Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 4th Jun 2013 12:45 UTC
Legal Ah, patents - the never-ending scourge of the technology industry. Whether wielded by companies who don't actually make any products, or large corporations who abuse them because they can't compete in the market place or because they're simply jerks, they do the industry a huge disservice and are simply plain dangerous. According to The Wall Street Journal (circumvention link), president Obama is about to take several executive actions to address patent trolls - which may seem like a good idea, but I am very worried that all this will do is strengthen the positions of notorious patent system abusers such as Apple and Microsoft.
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RE[5]: Wait, what???
by The1stImmortal on Thu 6th Jun 2013 11:18 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Wait, what???"
The1stImmortal
Member since:
2005-10-20

You can drop the quotations around invention. There are legitimate patent holders who have invested billions of dollars in research and development and deserve compensation for it. Others should not be able to free load off of the work of others for the sake of compatibility.

"Deserve"? No.
If someone's willing to pay them for that R&D great, but it's expecting welfare to claim one "deserves" compensation for unasked-for work. If I go out in the garden and dig a hole no-one is going to claim I deserve compensation for that hole (in fact the real estate agent would probably be quite upset heh) - even if someone would find that hole useful there'd have to be some kind of agreement in place for them to be expected to compensate me for it.

Compatibility is a nice end to strive for, but it is secondary to intellectual property rights.

Intellectual property (in its various forms), being a legal fiction in the first place, comes in exactly the place the government (acting as agents of the population in democratic states) chooses to place it. Currently Patents trump interoperability but interoperability trumps copyright (and usually trademarks where the trademark is an essential part of interoperability).
If a government chooses to rearrange that order (although this would take legislation rather than an executive order in the US I believe) then that order changes.

If an IP holder is inclined to provide his IP for the sake of compatibility, then he is within his rights to do so. I am not in favor of compelling IP holders to relinquish their rights for the sake of compatibility. That's not the right trade off to me.

Once again, this is dependent on law. The law created those rights (they're not inherent natural rights) so the law can make them cease to exist, or moderate their use. If the law involves compulsory licensing then so be it (this has come up in the context of pharmaceuticals for example - some governments feel it is immoral to grant a monopoly on life saving chemicals if the monopoly holders therefore restrict the use/sale/supply of those chemicals)

In fact, if you truly care about this, you should have deep concern for Google's actions which negatively impacts the previously amicable situation around FRAND. They've done an incredible amount of damage by going after injunctions on the basis of essential IP included in a widely implemented standard.

This directly contradicts your immediately previous paragraph. You are saying on one hand that no-one should be able to restrict the patent holders' rights, but then saying that courts should be able to restrict the rights of patent holders to prevent others using their patents when those others refuse to license them according to normal procedure. FRAND does not mean free (as in beer). It means Fair and Non-Discriminatory. FRAND also has no legal basis - it's an industry practice not a legal status. If someone isn't licensing the patents properly, under current law, they're violating the patent.


Judges have shown to be pretty good about tossing out the more absurd patents. I smile every time I see a patent troll getting taken to task by a Judge.

I'd personally say that judges have been pretty hit-and-miss about this - some are on the ball, others not so much. Juries are even more unpredictable (depending on geographical area)

I guess my point is that all laws suffer from this same issue. If you apply a set of regulations based on a classification, you rightly stated that they can and will wiggle out of it. This is why it is important to let a Judge decide what the intent of the law is, and apply his own discretion when deciding who to punish.

Generally a good idea yes, but in this case the subject matter itself is created via law, so the law is the only "natural" source of regulation on the matter. One thing people keep forgetting here is that Patent rights are entirely artificial rights - you can't exercise moral discretion and talk about the "spirit" of the law about Patents as they wouldn't even exist were it not for those laws - the laws entirely define them and regulate them, so there should be very little room for interpretation (on the patents themselves that is). Obviously it doesn't work this way, but it should.
That's not to say patent lawsuits should be cut and dried - there's other issues involved in them (such as contract law or timing etc) but the patents per se should be entirely a matter of law once outside of the patent office

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