IBM Gets the Patent for ‘Out of the Office’ Email Responder

By Menahem Zen | Mar 03, 2017 05:35 AM EST

“Out of the Office” auto responder for emailwas first known for more than two decades before the "Big Blue" IBM filed the patent request in 2010. The United States Patent and Trademark Office granted IBM the patent for the email auto responder on Wednesday, March 1.

The patent numbered 9,547,842 was described as "out-of-office electronic mail messaging system" as reported by Net. In its abstract, the patent describes its process to allow users input the start and end date, followed by one availability indicator message. Afterward, the selected availability indicator message will be sent through electronic email.

The patent is called as “Stupid Patent of the Month” by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in the article written by one of its lawyer Daniel Nazer. The article pointed that the patent was given for something that has been a staple in the workplace for decades before IBM filed the patent request.

Nazer also took example of the case Alice v. CLS Bank in 2014. Alice Corporation is the owner of four patents in the electronic trading and financial transaction with the third party as the escrow. Alice first sued CLS Bank for patent infringement after the bank was using escrow model, filing the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. However, neither parties have resolved the issue.

In 2007, CLS Bank sued Alice to seek for declaratory judgment to invalidate the claim. Alice countered with patent infringement lawsuit against the bank.

The case went on for more than seven years. In the Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas ruled the patent to be invalid. Justice Thomas said that the abstract nature of the Alice patent, it became invalid.

That same case will also be applied in IBM patent for email auto respoder. It is because the nature of the patent is too abstract. Watch the video about IBM Research and the patent below:

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