wrote more than 8 months ago
Links 24/05/2024: Layoffs at LinkedIn and Election Interference Via Social Control Media
Links for the day
Getting a 'Thank You' From Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) Will Cost You $5,000 to $30,000 (Same as Last Year)
Right now one of their associates (SFC) tries to spend money to censor us
KDE Neon Weirdness
Reprinted with permission from Ryan Farmer
Congratulations to Sirius Open Source, Still Claiming to Employ People Who Left Half a Decade Ago (or More!)
What signal does that send to con men?
[Meme] Bluewashing
Cent OS? No more.
IRC Proceedings: Thursday, May 23, 2024
IRC logs for Thursday, May 23, 2024
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
Tenfold Increase for ChromeOS+GNU/Linux in Brunei
Brunei Darussalam is a country most people don't know about and never even heard about
Coming Soon: Another Round of 'Cancel Stallman' Chorus
The series required a great deal of patience
Links 23/05/2024: SeekOut Collapsing and Why Microsoft Probably Isn’t Going to Buy Valve
Links for the day
Gemini Links 23/05/2024: The Allure of Vinyl
Links for the day
Links 23/05/2024: Apple Responds to Streaming Music Fine, DOJ to Sue Live Nation
Links for the day
Links 23/05/2024: UK General Election and Archival
Links for the day
[Video] 3 Major Issues in Nationwide, Including (Potentially) a Major Data Breach
'electronic-bank' security has become the joke of the town
[Meme] Pointing Out Corruption Isn't a "Hate Crime"
The European Commission's reflexive (re)action to any sort of doubt or criticism
More Evidence in "iLearn AI Day" (a Buzzwords Festival) That EPO Intends to Eliminate Staff and Deviate Further Away from Fairness, Law, and Constitutions (Including Its Own!)
The EPO is a very potent danger to Europe's unity and the very concept of lawfulness. It exists to serve international monopolists and patent lawyers.
Microsoft's Windows Has Fallen Below 3% in Democratic Republic of the Congo (100+ Million Citizens)
Microsoft's sharp fall in Congo
The Real Reason Censorship is Attempted Against Us (and Against Others Too)
Microsoft's Windows market monopoly was in trouble
You Are Not The Only One
Reprinted with permission from Cyber Show (C|S)
GNU/Linux in Monaco: From 0.3% to Almost 6%
Monaco is a small country
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, May 22, 2024
IRC logs for Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Microsoft Has Lost Cote D'ivoire (Ivory Coast), Where Android Now Exceeds 60% of the Operating Systems' 'Market Share'
According to statCounter anyway
The Rumour Said Later Today Red Hat (IBM) Might Announce Layoffs
Let's see what happens later today (or next week)
Governments That Fail Journalism
Australia is known for giving us pure garbage like Rupert Murdoch
Windows Has Fallen From 'Grace'
When you tell people that Microsoft watches their every move in Windows many of them will freak out and ask for alternatives
Serbia: GNU/Linux at Almost 4% (or Beyond if ChromeOS is Counted)
considerable growth for GNU/Linux
Links 22/05/2024: China in Other Countries' Islands, Growing Threat of Piracy
Links for the day
Gemini Links 22/05/2024: Freedom Through Limitation, Cloud Photos
Links for the day
Canonical Supports Monopoly
more of the same
A farewell to Finland, an occupied territory
Finland, Finland, Finland
Links 22/05/2024: "Copilot+" as Mass Surveillance and Microsoft Defying Consent in Scarlett Johansson's Case
Links for the day
[Meme] Escalating After Failures
4 stages of cancel culture
Red Hat Had 2+ Days to Deny Reports of Impending Layoffs. But Red Hat Chose to Keep Silent.
Red Hat DOES NOT deny layoffs on the way
Microsoft-Connected Person Was Threatening to Sue Me and to Sue My Wife (Because His Feelings Were Hurt After Had He Spent More Than a Decade Defaming Me and Violating My Family's Dignity, Privacy)
litigation was chosen and we shall defend everything we wrote
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, May 21, 2024
IRC logs for Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Attempts to Sink the Free Software Movement (Under the Guise of Saving It)
We can see who's being drowned
Czech Republic: Windows Down From 98% to 43%, GNU/Linux Rises to Over 3%
modest gains for GNU/Linux
Links 22/05/2024: Pixar Layoffs and More Speculation About Microsoft Shutdowns/Layoffs (Ninja Theory)
Links for the day
Microsoft-Connected Sites Trying to Shift Attention Away From Microsoft's Megabreach Only Days Before Important If Not Unprecedented Grilling by the US Government?
Why does the mainstream media not entertain the possibility a lot of these talking points are directed out of Redmond?