Thursday, February 16, 2006

IBM ANNOUNCES NEW PODCAST SERIES - "THE NEW IP MARKETPLACE": In a rather interesting move, IBM has started a podcast series that will deal with IP and patent issues. The first episode in the series discusses the characteristics of the new IP marketplace, featuring Irving Wladawsky-Berger, IBM vice president of technology strategy and innovation. You can download the podcast here.

In the maiden episode, Dr. Wladawsky-Berger explains the importance of patent quality and how the ability to share ideas stimulates innovation. He also describes the necessary characteristics of a functioning IP marketplace, including increased transparency, integrity, and mechanisms for establishing fair prices.

Dr. Wladawsky-Berger also has a rather impressive blog, where he discusses topics like IBM's collaboration with the Linux community, and provides his thoughts on improving patent quality through the OSDL project:

As its name implies, the Open Source Software as Prior Art initiative aims to make it easier to find potential "prior art" against patent applications in the millions of lines of code developed by thousands of programmers working in open source communities. OSDL will lead a team including IBM, Novell, Red Hat, SourceForge and others in developing a system that stores source code in an electronically searchable format, satisfying legal requirements to qualify as prior art. As a result, both patent examiners and the public will be able to use open source software to help ensure that patents are issued only for actual software inventions.

These initiatives bring the spirit of collaborative innovation to the really difficult challenge of improving the quality of patents. Rather than just telling the US patent office what we don't like about the current system, the public is now invited to turn its interest, even its “angst,” into a positive force, by working closely with the USPTO and patent examiners, helping them do a better job in evaluating the growing volume of applications, and helping improve the overall patent system. Patent reform is a shared, community responsibility that we should all participate in, and these new initiatives represent a major step in empowering us to do so.

While I can appreciate the blog providing "inside" information on IBM's efforts, it would actually be more interesting to hear details about the discussions that IBM had with USPTO officials. What makes them think that the Examiners will avail themselves of the search tool? Did the USPTO provide assurances regarding internal policy changes in this regard? Are they planning to tell the rest of us what is going on?

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