Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 19th Jul 2011 17:09 UTC
Google For the first time, Google has opened its mouth against the patent trolling by Apple (and by proxy, Microsoft) against Android manufacturers. By way of Eric Schmidt, Google's chairman, the company took stand against the legal actions, and stated they aren't too worried. If need be, Google will ensure HTC doesn't lose the patent case against Apple.
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RE[2]: How can this be fixed?
by cranfordio on Tue 19th Jul 2011 20:19 UTC in reply to "RE: How can this be fixed?"
cranfordio
Member since:
2005-11-10

No, I can't. But this doesn't mean I don't think there are cases where they can be valid and I am not about to look through every software patent out there to find one. I just don't feel that a blanket "No More Software Patents" is the best solution.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[3]: How can this be fixed?
by Alfman on Tue 19th Jul 2011 21:01 in reply to "RE[2]: How can this be fixed?"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

cranfordio,

"No, I can't. But this doesn't mean I don't think there are cases where they can be valid and I am not about to look through every software patent out there to find one."


I don't blame you for not wanting to waste time evaluating patent documents. However this is precisely how more and more developers will need to spend their time as lawsuits from software patent trolls continues to get more insane. Patent trolls deliberately try to patent every little variation of an algorithm to block alternative implementations. The simple task of determining whether our in-house code infringes software patents is a monumental task. Often times this isn't even knowable.

If we do infringe, we have to choose between obfuscating our algorithm to avoid the patent(s), pay license fees for the right to use our own implementation (that's assuming the patentholder is non-discriminatory), or completely ignore the whole damn patent system. By far and large, most IT businesses haven chosen to ignore software patents because they offer no net benefits, and the cost of compliance for a serious patent audit would be prohibitively expensive.


"I just don't feel that a blanket 'No More Software Patents' is the best solution."

That's fine if that's your opinion, but no more software patents is a viable solution to the majority of software developers working today.

As a non-software dev, maybe you don't get how important intellectual freedom is to us, but it is. Please don't dismiss it. Strictly enforcing software patents would be one of the most draconian thing you could do to us. It wouldn't be all that different from prohibiting you from using certain combinations of words from your native language.

Reply Parent Score: 6

cranfordio Member since:
2005-11-10

That's fine if that's your opinion, but no more software patents is a viable solution to the majority of software developers working today.

As a non-software dev, maybe you don't get how important intellectual freedom is to us, but it is. Please don't dismiss it. Strictly enforcing software patents would be one of the most draconian thing you could do to us. It wouldn't be all that different from prohibiting you from using certain combinations of words from your native language.


Sorry, I wasn't trying to dismiss the view point, just trying to get more information than just the blanket "No More Software Patents."

I am not saying that no more software patents isn't the best solution, I was just looking for more of an answer and reasons why this may be the best answer. Your response has actually given me a different perspective, and thank you for that.

I guess my biggest issue is that I would feel that if there was nothing to protect my efforts from being stolen and/or copied, than I would be afraid of investing the time and money into those efforts. So my question for you is how does one truly protect their investment, and in the end protect their well being if there is no protections in place? I guess copyright is a protection, but to me it doesn't seem like very good protection.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[4]: How can this be fixed?
by Not2Sure on Tue 19th Jul 2011 21:55 in reply to "RE[3]: How can this be fixed?"
Not2Sure Member since:
2009-12-07

I don't blame you for not wanting to waste time evaluating patent documents. However this is precisely how more and more developers will need to spend their time as lawsuits from software patent trolls continues to get more insane.


If you are in the business of providing intellectual property for profit then you or your bosses should build into the costs of your business model the actual costs of doing business not some absurd low-cost time/material model. If they do not, they deserve to fail which sucks for the people actually doing the work.

Also you should support the current legislation to reform the USTPO that ensures that fees collected from patent applications are not funneled away from the USPTO but instead are used to ensure quality reviews so that your time as developers can be spent developing original software and not reviewing patents. Also there have been proposals to "crowdsource" the patent review process. You should take a look at those and see if they deserve your support.

Patent trolls deliberately try to patent every little variation of an algorithm to block alternative implementations. The simple task of determining whether our in-house code infringes software patents is a monumental task. Often times this isn't even knowable.


That is absurd. If it is as simple as you state, a genetic algorithm could be devised and computed to map out a majority of the possible implementations. I doubt that is NP-complete.

As far as it being monumental and "unknowable" there are plenty of patent clerks and IP lawyers to help you in your business process. Stick to what you know, but don't pretend to know everything. I have yet to meet an engineer who has not started his own company that has respect for the work lawyers do. I also cringe every time I have to write a check to a lawyer. The alternative is not any better.

If we do infringe, we have to choose between obfuscating our algorithm to avoid the patent(s), pay license fees for the right to use our own implementation (that's assuming the patentholder is non-discriminatory), or completely ignore the whole damn patent system. By far and large, most IT businesses haven chosen to ignore software patents because they offer no net benefits, and the cost of compliance for a serious patent audit would be prohibitively expensive.


Obfuscating an algorithm would represent willful violation and triple your liability. I would suggest you seek better legal advice. Licensure is the only proper legal and ethical resolution in the face of a valid patent.

Software patents do offer benefits, they apparently offer no benefits to your software which is probably essentially derivative and produced at extremely low cost? The actual cost of producing software is not reflected in its price. That's a problem.

That's fine if that's your opinion, but no more software patents is a viable solution to the majority of software developers working today.


And not working tomorrow. Where is this alternative utopia of no patents empowering fountains of software creativity? The European model? Umm.. which commerical software companies are we talking about that have revolutionized computing and its delivery to the extent that those operating primarily in the US have? Don't say Nokia! ;) I'm not being sarcastic here.

Take all the work and effort done to conceive and design the software you ship. Did you have a hand in that? Did it help put a roof over your head and food on the table? Good. Its value is now near-zero, because for all your platitudes of intellectual freedom, there are engineers who do not share your belief systems that will recreate your work from a shipping product in days not weeks relative to months creating the original, and market value descends exponentially, because your sales force will tell you, there is zero loyalty in IT.

I do not consider that progress on any scale as a creator of commerical software.

If abusrdly broad, abuse patents in the US are as big a problem as critics imply they are, then tbh if your product had any appreciable marketshare and revenue stream then you would already be beset by patent "trolls." Your language implies that you have not been party to patent litigation but are only speaking in the abstract and not from real experience. So either your software is not a revenue target, or the problem is overexaggerated. But that is probably a flawed assumption on my part and if so I apologize.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[3]: How can this be fixed?
by Delgarde on Wed 20th Jul 2011 00:14 in reply to "RE[2]: How can this be fixed?"
Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

No, I can't. But this doesn't mean I don't think there are cases where they can be valid and I am not about to look through every software patent out there to find one. I just don't feel that a blanket "No More Software Patents" is the best solution.


And that's exactly the problem with patent law, as it stands. As a developer, *I* don't want to go looking through every software patent out there, just in case someone else has already had the same idea as me. But the current system forces me to care about that kind of thing.

Thing is, the idea behind the patent system is to reward people who come up with interesting new ideas - allowing them to benefit from a brief monopoly before it becomes a free-for-all. However, this just isn't working out, for several reasons.

* There are just too damn many patents. There are so many of them awarded for the most trivial variations of existing ideas, that it's almost impossible to do anything without unknowingly infringing on one patent or another.

* They last far too long. In an industry where companies put out new products as often as bi-annually, a patent lasting over a decade is practically forever. Seriously, the average technical patent will be obsolete long before it actually expires.

* They mostly benefit the big players, preventing newcomers. Since anything a small company does is almost guaranteed to infringe on a patent held by the incumbents, they can't actually bring their innovation to market without paying money to their competitors. Ultimately, most such companies end up either being bought by one of the bigger players, or simply selling their patent and moving on to something else.

All in all, the system just doesn't work very well.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[4]: How can this be fixed?
by Not2Sure on Wed 20th Jul 2011 00:39 in reply to "RE[3]: How can this be fixed?"
Not2Sure Member since:
2009-12-07

And that's exactly the problem with patent law, as it stands. As a developer, *I* don't want to go looking through every software patent out there, just in case someone else has already had the same idea as me.


Smells like an opportunity! But im sure someone has already built it ;)

* There are just too damn many patents. There are so many of them awarded for the most trivial variations of existing ideas, that it's almost impossible to do anything without unknowingly infringing on one patent or another.


Isn't that a problem of the patent office granting/review process and not patents themselves? Clearly, if you were working at the patent office reviews patent applications and saw an absurdly trivial variation of an existing idea (which is not patentable by definition) you would disallow it. So why do we not have more of you working on our behalf at the patent office?

* They last far too long. In an industry where companies put out new products as often as bi-annually, a patent lasting over a decade is practically forever. Seriously, the average technical patent will be obsolete long before it actually expires.


Also something that is part of past and present attempts to reform the patent system.

* They mostly benefit the big players, preventing newcomers. Since anything a small company does is almost guaranteed to infringe on a patent held by the incumbents, they can't actually bring their innovation to market without paying money to their competitors. Ultimately, most such companies end up either being bought by one of the bigger players, or simply selling their patent and moving on to something else.


This is an empirical claim that I think doesn't bear out in reality. Very, very few startups actually pay patent licenses and many, many, many new products come to market. In fact, if you take two startups prior to commercialization in the same marget segment, one has a patent and the other does not, which has a competitive advantage and why?

I agree with your ulimate conclusion but I don't see how it's a bad thing. That is genuinely the aim of most software startups ie acquistion. It does mean that some of the "value" in software creation and competition does get sucked up by IP lawyers but that isn't exactly new.

Reply Parent Score: 1