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: 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.