Patently Nonsense


IBM, whose position atop of the ranks of companies with the most patents awarded each year never quite holds up upon inspection of their actual patents, is offering up another gem.

While still not a match for their all-time title holder of absurd patents, the infamous “restroom scheduling” patent (see the story and great headline from CNET), IBM continues to push the envelope with dubious business process patents.

Spotted not by the Onion but by Eric Savitz at Barron’s Tech Trader Daily (proposed slogan: We Read the Westchester County News Journal So You Don’t Have To), IBM has filed an application for the “Outsourcing of Services” to help determine which jobs to keep in-house and which to outsource.  The application itself is largely gibberish but the “invention” does appear to require a mouse and a “diskette drive” is optional:

The world has become a global economy. As a result, more and more domestic based companies are taking advantage of cheaper resources, such as labor and materials, available in other countries. In recent years, corporations have looked increasingly to outsourcing of services, development, and manufacturing work as a strategy to reduce labor, administration, development, and manufacturing expense.


The present invention provides a system and method for identifying at least a portion of a human-resource within an organization for outsourcing. In an embodiment of the present inventions, the method includes receiving a list of a plurality of tasks being performed by a plurality of individual human resources within a given portion of an organization and grouping each of the tasks into a plurality of functional groups so that each of the functional groups represent an end result for the plurality of tasks associated therewith. The method also includes receiving an amount of the individual human resources spent on each of the tasks within the functional groups and aggregating the amount of the individual human resource spent on each of the tasks to provide a total aggregate time for each of the tasks within the functional groups across the organization. In an additional step, tasks are identified based upon the total aggregate time for outsourcing to a lower cost supplier.

Maybe they’re patenting Frederick Winslow Taylor’s prior work, figuring whatever crazy business process patents he had will have long since expired.

No comment from the company on whether this patent will be freely licensed to the open source community or not (i.e. is it a useful patent or not).

Welcome to the new IBM.  Between the self-induced LBO and the consulting services center of gravity, this is not your father’s IBM. Some rebranding may be in order as business machines are just a sideshow these days.  A few ideas:

  • IBM = I’ve Been Moved (Offshore)
  • IBM = It Beats Manufacturing
  • IBM = International Business_Process Mania
  • IBM = Indian Business Model
  • IBM = IPR Boosting Megalomania
  • IBM = IPR + Buses = Method (consultants are counted by the busload)
  • IBM = IBM Bites Mankind (to be coupled with adding Richard Stallman to the board…)

Got any others?

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