Monday, June 13, 2011

Rant: Patent Stupidity...

... or, if you can't beat them, patent their business model.

IBM's patent application attempting to gain title that would cover any business that stores and manages IP/Patents on computer is basically a shot across the bows of Non Practicing Entity (NPE) - companies which have accumulated patents but make no products themselves - businesses or, as they're better known, Patent Trolls in the ever more insane war between the two realms in the area of software. I say this because their entire business model involves storing and attempting to monetize IP.

Personally, I'm of the opinion that Software patents are bullshit but... eliminating them is problematic twofold:
  1. Software companies that make hardware are now disadvantaged against Hardware companies with vast technical portfolio's
  2. Those Trolls are making substantial coin, and are going to fight tooth and nail to keep their jobs.
Really, it's the first one I worry more about given the wars that are going on as companies like Apple begin eating the market share of companies like Motorola. It's this that leads to companies patenting every little thing - right down to Tabbed Palettes - just to maintain an inventory of "stuff" to countersue or defend their turf with.

To fix this you need to revamp the patent system itself to make it less easy to achieve, placing greater burden of proof on the patenting party that the patent is actually for something original, but... there seems to be little interest in doing this at the political level. So, we're stuck with companies wasting resources fighting to prove that Online Shopping existed prior to someone deciding to file a patent on the thing.

Which just goes to show that if you can throw enough bafflegab into your application paper you probably can patent stupidity... especially if it's an AI routine.

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