Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 29th May 2011 21:29 UTC, submitted by teigetje
Microsoft It turns out that a lot of people haven't been paying attention. Over the weekend, a story about how Microsoft is earning more from HTC's Android devices than from its own Windows Phone 7 sales spread all across the web, with surprised reactions everywhere. Anyone who has been paying attention to Microsoft's recent patent trolling regarding Android could've seen this coming.
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RE[3]: Patent troll?
by JAlexoid on Mon 30th May 2011 22:58 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Patent troll?"
JAlexoid
Member since:
2009-05-19

Actually I'm one of a small set of people with a Comp Sci degree and a Law degree. I've spent a lot of time looking into these issues in detail.


Ahh... A fellow IT guy with a proper understanding of law.

While I wouldn't dispute that the patent system is prone to abuse (and frequently abused), that does not mean that all patents are abuse in and of themselves.


Software patents are in most cases abusive in nature. Though I myself am not in US, I work for the Big US company where I have been on patent review panels and have seen what gets patented. The best of them and the worst. The difference between them is incredibly narrow...

Personally I'm not too concerned if an employer asks a developer to implement "x" solely because they saw it in some other product, and the subsequent implementation of "x" infringes on a patent held by those who conceived of it.


I said the requirement is the same, not copying a feature. It's "Implement swipe to unlock"(copy a feature) vs "We have touch panel, implement an unlocking mechanism"(same requirement)

In this case the first group had significantly higher costs by virtue of trying out many failed ideas, refining ideas to be usable and useful, user testing etc. The second group is just paying for code to be written.


Same requirement will in software development result in exceptionally similar algorithms. Simply because people are taught the same basic principles.
The algorithms may take a lot of resources to develop or very little, but that mostly depends on how smart are the developers.
Yet for the most advanced patent applications it's "Oh! I remember there is a mathematical formula that will help solve this". The not so advanced are the "customer requested packaging"* used by Lodsys.
I can safely tell anyone without a doubt, that I have infringed on that patent in 2001, before it was filed. Why did I infringe on it? Because I had the same requirements as the person that decided to patent it.

* - Based on a quick reading, any Agile development methodology is infringing on this patent.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: Patent troll?
by Alfman on Tue 31st May 2011 05:19 in reply to "RE[3]: Patent troll?"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

JAlexoid,

"I can safely tell anyone without a doubt, that I have infringed on that patent in 2001, before it was filed. Why did I infringe on it? Because I had the same requirements as the person that decided to patent it."

That's the problem with software patents isn't it! It's absurd that we have patents on software where the patent holder has clearly spent more resources on lawyers than on developers for the "invention".

Software patents are clearly not being used to recoup developer costs so much as enabling a business model where one patent holder can demand royalties from other developers who have the same requirements.


It should be easy to see why software patents are fundamentally unscalable - as the number of developers increases worldwide, the likelihood of inadvertent infringement among developers solving the same problems (having similar requirements) increases greatly.

Enforcing software patents against inadvertent infringement is idiotic as it creates a legal minefield rather than encouraging the spread of knowledge as they're supposed to.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[5]: Patent troll?
by malxau on Tue 31st May 2011 13:59 in reply to "RE[4]: Patent troll?"
malxau Member since:
2005-12-04


"I can safely tell anyone without a doubt, that I have infringed on that patent in 2001, before it was filed. Why did I infringe on it? Because I had the same requirements as the person that decided to patent it."

That's the problem with software patents isn't it! It's absurd that we have patents on software where the patent holder has clearly spent more resources on lawyers than on developers for the "invention".


Note that prior art is grounds to invalidate a patent. Obtaining and defending patents is also an expensive exercise, and it is unwise to spend so much to obtain something that won't survive its first challenge.

I can personally say that I've never been involved in filing a patent where I knew the idea was not original, and I've avoided things where I've suspected the idea might not be original, simply because it doesn't make business sense to pursue.

Reply Parent Score: 2