Monday, February 25, 2008

IBM's patent app for "Method and structure for automated crediting to customers for waiting"

As IBM, Cisco, and Microsoft continue to "talk the talk" on patent quality, one observes another interesting patent application from the group: Method and structure for automated crediting to customers for waiting to IBM (published application 20080046385, application 11/492043).

The first claim is

A system for reducing customer dissatisfaction for waiting, said system comprising: a queue monitoring subsystem that detects an entry of a customer into a waiting queue;a reward computing subsystem that calculates a reward for the customer for being in the waiting queue; anda communication subsystem to communicate the reward to the customer,wherein at least one of said queue monitoring subsystem, said reward computing subsystem, and said communication subsystem is automated.

The inventors are Parijat Dube, Giuseppe A. Paleologo, and Laura Wynter.

IPBiz calls the reader's attention to the word "queue." More perceptive readers might remember US patent 6,329,919 titled System and method for providing reservations for restroom use (also to IBM but later withdrawn). The first claim of that patent was rather simple:

A method of providing reservations for restroom use, comprising:

receiving a reservation request from a user; and

notifying the user when the restroom is available for his or her use.

The summary of the '919 noted: In one embodiment, the system provides reservations for restroom use on airplane which improves airline safety by minimizing the time passengers spent standing in the aisles. Passengers on an airplane may submit a reservation request for using the restroom. The reservation system processes the requests and assigns a reservation number for each request. The system then notifies the passenger when a restroom becomes available for his or her use. IPBiz notes that a simpler solution to the "standing in the aisles" problem has been obtained.

Many patent reformers neglect to mention the '919, and those that do talk about the silly patent rarely mention it was to IBM. One wonders how frequently 20080046385 will be mentioned.

See also

IBM to put patent filings on-line, but does this really matter?

Factors to evaluate a patent in addition to citations ["The results of the comparisons reveal that an adverse conclusion might be drawn if a patent is estimated only based on citations."]

The broken patent system of Alex Chachkes: fact or fiction?
["Chachkes missed the standard "peanut butter and jelly" and swing patents, but he also missed IBM's "queue for airplane toilet" patent and "outsourcing" application."]

IBM withdraws business method patent on outsourcing of services

Microsoft "spyware" for monitoring activities?

Alan Murray of WSJ on bad patents
["There is a problem in the patent world, but it isn’t companies that don’t commercialize their own patents. Rather, it is bad patents. These days, too many are granted, too often for "inventions" that seem to the initiated to be as obvious as air-such as one patent granted in 2002, and later rescinded, for an online restroom-reservation system. [IPBiz note: Murray fails to mention that this patent was to IBM.]"]

Cacaphony missing some references?

It's clear that the "patent reformers" and incremental innovators are not walking the walk on patent reform.


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