Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 8th Oct 2012 09:24 UTC
Legal The failing US patent system is getting ever more mainstream - The New York Times is running a long and details piece on the failings of the system, especially in relation to the technology industry most of us hold so dearly. Most of the stuff in there isn't new to us - but there's two things in the article I want to highlight.
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Can anyone justify such a system ?
by Lennie on Mon 8th Oct 2012 10:20 UTC
Lennie
Member since:
2007-09-22

"Last year, for the first time, spending by Apple and Google on patent lawsuits and unusually big-dollar patent purchases exceeded spending on research and development of new products, according to public filings."

This is obviously not the intent of the law and government.

The intent was that patents provide incentives to invent.

Edited 2012-10-08 10:20 UTC

Reply Score: 10

JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Thus anyone who says that the law is working as intended is delusional.

Reply Score: 5

Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

Only if you add: in this particular industry.

I'm sure there are industries or even parts of this particular industry where it is still useful.

But in this case it obviously does not work.

Reply Score: 2

kwanbis Member since:
2005-07-06

I bet it doesn't works on most industries.

Reply Score: 2

Adurbe Member since:
2005-07-06

Patents worked in the vacuum cleaner industry.

James Dyson patented his cyclone vacuum design (which apparently went through 5,127 prototype designs between 1979 and 1984). As a startup he went to all the big names in the industry to license the design, including Hoover, who turned him down.

As soon as his invention caught on (early 1990s), Hoover copied it and undercut Dyson's prices. He sued Hoover for the infringement and won.

The patents he took out protected his investment of time and money from a big/established corporation/brand simply muscling their way in and stealing his ideas.

Innovation hasn't stopped as a result though. Almost all manufactures now have an equivalent technology on sale.

Reply Score: 3

smashIt Member since:
2005-07-06

5,127 prototype designs between 1979 and 1984)


thats 3 designs a day
sounds more like a bad case of brainstorming to me

Reply Score: 3

JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Yeah. Software patents would lay claims to a bagless vacuum cleaner not a specific design.

But all manufacturers have very different designs that happen to be bagless.

That is where hardware patents make sense - they tend to be very specific.

Reply Score: 3

Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

The fact that Apple and Google are spending so much is hardly surprising, intense IP litigation (and therefore costs) always takes place when technology mutates in such a way as to profoundly transform models in business arenas that are very large in such a way as to destroy old financial and market systems and create new ones. That is what is happening in the realm of the mobile device, vast fortunes are at stake and the only two successful players (so far) are Apple and Google. The conditions that create periods of intense IP litigation in any specific domain of technology do not last for ever. This one will fade away at some point. But not yet.

I have worked outside and inside government during my long working life and being outside it is a lot easier to see clear cut and seemingly obvious solutions to problems. Once inside however and confronted with the nitty gritty detail of how to actual change things with making things worse it get's very complicated very fast.

I am always suspicious of seemingly obvious and simple solutions, such as the abolition of IP laws, because in general changing things, especially things that involve a great deal of money, are always actually very difficult and never straightforward.

The question I would pose is that if one accepts the current legal framework for IP is broken what do you replace it with? That's a very serious and big question and I would interested to see what people suggest.

Reply Score: 2

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

The question I would pose is that if one accepts the current legal framework for IP is broken what do you replace it with? That's a very serious and big question and I would interested to see what people suggest.


There's a lot of different suggestions out there, most better than what we have now. Here's mine:

http://www.osnews.com/story/26157/How_to_fix_the_patent_mess

Reply Score: 3

silix Member since:
2006-03-01

There's a lot of different suggestions out there, most better than what we have now. Here's mine:

http://www.osnews.com/story/26157/How_to_fix_the_patent_mess

in the previous piece you're advocating for the interim abolition of sw patents, thus for engineers in the sw field to become 2nd class citizens when it comes to intellectual property protection...

but suppose that you are intent on developing a product that you hope to sell, based on novel techniques and the application of interesting "new" mathematical theory - and that investigating the involved maths (eg, wavelets) and coming up with a working algorithm (ie inventing the solution for your chosen problem domain) takes you much more time and effort than making a prototype implementation..
now, think you'll agree it would be fair to get a bit of advantage for having done research and design on your own and for being the first to do so...
but copyright protects only the implementation's form and does nothing to stop anyone with a primer in the same maths from reimplementing the same techniques in another product (saving on research time, since you've done most of the job for him)

saying that copyright is enough for sw, you basically say that all research and design effort that goes into a sw product is worth nothing from an IP protection perspective, that it doesnt deserve protection being essentially a "free for everyone" thing, like maths, and that people working for sw houses on innovative solutions (notice, not innovative products) are wasting their time...
this has an interesting implication... now, if i'm working on something i deem innovative and that would be qualified for a patent (dont make the mistake to believe that all patenst are trivial ... there's VERY advanced stuff inside, just it's not newsworthy enough) but i know that what i'm working on won't gain me a competitive lead and won't allow me to control (at least to a certain extent) what my competitor put in their products...
what incentive do i have to come up with it first? what incentive do i have to come up with it at all?
to make significant design effort that my competitors can (and will) exploit to undercut my very product?
why dont i (say) ally with my competitor and agree to each sell owr own version of the same, uninnovative, commoditized algorithms?

Reply Score: 0

benir0 Member since:
2006-07-26

I can understand your objections to the abolition of software patents. The rest of the suggestions he makes about patents in general could be applied to software patents, meaning: no software patents on trivial things and they only last a couple/few years. This as opposed to granting a patent on "selecting elements from a dynamically generated array" that lasts for 20 years. WTF? (The previous example is just that, not an actual case, though it is similar to patents I've seen referenced)

Reply Score: 2

stimut Member since:
2012-10-08

I'm going to guess you aren't a software engineer.

Software innovation generally comes down to one thing: algorithms. The thing is, when you release a product, the algorithms are hidden. It's not like an engine, or a drug, where it can (fairly easily) be broken into its component parts to see how it's made.

Think of Google. When it came out, it was successful because of the algorithm development they did. It isn't protected by patents though. It's protected because only Google employees know the exact parameters (despite the overall idea of the algorithm being common knowledge).

What people call software patents have always been either trivial and obvious (such as forwarding packets in a router), or really design patents. That is, the outcome of the program and the way it works and interacts with the user. Think of the example of using a mapping program on a smartphone. Apple has patented the idea of searching for a contact within the mapping program so that the contact's address is shown. That's design and interaction. It's not an innovative algorithm that someone can develop a competing algorithm for. Now, no other company is allowed to search for users in their mapping program. At all. Ever. Or at least until the patent expires in a few decades.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that genuine software innovation is already protected by the fact that it is secret, and all the other "software patents" that exist today, should probably fall into a different area (like design patents) and the idea of software patents be thrown out.

Reply Score: 6

silix Member since:
2006-03-01

I'm going to guess you aren't a software engineer.

bad guess then, because i'm actually a sw engineer
just, one who doesnt believe in security by obscurity but OTOH believes that sw development methods (see later) and the possbility to protect IP are orthogonal matters...

Software innovation generally comes down to one thing: algorithms. The thing is, when you release a product, the algorithms are hidden.

the thing is, not always, not forever:
there's reverse engineering;
there are code leaks;
and there's open source
let's say i develop a product using a (more or less) public source tree to suit a business model that i may chosen (based on expertise and customisation rather than initial license fees) and to involve and allow other parties to cooperate
this doesnt mean i alienate any rights to patent the techniques that i use for the internals of the product, or that anyone who happens to have a look at the code and learn about them, is ok with reusing them in his own product...

Think of Google. When it came out, it was successful because of the algorithm development they did. It isn't protected by patents though. It's protected because only Google employees know the exact parameters (despite the overall idea of the algorithm being common knowledge).

google's ip has been protected by obscurity, shall we assume it's the only possible way for anyone else?

What people call software patents have always been either trivial and obvious (such as forwarding packets in a router)

there's no such thing as obvious stuff, otherwise it would have existed since the dawn of time - but actually it hasnt, and took some guy (who most likely didnt think he was doing something obvious at the time) to materialize
but, there exist millions of sw patents, and though many are about stuff that by today's standard we dismiss as trivial or appear as a mere application of an everyday "something" to the IT field, most of them trivial are not

or really design patents. That is, the outcome of the program and the way it works and interacts with the user.

design patents are mostly about the aesthetics of a product, technical solutions (inventions), which also are fit for protection, fall under a different category...
more or less like about cars... the bodywork shape is one thing, the way the chassis is made is another(or you think hydroforming, or more recently, aluminum/steel welding processes are not patented with all the research that has gone into them?)

It's not an innovative algorithm that someone can develop a competing algorithm for.

as frivolous or useful as it may be (like all *inventions* in any product field) it's a sw *invention* that noone else had before (then it's not obvious) anyway, and deserves protection as such...

Now, no other company is allowed to search for users in their mapping program. At all. Ever.

unless the patent is negotiated for licensing and royalties are paid, usually... why does nobody ever take this option into consideration?

Or at least until the patent expires in a few decades.

so if the several-decades protection time window is (rightly) too long for the sw field, the patent system shall be abolished altogether instead of thinking about a shorter patent lifetime?

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that genuine software innovation is already protected by the fact that it is secret

except when it's not..

and all the other "software patents" that exist today, should probably fall into a different area (like design patents) and the idea of software patents be thrown out.

but since the interaction model accounts for only a part of a program's development effort, you'd be leaving behind those working on the rest...

Edited 2012-10-08 17:04 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Your code is protected by copyright. What's good enough for an author is good enough for you.

Reply Score: 3

silix Member since:
2006-03-01

Your code is protected by copyright. What's good enough for an author is good enough for you.
except that i'm not an author, and a sw is an industrial product resulting from a development process and containing technical and design features, more like a car than a book...

now, the car as an industrial object is patentable at all levels (from the suspension strut arrangement to materials - eg pvc laminated steel, or new more efficient noise aborbers - in the product itself, but also the part stamping / welding / mounting process itself - eg friction for welding different metals like steel and aluminum.. and so on and so forth) wherever something novel was adopted
and i doubt you'd call an automotive engineer "a line drawer" based on the fact that blueprints result from the design process...

but then why only those working on sw shall be degraded to second class industrial world citizen and deserve lesser consideration than their colleagues from other fields, just because they happeen to use a keyboard?

Reply Score: 3

JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

the thing is, not always, not forever

So you want the monopoly forever now?

there's no such thing as obvious stuff, otherwise it would have existed since the dawn of time - but actually it hasnt, and took some guy (who most likely didnt think he was doing something obvious at the time) to materialize

Total BS! Obvious does not mean that everyone just knows. Obvious had a very specific definition - a person skilled in the art could replicate the invention without prior knowledge of said invention. And "tada!" most of the stuff that is covered by software patents is like that.(And pretty much is a response to most of the rest of your comment)

Reply Score: 4

l3v1 Member since:
2005-07-06

but, there exist millions of sw patents, and though many are about stuff that by today's standard we dismiss as trivial or appear as a mere application of an everyday "something" to the IT field, most of them trivial are not


There seems to be noone out there who would take into consideration that the computer and software field and industry evolved and changed multiple times more and much much faster than any other field out there, and people still seem to think the same patent laws that seem to somewhat work in other fields can be used in the same form for the computing and software industry. Which is crazy a** stupid. Yet, it seems to remain the practice, and no wonder we can see a lot of flaws and drawbacks in doing so. Anyone who still advocates the applicability of the current US patent system for such purpose is very close to an ignorant bum in my eyes.

Just my 0.02 of course, as always.

Reply Score: 3

JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

in the previous piece you're advocating for the interim abolition of sw patents, thus for engineers in the sw field to become 2nd class citizens when it comes to intellectual property protection...

So are all artists, singers, writers and performers. You know... the people that have copyright protection and not patent protection.

Oh wait... but they're not second class citizens!!!

investigating the involved maths

Yep. Patenting the application of maths... What's next? Patents on using the plus sign to add two values of cash deposit value and account value in the bank? Brillant! You should become a patent lawyer.

what incentive do i have to come up with it first? what incentive do i have to come up with it at all?

Being first to market?
On the other hand, what incentive does an artist have creating a new genre? I meran, someone will take it an just copy it!!! Oh the horror!!!

Reply Score: 3

Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

I would only say patents for ICT don't seem to work and should be abolished.

We have enough other things in place to prevent blatant copying like copyright and trademark protection.

The alternative is to have an easy way to kill the obvious patents without long or expensive trials.

Reply Score: 2

MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

Why not keep it like it is, for starters, but limit the period a patent is valid for. Let's make it one year. Now companies really need to push innovation to stay ahead.

After a while you can make the period 6 months.

Reply Score: 4

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Why not keep it like it is, for starters, but limit the period a patent is valid for. Let's make it one year. Now companies really need to push innovation to stay ahead.

After a while you can make the period 6 months.

That'd only work if you also remove the ability for the person or company to renew the patent. Otherwise, you'd simply see an endless string of patent renewal applications and we'd be no better off.

Reply Score: 3

Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

Based on the interesting and thoughtful comments here it is clear that patent reform is not easy, and there are lots of ways to go about it and lots of opinions about how it should be done. The really contentious area is software patents, and it looks like the suggested ways to reform those (essentially that boils down their abolition) may open up new problems particularly for those with an investment in creation of software. It is likely that any reform of patents, and of software patents in particular (as the suggestion is for the most radical change in that area), may well open up new sorts of problems and will almost certainly be very contentious.

All of the above is not meant to argue against reform but simply to sketch out why it is so tricky and why in a realpolitik process, legislators my just choose to kick the can along the road.

I would repeat my point that in any given field IP legal activity tends to come in waves, usually associated with particularly disruptive technical change, and then to subside. Currently such a wave is affecting technologies, products and companies that interest people in forums such as this but tomorrow it could be in an entirely different field. Does anybody remember the bitter IP wars around photocopying technology?

I think in a world and in markets where a couple of years of technical advantage can mean the difference between success and failure it is understandable that companies that introduce what they consider to be particularly innovative and disruptive products will seek to protect them with legally enforceable IP rights. It is also inevitable that other companies will seek to outflank and render useless that IP protection and will almost certainly always win in the long run.


I don't want to open a can of worms by defending Apple but I do think that they are realistic about what they can achieve in the realm of IP protection and what they want is for other companies to be deterred from automatically and immediately lavishly copying Apple's every move and every product. To some extent Samsung has pulled back from doing that lately but for while they really were blatant about shadowing Apple's every move. Whose to blame them as it it resulted in pretty much Android's only money making success. And whose to blame Apple for trying to stop them? In the long run if Apple aspires successfully to be a leader in product design it has to accept that eventually others will emulate their approach and emulate the various designs they produce. That's what happens to cutting edge design, it sets trends in motion. But I think it is good to have a system that makes sure that that doesn't happen the next day, or in a an utterly blatant fashion (like sticking iTunes and Safari icons on the walls of Samsung's retail stores - Samsung actually did that).

Personally I wish they the IP wars could die away and that innovation could be more widespread in the industry. I am also hoping for a white Christmas ;)

Reply Score: 2

JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Unfortunately the IP wars today are much more ridiculous than the ones surrounding photocopying.(No one was laying claim to the frequencies of light used by the machine)
I specifically cracked up from the blatant lie coming from the Apple exec saying that it took them years to perfect scroll to unlock... Seriously? Scroll to unlock and years?

Reply Score: 3

leech Member since:
2006-01-10

Unfortunately the IP wars today are much more ridiculous than the ones surrounding photocopying.(No one was laying claim to the frequencies of light used by the machine)
I specifically cracked up from the blatant lie coming from the Apple exec saying that it took them years to perfect scroll to unlock... Seriously? Scroll to unlock and years?


For what it's worth, there are issues in iPhones and the iPod Touch where the scroll to unlock would not work and it'd simply bounce back to the locked position. Which of course meant you couldn't actually turn the device off or unlock it...

So apparently they STILL haven't 'perfected' it. Yes, this happened earlier this year to my g/f. I myself would never purchase an Apple product and tried to talk her out of it...

Reply Score: 3

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Of course anyone can justify it, if they're making lots of money from it. Look where the money goes… to the lawyers. Of course they would want this to continue, seeing as how they're getting rich off of it.

Reply Score: 8

Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

Technical innovation is better than lawyers for a country ?

If companies in your country create good innovations/products they'll be able to export their products.

And lawyers are just good for the local economy ?

Reply Score: 1

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Technical innovation is better than lawyers for a country ?

If companies in your country create good innovations/products they'll be able to export their products.

And lawyers are just good for the local economy ?

You're flawed assumption is that said lawyers care what happens to their economy. They don't, at least not until it actually hits them. Most people are in it for the moment and live only for now. So long as they have what they want right now, they're content. It's the same with most politicians when you come right down to it. I don't agree with it myself, but that's how most humans think.

Reply Score: 4

Beyond frontiers
by Treza on Mon 8th Oct 2012 11:04 UTC
Treza
Member since:
2006-01-11

This nonsense will probably end when the USA realize that all these pointless patents are about to be invalidated/ignored by a quite big country with immense manufacturing capacity and non negative GDP growth.

Not only this money spent in court is not spent innovating, but the mere principle of patents, exposing ideas, will be challenged by the concept of keeping industrial secrets. If you can't prevent copying, you'd better delay when competitors figure out your technology.

Apple is good at both patenting and keeping secrets.

(There is a long story of invention copying between countries, for example paper, silk, pasta...)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Beyond frontiers
by JAlexoid on Mon 8th Oct 2012 11:40 UTC in reply to "Beyond frontiers"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

PS: Not pasta, but specifically noodles(aka spaghetti).

Reply Score: 3

RE: Beyond frontiers
by adkilla on Tue 9th Oct 2012 11:49 UTC in reply to "Beyond frontiers"
adkilla Member since:
2005-07-07

"But we are Americans. We don't quit just because we're wrong, we keep doing the wrong thing till it turns out right."
- Ed Wuncler, The Boondocks (Season 3, Episode 3)

Edited 2012-10-09 11:49 UTC

Reply Score: 2

True up to a point
by TM99 on Mon 8th Oct 2012 13:06 UTC
TM99
Member since:
2012-08-26

The problem is not the academics per se. Plenty of us are very aware of this problem and not just within the tech industry.

What it comes down to is the corrupt American political system that involves a revolving door of policy makers, business men, lobbyists, and academics who know who butters their toast.

It is not the small developer. It is not the start-up. It is not the small company with a brilliant new idea. It is the monolithic corporations with deep pockets, lawyers in abundance, and the political power to keep this way of being status quo.

Dr. Kegan fancies himself objective and unbiased, yet he is anything but. This recent paper of his is laughable in his attempts to have it both ways just like in his position on patents.
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2135618

Sometimes there really is 'right way' and what is truly the 'wrong way'. It takes a lot of individuals who are conscious of that to finally make something change.

There will be no change in this patent situation for at least another decade if not more. Political and economic realities in the US will preclude it - sadly.

I definitely agree with everything you state here though Thom. Keep up the good fight!

Reply Score: 9

Spin it differently.
by gan17 on Mon 8th Oct 2012 14:02 UTC
gan17
Member since:
2008-06-03

What miffs me off more is how much the the scummy lawyers are making out of this charade.

Edited 2012-10-08 14:04 UTC

Reply Score: 5

My two cents
by JoshuaS on Mon 8th Oct 2012 15:06 UTC
JoshuaS
Member since:
2011-09-15

In all honesty I think that abolishing the patent system would make things more difficult for small bussinesses. Large companies have so much money they can easily copy and obscurate a start-up.

No, what needs changing are the patent offices. The patent offices should start only granting patents for non-trivial idea's. (( Non-trivial could be defined as requiring considerable R&D costs ).

Lastly, we should not grant different property rights to different individuals and companies according to what gives us the most economic gain. An individual's ideas should be as much their property as their house. Equality matters.

Reply Score: 1

RE: My two cents
by Gullible Jones on Mon 8th Oct 2012 16:57 UTC in reply to "My two cents"
Gullible Jones Member since:
2006-05-23

I honestly don't see how an idea can belong to anyone.

e.g. Newton and Leibniz discovered calculus independently, at roughly the same time. Archimedes, unknown to either, had also discovered a form of integral calculus much earlier. To which of them did the fundamental concepts belong?

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: My two cents
by JoshuaS on Mon 8th Oct 2012 17:13 UTC in reply to "RE: My two cents"
JoshuaS Member since:
2011-09-15

Terrible conterexample. Is F = ma a product produced by a company? No. Patents aren't a tool to get a monopoly on applying a law of nature. They're on getting a monoply on a product you conceived. A good patent office would know this.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: My two cents
by Gullible Jones on Mon 8th Oct 2012 18:06 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: My two cents"
Gullible Jones Member since:
2006-05-23

Okay, I suppose that's not a great example. Even so...

They're on getting a monoply on a product you conceived.

How is this not a problem? Even in theory it allows the inventor to have a stranglehold on X product and anything derived from X product. Yay price fixing.

Mind, IRL it's usually not the inventor who has the patent, it's the corporation the inventor works for. So it's not even like the interests of the actual inventor are being protected.

Reply Score: 5

RE[4]: My two cents
by JoshuaS on Tue 9th Oct 2012 14:47 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: My two cents"
JoshuaS Member since:
2011-09-15

The inventor having a strangle hold on the product is the purpose of the system. Otherwise inventors and their investors will have a huge competitive disadvantage. For example, medicins take a lot of investment, but they are very cheap to reverse-engieer.

I think that we should just define a patentable idea as something which can be produced as a good or service. And only specifically that, deriative idea's are not included in the rights of the patent-holder. And a requirement for a patent should be that the holder actually produces the good or the service. Easy as that.

By abolishing the patent system entirely, many industries will stagnate because of the mear cost of innovation and small, innovatng bussinesses crushed by multi-nationals, because of their shear resources.

We must be careful what we wish for.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: My two cents
by Alfman on Tue 9th Oct 2012 15:16 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: My two cents"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

JoshuaS,

"For example, medicins take a lot of investment, but they are very cheap to reverse-engieer."

"By abolishing the patent system entirely, many industries will stagnate because of the mear cost of innovation and small, innovatng bussinesses crushed by multi-nationals, because of their shear resources."

For the record, most software engineers are not calling for the general abolishment of the patent system in other fields like medicine, we're just saying that it shouldn't be applied to software, which is routinely derived simultaneously when multiple developers are given the same task to solve. Or when we're pressured to adopt a specific patented solution to be compatible with a defacto standard even though we'd really like to use non-infringing alternatives.

Edited 2012-10-09 15:29 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: My two cents
by JoshuaS on Tue 9th Oct 2012 20:10 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: My two cents"
JoshuaS Member since:
2011-09-15

The main problem with software patents is that unknowledgable civil servants don't know they already had an algorithm for solving a square root in Mesopotamia thousands of years ago. The civil servants should be more knowledgable, that's all.

Suppose such a thing as an interface that could suit both the traditional desktop/laptop and tablet existed. That's not an obvious idea ( look at Windows 8 ) and requires you to hire a batch of creative developers. A software patent would have use here, because you're inventing a new software product, and not just telling your computer how to do things mathematicians have been doing for decades.

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: My two cents
by Alfman on Wed 10th Oct 2012 04:14 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: My two cents"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

JoshuaS,

"The main problem with software patents is that unknowledgable civil servants don't know they already had an algorithm for solving a square root in Mesopotamia thousands of years ago. The civil servants should be more knowledgable, that's all."

Sure, patent workers may not have sufficient training and resources, but that isn't at all what I was trying to convey by my comment. To reuse your specific example, I wouldn't care whether anyone had an algorithm for solving a square root prior to me or not, every developer who is capable of deriving such an algorithm should be entitled to use it. Is it ok to step in and claim ownership of the algorithms that are the product of our own thought processes? Subsequent devs may even be more talented than the first one, their only fault by the patent system is that they weren't earlier. I say the "first" guy deserves a creditworthy mention in computer science journals, etc, but neither he nor his employer should own software algorithms at the exclusion of others who have a similar thought process. There's no reason to treat software algorithms like physical property since they aren't a limited resource needing to be managed through governance nor economics.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: My two cents
by Gullible Jones on Tue 9th Oct 2012 19:38 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: My two cents"
Gullible Jones Member since:
2006-05-23

Personally I'm for reform of the patent system, not abolition of it.

By abolishing the patent system entirely, many industries will stagnate because of the mear cost of innovation and small, innovatng bussinesses crushed by multi-nationals, because of their shear resources.


Wait, are you telling me this isn't happening already?

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: My two cents
by JoshuaS on Tue 9th Oct 2012 20:13 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: My two cents"
JoshuaS Member since:
2011-09-15

No. Just that the problem is merely that the patent offices are now running for profit by imbeciles who know nothing about the sciences and the history of inventions.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: My two cents
by smashIt on Wed 10th Oct 2012 07:25 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: My two cents"
smashIt Member since:
2005-07-06

For example, medicins take a lot of investment, but they are very cheap to reverse-engieer.


not if you take into account that the pharma-industrie spends only a fraction of their income on research, and that more than 2/3 of all developed drugs are never put on the market

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: My two cents
by jared_wilkes on Wed 10th Oct 2012 16:11 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: My two cents"
jared_wilkes Member since:
2011-04-25

The fact that 2/3s of the developed drugs don't make it to market is exactly the point.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: My two cents
by intangible on Mon 8th Oct 2012 18:07 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: My two cents"
intangible Member since:
2005-07-06

"If only we have the right people in charge it would be okay" (in this context, "smarter patent authority")...

I dunno about you, but after seeing government after government try that route, I just don't think it's going to work.
Those with incentive to game the system end up corrupting it through various influences; the only way to win is to reduce the power of the system.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by jared_wilkes
by jared_wilkes on Mon 8th Oct 2012 18:01 UTC
jared_wilkes
Member since:
2011-04-25

My guess is the 20 billion estimate includes the entire MMI purchase, which is obviously a hugely flawed assumption. I'm certain it would include the 4+ billion used to acquire the Nortel patents -- but those were valued at 1.5 billion well ahead of much of the patent wars. And I'd wager that "up to" 20 billion is rather generous.

So I don't find this "estimate" very telling at all.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by jared_wilkes
by JAlexoid on Tue 9th Oct 2012 01:01 UTC in reply to "Comment by jared_wilkes"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

No it does not. Just adding the patent sales and adding Moto's sale would easily blow through $20bn. That is not including $1bn is Samsung's loss and other smaller things.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by jared_wilkes
by jared_wilkes on Tue 9th Oct 2012 18:32 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by jared_wilkes"
jared_wilkes Member since:
2011-04-25

20 - 12.5 - 4.5 = 3 billion dollars.

How does that blow past the 20 billion dollar sum?

Reply Score: 2

modicr
Member since:
2005-09-20

Just look at the following analysis:

http://seekingalpha.com/article/910321-facebook-lawsuit-could-send-...

Anything is possible with IP companies.

IP licensing addresses a huge market, and according to the World Intellectual Property Organization 2011 report, the annual global IP licensing market has grown from $2.8 billion in 1970 to $180 billion in 2009. That figure should be well above $200 billion by now. There's a lot of IP pirating going on which should diminish in the coming years as patent holders claim their legal rights.

...
The 232 patent: Method and system for making document objects available to users of a network.

The 974 patent: Framework for managing document objects stored on a network.

The 241 patent: Method for users of a network to provide other users with access to link relationships between documents

The 971 patent: Method for searching document objects on a network.


Edited 2012-10-08 23:57 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Comment by Luminair
by Luminair on Tue 9th Oct 2012 01:08 UTC
Luminair
Member since:
2007-03-30

why does anyone deserve the government policing their ideas for them? justice? the government of the people defending the individual?

why does any organization deserve government policing the ideas of the individual for the organization above and beyond protections for the creator? what is the justice in that?

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by Luminair
by Luminair on Tue 9th Oct 2012 01:41 UTC in reply to "Comment by Luminair"
Luminair Member since:
2007-03-30

point is: the strict IP law we call "patent" is a business tool to increase profit by increasing the exploitation of customers by reducing their choice by reducing competition. people didn't vote in the "patent" -- influential organizations requested lawmakers introduce it and they did. or at least that is what wikipedia says.

business organizations are not people deserving justice by the people. but they are powerful and able to sway lawmakers to give them monopoly power and the legal rights of people. that is the history of IP. people got copyright, businesses got patent.

how far should your government go to protect business anti-competition?

Reply Score: 3

are you reading your own shit right now?
by kristoph on Tue 9th Oct 2012 01:19 UTC
kristoph
Member since:
2006-01-01

This insipid sentiment is one you hear often from people who clearly have little to no experience with what the real world is like. Academics, lawyers, politicians, government officials, higher-ranking company executives - they live in a world where theory is more important than practice, or where millions and billions of dollars are just another set of zeros on a piece of paper.

So you, Thom, with no formal education or experience in law, business, technology, or anything even remotely related to the industry are competent to make this judgment call while the people who study this stuff, whose decisions make or break their constituencies and their companies, are not?

Seriously, dude, someone needs to learn to live in the 'real world' but this person your castigating is not on the top of the list.

Reply Score: 0

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

"I have no arguments to counter the article, so let's attack the author instead. That'll show 'm!"

Reply Score: 2

jangoboy Member since:
2012-10-09

um being the little guy without money sprouting out his ass with an interest in the subject is not enough experience to realize he cant afford pursue his interest because of the great and vaunted patent system? How retarded are you to think this works for him? Your not the only one who can talk out his ass I can do it to! Oh and lets not forget how much extra credibility being insulting adds my arguments, atleast in your circles... But I will throw a word out there sycophant and an analogy that even a non formally trained person might get.
If your TV doesn't work do you need to be a TV repairman to tell you that? If a TV repairer tells you its working do you decide your vision no longer works and only see static when u look at it or think there an idiot and look for a new TV repairman.

Edited 2012-10-09 10:00 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Personal experience
by ingraham on Tue 9th Oct 2012 03:59 UTC
ingraham
Member since:
2006-05-20

My company designed, built, and sold a machine, in the field of automated material handling. Our competitor had machines in the same plant where our machine ended up. They looked at our machine and felt that it infringed one of their patents. They were quite wrong; they completely misunderstood how our machine worked. Their patent was over two side-by-side belts moving at different speeds so that product conveyed on the belt would rotate to compensate for the angle the entire machine was rotated at. They saw that our machine had two belts and jumped to conclusions. In fact, our belts could not be driven at different speeds; they were both on the same drive shaft with no clutches or gears or any other way to separate them. Their lawyers sent us a letter. Our lawyer sent a letter back that said, "No, you misunderstood how our machine works." End of story.

You know what it cost to have our lawyer write that letter? Ten thousand US dollars. And we have a lawyer who is relatively inexpensive for his quality and level of expertise.

By the way, should it really be patentable to have two side-by-side belts run at different speeds to cause rotation? Isn't that essentially how tank treads work, even though that's upside down from a conveyor application?

Reply Score: 3

RE: Personal experience
by Alfman on Tue 9th Oct 2012 04:36 UTC in reply to "Personal experience"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

I had aspirations to write & sell my own DVD editing & authoring software back around 2000. I had purchased several entry level commercial video packages, but there was an obvious gap in features. I saw it as an opportunity to write my own software and market it. I started prototyping and playing with my own ideas, which was fun, but at some point I'd need to license numerous multimedia patents in order to be compatible with the files & media at the time. I don't remember the specifics, but authoring licenses were typically a magnitude more expensive than playback licenses. I specifically wanted to support surround sound, but I was horrified when I discovered that dolby's DVD surround sound patents alone would cost several times more than I wanted to ask for my video authoring software. Apparently most commercial licensees could pay a couple million for a flat license, but this was obviously out of my range.

I learned that the reason entry level software packages were lacking features had nothing to do with the difficulty of incorporating them, but that the patent licensing fees made it impossible to incorporate them at those price points.


I also learned since then that researching patents (trying to do things the "right way") could lead to triple damages if you are sued in court and found to infringe, so I've never looked up patents since to see whether something I've written infringes or not. Luckily patents are poorly enforced, and most software shops fly under the radar; we're just not worth suing over until we're worth a few million anyways.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Personal experience
by zima on Mon 15th Oct 2012 23:22 UTC in reply to "RE: Personal experience"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

~Linux, OSS video editing packages - which pretty much ignore all those MPEG licensing issues - are still severely lacking... (not only when it comes to features)

...perhaps "aspirations" or "prototyping and playing with my own ideas, which was fun" doesn't quite cut it here, perhaps this category of software is among the harder to do - for that matter, most of commercial video tools (coming from small and big players) are also meh. Good there is quite nice, and very modestly priced, Sony Vegas Movie Studio.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by jangoboy
by jangoboy on Tue 9th Oct 2012 09:35 UTC
jangoboy
Member since:
2012-10-09

the first thing thing and last thing legal systems should do is uphold ethical behavior. I don't care if its hard, you do it anyway. Whose work was it, what is a reasonable degree of protection for it, and what is a reasonable way of protecting it. If you didn't invent anything than maybe copyright covers what you actually did. But to me patents are a flawed idea anyway. If someone somewhere invents the flying car and someone somewhere else also invents the flying car using the same principle at a later date from the they both invented the flying car. In the patent system the first guy has commercial rights and the second guy isn't allowed to sell his idea but it was his idea and he made it himself; that's theft, stolen by the government for the first guy.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by jangoboy
by Alfman on Tue 9th Oct 2012 13:57 UTC in reply to "Comment by jangoboy"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

jangoboy,

"In the patent system the first guy has commercial rights and the second guy isn't allowed to sell his idea"

+1

It gets even more ridiculous when we consider all the developers who, in the course of their jobs, are working independently to solve the same problems. Does it make sense to invalidate all their collective hard work to favor the first one to file a patent? The first developer is entitled to the idea, but no one else is? The ownership of abstract software ideas is something that's inherently flawed, in my opinion. We should drop software patents, this would be a welcome change to most developers who try to ignore software patents anyways to focus on their work.

Reply Score: 4

Guess it is who owns it.
by jefro on Tue 9th Oct 2012 17:01 UTC
jefro
Member since:
2007-04-13

Pretty sure that if anyone above actually invented anything and patented it. They would be the first to defend it in court. I can't blame them either.

Reply Score: 1

You do know why Apple started their part ...
by Sabon on Tue 9th Oct 2012 20:59 UTC
Sabon
Member since:
2005-07-06

You do know why Apple started their part in this right? It was after losing a court case and having to pay $100 million dollars because of mp3s. After that Steve Jobs said they were going to patent everything they could and do their best to never lose another case again. That and the whole Windows things.

Before anyone says anything about PARC. Make sure you are educated on that and how PARC was granted quite a few shares of Apple stock which they sold later for $16 million. At the time that was a lot of money. This was back in the mid '80s.

Reply Score: 1

Just a few thoughts...
by leech on Thu 11th Oct 2012 05:27 UTC
leech
Member since:
2006-01-10

Could you imagine if for example Nintendo had patented scrolling a screen to represent larger worlds? So many awesome games would never have been made.

Or, since Nintendo wasn't the first to use that method, what if even earlier we go back to Atari and if they had patented "using a television display for interactive entertainment purposes" (video games). The entire software industry would be completely different now.

This is in essence the same as "search for contacts on a map" or whatever. Which by the way my N9 supports as well...

Software patents are pretty much crap and should be done away with. Yes it's 'written' in a 'language' so should be covered by copyright laws, just like a novel would be. Hell, anymore a large percentage of movies are simply software (CGI). They aren't covered by patents (at least not yet.)

Also, how do we mindlessly think that if Software Patents were abolished in the USA that it'd cause a lack of innovation. Some of the best software out there comes from countries that either don't have software patents at all, or are very lenient towards them.

Good example is The Witcher. Sorry, still stuck on games..

Copyright really should be enough for software creators. Or copyleft if you prefer those licenses...

Reply Score: 3

Three Rules
by transami on Thu 11th Oct 2012 19:48 UTC
transami
Member since:
2006-02-28

1. Filing for a patent should be a free service provided by the federal government. The Constitution gives the government the power to issue IP rights, but not the power to hold such rights for ransom.

2. Patents must be accompanied by a functional demonstration. They cannot simply be ideas, nor purposeless designs.

3. All patent litigation must be handled via arbitration by the USPTO at no cost to either party. Only if willful infringement is determined will a party be responsible for cover all or part of the procedural costs. But the arbiters first goal is to find an acceptable settlement between the two parties, not to ascertain guilt.

Edited 2012-10-11 19:49 UTC

Reply Score: 1