Patent System Flawed, Says IBM

Jim Stallings, vice-president of International Business Machines’ intellectual property and standards group, last week attacked the patent system as rewarding ‘bad behaviour’. He said it encourages the stockpiling and oppressive use of patents by undeserving corporations:

‘There has been a dramatic increase in the number of filings of patents recently, around the world, but particularly in the United States …

What’s happened is it’s challenged examiners’ ability to inspect history, so the bias has been towards granting the patent … It’s a very weak process. We are saying that process needs to be enhanced. It should not only be the job of the examiner … to grant that patent and to inspect prior art.

We think software patents are important, but they should be granted for things that are new … We’re open to sharing information about the patent itself to prove that it’s new. And we think everyone should be held to that standard.’

Considering that IBM was itself granted 3 248 patents in 2004 (and collected USD $1.2 billion in royalties), the cynic might be tempted to accuse IBM itself of hoarding patents! That said, it’s still excellent to see major stakeholders acknowledge limitations inherent in current intellectual property regimes and advocate their reform for public benefit.

Source: Brendon Chase, ZDNet Australia