Bonum Certa Men Certa

Top Rank at USPTO Goes to the Biggest Patent Bully, IBM



Does the US want a patent bully as a flag bearer of its patent system?

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



Summary: With 2017 figures coming to light (and to the mainstream/corporate media), we scrutinise what has received the most attention and why it's detrimental to the reputation of the US patent system

THE USPTO, formerly run by a former IBM employee (and current IBM lobbyist for software patents), does no favour to its reputation. David Kappos still working as a lobbyist contributes to the perception of "revolving doors" or brokering.



The latest figures from the USPTO reaffirm such perceptions; there were two angles in corporate media this past week, one being China/India (nationality) and another IBM (by firm). The firm behind the figures wrote that "Chinese companies increased their US #patent count by 28% in 2017 from 2016."

Here is the original page and the press release that said "IFI CLAIMS Announces 2017 Top U.S. Patent Recipients".

Michael Loney, apparently visiting Hong Kong this month, wrote: "A record number of patents were granted by the USPTO last year, according to the 2017 IFI Claims US Top 50."

"China is among top 5 U.S. patent recipients for first time," said this headline from official/state media in China (the English-speaking site).

"China Becomes One of the Top 5 U.S. Patent Recipients for the First Time," said Wall Street media, which also focused on nationality of applicants.

Chinese inventors received 11,241 U.S. patents last year, a 28 percent increase over the same period in 2016, according to a report released Tuesday by IFI Claims Patent Services, a unit of Fairview Research LLC. That propels the nation into the top five recipients for the first time, behind the U.S., Japan, Korea and Germany, but ahead of Taiwan.



A lot of it was a PR exercise from IFI and IAM played along with blog posts like this one ("Patents no barrier to Chinese smartphones in the US market"). "For licensors," it said, "it means that aside from Apple and Samsung, a big swathe of the world’s biggest mobile device sellers simply won’t see the US as a critically important market. That means any effort to enforce patents against them will be most effective somewhere else."

Most of the press coverage, however, was not about nations but about firms. We did a comprehensive media survey and found that dominant headlines stated things like "IBM Breaks Patent Record in 25th Straight Year as Number One" and "IBM led on patents in 2017, Facebook broke into top 50 for the first time" (Samsung 2nd, Canon 3rd). As IBM has outsourced or sent overseas many jobs, there were also headlines such as "India 2nd largest contributor to IBM's over 9,000 patents in 2017" and "IBM tops US patent list in 2017, Indian arm among major contributors".

9,043 US patents for IBM just this past year. While the company is suing a lot of companies or compelling them to pay 'protection' money to avoid litigation. The USPTO is debased due to this tendency to just sue aplenty, but thankfully the courts have become tougher. Watchtroll wrote this:

IBM inventors received a record number of U.S. patents in 2017, again blowing past their own previous record to sail past 9,000 issued patents. The 9,043 U.S. patents issued to IBM in 2017 represents an average of nearly 25 patents a day. These 9,043 U.s. patents were granted to a diverse group of more than 8,500 IBM researchers, engineers, scientists and designers in 47 different U.S. states and 47 countries.


Imagine that; "25 patents a day" (recall what journalist Dan Gillmor recently said about that; he said that IBM "basically invented patent trolling and employs platoons of patent lawyers”).

So IBM has not much to show now but patents and patent deals/settlements. As if IBM becoming a kind of troll is somehow good for its reputation...

Our next post will revisit Finjan, a very notorious patent troll that IBM fed patents into as recently as last year.

"IBM has no choice," IAM said. "Imagine the headlines if it ever fell off top place. It could well make a material difference. That may not be a great position to be in."

Well, IBM used to be known if not renowned/famous for its very many patents. Nowadays it's known for a lot of patent aggression, so the more patents it gets granted, the worse off society/industry will be.

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