IBM has confirmed that it is dropping its attempt to patent the business practice of 'outsourcing'.
The company had applied for a patent on outsourcing of services, which described software used to identify areas of a company that could be moved overseas.
The plan, which provoked outrage and not a little amusement in the IT community, has now been quietly dropped.
"IBM has put into the public domain and withdrawn its application for patent number US2007/0162321 (Outsourcing of services)," said Bob Sutor, vice president of open source and standards at IBM, in his blog.
"IBM adopted a new policy a year ago to sharply reduce business method patent filings and instead stress significant technical content in its patents.
"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."
Sutor thanked the online community for bringing the matter to his attention.
Martyn Hart, president of the National Outsourcing Association, said: "It is like someone trying to patent apples.
"I know IBM is all-in for grid computing, so it may have been something to do with that. But outsourcing itself? What would they do, try and bill the ancient Egyptians for outsourcing their wars to the Hittites?"
However, it seems that not all of IBM's patent claims have been rationalised in the same way. The company was granted a patent earlier in the week for Mode switching for ad hoc checkbox selection on a graphical user interface (GUI).
The patent filing reads: 'Controlling checkbox status by selecting and deselecting checkboxes in a GUI according to a mode of operation, the GUI having displayed upon it a set of checkboxes comprising a multiplicity of checkboxes, wherein each checkbox comprises a selection status indicating whether each checkbox is selected.'
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