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Print 33 comment(s) - last by Yawgm0th.. on Mar 11 at 10:58 PM

The latest strange patent has arrived, and this one's from IBM.

In the realm of rather strange patents, IBM, which claims to be trying to reform the patent industry, has filed for a patent on preventing its software products from being used in meetings.  IBM seeks to patent the practice in a new filing verbosely titled "Methodology And Process For Suppressing De-Focusing Activities During Selective Scheduled Meetings " 

The new patent application from IBM reads:

Within exemplary embodiments of the present invention repeating calendar event scheduling application options are implemented to support the implementation of a distraction-free meeting event. This aspect is accomplished by the calendar event invitation specifically stating that the meeting is expected to be distraction free, and as such, the acceptance of a meeting invitation would require that the meeting invitee submit to the computing system suspension requirements that are necessitated to initiate a distraction-free meeting. This meeting policy is enforced by the calendar event scheduling application being configured to effectively suspend the local activity of a computing system or incoming and outgoing communication requests that are received at the computing system.

Some are accusing the patent of being overly broad.  Others are noting that it’s rather strange for a company to patent a way for customers to ignore its products. 

Lotus Notes is an email client-server suite produced by IBM.  It predates Microsoft's Exchange server by four years, being first released in 1989.  Reports on Lotus Notes' market share vary wildly, but are in agreement that it’s trailing Microsoft Exchange Server.  Some estimates place its market penetration as high as 40 percent (Gartner), while another study from early in the year (Ferris) placed its market share at a mere 10 percent.

IBM has been known for making rather unusual patents in the past.  While regularly patenting many creative software and hardware concepts, it has also filed patents for things like making outsourcing more efficient.



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I claim "prior art"
By Cr0nJ0b on 3/10/2009 5:19:30 PM , Rating: 5
In 1995 I sent out a meeting request that included in the body of the request a note stating that the meeting must be held with no outside applications or computer distractions. I made the assertion very strongly in the body of the email and the event did happen as planned with no outside distractions. Since then others have used this process as part of their own meeting schedules. This should be considered prior art and the patent is therefore invalid as it is not new or unique but rater a reuse of an existing process.

Seriously, why can't the Patent office fine companies for wasting their time?




RE: I claim "prior art"
By Mandor on 3/10/2009 5:30:08 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Seriously, why can't the Patent office fine companies for wasting their time?

This would imply the Patent office actually reading patents that are submitted, instead of just approving them.


RE: I claim "prior art"
By ymboc on 3/10/2009 5:42:26 PM , Rating: 2
As a friend once told me...

Patent offices are in conflict of interest when it comes to granting patents.

It's in the office's interest to grant patents so they collect on the patent maintenance fees.


RE: I claim "prior art"
By Tiamat on 3/11/2009 5:39:11 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, it is not in the best interest of USPTO to grant patents. USPTO gets more funding by rejecting patents. The actual fee for making an allowed patent application into a patent pales in comparison to the fees collected during the entire office action process (e.g. missing paperwork fees, time extention fees). Practically all patent applications are rejected on the first go-around.


RE: I claim "prior art"
By bodar on 3/10/2009 5:33:56 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
This meeting policy is enforced by the calendar event scheduling application being configured to effectively suspend the local activity of a computing system or incoming and outgoing communication requests that are received at the computing system.


Did your request enforce itself by turning off inbound/outbound email for the meeting duration? No? Didn't think so.


RE: I claim "prior art"
By rtrski on 3/10/2009 11:44:18 PM , Rating: 5
As an unfortunate user of (b)Lotus Notes at work, I have to say that it FREQUENTLY "suspends the local activity of {my} computing system {AND} incoming and outgoing communication requests"...on a rather frequent basis. As a side benefit, it eats so many resources when it randomly decides to do something - reindexes all my archives in order of fonts used??? heck if I know!! - that I can't use the computer for anything else on occasion as well.

Being able to get it to freeze everything only when you 'wanted' it to would be a godsend by comparison.


RE: I claim "prior art"
By magreen on 3/11/2009 9:54:12 AM , Rating: 2
That was funny ;)


RE: I claim "prior art"
By GodisanAtheist on 3/11/2009 2:37:22 PM , Rating: 2
Plz give this man a 6.


RE: I claim "prior art"
By bodar on 3/11/2009 8:49:26 PM , Rating: 2
Strange, my Lotus Notes client doesn't break 40MB RAM with several DBs open and has rarely ever gone crazy on me in the way you describe. We are still on v7.02 (on XP) though.

It did once crash constantly every 5 minutes, but I reinstalled and I've had no problems since.


RE: I claim "prior art"
By inighthawki on 3/10/2009 7:54:39 PM , Rating: 2
Well i think the patent office doesn't realize that patents require a working model to demonstrate the idea which is trying to be patented, so they just approve any idea that gets thrown in with the exception that it exists.


RE: I claim "prior art"
By tastyratz on 3/10/2009 11:19:31 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like a paradox to me... Ibm would need to develop a working model... but which software would ignore the software ignoring the software...


RE: I claim "prior art"
By choadenstein on 3/11/2009 9:23:29 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, no working model is required to file a patent. Furthermore, filing a patent works as a "constructive reduction to practice." Which means that if you file a patent, you have reduced it to practice - as long as your specification is in enough detail to enable others to perform the invention as claimed.

Below is a link to the pertinent section of the Manual of Patent Examination Procedure (MPEP).
http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/document...


RE: I claim "prior art"
By Fireshade on 3/11/2009 8:46:59 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Seriously, why can't the Patent office fine companies for wasting their time?

It would deter potential customers (i.e. paying patent-claimers).


Some comments
By soxfan on 3/10/2009 6:12:25 PM , Rating: 5
1. This is a patent APPLICATION, not a "PATENT." Get it right. They are entirely different things.

2. A patent is only as broad as its claims. Here, it appears that claim 1 is drawn to a method wherein acceptance of a meeting invitation by an attendee causes a secondary system (e.g., IBM e-mail servers) to discontinue sending updates to the attendee during the duration of the meeting. This is entirely UNLIKE a memo or a request for a USER of a device to discontinue using their device during a meeting.

3. Someone commented that the USPTO should actually read the patent applications that are filed, instead of just issuing patents. Learn the facts. The USPTO allowance rate is significantly reduced since mid 2007, when the Federal Circuit changed the obviousness standard in the KSR v. Teleflex decision.

4. As to fining companies for wasting the PTO's time, I have several comments. First, the law does not require applicants to search for prior art prior to filing an application. The PTO, as an ADMINISTRATIVE body, has no ability to substantively change the law. If you have a problem with the law, write your congressman. Second, the examination of a U.S. application is funded by the filing fees paid by the applicants. Thus, in a way, the USPTO is "fining" an applicant for the examination of their application. Third, the USPTO exists to further the progress of science and technology, fining applicants for complkying with the law (i.e., filing applications without conducting a prior art search) would be directly contrary to that goal.




RE: Some comments
By 1078feba on 3/10/2009 6:54:25 PM , Rating: 3
$50 says you're a lawyer.


RE: Some comments
By Indianapolis on 3/10/2009 8:02:02 PM , Rating: 5
$5 says you're living in your mom's basement.


RE: Some comments
By 1078feba on 3/10/2009 10:10:01 PM , Rating: 2
You're on.


RE: Some comments
By callmeroy on 3/11/2009 11:23:24 AM , Rating: 2
$1.23, a stick of Wrigley's gum and some lint says no one cares.


RE: Some comments
By hcahwk19 on 3/11/2009 8:12:24 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, many administrative agency actions (rulemaking and adjudications) have the force of law behind them, so yes they can change the law. They do it ALL THE TIME.


UNCOMFORTABLY Ambiguous
By Yawgm0th on 3/10/2009 9:20:45 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Within exemplary embodiments of the present invention repeating calendar event scheduling application options are implemented to support the implementation of a distraction-free meeting event.


This sentence, without being properly hyphenated has several different possible meanings (all of which are still convoluted). FOUR HUNDRED MEANINGS.

It's painful to read. Was this patent application actually written by someone with a college education? It's terrible writing, even for a patent application -- with or without the hyphens.




RE: UNCOMFORTABLY Ambiguous
By mmatis on 3/10/2009 10:10:48 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, it looks a lot like typical Engineering writing to me. Not much different from what's passed off as User Manuals and other sundry "technical" documentation these days. Not to imply that technical weenies can't communicate worth a damn, of course. I mean, surely you can't be serious! NOBODY could ever find statements as well written as this patent application ANYWHERE within the confines of DailyTech under ANY circumstances...

Never mind the obscure reference to "I am serious, and don't call me Shirley!"
}:-]


RE: UNCOMFORTABLY Ambiguous
By Yawgm0th on 3/11/2009 10:58:17 PM , Rating: 2
If I can reference PowerThirst, you can reference Airplane.


RE: UNCOMFORTABLY Ambiguous
By albundy2 on 3/11/2009 2:59:44 AM , Rating: 2
if it has 400 meanings, i would say it was excellently written. that's 400 different possible pattent suit's.
they could write a hanfull of patent's that way.... and... umm... i dunno become apple?


RE: UNCOMFORTABLY Ambiguous
By MrPoletski on 3/11/2009 6:38:34 AM , Rating: 2
*warning*

Apple/pc wars flame bait detected

*warning*

=)


RE: UNCOMFORTABLY Ambiguous
By Iger on 3/11/2009 5:02:15 AM , Rating: 2
I guess we should attribute it to the lawyers, as per post above :)


RE: UNCOMFORTABLY Ambiguous
By 91TTZ on 3/11/2009 8:49:15 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's painful to read. Was this patent application actually written by someone with a college education? It's terrible writing, even for a patent application -- with or without the hyphens.


I agree that it's painful to read. What does a college education have to do with it, though? How many people without college degrees do you know that write like that? It seems that this person has a good vocabulary but lacks the common sense to write something that's easy to read.


Fubar the lawyers
By tshen83 on 3/10/2009 6:18:28 PM , Rating: 2
The world will be a better place when there are no blood sucking lawyers around writing useless, verbose, and idiotic documents that really don't do crap.




RE: Fubar the lawyers
By codeThug on 3/10/2009 6:45:47 PM , Rating: 3
I have a theorem; trace back the emergence of anything that seems stupid, redundant, idiotic, and or Phvcked up and 90% of the time it can be attributed to Lawyers.


RE: Fubar the lawyers
By DigitalFreak on 3/10/2009 7:48:30 PM , Rating: 5
... or Marketing people


RE: Fubar the lawyers
By bebesito21 on 3/11/2009 11:10:45 AM , Rating: 2
or insurance companies...


As simple idea as it is
By AnnihilatorX on 3/10/2009 5:46:51 PM , Rating: 2
I've never seen any mobile phones, smart phones, PDAs, nor Microsoft Outlook, allow you to disable alarm/event notifications/mute volume when an event is on the calender schedule and is taking place.

I longed for this function but I never found this. Maybe I should have back then thought about patenting this idea.




RE: As simple idea as it is
By CBeck113 on 3/11/2009 8:15:06 AM , Rating: 2
Actually Nokia did this with their phone tools (E-Series I believe). If you have a meeting in your calendar all phone calls are redirected to your mailbox, and the phone settings are "Meeting" to silence text messages & other alarms.
As for Notes, you can shut off the pop-ups for new e-mails and change your instant messaging to "Do not disturb" if you're the moderator, no one else should have a laptop with them in the meeting unless they are asked to provide information with it. Cell phone should be shut off or on silent. Although it would make things a little easier, I don't necessarily see the need to patent it - but maybe that's why I'm sitting at work instead of selling my ideas.


I think this is great
By SunAngel on 3/10/2009 8:19:57 PM , Rating: 2
In essence, it allows IBM to "lock the screen" -- if you will. Thus, no pop-up notifications from Outlook, no system messages from the admin, no website browsing, and no other distractions.

I can't tell you how frustrating it is to have someone not paying attention when your trying to give them important information. Presenters FTW!




"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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