Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 7th Nov 2013 10:04 UTC, submitted by mbpark
Microsoft

Microsoft is generating $2 billion per year in revenue from Android patent royalties, says Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund in a new note on the company.

He estimates that the Android revenue has a 95% margin, so it's pretty much all profit.

This money, says Sherlund, helps Microsoft hide the fact that its mobile and Xbox groups are burning serious cash.

Microsoft has not written a single line of Android code, yet rakes in the profits through scummy software patents. Crime does pay.

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mistersoft
Member since:
2011-01-05

*If* you want "software patent protection" over and above copyright, trade secrets etc..
(A) your code needs to be scrutinised harder than currently and held to a much higher of ingenuity and inventiveness by a PANEL of known experts in various software types
PLUS (B) if your patent is granted, all your code has to be be then published on a central repository of patented code. So basically if you want and or need this added protection of the patent, your code has to be effectively open sourced - not ostensibly for any political reasons, purely for visibility and openness, people NEED to be able to check their not infringing existing code when they're developing new code after all.

All current patents should be assessed against the new standard and either (1) tossed out, maybe with a refund of the application cost but no more.
Or (2) offer the chance of becoming a new upgraded patent but with the proviso that the code needs to be published on aforementioned public repository.

*or, the alternative* will be to not patent your code, have existing copyright protections and trade secret protection etc, and get to keep your code secret longer term too - obviously open to reverse engineering but you pays your money and you takes your chances..

Is that a silly idea...... ??

Reply Score: 3

galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

*If* you want "software patent protection" over and above copyright, trade secrets etc..


Please note that I actually agree with your point of view on this - the problem is you aren't understanding the nuts and bolts of the current system...

(A) your code needs to be scrutinised harder than currently and held to a much higher of ingenuity and inventiveness by a PANEL of known experts in various software types


There is currently no such thing as a "software patent" - what people are really talking about are ostensibly method/utility/design patents, but applied to software. The problem with code review for patents is there is no code to review - no one submits code because they are not patenting software, they are patenting what the software does (specifically when combined with the hardware it is run on). Source code is immaterial to how current patents are reviewed and granted.

I'm not disagreeing with your intent, but ultimately before you can actually call for code review you would have to actually legitimize the fact that these things are really software patents - something those with skin in the game do not want to do because it removes the cover that the federal courts have created for them with this silly "process patent" concept.

In short, you cant have code review because having code review means you have legitimized software patents, and the minute you decide to call a spade a spade the federal courts will be forced to deal with the fact that they have been ignoring supreme court precedent for the last 40 years...

PLUS (B) if your patent is granted, all your code has to be be then published on a central repository of patented code. So basically if you want and or need this added protection of the patent, your code has to be effectively open sourced - not ostensibly for any political reasons, purely for visibility and openness, people NEED to be able to check their not infringing existing code when they're developing new code after all.


Again, that makes no sense under current law (and has no hope at all of ever being accepted as new law - an open source requirement is simply not tenable).

Copyright != patents...

For example:

1. If I verbatim copy a copyrighted complex function (say over 2000 lines of code involving complex logic) and use it in my code I am violating copyright law.

2. If I do the same thing from a "patented" product, where that function is central to the patent, but I remove a bit that isn't relevant to my use case and use it for a different purpose... I am in fact NOT violating the patent, assuming that the patent does not cover my actual use case.

3. If instead, I right a completely original function (with no knowledge of the patent) that technically works in a very different way, but subjectively performs the same function as the patented product, following the same high level steps, and is used in the same manner for the same purpose, I AM violating the patent.

Publishing the code of "software patents" won't have any effect on making it easier or harder for developers to know whether or not they violate one, because the patents have nothing to do with the code used to implement them.

Is that a silly idea...... ??


No, its not silly at all. Its just not applicable to the patent system, because patents have nothing to do with source code. I don't know of a good solution other than to just outlaw the application of patents to software - I have seen nothing else that makes sense to me.

Reply Parent Score: 3

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

galvanash,

You hit the nail on the head. Still, we should thank the OP for trying to come up with actual solutions instead of just complaining about the current system.

Alas, I don't think anyone has the political power to stand up to the corporate machine in government to change the status-quo. Anyone challenging the incumbent corporate positions is virtually unelectable because of how important corporate support is for politicians. For it's part, congress never authorized the "software patents" that are being issued by USPTO. If they were to take action today it's more likely that they'd be pressured into officially recognizing them.


Disregarding what the patent system is today, it would make much more sense for patent protection to be exclusive to copyright protection. After all, one of the justifications of patents is that the public gets to duplicate the invention. Politics aside, logic would dictate that we really *should* be entitled to the source code.


mistersoft,
"All current patents should be assessed against the new standard and either (1) tossed out, maybe with a refund of the application cost but no more."

Good lucking getting the funding for that ;) Many patent holders will probably return their patents on the basis that they weren't making money anyways.


Edit:
Someone else on osnews (I forget who) suggested that perhaps instead of a patent system, the government should just buy inventions outright to make them public. They'd get paid for the invention, and the company would no longer have claims to the invention. This idea sounded quirky and wasn't well received here, but I think it was nevertheless an insightful way to motivate genuine innovators, truly maximize public utility, and completely eliminate this very costly epidemic of patent lawsuits. It's controversial and would never pass, but it's good food for thought on the subject of alternatives.

Edited 2013-11-09 08:48 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3