Is IBM patent trolling?
“Troll” is the less-polite term for “non-practicing entities” that own patents to sue people. IBM used these patents in Prodigy, so no, they’re not trolls, just evil assholes.
Reminder for those reading the story: don’t read patents, it means you’re counted as “knowingly infringing” and liable for triple damages when some troll shows up.
In part of my IBM onboarding there was a lecture about Watson and IBM’s technology strategy. It was noted that IBM received more patents than any other technology company last year. Someone raised a (mild) objection to the notion of software patents. In his response the presenter, somewhat sympathetically, implied that if you are really against software patents, perhaps IBM isn’t the place for you.
I agree, this is less patent trolling and more along the lines of legitimate (according to current law), but problematic, use of the patent system. Patent trolling is one kind of pathology, and I think this is a slightly different one. The two usual sources of eyebrow-raising patents held by practicing entities, which probably both apply here, are: 1) the bar for what constitutes a non-obvious invention should be drawn higher, and 2) in the context of software, a 20-year patent term is very, very long.