THERE IS a new winner in the quest for Patent Troll of the Year: IBM for successfully patenting "Out of Office" (OOO).
IBM has been battling since 2010 to take on a patent for the email staple which in its version of events, it invented.
The news flies in the face of an earlier Supreme Court ruling about what is considered patentable, citing "abstract ideas" as unpatentable.
The last six years have been spent with IBM spending time and money proving that OOO isn't an abstract contact but an actual thing. And now, it's won.
Patent 9,547,842 has been criticised by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), who have awarded it "Stupid Patent of the Month".
Thing is OOO has been around for, literally, decades beforehand in the form of emails, voicemails and just about everything else that has ever allowed someone to tell another someone that the first someone isn't available without being there to do it in person, which is of course a paradox.
In other words, IBM has just spent years and probably hundreds of thousands of dollars on not-a-paradox. Well done boys and girls, hope you're very proud of yourselves.
As the EFF points out: "You might think that a patent examiner faced with a patent application on an out-of-office email system might look at some real out-of-office email solutions. But the examiner considered only patents and patent applications.
"The Patent Office spent years going back-and-forth on whether IBM's claims where new compared to a particular 2006 patent application. But it never considered any of the many, many, existing real-world systems that pre-dated IBM's application."
IBM are notorious patent hogs and filed for 8000 last year alone.
But OOO systems have been in place since before there was Microsoft Outlook, so it seems inexplicable that IBM should be awarded a patent now, and even more inexplicable that at a time when it has bigger fish to fry financially, it's wasting resources on this. We might add it is fighting a separate claim currently to patent "shorter meetings". We sh*t you not.
IBM has said that having won the patent it has informed the patent office that it will forego its rights, saying "IBM has decided to dedicate the patent to the public.".
THEN WHAT THE ACTUAL F-CKING F-CKETY F-CK was all that for, IBM? Jeez. If you needed to show someone how big your cock is, just go and stand at a urinal and keep making sideways glances at people at the next stall.
Tell you what, if this is how it's going to be, the INQUIRER is officially claiming the patent on having a tech news site with a red and white logo. But don't worry, we're foregoing our right to it and dedicating it to The Register. Because apparently that's how it works now. µ
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