IBM releases 500 patents

Wednesday 12 January 2005

IBM is releasing 500 patents for use without payment in open source products. Here's the list of all 500 patents.

I don't know what this means from a business point of view. As an engineer, I scan down the list of patents and get the same glazed-eye look as anyone else. They all sound very similar, and all sound like either completely fundamental principles or trivial crap, like most patent titles do. Also of interest to me is that none of the three patents that I authored in the IBM portfolio are in the list:

  • 6,408,360: Cache override control in an apparatus for caching dynamic content.
  • 6,351,767: Method and system for automatically caching dynamic content based on a cacheability determination.
  • 5,691,708: Text abstraction method and apparatus.

Does this mean my patents are worthless? Or irrelevant? Or too valuable to disclaim? Maybe they just don't have much to do with the hotspots of open source. Who knows?

Comments

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Mark Eichin 3:34 PM on 12 Jan 2005

As I understand it, these are the *first* 500, and IBM plans to release more (after all, doesn't IBM have more patents than any other single company?) so maybe they haven't just gotten to them yet.

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Ned Batchelder 4:12 PM on 12 Jan 2005

Maybe they lost mine! :-)

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David Boudreau 3:10 AM on 13 Jan 2005

I'm not clear on something Ned: would you prefer the patents you worked on to be released? I'm curious to know what value you put on software patents in general, esp. in light of the Kodak/Sun case last year.

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Ned Batchelder 3:56 PM on 13 Jan 2005

My feeling about software patents it that they are generally meaningless, and don't help innovation. A patent on a new type of mechanical device made sense because machines could be disassembled and easily duplicated by rivals. Software doesn't work that way. Patent infringement in software cases is never about a bad guy copying from a good guy. It's about writing thousands of obscure patents claiming ownership of specific behavior deep inside complex systems, then suing people and explaning to them where it was they "infringed" on your rights.

Blech.

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james 2:30 AM on 18 Apr 2008

I saw http://nedbatchelder.com/blog/200501/ibm_releases_500_patents.html and wanted to mention a useful site: http://www.FreePatentsOnline.com

It provides free patent searching, free PDF downloading, allows annoting documents and sharing them, and free alerts for new documents.

If you have a spot, a link to let your users know abou the site would be great.

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