Step 3: Type 11/696,104 as the "Application Number"
Step 4: Click the "Transaction History" tab
To summarize, the PTO issued a non-final rejection of the patent on 02/07/2009. IBM responded to that on 05/11/2009, which yielded a final rejection on 08/31/2009. IBM then requested to withdraw their response to the non-final rejection (the 05/11/2009 response). On 07/01/2010, IBM filed a new response to the 02/10/2009 non-final rejection, and the PTO issued its second final rejection on 09/13/2010.
IBM then made an amendment to their application, and requested a continued examination (read more about that at http://www.uspto.gov/patents/law/aipa/rcefaq.jsp). Then, they filed their appeal to the 09/13/2010 final rejection with the Board of Patent Appeals and Interference. The continued examination yielded the most recent non-final rejection, on 06/24/2011. IBM will likely respond in a few months, and there'll likely be another final rejection (the third) issued.
Now, it's still in the hands of the BPAI, which will likely affirm the rejection. After that, IBM can appeal the Board's ruling to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which will most likely side with the PTO.
It seems highly unlikely that IBM will be issued this patent, but if the final rejection is miraculously overturned, prosecution history estoppel will likely preclude IBM from doing anything meaningful with the patent, because as many of you have noted, there's plenty of prior art dated before April 2006.
If you apply the same rate of taxes to all companies with the same revenue, regardless of their margins you have your choice of putting all low margin business out of business by assessing a tax higher than they can pay (to collect reasonable revenues from the high margin businesses), or leaving a lot of cash on the table in high margin industries (which as a tax authority you probably don't like).
Suppose there are two companies. The first company buys resource A for 100$ to produce B. The second company buys B for 110$ and produces C, which it sells to the public for 120$. A merger of both companies would approximately half their total revenue, but wouldn't change their total profit.
We don't want the tax system to determine the optimal size of a company.
If the USPTO got to keep the money it collected in patent fees that might be a problem, but if it got to keep the money it got in fees then maybe it would be able to do a better job examining patents. :|
Actually, the real win for whoever actually got such a patent would be the "no tagbacks" effect.
Imagine for a moment that you were sued over a product or service another party claims infringes a patent of theirs. Then, you found out that some product they offer actually infringes one of your patents. Now, you're thinking you've got leverage to negotiate a settlement, but the other party refuses all your offers, until you're finally left with no choice to countersue. That's when you find out they actually have the patent on patent trolling! Not only can they sue anyone they like for the slightest whiff of possible infringement, but the defendant can't fight back without actually violating another patent!
If someone were to patent troll you (other than IBM, I guess) you could say that they were performing a practice that they didn't have the rights to practice. Essentially "hey, only IBM can patent troll me".