Friday, October 05, 2007

IBM withdraws business method patent on outsourcing of services

In a rather humorous event, IBM confirmed in Oct. 2007 that that it has withdrawn its patent application for “outsourcing of services” which it had filed on January 3, 2006 [appl.11/324958; US2007/0162321 — Outsourcing of Services].

The inventors are listed as: Behrmann; Bryan L.; (Fenton, MO) ; Dunagan; Michael D.; (Poughkeepsie, NY) ; Pyle; Eric; (Wappingers Falls, NY) ; Ward; Thomas; (Highland, NY) ; White; Terell; (Cairo, NY).

The first claim states:

A computer program product for

identifying at least a portion of a human-resource within an organization for outsourcing,

the computer program product comprising:

a storage medium readable by a processing circuit and storing instructions for execution by the processing circuit for performing a method comprising: receiving a list of a plurality of tasks being performed by a plurality of individual human resources within a given portion of an organization; 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; receiving an amount of the individual human resources spent on each of the tasks within the functional groups; 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; and

identifying tasks based upon the total aggregate time for outsourcing to a lower cost supplier.

[IPBiz notes that the first "identifying" is of a human resource but the last "identifying" is of tasks.]

For those who might not remember IBM's [supposed] take on business method patents:

Of business method patents, Kappos does not swear them off: "For example, when IBM, the top holder of U.S. patents, seeks patents for business methods, it aims to do so only for those methods underpinned by deep technical content. Pure business methods can be difficult to examine and tempt some to seek patents of questionable merit."

IPBiz leaves it as an exercise to the reader to identify the "deep technical content" in 20070162321.

IPBiz notes the existence of the published application of IBM titled: Tool and process for acquisition of a large number of employees from another company in a plurality of countries, 20070213993, which has first claim:

A system for acquiring employees in a plurality of countries, comprising: a people workstream; an operations workstream; a workplace workstream; a program management layer; a governance layer; a legal and tax layer; and wherein said layers provide global oversight but do not execute tools for performing tasks defined by templates and checklists in said workstreams.

Claim 8 makes this a "business method" patent: A method of managing the simultaneous acquisition of employees in a plurality of countries, comprising the steps of: performing first tasks using a people workstream tool; performing second tasks using an operations workstream tool; performing third tasks using a workplace workstream tool; overseeing said tasks in a program management layer; overseeing said tasks in a governance layer; overseeing said tasks in a legal and tax layer; and wherein said tasks are defined by templates and checklists, and said overseeing is provided as global oversight.

The first inventor is Kristen Kelly Brink of Sterling, Illinois.

IBM also has published application 20070219837 titled Method and structure for risk-based workforce management and planning with first claim: A method of managing resources, comprising: identifying a project or service opportunity, said project or service opportunity comprising disparate resource attribute requirements; identifying at least one of internal and external flexible resources suitable for said project or service opportunity; and correlating the internal and external flexible resources with the disparate resource attribute requirements for managing a risk associated with said project or service opportunity.

Published application 20070112652 is for Throughput accounting for professional, scientific and technical services to John A. Ricketts of Clarendon Hills, IL. The first claim is -- A method for management accounting in an enterprise delivering Professional, Scientific, and/or Technical Services (PSTS), the method comprising: implementing a Throughput Accounting system for a PSTS enterprise, the Throughput Accounting system comprising the steps of: establishing a set of financial measures for the PSTS enterprise; establishing a set of performance measures that are based on the financial measures for the PSTS enterprise; establishing a set of resource measures that are based on resources available to the PSTS enterprise; creating a set of decision-support measures based on a profitability to the PSTS enterprise; and minimizing deviations from desired results from the set of decision support measures via a set of control measures.

Ricketts is co-inventor of IBM's published application 20070064912, titled Call routing between shared service centers and inventor of application 20070058650, titled Resource buffer sizing under replenishment for services, the first claim of which is A method of sizing service resource buffers, comprising the steps: providing a model for determining a buffer size and upper and lower thresholds for said buffer, said model including a plurality of parameters and constraints; entering into the model values for said parameters; solving said model; identifying at least one most sensitive of said parameters of said model; calibrating said at least one most sensitive of said parameters; and after said calibrating step, re-solving the model to calculate the buffer size and the upper and lower thresholds for said buffer.

It's a joke, son!

Slashdot identified other curious IBM patent applications, including

20060072727 (10/954785), titled System and method of using speech recognition at call centers to improve their efficiency and customer satisfaction

20070043603 Electronic marketplace for identifying, assessing, reserving and engaging knowledge-workers for an assignment using trade-off analysis


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