IBM Master Inventor is an honorific title bestowed by the IBM Corporation to a qualifying employee. The qualification and appointment to Master Inventor is governed by the value to IBM of an inventor's contribution to the patent portfolio, and through defensive publication. IBM weighs many aspects of an inventor's contributions, including impact of invention through licensing, inclusion in product, and percentage of patents with a measurable impact. IBM also considers an individual's contribution to the inventing community inside IBM, whether by acting as a patent reviewer, or providing feedback and guidance to new inventors.
IBM Master Inventor is a privilege and title afforded to IBM inventors who have exhibited sustained invention activity. Each Master Inventor is reviewed every three years to ensure they maintain invention and mentoring activity. To be selected as an IBM Master Inventor, an inventor must (1) create valuable inventions resulting in patents and defensive publications that are in line with IBM’s criteria, and (2) support the IBM patent process such as by coaching other inventors, serving on invention development teams (IDTs), and helping the IBM IP Law organization in other ways. The IBM Master Inventor program recognizes IBM’s leaders in the patent community. The objectives of the program are:
- Recognize model inventors who have a sustained personal history of invention, mentorship, and assisting IP law
- Create a community of Master Inventors to collectively improve awareness of IP importance & improve IBM's IP Process
- Support a climate of innovation to enable IBM's IP strategy of freedom of leadership
- Create role models that advocate IBM’s innovation to clients and external stakeholders
Nominees to the Master Inventor program must have contributed to IBM patent process through invention participation and least two of the remaining three areas:
- Demonstrate mastery of the process through active invention participation with patents which are filed and issued with the USPTO
- Leverage their mastery of patent knowledge as a role model by:
- Mentoring new inventors who have ideas, but who are unfamiliar with the process
- Helping educate inexperienced inventors in understanding the IP process and how to effectively document and submit inventions
- Pro-actively arranging and leading patent mining sessions
- Being a catalyst for innovation and invention
- Actively contribute in the IP creation process by participation in Invention Development Teams (IDTs) and identification of technology areas and projects that are strategic for IBM’s patent portfolio
- Serve as a resource for IP Law in areas of patent prosecution & patent licensing
- Identify themselves as an IBM Master Inventor when working with clients and external organizations to serve as a:
- reminder of our innovation heritage
- conversation starter on IBM’s innovation practices
According to one Master Inventor  the citation reads:
Each year, IBM asks a small group of employees to join the ranks of Master Inventor. This group of people is asked to assist in the identification of new inventions and mentor others in the use of the patent process, among other things. The invitation to become a Master Inventor is based on the value to IBM of an inventors' United States patents during the three prior calendar years. This achievement is significant because it is the result of a cumulative contribution to the IBM patent portfolio, including Corporate Patent Portfolio Awards, Division Patent Portfolio Awards, and Division Supplemental Patent Issuance Awards.
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