Can Watson's Mega-Brain Help Rid the World of Patent Trolls?

Illustration for article titled Can Watson's Mega-Brain Help Rid the World of Patent Trolls?

IBM's Watson is most famous for handing Ken Jennings his ass on Jeopardy, but since then the supercomputer's talents have been used to help doctors diagnose and treat disease. But Watson's greatest trick might still be ahead of it: beating back the scourge of patent trolls.

A key part of Watson's medical mission is the scanning and cataloging of millions of drug discoveries buried in medical journals and patents. Through IBM's Strategic IP Insight Platform, Watson has cataloged some 2.5 million chemical compounds. IBM has donated the database to NIH, which is a boon to scientists all over the world because it includes troves of otherwise hard to find information about expired patents.


But as ExtremeTech suggests, there's no reason the technology should be limited to medical patents when it could be used to go through all patents. It would not only make sifting through them easier, it could help battle patent trolls, too:

Then there's battling the patent trolls. SIIP is almost entirely about analyzing the state of play and producing actionable analytics. If a malevolent patent troll targets your company, SIIP could help you find prior art, or perhaps secure a protective licensing deal with an IP behemoth like IBM.

Of course, as ExtremeTech points out, it could also backfire; trolls could use SIIP to suss out weak companies with weak patent portfolios and sick their legal beagles on them at will.

So it's a double-edged sword. SIIP could be used to both help or hinder our current patent calamity. For now at least, IBM doesn't have plans to apply SIIP outside of medicine. But in time, hopefully Watson will rise to a higher calling: vanquishing of trolls like it did so many Daily Doubles. [ExtremeTech via HackerNews; Image via IBM]


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Anything that can slay trolls faster is all right with me.

Honestly, where I could see this being useful is for new patent applications. By running their prospective patent through SIIP first, they could save a lot of time down the road if their invention is too similar to something else already out there.