IBM filed another 8,000 patents in 2016

Hear that? That's the sound of IP lawyers rubbing their hands with glee

The days of the robot lawyer grow ever closer. Pic: Futurama

IBM’s lawyers were busy little bees last year, getting a shade more than 8,000 patent applications granted for Big Blue’s American brainboxes.

IBM claims its inventors were granted an average of 22 patents per day in 2016, scoring a total of 8,088 patents.

Of those patents, 2,700 were related to AI, cognitive computing and cloud computing.

“We are deeply proud of our inventors’ unique contributions to discovery, science and technology that are driving progress across business and society and opening the new era of cognitive business,” said chief exec Ginny Rometty in a canned quote.

Patents picked out for your reading pleasure by Big Blue include its July 2016 filing, “Training machine learning models for open-domain question answering system”, which relates to machine learning in response to freeform verbal questions posed by humans.

Other brainteasers include “Proactive identification of hotspots in a cloud computing environment,” which is all about finding performance and resource bottlenecks in cloud-based systems before they have a significant impact on users, and “Security management in a networked computing environment>Security management in a networked computing environment ”. The last one is a rather optimistic effort to reduce the level of successful phishing attacks through better message filtering.

As The Register put it last year when IBM made the exact same boast about its 2015 patent activities, it’s “about as usual as Alexander Lukashenko sweeping to a fresh presidential term in Belarus.”

Intriguingly, Microsoft has risen from 10th place to 8th place in the list of top 10 patent applications – possibly heralding a slow return to the third place position it held in 2009. Intel has risen from ninth place last year to sixth this year, filing 2,700 patents over the last 12 months.

“While patents aren't the only barometer of innovation, they are an essential foundation for where and how a company like IBM will innovate and pave the way for breakthroughs, growth and leadership in these markets,” said an IBM canned statement. Not to mention the ability to start endless years of patent lawsuits, diverting millions of pounds into the pockets of law firms. ®


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