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IBM Seeks Patent on Absence of Patents

IBM, it appears, abhors an IP vacuum. By way of news-for-nerds blog Slashdot comes word that IBM is seeking to patent a tool for identifying areas within industries in which little patenting activity is taking place -- thus allowing businesses to step in and fill that IP void. Filed last week with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, IBM's application seeks to patent Methodologies and Analytics Tools for Identifying White Space Opportunities in a Given Industry. "White space," as the application explains, "is a term generally used to designate one or more technical fields in which little or no IP may exist."

The need for the invention, the application says, stems from the fact that existing processes for identifying white space -- such as Internet searches -- are labor intensive, time consuming and largely ineffective. Yet rooting out this intelligence could be "critical to the competitive advantage of a business entity," which could use this knowledge "to maximize the value of its IP" within that fallow field of patenting.  So how would IBM's invention address this? The abstract provides this description:

A method for analyzing predefined subject matter in a patent database being for use with a set of target patents, each target patent related to the predefined subject matter, the method comprising: creating a feature space based on frequently occurring terms found in the set of target patents; creating a partition taxonomy based on a clustered configuration of the feature space; editing the partition taxonomy using domain expertise to produce an edited partition taxonomy; creating a classification taxonomy based on structured features present in the edited partition taxonomy; creating a contingency table by comparing the edited partition taxonomy and the classification taxonomy to provide entries in the contingency table; and identifying all significant relationships in the contingency table to help determine the presence of any white space.

If I understand it in the least bit -- which I readily admit I may not -- the patent would cover an "intelligent search" tool that would analyze and extract text from within one set of documents or data (such as patents) and look for similar concepts within a second set of documents or data. The result would be to identify concepts and key words that occur with less frequency in the second data set, suggesting the existence of white space. As Slashdot points out, this patent comes from a company that in 2006 made a public commitment to pursuing greater clarity and transparency in patents.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on September 30, 2008 at 02:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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