Monday, December 12th 2011

IBM To Help World Medicine And Beat Patent Trolls At Their Own Game

Who hasn't heard of Watson? No, not Sherlock Holmes's sidekick, but the computer built by IBM called Watson in honour of this sidekick. This is the artificial intelligence research project that recently made headlines by making mincemeat of human contestants on popular gameshow Jeopardy. Running on a supercomputer, it comprises of the following major components: speech recognition, natural language processing, machine learning and data mining from a huge database to help it understand natural language and quickly come up with the right answers – and it works incredibly well. Now, IBM is looking to apply this awesome technology to help medical science and beat patent trolls at their own game.

IBM has now formalized this technology by creating the Strategic IP Insight Platform (SIIP). To help in the field of medicine, SIIP does the following, as ExtremeTech explained:
SIIP is tasked with scanning millions of pharmaceutical patents and biomedical journals to discover, analyze, and record any info pertaining to drug discovery. SIIP looks for the names of chemical compounds, related diagrams, the company and scientist who invented and works with the compounds, and any related words. So far, IBM has extracted 2.5 million chemical compounds from 4.7 million patents and 11 million journals between 1976 and 2000. From this vast pool of information, IBM applies analytics to create a truly terrifying database that can improve R&D productivity, secure competitive intelligence that other companies might not have, identify potential acquisition targets or collaborators, and more.
The upshot of all this, is that IBM has donated its database of 2.5 million compounds to the National Institutes of Health, which will allow scientists to help develop better medicines and treatments. This is because the patents on many of these medicines have expired, allowing scientists unprecedented access to readily indexed and searchable info to help them find useful information for their research. Finding out this info previously was technically possible, but due to its disparate nature, was very difficult or expensive to obtain. However, this new database offers this goldmine of information for free, which will be a boon for medical science the world over.

Now, what about those pesky patent trolls? You know, those nice companies that buy up patents just to extort royalties from other companies that have less deep pockets than them? Patent trolling is an abomination of the utopian ideal of patents, which is to help the sharing of novel ideas and discoveries in exchange for protection. Instead, it just crushes the life out of other companies with these extortion demands, especially if they can't afford the expensive and protracted legal battle, since they will just settle and pay the extortion fees, sorry, "royalties". It prevents independent inventors and companies from using existing inventions to build on and improve on them and perpetuate the cycle of continuous advancement – the advanced world of technology we see today would be impossible without this process.

Well, should a patent troll come knocking at your door, SIIP could be used to scan all patents, to look for things like prior art, similar patents or information that might help invalidate a dodgy patent, thus busting the troll and sending them packing. On a really good day, they'd be put out of business for good. On the other hand, a troll could use it to find companies that are weak enough to be forced into a lawsuit or licensing agreement, so like most things, it cuts both ways.

Given the huge amount of patents filed each year, it's next to impossible to develop something without infringing on a patent, somewhere. In 2010 alone, IBM filed some 6000 patents, which is 25% more than its nearest rival, Samsung, so the patent pool is huge and growing at an enormous rate, so it seems fitting that the biggest patent filer in the world is also doing something about tackling the problem of wading through them all.
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10 Comments on IBM To Help World Medicine And Beat Patent Trolls At Their Own Game

#1
Error
Seems like "Skynet" is already within our current technological reaches :)
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#2
Completely Bonkers
If it speeds up the invention process, and leaches the leeches (lawyers), then this is "A GOOD THING"
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#3
Fx
good use of technology- this seems like a step in the right direction
Posted on Reply
#4
trickson
OH, I have such a headache
Sara Conner ? Come with me if you want to live !
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#7
trickson
OH, I have such a headache
This scares me !
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#8
Swansen
this doesn't have anything to do with thinking in a conscious way, this is just math. This super computer is just very good at math, thats it.
Posted on Reply
#9
trickson
OH, I have such a headache
by: Swansen
this doesn't have anything to do with thinking in a conscious way, this is just math. This super computer is just very good at math, thats it.
Yeah ok . :twitch: :shadedshu :eek:
Posted on Reply
#10
Delta6326
This is awesome much faster than I thought they would do it. I watched all of the episodes of Jeopardy. With Watson it was crazy, and yes it is all math just like everything that has to do with computers.
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