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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).


“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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