Two years ago, red-faced IBM executives ordered a patent application on offshoring jobs to be withdrawn. Last week it returned, more sophisticated than ever. The latest application, describes how to weigh various constraints, such as lack of a skilled workforce, against incentives such as tax breaks.
It's called a "Method and system for strategic global resource sourcing" and the timing is interesting. Although it was only published last week, it was submitted in September 2007, just a week before IBM withdrew its offshoring patent. At the time, Big Blue said that the first patent was an error: it breached an IBM policy introduced in 2006 that vetted business method applications for "significant technical content".
But it's hard to see any difference between the earlier application "A method for identifying human-resource work content to outsource offshore of an organization", and this one.
In the US, both algorithms and business methods can be patented, provided they fulfill a (very short) list of requirements.
Thanks to TheoDP for the tip. ®