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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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