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Many Texas residents might feel as though they blink and the technology they use every day changes. Companies in the technology industry always seem to be tweaking and changing existing technology to do more. Just as many people have issues keeping up with the changes, some would say that outdated patent law is having the same problem.

For example, IBM was recently awarded a patent for what many would call "outdated" technology. Texas residents who work in offices might be familiar with the "out of office" option for their email. At this point, a reader might be scratching his or her head. How could IBM get a patent for technology that already exists? Others are asking that same question.

IBM says that it improved upon the technology by adding a feature that sends the user a reminder approximately five days prior to a scheduled vacation as a reminder to turn on this feature. Others say that this does not represent a significant enough improvement to warrant a new patent. A decision issued by the U.S. Supreme Court might agree, along with Sen. Orrin Hatch who is proposing changes to current patent law as it applies to technology.

Until changes are made to patent law, inventors who hold technology patents might want to diligently monitor any activity and other patents relating to those they currently hold. Every patent holder has rights, and those rights need to be protected. Any odd or unauthorized activity could warrant a discussion with an attorney to see what legal options might be available.

Source: Fortune, "IBM Gives Up 'Stupid' Patent for Out-of-Office Email", Jeff John Roberts, March 3, 2017

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