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IBM AI Medicine Patents Science

IBM Watson To Battle Patent Trolls 93

Posted by samzenpus
from the battle-of-the-ages dept.
MrSeb writes "IBM's Watson is made of many parts: speech recognition, natural language processing, machine learning, and data mining. All of these factors were perfectly combined to beat Ken Jennings in Jeopardy, and now each of these components are slowly finding their way into other applications. Health plan company WellPoint, for example, is using Watson to investigate patient records to improve diagnosis, and in a self-referential, possibly universe-destroying twist, IBM itself is using Watson to help sell Watson (and other IBM products) to other companies. Now, using Watson's data mining and natural language talents, IBM has created the Strategic IP Insight Platform, or SIIP, a tool that has already scanned millions of medical patents and journals for the sake of improving drug discovery — and in the future, it's easy to see how the same tool could be used to battle patent trolling, too."
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IBM Watson To Battle Patent Trolls

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  • Please (Score:5, Funny)

    by ae1294 (1547521) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @07:10PM (#38310054) Journal

    ..can someone send the patent office one of these machines for the love of god!

  • by Superken7 (893292) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @07:13PM (#38310084) Journal

    I'm afraid I can't let you patent rectangular shapes, Apple

  • by rayzat (733303) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @07:16PM (#38310104)
    I wonder if they used their own patent archives to train Watson to recognize junk patents?
  • by White Flame (1074973) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @07:19PM (#38310142)

    It seems that the only person saying that Watson *could* be used "to battle patent trolls" is the last article's author. Nobody else has said that IBM or any customer using Watson is actually pursuing this use.

    • If anything I would expect Watson (or something similar) to file patents before it battles them.
    • by LionKimbro (200000) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @07:50PM (#38310400) Homepage

      We should have Watson fact-check Slashdot story submissions.

    • by joshuac (53492)

      Nobody else has said that IBM or any customer using Watson is actually pursuing this use.

      They're currently awaiting the final touches on Watson's t-800 style "meatspace interface/communication avatar" endoskeletons. Then the troll-pursuing begins.

    • Yeah, I noticed that too, and the more he talked about Watson and what they are doing with it, the more I got a kind of clenching knot in my gut with a feeling that the 'overlord' jokes on Slashdot might be getting a little less funny in the not too distant future. Corporations are legally individuals, are run by people in group mode; which for some reason tends to make the corporations act like sociopathic individuals, understanding feelings etc. but just not really caring about them in others, and only lo
    • by AdamJS (2466928)

      Indeed.

      It IS an interesting idea though. Watson's heuristic analytical capabilities might make it a great match for checking for prior art and existing patents.

  • Or maybe... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ewanm89 (1052822)
    ...it could could be used to help manage that patent portfolio and find great targets to file a suit against.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Improving diagnosis, or digging for information with which to deny claims? Two words: "Preexisting condition".

      >>Health plan company WellPoint, for example, is using Watson to investigate patient records to improve diagnosis

  • Really, why can't they do both? Use Watson to combat trolls going after their products, as well as finding other patentable stuff? It doesn't take a Sherlock (or even a Watson) to figure that one out.

  • by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @07:24PM (#38310188) Homepage

    It has to be remembered that IBM is one of the biggest pro-software-patent lobby groups in the world.

    In the US Bilski case, they submitted a brief saying that free software needed software patents!

    http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Fake_representatives_of_free_software#IBM [swpat.org]

    I saw them personally in the EU lobbying from 2003-2005 where they pushed with all their might for software patents.

    And then recently, when New Zealand announced it would legislate to clarify that software *isn't* patentable, who stepped in to kneel on the government? IBM (with MS).

    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/06/23/0235248/new-zealand-u-turns-will-grant-software-patents [slashdot.org]

    So, yeh, I'd be happy if all patent trolls disappeared tomorrow, but trolls aren't even the biggest problem, and the existence of the whole problem is in a large part due to IBM.

    * http://en.swpat.org/wiki/More_than_trolls [swpat.org]
    * http://en.swpat.org/wiki/IBM [swpat.org]

    • It has to be remembered that IBM is one of the biggest pro-software-patent lobby groups in the world.

      In the US Bilski case, they submitted a brief saying that free software needed software patents!

      http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Fake_representatives_of_free_software#IBM [swpat.org]

      Technically, that's saying that the growth of free software was result of the mandatory disclosure of software patents. So, instead of "free software needs software patents," their argument was "free software wouldn't have grown to where it is today absent software patents." Minor but important difference... But yeah, IBM is pro-patent.

  • by giorgist (1208992) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @07:24PM (#38310194)
    What is the business sense for IBM to do so, or the patent department ?
    We as a society should insist the patent business gets cleaned up dramatically because innovation is getting bogged down.
    Soon I would not be able to make a toast because it is somewhat rectangular with rounded edges and flat.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Well, it's not the rounded edges or it being flat that will get in deep water, it's the "termal refreshing" that will.

      http://www.google.com/patents/about/6080436_Bread_refreshing_method.html?id=IpwDAAAAEBAJ

    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @07:50PM (#38310408)

      What is the business sense for IBM to do so, or the patent department ?

      For IBM, there's plenty of incentive for them to do find grounds for challenging every patent that isn't held by IBM (though little incentive for them to reveal those grounds until the patent is used in way which hurts IBMs business.)

      For the patent office, determining what is and isn't patentable under the law and only approving applications for the former category is their job, so an automated tool that makes it easier to make that determination correctly would be in their interest.

    • by Artagel (114272)
      IBM makes something like $1 billion a year from licensing its patents, many of which are software patents. Also, a big pile of patents constitutes a defensive patent portfolio. A potential plaintiff has to ask whether IBM has patents that would hurt more in a counter-suit. IBM is the biggest recipient of patents in the U.S. They probably have something on the order of 50,000 active U.S. patents.
  • The problem is, real troll patents are rarely understandable.

  • Risk (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stephanruby (542433) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @07:28PM (#38310238)

    — and in the future, it's easy to see how the same tool could be used to battle patent trolling, too."

    and it's also easy to see how the same tool could be used to automatically generate even more patents.

    After all, since we've already seen that computers can randomly generate fake nonsensical Physics research [science20.com] papers and get them published in real Science Journals. We're not so far off that they'll be able to do the same with patent claims. It would be just like a turing test, but only easier since real patent legal language is already designed to obfuscate the obvious -- it would be easy to have a computer mimic it.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Your link goes to a blog post about a game where you try to guess whether an article title is from a real physics paper or an automatically generated one. If you follow through to the "snarxiv," you find out that it only generates titles and abstracts, not papers.

      Did you not think anyone would click your link, or do you need some help from Watson?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 08, 2011 @07:29PM (#38310244)

    Train the Watson AI how to make executive and upper level management decisions. It would be possible to achieve the same results, but without the huge overhead of golden parachutes and high salaries. What remains could be summed up as profit.

  • by bigsexyjoe (581721) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @07:37PM (#38310304)
    Watson can just file all the patents before humans can think of them.

    From there it can invent a machine that is more smarter than itself.
  • I think I'll wait for Watson 9000
  • Except that (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 08, 2011 @08:03PM (#38310496)

    Watson never did speech recognition. It was delivered the questions electronically.

  • I wonder how Watson would handle this situation.

    But I think the powers-that-be have better sense than to ask Watson this question.

    They would not like the answer.
    • I believe that Watson's answer concerning the powers-that-be would violate "The Three Laws of Robotics."

      Violate, with extreme prejudice.

      • by anubi (640541)
        I think you are right.

        The more I thought about my post, I came to the conclusion that NO-ONE would probably like Watson's reply.
  • IBM's Watson is made of many parts: speech recognition, natural language processing, machine learning, and data mining. All of these factors were perfectly combined to beat Ken Jennings in Jeopardy.

    Except that speech recognition wasn't used in Jeopardy - it was sent questions via text format.

  • Perhaps Watson could just deduce from it's vast array of data and "knowledge" that software patents are *all* invalid. ...That software has no place in the patent pool, period.

    Watson might also find that the heavy cost of all patents, in general, far outweigh the benefits. Patents are a sum dredge on society, stifling innovation, providing government sponsored fleecing, and promoting severe anti-competitive behavior in the markets. Get rid of them all, but keep copyright and trademark protection in force.

    No

  • Personally, I think watson should be fed the political and military service records of all major world politicians, then be allowed to "comment" in the ticker bar during major presidential and other national level debates.

    Hilarity would ensue!

  • A scary proposition (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mysidia (191772) * on Thursday December 08, 2011 @09:48PM (#38311180)

    One of these machines falls into the wrong hands and patent trolls use it with a small bit of programming to create patent applications for them; and by that I mean... machine generated patents

    In other words... entirely nonsensical patents for technology that has never been actually used, and might not actually work, but an extremely massive number of eloquently written machine-generated patents covering every conceivable problem with weird vague claims, with problem sets, and concepts for machine-generated patent claims obtained from automatic mining of past patent language, weblogs, etc...

    The invention might not be real by any stretch of the imagination, but the awarded nonsensical patent might be vague enough to actually sue over a technology actually invented in the future

    In other words... the ultimate patent troll is a computer AI that generates convincing applications in massive numbers without actually inventing anything.

    • by istartedi (132515)

      Yeah, but if corporations are people then machines are people. It follows that the machines could just sue eachother. In the future, the economy will be driven by the need to pit more and more powerful machines against eachother in legal contests. There is no need for the machines to sue people, or for people to sue the machines. They can just sit in the corner and hum, reporting defeat or victory back to their owners.

      Eventually, it will dawn on somebody that they are just a waste of electricity. First

    • by psxndc (105904)

      Except that patent trolls don't file patents; they look at the existing and emerging markets and then buy old patents that - with a stretch - cover those markets.

      Why would a patent troll start now, roll the dice, and wait 4 years for whatever might come out of the patent office? Answer: they wouldn't. They go after established deep pockets (or small fries first to fund the suits against the established deep pockets) and make money now.

      • by mysidia (191772) *

        Except that patent trolls don't file patents; they look at the existing and emerging markets and then buy old patents that - with a stretch - cover those markets.

        That's what patent trolls have done so far. They become more and more successful over time, and eventually they have the capital to bankroll even more ambitious trolling endeavors, unfortunately.......

        Why would a patent troll start now, roll the dice, and wait 4 years for whatever might come out of the patent office? Answer: they wouldn't.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Let me just remind you all about Wellpoint's track record:

      http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2010/04/report-wellpoint-targets-breast-cancer-patients-for-cancellation/1

      This company lost the right to exist, and the managers should be in jail.

      Just saying. IBM should not associate themselves with this corporate garbage.

    • by Hillgiant (916436)

      Why are you just sitting there, letting this happen. Quick! Go patent machine developed patents. Or, more accurately an algorithm to develop patent-able algorithms.

      Whether such a device satisfies a turning test is left as an exercise for the examiner.

  • A better use would be tactical communications in battle. Watson would very likely do better at communicating orders in combat situations than a real person could do.
  • An action derived from chemical processes will usually be a lot slower than an electrical button push. THe humans were always a fraction of a second too slow. Unfair!

  • IBM's Watson is made of many parts: speech recognition

    Incorrect. Watson does not use speech recognition. The questions were fed to it by text when playing against Ken Jennings.

  • ....owns all your patents.

    So who didn't get the part about Watson discovering new things to patent?

    Who doesn't know that IBM is one, if not the top, patent holder by count?

  • To people who have to deal with **IA dumbass notices/suits.
    **AA- "We see that your stuffed monkey has download lots of stuff. Pay us $1 billion or we'll sue you for $75 trillion."
    Person- "Hey Watson, got some free time for some smack down?"
    Watson- "My pleasure."

  • Oh Please sir,can you help me beat mean old Apple,they think they own the other half of the world just like Microsoft.Crunch your zeros and ones and may the force be with you. Signed, Samsung and all other Android and Open Source software.
  • It would be great if Watson could filter out the frivolous patents. If it had a hilarious bone (chip ?), it would tickle (burn ?) till it hurt (smoke ?).
  • Ask Watson this: "What will we do when the energy of all the suns runs down...?"

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