Thursday, March 2, 2017

Stupid Patent of the Month: IBM Patents Out-of-Office Email; Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), February 28, 2017

Daniel Nazer, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); 

Stupid Patent of the Month: IBM Patents Out-of-Office Email

"Update: March 1, 2017 Today IBM told Ars Technica that it "has decided to dedicate the patent to the public" and it filed a formal disclaimer at the Patent Office making this dedication. While this is just one patent in IBM's massive portfolio, we are glad to learn that it has declared it will not enforce its patent on out-of-office email.

On January 17, 2017, the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted IBM a patent on an out-of-office email system. Yes, really.
United States Patent No. 9,547,842 (the ’842 Patent),“Out-of-office electronic mail messaging system,” traces its history to an application filed back in 2010. That means it supposedly represents a new, non-obvious advance over technology from that time. But, as many office workers know, automated out-of-office messages were a “workplace staple” decades before IBM filed its application. The Patent Office is so out of touch that it conducted years of review of this application without ever discussing any real-world software."

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