IBM to develop patent quality assessment software

Following a year where IBM has once more produced more patents that any other company, the firm is to develop software to assess the quality of patents in the USA’s notoriously lax and overloaded system.

It will also continue to allow free access to some of its own patents to support open-source software.

“IBM’s leadership in the strategic use of intellectual property is based on balancing proprietary and open innovation,” said Dr John Kelly, director of IBM Research. “Our goal is helping stimulate innovation as public investments in large infrastructure projects are being planned to boost global economies. We also anticipate that adding additional transparency to the patent system will help tackle the continuing patent quality crisis, which is impeding inventors, entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes.”

IBM researchers will join a project aimed at developing a Patent Quality Index to filter “those low-quality patents with uncertain scope or dubious claims to technological innovation”, said IBM, “whose number has increased substantially in recent years, together with historic backlogs, creating uncertainty around intellectual property rights, and spawning increased speculation and litigation.”

Research will build upon work by Professor Ronald Mann of Columbia Law School and Professor Toshiya Watanabe of the University of Tokyo.

It will use statistical and data analysis.

“Improving patent quality must become an essential priority and we believe the application of data analytics can help create an empirical measure for what has previously been a subjective evaluation,” IBM manager of Predictive Modelling Dr Rick Lawrence. “By working with the academic and legal communities on this and other patent quality initiatives, we can increase the intelligence of the patent system and encourage the patenting of truly important innovations.”

It is hoped metrics will directly correlated to factors such as clarity of claims and quality of prior art cited during patent examination, said IBM. “This will help inventors file better applications and examiners make better decisions more quickly, so that patents are more likely valid.”

While IBM will seek new patents and protect its established patents, it also claims that it will increase in publishing inventions will increase the construction of what it calls smarter infrastructure [].

“The evolution of IBM’s policy builds on prior efforts to stimulate innovation by pledging not to assert certain patent rights in the area of open source software, health care, education, the environment, and software interoperability, said the firm.

It plans to increase by 50%, to more than 3,000, the number of technical inventions it publishes annually instead of seeking patent protection, making these inventions freely available to others.

In 2008, IBM was granted 4,186 US patents, the 16th consecutive year it has led the US patent index.

IFI Patent Intelligence 2008 top ten list is

IBM 4186

Samsung 3515

Canon 2114

Microsoft 2030

Intel 1776

Matsushita* 1745

Toshiba 1609

Fujitsu 1494

Sony 1485

HP 1424

*now Panasonic

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