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IBM's damp squib

This is one controversy that died even before it started. Last year, IBM had filed a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for ‘outsourcing of services.’

By Pallavi Srivastava | Print Edition: Nov 4, 2007

This is one controversy that died even before it started. Last year, IBM had filed a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for ‘outsourcing of services.’

The patent application covered analysis of work flows, skills and economic costs, amongst other things. In its patent application, IBM had defined ‘outsourcing of services’ as a “method for identifying human-resource work content to outsource offshore to countries where cheaper labor prices and/or cheaper materials are available.”

In the application, IBM notes that while many American companies are looking to take advantage of “cheaper resources,” such as labour and materials, in other countries, there are risks. “If used for the correct services and products and properly executed, outsourcing can make a business more efficient by reducing the overall endto-end costs. On the other hand, if used for services that are excessively complex or that are executed improperly, outsourcing can result in increased overall end-to-end costs,” IBM noted.

Last fortnight, however, IBM abruptly withdrew its application for patent number US2007/0162321—Outsourcing of Services. The company says it has decided to withdraw the application as IBM has adopted a new policy (starting a year ago) to sharply reduce business method patent filings and instead stress on significant technical content in its patents.

A response emailed to BT says: “Even though the patent application in question was filed eight months before the policy took effect in September, 2006, had the policy been in place at the time, IBM would not have filed the application. We’re glad the community pointed this application out so IBM could take swift action.”

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