02.06.17

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IBM is Attacking Patent Reform and is Lobbying for Resurgence of Software Patents

Posted in IBM, Patents at 6:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Because IBM is collapsing and has increasingly resorted to bullying small companies for their ‘lunch money’ (‘protection money’ or ruinous lawsuits over patents)

Ginni Rometty

Photo source (modified slightly): The 10 Most Powerful Women in Technology Today

Summary: IBM reinforces its role as enemy of Free software (and even all small developers of software) by virtue of promoting software patents and attempting to change legislation so as to assist its patent bullying strategy

FANGS may be symbolic, but while IBM tries to frame itself a “friend” of Linux and an “innovator” (e.g. with “Watson”) there is a very ugly side to the company and one that Ginni Rometty’s predecessors would probably not approve of. IBM is not a friend (not anymore, it’s actually close to Apple now) and it’s a big part of the problem we now face in the Free software world. IBM seems to have become a software patents proponent so heavy and loud that it now rivals Microsoft to the ‘title’.

According to this new post, “IPO created a special 101 legislative task force headed by IBM’s Marian Underweiser with Vice-Support from Bob Sachs (Fenwick & the BilskiBlog) whose proposal has now been released and fully adopted by the IPO Board.”

Notice the words “legislative task force”. They mean lobbying — the same thing that David Kappos does for IBM right now. As for Fenwick & West, watch this latest post from them. This patent law firm is trying to bypass the rules in order to patent abstract stuff like software.

The patent microcosm (with people like Sachs and Watchtroll rearing their ugly head on a regular basis), in the form of its front group Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), is trying to destroy Alice and bring back software patents. IBM’s patent chief is even openly and publicly supporting/endorsing Watchtroll, which is currently attacking [1, 2, 3, 4] the reformer, Michelle Lee.

IPO being a front group that is detrimental isn’t news, but IBM playing a considerable role is noteworthy. Here is a portion of the post from Patently-O:

IPO Steps Up: Proposes Statute to Overturn Mayo and Alice

The Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) is run primarily by a group of 50 top intellectual property counsel (usually patent-focused) from many of the largest global innovative companies – all deeply involved in the patent system as patent holders and many as accused-infringers as well. Patent attorneys from various law firms serve in a support role for the organization. The IPO created a special 101 legislative task force headed by IBM’s Marian Underweiser with Vice-Support from Bob Sachs (Fenwick & the BilskiBlog) whose proposal has now been released and fully adopted by the IPO Board.

IPO’s proposed a particular statutory amendment that would limit the eligibility question to whether “the claimed invention as a whole, as understood by [PHOSITA], exists in nature independently of and prior to any human activity, or exists solely in the human mind.” The proposal would seemingly flip the outcomes Alice, Mayo, and Bilski, although it is unclear to me how the statute treats a situation where a covered embodiment could exist solely in the human mind, but the invention as a whole also contemplates out-of-mind activities. The proposal specifically states that eligibility “is not impacted by . . . the claimed invention’s inventive concept.” Rather, the focus is solely on whether the claim-as-a-whole (1) “already exists in nature independently of and prior to any human activity” or (2) “exists solely in the human mind.” The proposed amendment further spells out that the entitlement to a patent is subject “only” to the limitations found in the Patent Statute.

According to her LinkedIn page, Marian Underweiser is connected also to IAM (which she takes pride in) and she used to work for Kenyon & Kenyon LLP (last mentioned here a very long time ago). She is the one heading this lobbying effort, on behalf of her employer IBM, so those still disillusioned about IBM can treat this as a wake-up call.

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