×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Top Microsoft Execs Moonlighting For a Patent Bully

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the standing-around-a-whiteboard-patenting-stuff dept.

Microsoft 130

theodp writes "TechFlash reports that Microsoft bigwigs like Craig Mundie and Bill Gates (when he still worked there) have been secretly moonlighting at Intellectual Ventures (IV), the 'patent extortion fund' run by Bill's pal Nathan Myhrvold. A Microsoft spokesman confirmed that its technologists have been sitting in on IV-sponsored 'innovation sessions,' where their pearls of wisdom were captured and turned into patent applications for Searete, an IV shadow corporate entity. And if all goes well, Searete will soon enjoy exclusive rights to the fruit of the brainstorming, which includes processes ranging from determining and rewarding 'influencers' to treating malaria, HIV, TB, hepatitis, smallpox, and cancer."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

130 comments

If I were a Microsoft investor (5, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726189)

If I were a Microsoft investor I might be a little bit annoyed by high ranking employees contributing valuable IP to another company.

Microsoft is not doing its job as looking after its investors interests if it does not pursue the employees involved for this.

Re:If I were a Microsoft investor (2, Funny)

qoncept (599709) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726245)

"Microsoft is not doing its job as looking after its investors interests if it does not pursue the employees involved for this."

BRAIN GAMES! Unscramble the prepositions to discover what Microsoft is doing wrong!
Solution: Microsoft is not doing its job of looking after its investors' interests if it does not pursue the employees involved in doing this.

Seriously, though.. Who is investing in Microsoft?

Re:If I were a Microsoft investor (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25726445)

I just took a massive shit. Streams of liquid feces are streaming out of my asshole. The stench is unbearable. Worst of all, I'm sitting at my desk. At work.

Re:If I were a Microsoft investor (0, Troll)

agrounds (227704) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726461)

I just took a massive shit. Streams of liquid feces are streaming out of my asshole. The stench is unbearable. Worst of all, I'm sitting at my desk. At work.

Twitter? Is that you?

Re:If I were a Microsoft investor (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25726805)

seriously you guys posting that kind of shit are even worse, don't fucking reply to trolls, even with another troll

Re:If I were a Microsoft investor (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726755)

Anybody who owns an S&P 500 index fund or etf, and probably millions of other people who own various mutual funds. Also, there are probably lots of individual stockholders.

Re:If I were a Microsoft investor (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726251)

You mean the "same company", just far enough removed to play 3 card monte.

Anyone know if there's a conflict of interest here big enough to merit a SlapWithSpaghettiNoodle (SWSN)?

Re:If I were a Microsoft investor (4, Funny)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726587)

Stupid ideas like that eventually fail, and they will fail even more given America's changing political climate.

SCO, for example. Good for Microsoft that they had nothing to do with that fiasco...

oh, wait [wired.com].

Re:If I were a Microsoft investor (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726317)

Oh please... It's a free market. If you don't like it, leave. Or, umm...that's what I'd say, you know... If I was a heartless corporate executive. But more seriously, how many investors care about anything other than positive revenue flow? As long as that's happening, there's no moral questions anyone's going to raise. I mean, that's what the government is for, riiiiight? O_o

Re:If I were a Microsoft investor (5, Funny)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726427)

Besides, any funds raised will be put toward the charitable cause of buying Myhrvold and extra vowel for his last name, so it's not all bad.

Re:If I were a Microsoft investor (0, Troll)

ifwm (687373) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726521)

Could you please do away with the retarded pseudo-stream of conciousness crap, and ridiculous tween speak and unnecessary characters?

Instead, try to demonstrate that you can actually compose a coherent sentence that doesn't resemble a fucking verbal train wreck.

Thanks.

Re:If I were a Microsoft investor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25726705)

You shouldn't ask of others what you're not willing to provide yourself.

Re:If I were a Microsoft investor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25726903)

"I know you are, but what am I?" is not an argument tactic.

That threat might have worked... (1)

hellfire (86129) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726395)

... if it wasn't for the fact that one of the two employees mentioned happens to be the single majority stockholder of Microsoft.

Re:That threat might have worked... (4, Informative)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726467)

A corporation has fiduciary responsibility to all of the shareholders, not just the biggest ones.

-jcr

Re:That threat might have worked... (0, Flamebait)

Blappo (976408) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726793)

Which has fuck all to do with his comment and this story, but please, keep spraying the screen with you mental diarrhea.

Re:That threat might have worked... (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25727439)

I know you're frustrated that nobody pays attention to you in real life, but trolling /. is very poor substitute for social interaction. Try to work it out in therapy.

-jcr

Call Jerry (4, Funny)

mfh (56) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726397)

Microsoft is not doing its job as looking after its investors interests if it does not pursue the employees involved for this.

This will be addressed in the next advertisement, as rumored all over the internet (starting here).

Jerry Seinfeld: "Bill -- what were you thinking?! You can't give away that secret to the OTHER GUY -- YOU GOTTA KEEP THAT FOR MSFT. What will the shareholders say?? They'll say that wasn't very fair of you, that what they'll say!"

Bill Gates: "They promised no one would find out."

Jerry Seinfeld: "This reminds me of when my Mom used to make me eat chicken soup. She'd say that it's an honest thing to eat chicken soup you paid for with your own money -- AND that's true, today, you know."

Bill Gates: "What?"

Jerry Seinfeld: "You gotta eat chicken soup, Bill. I know a guy who ... here is the spot right here, let's go inside and we can eat, but you gotta do it simple, Bill -- just hand over the money and say the name of the soup. But that's all you can do. So, you hold out your money, speak your soup in a loud, clear voice, step to the left and receive...It's very important not embellish on your order. No extraneous comments. No questions. No compliments."

Bill Gates: "Okay."

Soup Nazi: "YES."

Bill Gates: "Uh... what's good today?"

Soup Nazi: "WAT!"

Bill Gates: "What do you recommend for someone who is having a bad day?"

Soup Nazi: "WAT! THIS NO 20 QUESTIONS. NO SOUP FOR YOU!"

since when is Microsoft in the vaccine business? (1)

ifwm (687373) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726413)

Oh right, Microsoft isn't in the vaccine business.

So please explain why, apart from an intense desire to have your ass sued, would you "pursue" employees who are presumably meeting their obligations to MS?

Oh right, because you needed something to say because you posted so early.

Re:If I were a Microsoft investor (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726497)

If I were a Microsoft investor I might be a little bit annoyed by high ranking employees contributing valuable IP to another company.

I wouldn't be, necessarily. More likely, this is attempt by MS to shmooze around with IV to try to get special consideration. Further down the road, when MS wants to license IP from IV, they might get a better deal since they've been cooperating up-front. So it's a gamble but I wouldn't say a direct violation of the investor's trust, or fiduciary responsibility.

They are clearly scum (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25727103)

although for Gates it is no surprise.

More articles:

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20081108/1744562771.shtml

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/11/10/gates_myhrvold_patents/print.html

http://www.patentfools.com/2008/09/intellectual-ventures-independence-day-take-ii/#more-19

http://www.techflash.com/microsoft/Gates_top_Microsoft_executives_do_some_inventing_on_the_side34192179.html

Smallpox? (1)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 5 years ago | (#25727815)

The ...er...thing... that the lead text referred to had a reference to smallpox (variola) deep inside it. A vaccine or vaccine delivery system, I believe. And don't tell me that I didn't read it. It was 'written' in a way that made it impossible to read sensibly. Look at it and tell me that I'm wrong.

  Anyway, smallpox is supposed to be a dead disease. Vanquished from the earth through the work of the WHO and Dr. Lawrence Brilliant in the 1970s.

  So, what's Bill and his Bozo boys talking about here? Do they know something that we don't?
What we do know is that the Soviets made millions of doses of smallpox from samples that were saved for 'research' purposes during the last paranoid days of their empire. The BioPreparat program that has been documented in the book 'The Devil in the Freezer'. All these doses were supposed to be destroyed.

    It would be bad news if this disease were to reappear.

Patents (5, Insightful)

mfh (56) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726221)

It doesn't surprise me that smart, greed oriented, affluent people will make use of their talent for some extra money, at whatever the cost to the public (who are largely now all have-nots).

But what happens when pressure exceeds tolerance? When the have-nots have had the last straw? We throw down the yoke and fight for what is ours, which is that right to evolve, either technologically or financially without interruption from outside constraints.

This is a sticky situation with patents. Patents are really only relevant if you are intending to profit from your invention, which is why I like Open Source. If something is released to the public freely, and is allowed to grow and expand on its own merit, no patent can stop it. If no money is gained, no patent holder can sue for money gained. No patent holder can sue to prevent Open Source, because their act of downloading the software to examine it constitutes agreement with the license.

Even worse case scenario, if some asshat managed to convince a judge that their patent was valid and that an Open Source project was in violation, there really is no recourse.

Now if you find that after years of extensive work, that some asshat is suing you for patent violation, you can contact the EFF and fight it. They will help.

With all the ideas floating around, it only goes so far that someone would argue they had an original thought. I mean that really is a tough sell to any judge. Good luck with that.

Offtopic note (1, Troll)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726283)

Ridiculously off topic, but I am not sure which is scarier, your UID or that Sig. (Where's it from?)

P.S. Mod him up.

Re:Offtopic note (2, Informative)

mfh (56) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726433)

In before, "he bought the UID on ebay."

And, I wrote the sig myself. Thanks for the compliment! :)

I could embellish on the meaning of the sig, but I'll allow your subconscious to experience the fear which is why it's there in the first place.

Re:Offtopic note (1)

repapetilto (1219852) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726605)

I feel like I caught a glimpse of one of the Great Old Ones or something

one of the Great Old Ones (1)

Dareth (47614) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726685)

Probably not, just a lucky bastard who wasn't in class or at work at the time.

Re:Offtopic note (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25726883)

My favorite saying lately is similar to yours. "Cognitive dissonance causes arousal."

It really does: just watch what happens when you read something in a newspaper that you know is violently, stupidly wrong, or something that you've always considered wrong but subconsciously sympathize with.

Re: Scary Sigs, made conscious. (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726955)

George Lakoff: Women, Fire, & Dangerous Things; Case Study 1 on Anger:

(Physical events can be mapped to emotional distressing states.)

Source Metaphor: An explosion is damaging to the container and dangerous to bystanders.
Target Knowledge Metaphor: A loss of control of knowledge is damaging to a person and dangerous to other people.

Re:Patents (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726561)

Patents are really only relevant if you are intending to profit from your invention, which is why I like Open Source. If something is released to the public freely, and is allowed to grow and expand on its own merit, no patent can stop it. If no money is gained, no patent holder can sue for money gained.

But that's not the only thing having a patent lets them do, there are other things they can sue you for.

No patent holder can sue to prevent Open Source, because their act of downloading the software to examine it constitutes agreement with the license.

BS. Uploading it (ie, engaging in distribution) would require that they agreed with the license. Downloading it and even using it doesn't, since those don't require permission from the copyright holder.

Even worse case scenario, if some asshat managed to convince a judge that their patent was valid and that an Open Source project was in violation, there really is no recourse.

Maybe, that really depends on where the main contributors are. If a court said that Linux (the kernel) violated some patent and was talked into granting an injunction I imagine that having Linus and Red Hat and IBM be forced to stop work would be a rather major setback, even if non-US contributors were still active.

Re:Patents (1)

Blappo (976408) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726861)

It's also no surprise that whiny, stupidity oriented people complain about rich people then write long winded diatribes in a vain attempt to portray their personal jealousy of the rich as something else.

Like you did in your post.

Re:Patents (2, Interesting)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#25728281)

Jealousy of the rich is not entirely unwarranted if the rich didn't play fair in getting that way.

I have a gun, I put it to your head, I shoot, and take away all your money. Then I dispose of your carcass. I am now rich.

Why don't people do this often these days? Because of police, because of a big government with even bigger guns that's willing to stand up and protect you.

Unfortunately, in the grown up business world, there is no such thing, at least, definitely not as strong.

Some big company "murders" you by suing you into oblivion, they get away with it because of how the legal system's set up. If you don't have a lawyer, you're screwed, because unless you're willing to give up everything that's worth living for, there is no way you are going to keep up with the corporate steamroller.

IV is a microsoft attack dog (2, Informative)

number6x (626555) | more than 5 years ago | (#25727155)

The purpose if Intellectual Ventures is to harass and intimidate Microsoft competitors, but to do so in a way that Microsoft can keep its hands clean.

Bill Gates and Paul Allen have contributed knowledge and expertise to many 'think tanks' for fee and for free. Why the secrecy here?

Microsoft is a ruthless competitor with a long history of dirty tricks. They didn't invent FUD (Check w/ IBM for that), but they are masters of FUD-foo.

Intellectual Ventures needs to have a large enough portfolio to bring pressure to bear where Microsoft wants that pressure applied. It does not matter to Microsoft that IV succeeds or fails in law suits, as long as Microsoft competitors can be harassed, intimidated and drained of funds.

All of this may be completely legal. Is it unethical? that depends on your ethics. For many people in the business world, if something is not illegal, then it is not unethical to do that something.

Re:Patents (1)

CoderFool (1366191) | more than 5 years ago | (#25727767)

This is on a bit of a tangent, but I think Microsoft steals ideas from people they interview for jobs. When I graduated and interviewed with MS, my interviewer asked me what my chief complaints about Windows were and/or what I would suggest they could do to improve it. I suggested they could load windows on a flash based drive to speed up access and reliability. Lo and behold, a year later, I hear announcements about solid state drives. I don't know whether or not the drive makers were already working on this or if MS made a suggestion; I am probably full of crap for thinking that MS took my idea and passed it onto the drivemakers, but it did make me think about sharing ideas with a company interviewing me. Sure I wanted to impress them, but it strikes me as a great way for them to troll for ideas, patentable or not. And MS has proven themselves shady enough to pull something like this.

so this his how Bill is helpling Africa (3, Insightful)

goffster (1104287) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726247)

by giving them free meds, and then charging
them via patent royalties ?

Re:so this his how Bill is helpling Africa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25726305)

You forgot the additional part about forcing governments to pass "IP laws" before they offer these same meds...Gates and these people are the dirtiest kind of exploiting parasitic scum there is alive on this planet today.

Fucking Jew Rats (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25726265)

Send 'em to the concentration camp!

Nice way to retire, bill (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726267)

I gotta hand it to you, Mr. Gates... Tell everyone you retired from Microsoft so you could free up time to monopolize biotech and a dozen other infrastructure-critical industries in this country... That's pretty clever. Seriously, are you mad because nobody invited you to prom? Is this some kind of Stepford Wives remix? I'm not saying this because I'm trying to be funny or sarcastic (well, mostly not sarcastic)... I really want to know why some people feel a compulsive need to consume or control every resource in the world. These people are like viruses... An ideological cancer, and it's disgusting to watch people who scream "But... MY INNOVATION!!! NOoooooooo!" Whenever someone asks why they're holding all the cards, but once they've got 'em, boy, outsource everything to a bunch of people who still use their hand to wipe their asses with, reduce the research budget to zilch, and then call yourselves innovators. Innovators of what... Slavery? Mass exploitation? Please. Have some originality... Try doing good for a change. If nothing else, it'll confuse the hell out of your detractors.

Re:Nice way to retire, bill (1)

cryptodan (1098165) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726327)

Isnt that part of humanity to become the King Lion in the jungle, and control everything as far as the eye can see? I know thats what i Have learned from observing humanity. It is time that people realize that humanity is a cut throat species where you aim for the top, kick ass, take names, and then kick people out to make it there. Learn to live with that fact. Power, Greed, and Free Thought is what makes us who we are.

Re:Nice way to retire, bill (1)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726745)

Most of humanity isn't this way. Most of America isn't this way.

This kind of cut-throat need to dominate is pathological and abnormal.

Secretly? (1)

LearnToSpell (694184) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726271)

There was a long article in some magazine (Harper's? Atlantic? Can't remember...) many months ago, explaining the whole situation. It sounded really cool, actually. That'd be a neat place to hang out for a while.

Not secret (5, Informative)

m000 (187652) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726279)

The New Yorker had an article [newyorker.com] about this six months ago.

Re:Not secret (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726419)

The article makes it sound a lot more benign than it actually is. "We'll come up with great ideas, and let people use 'em for a fee!"

The problem is, as Edison is famous for saying, "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." Having a good idea is the easy part. Making it work in the real world is where all the problems crop up.

Making someone pay for the privilege of solving all the problems that you're too lazy/incompetent to solve? That just sucks.

Re:Not secret (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726849)

No, the real secret is having someone else do all the hard work and then stealing it from them.

Ha ha. They thought they were going to get rich. Instead, they got to involantary contribute to the betterment of the society as a whole.

Re:Not secret (1)

amirulbahr (1216502) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726943)

Good thing you can't patent an idea, only an innovation.

Re:Not secret (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25727787)

rofl. Have you read a patent lately? Little more than "wouldn't it be sweet if you could do X... but on a computer?". Plus a little diagram with a box labelled "computer" with arrows going in and out and words equivalent to "stuff happens here".

Re:Not secret (1)

wassermana (962167) | more than 5 years ago | (#25727331)

I took at look at the "Injectable controlled release fluid delivery system". If this patent is granted it would be as if Henry Ford had patented "Device for transportation using four wheels powered by internal combustion engine" I do not see how anyone "other than the patent holder" can think this would be a god thing.

Re:Not secret (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25727949)

That is because he took advantage of the IP neivite of real inventors...ask Tesla

Re: Not so Searete (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726637)

"The New Yorker had an article [newyorker.com] about this six months ago", m000

Did the article also mention that Bill Gates of Microsoft also has a financial interest in Searete [freshpatents.com]?

The Crime of Reason (2, Interesting)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726371)

Nobel laureate and Physics Professor Robert B. Laughlin discussed the impact of knowledge increasingly being sequestering from the public. While a certain amount of information is kept secret for legitimate military or security purposes (such as how to build an atomic bomb), more and more knowledge is being restricted for economic reasons, he explained. Many companies (and people) consider ideas to be their intellectual property.

http://www.amazon.com/Crime-Reason-Closing-Scientific-Mind/dp/0465005071 [amazon.com]

Re:The Crime of Reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25726815)

Has sufficient knowledge been kept secret to prevent people from building a nuclear weapon? Somehow, I doubt it. I suspect most engineering graduates could build at least a small device, given the resources. And I mean from scratch, making the high explosives from scratch, chips, tubes, resistors and what not for electronics, stuff to cast or machine metal, ....

Of course companies like IP. A company has no intelligence in of itself. Employees give it IP, which gives it a monopoly in a market. What's not to like? IP should not be transferrable from the creator(s).

Re:The Crime of Reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25728433)

And here I'm made to feel like a criminal when all I want to do is own my computer and the game I'm purchased to play it on!

Patents are genocidial (4, Interesting)

argoff (142580) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726383)

I think its important to understand that as society enters into the coming replication age, that the phony property right they call "patent" will become genocidal.

As things like nanotech and 3d printing take off, production will shift away from the factory and back into the home. The market will start to center around production and creation services instead of production goods.

The people and industries on the losing side of this model will almost certainly try to turn to a patent royalty model, and will almost certainly use extremely coercive measures to impose their control. Just look at Monsanto and ADM and their heavy handed patent strategies used against farmers. Just look at the RIAA and how they cling to their royalty control model under the guise of "intellectual" property and attacked everyone. Just look at the slave plantations, how the plantation masters envisioned that the future of the industrial revolution was to leverage inventions like the cotton-gin and their "ownership" of slaves to vastly expand the size and production capabilities of their plantations. Just look at how pharmaceutical companies sued African nations in the world court to ban them from buying generic AIDS drugs from India. Just look at how patents in the USA slowed anti-lock brakes and air-bags development by decades as millions died.

Mark my words, if we let them push the lie that patent is a "property" or an "incentive" or "protection", genocidal consequences will not be far away.

Re:Patents are genocidial (1)

nycguy (892403) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726609)

How exactly are patents more "phony" than any other property? All property has its status by common consent or force (legal, physical or otherwise): Without that consent or force you don't actually "own" anything. True, patents are not physical property, but neither are copyrights, trademarks, etc. For that matter, neither is "your data" or "your money", since both are mostly represented in bits and bytes today rather than as physical commodities.

I am not saying there is not a problem with the patent system, nor do I think you're necessarily entirely wrong in your assertion that a licensing model would dominate/impede if cheap production methods became widely available. However, to call property legally defined as such as "phony" is to not understand what property is--it's whatever we as a society define it to be, just like any other rights or privileges we have (many of which one could just as easily call "phony").

Re:Patents are genocidial (2, Informative)

argoff (142580) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726777)

Well, the whole philosophy behind natural law (used by the founding fathers) is that individuals have inherent rights (like property) even if no government exists at all, but people (being social, but imperfect creatures) typically organize in the form of government to secure their rights.

So by that measure, property is not created by common consent or force.

Also, some of the other examples you pointed to, are not about property, but fraud or an intrusion of peoples privacy. Copyrights are not property either. Trademarks would be more about stopping fraud, than about property. "your data", is more about a privacy violation. "your money" is more about keeping tack of value (without fraud) than about property.

In fact patents violate property. If I made an exact copy of your corn farm, and you say I can't have a corn farm because you do, then that violates my right to do what I justly please with my property. Well the same is true with invention, imitation is not stealing. The whole foundation of property revolves around the fact that being finite creatures, not everybody can use every resource at the same time without imposing on others. Well, with invention, they can.

Re:Patents are genocidial (1)

wolfsdaughter (1081205) | more than 5 years ago | (#25727667)

unfortunately, the value of property is often is proportional to it's scarcity.

so if you make an exact copy of someone else's corn farm, you are directly changing value of their farm ( you are increasing supply of corn)

maybe you could work something out so that you're increasing the value of your neighbor's corn, if you and they work together and share some costs associated with running, harvesting, selling, shipping, etc the twin farms but more likely you're decreasing the value of the other farm's yeild because now you're (at least a potential) competitor

Re:Patents are genocidial (1)

rohan972 (880586) | more than 5 years ago | (#25728557)

unfortunately, the value of property is often is proportional to it's scarcity.

Always proportional to it's scarcity.

so if you make an exact copy of someone else's corn farm, you are directly changing value of their farm ( you are increasing supply of corn)

We call that "competition". It isn't unfortunate, it is the method by which people have incentive to produce higher {quality,quantity} products at lower price. The whole benefit of a competitive market system derives from the fact that any individuals produce can be devalued by others increasing the supply of that product or an alternative.

Patents and copyrights are to prevent that competition temporarily, increasing the incentive to produce innovation by the granting of a monopoly (competition-free market) to offset the competitive devaluations effect of disincentive to invest time and money in a product that could be uneconomical to produce in a free market if you are stuck with large sunk costs. It doesn't always work as intended and the idea that preventing others from copying is a natural or just right is one of the things that makes it difficult to get sensible laws written.

You don't have any automatic right to be free from competition. There are social contracts (patent, copyright) that grant that temporarily but many people seem to have forgotten that contracts have to benefit both parties, and the benefit to the public of the IP social contracts is the public domain, not the opportunity to pay monopoly prices in perpetuity.

Re:Patents are genocidial (1)

nycguy (892403) | more than 5 years ago | (#25727755)

The founding fathers also believed that people could be property--and indeed, people were property at the time, by the decree of those who were considered free and the threat and use of force against those who were considered property. So, the idea of "inherent rights" can change over time, meaning that they aren't really inherent/natural, but rather man-made.

Property is just a man-made concept, and it has no meaning as such unless the concept is respected or defended. Even physical property is not such if those around you do not agree and you are unable to defend your rights to it. Just ask the Native Americans about their "property" that all Americans now live on.

Re:Patents are genocidial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25726929)

Since patents only exist as legal concepts and can dissapear in an instant I'd say they are phony. They exist only at the whim of law. Real physical property can have its ownership toyed with but no amount of legalese can make it dissapear simply by pronouncement. You are questioning the definition of ownership which is different from questioning whether something can be owned in the first place.

Re:Patents are genocidial (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25727257)

Assume for a second I live in a colony on Mars. A company in the US patents something. We build the devices anyway (for whatever reason). Legally, US patents can't be enforced off-world of course (I make assumptions; crazy lawyers would have other ideas I'm sure). All of a suddent the US says patents apply off-planet. Does that mean I'm now violating the law?

A silly example to be sure, but the idea of property rights is hard to reconcile when talking about ideas.

Re:Patents are genocidial (1)

nycguy (892403) | more than 5 years ago | (#25727533)

Yes, you are violating US law in that case. Whether or not you should be concerned about that violation depends on the consequences the US government would be able to impose upon you. That was the point of my original post: Any property is defined only by the consent of others in defining it as such, or by the ability of the "owner" to defend that property through various means (legal, military, etc.). The fact that the property is an intangible idea is irrelevant if the consequences are sufficient to make one respect it as property. One can in practice call *anything* property if others agree or one is able to defend it as such.

Re:Patents are genocidial (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726817)

There are human cultures which never had any sort of property rights at all. Everything was either communal or owned by "Mother Earth". Private ownership wasn't ever considered.

Sounds pretty good, right? Until you realize that none of these cultures developed much past the writing stage and some not even that far. They never produced anything of any lasting importance either culturally or intellectually. Sure, the people living in these societies might have been pretty happy, until a disease came and wiped them out or a drought starved them to death. Pretty primitive way of life.

Without "ownership" and "property rights" that is about all a culture get to.

Re:Patents are genocidial (4, Insightful)

argoff (142580) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726909)

Just because someone calls something a property right, doesn't mean that it is a property right. Do you own slaves? Last I checked, me using an invention, doesn't stop you from using your own copy. If it seems a lot different than regular property, that's because it is.

subverting the system (4, Insightful)

Goldsmith (561202) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726403)

These guys think that they're helping... but the people who do the work (I'm thinking of some poor grad student in a lab somewhere) to make a working device go to the patent office and discover that they don't have rights to their own work. It's wonderful.

If you don't (or can't) use a patent, at least make it free. A couple hours "brainstorming" should not trump a few years of hard work.

Re:subverting the system (1)

cryptodan (1098165) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726517)

Its all in the contract you sign when you apply to work for these people. So all in all its the employee's fault for not reading.

Re:subverting the system (1)

bledri (1283728) | more than 5 years ago | (#25727003)

Its all in the contract you sign when you apply to work for these people. So all in all its the employee's fault for not reading.

I think he's referring to a third party that labors to actually create something and then after doing the hard work discovers that someone else, with a lot of lawyers, owns the idea. At least that's how I read the comment.

Re:subverting the system (1)

cryptodan (1098165) | more than 5 years ago | (#25727321)

Even then as a contractor for the government, the ideas I get and work with become the sole responsibility of the contract company i am working with. It is in my contract.

Re:subverting the system (1)

Goldsmith (561202) | more than 5 years ago | (#25728071)

I'm not complaining about an employer getting all of the rights to an employees ideas. If you want to give that up, it's your business.

I am complaining about companies like I.V. patenting things they have no intention of using, particularly when their ideas are culled from the scientific literature. The New Yorker article from a few months ago linked to elsewhere makes it clear that's what they're doing. It means that working scientists have to hire lawyers to use our own work (I actually do own some of my own work, and it would be nice to do something with it).

ip law come full circle (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726471)

the idea of ip law is to reward those who innovate. the supposition being, that were there no legal protection, innovators would see the fruits of their intellectual pursuits go to established financial entities instead of themselves

and it is therefore the greatest irony that ip law is now used to suppress true innovation and protect entrenched financial entities. only the rich can afford the legal bully pulpit that ip law enables

ip law needs to disappear

but at best, we can ignore it, and route around it, like the damage it is

death to ip law

Re:ip law come full circle (2, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726737)

Unfortunately, the other side of that is whoever has the biggest distribution channel wins. You remove all barriers to distribution of something - no more licensing, royalties, patents, trademarks and copyrights - and now you have the big players out-distributing the small guys.

Think what happens when a song becomes "popular" and there are no barriers to distribution. Sony (or WalMart) just produces a CD. Maybe it is the original vocal talent, maybe not. Who cares? They win, the originator becomes a nobody.

Same thing with books. If WalMart can sell the book for $5 because it is printed in China, why would anyone even be able to find the "original" from the original author? So you think the author just makes a deal with WalMart... except what would be the motivation to give the author anything at all?

There are problems today with IP law, but throwing it away isn't the answer, unless you really love WalMart and Sony.

dude. ever hear of the internet? (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25728737)

every pimply faced 13 year old has the same global reach and publishing potentiality of bertelsmann and time warner circa 1988

Gladwell Loves them (1)

DaveInAustin (549058) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726489)

Malcolm Gladwell (of Tipping Point fame) write a glowing article [newyorker.com] about this venture.
Bill Gates, whose company, Microsoft, is one of the major investors in Intellectual Ventures, says, "I can give you fifty examples of ideas they've had where, if you take just one of them, you'd have a startup company right there."

Re:Gladwell Loves them (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726577)

"I can give you fifty examples of ideas they've had where, if you take just one of them, you'd have a startup company right there."

He forgot to add, "Well, not anymore, of course, few startups will be able to afford the ridiculous fees we'll be charging. I just wish we had thought of this during the dot.com boom! Think of all the companies that would be paying us royalties today. Mmmm.... royalties...."

Re:Gladwell Loves them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25727483)

You know, Kaczinsky had it wrong. It's not technology that's destroying America... it's people like this.

Myhrvold and ilk should have been the target of his bombs. Or maybe a copycat...

this the kind of innovation .. (2, Interesting)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726551)

This the kind of innovation they are on about. Can any of these patents be turned into real working devices, without spending thousands of man-hours and huge wads of money. I'm thinking of the NTP v Blackberry litigation. NTP basically bought up some old wireless, paging and email patents, sat on them and them and then waited until Blackberry did all the work ...

'NTP is a holding company [computerworld.com] created in 1992 to manage certain patents belonging to Thomas Campana'

'on 20 May 1991. Campana filed a patent application for his idea to merge existing e-mail systems with radio-frequency wireless [ieee.org] communication networks'

Re:this the kind of innovation .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25726781)

I read one of the 'influencer' patents.

It is sickening that one has to sift through all of the BS hedging and shifting (count how many 'or', 'may', 'alternative', 'possible', even several explanations of what 'or' means) in order to get to what is basically zero explanation of what looks like a business method for creating payed shills based upon content providers bloviating about products (via spyware or however, not real specific on that front):

"""
By way of further example, in a situation where the person is looking to buy a new truck, they may access eContent 1 and eContent 2 looking for recommendations and reviews of trucks. The person may spend five minutes accessing eContent 1 because they like the content or find it helpful, and only ten seconds accessing eContent 2 because they do not find the content helpful. The navigation content operation 510 in FIG. 5 may receive data indicative of the person accessing eContent 1 having a first-electronic-content portion pertaining to Ford and GM trucks and eContent 2 having a second-electronic-content portion pertaining to Ford and Toyota trucks. The navigation operation may receive data indicative of respective access times and other aspects of the person's access. The person may use their computing device to become involved over the Internet with a third party, such as a Ford sales site. They may order delivery of printed promotional materials, a quote on a new truck, arrange a test drive, seek an address of a Ford dealer, and/or order a truck. Alternatively, they may become involved by visiting a dealer showroom, taking a test drive, and/or purchasing a truck. The engagement data operation 540 may receive data indicative of an involvement between the person and a third party, such as Ford. The data may be received from any number of sources, for example, such as the client machine 310, the third-party site 330, the network intermediary 340, the search engine site 350, and/or the page tag information processor 380. Alternatively, the data indicative of an involvement between the person and Ford may be manually gathered by a sales person at a dealership visited by the person. The recognition operation 560 facilitates delivery of a benefit to an owner of the first-electronic content or an owner of the second electronic content in response to an assessed influence by the first-electronic-content portion and/or the second-electronic-content portion on the involvement between the person and the third-party. For example, an assessed influence by the first-electronic-content portion and/or the second-electronic-content portion on the involvement between the person and the third-party may indicate that the first-electronic-content portion likely influenced the involvement between the person and the third-party, which in this example, is Ford.
"""

It seems no real enablement if any sophisticated algorithms have been implemented to achieve this noble end.

Re:this the kind of innovation .. (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 5 years ago | (#25728431)

"I'm thinking of the NTP v Blackberry litigation. "

And let's not forget the Xerox vs Palm Graffiti 1 patent war.

I've lost track of who sued who - Wikipedia says that Palm appealed, lost the appeal but won a right to reevaluate whether the patent was valid in the first place (!), won that case, then Xerox counter-appealed and won.

Meanwhile, the best writing system ever devised for handheld devices got dropped for the ugly and finger-crippling Graffiti 2, and the customers lost.

Hooray for the smoking crater.

change patent law to use it or loose it (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726581)

They could fix patent trolls like this in one swoop if they change the law to be use it or loose it. And if you loose it, it should be come open to the public for someone else to pick up and use ... for free. Think of the stimulus to the economy.

Re:change patent law to use it or loose it (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726651)

That plan ensures that nobody other tham large corporations will ever receive a patent again.

The "garage inventor" would be quickly displaced by a company that could exploit the invention. All they have to do is wait. Licensing a patent would be a thing of the past.

If the objective is to move all sources of revenue to major companies, well, I think you have hit on a real winner.

Re:change patent law to use it or loose it (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726997)

I do not think that you understand the intent. I think it would be better to kneecap the entire patent system than to let patent trolls to continue to stifle everything. Trade secrets do not require you to disclose your invention to anyone.

Re:change patent law to use it or loose it (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 5 years ago | (#25727075)

All the "garage inventor" needs is a working prototype; not an entire production line.

Re:change patent law to use it or loose it (1)

rohan972 (880586) | more than 5 years ago | (#25728675)

The "garage inventor" would be quickly displaced by a company that could exploit the invention. All they have to do is wait. Licensing a patent would be a thing of the past.

No, the company would want exclusive rights, so would license the patent rather than let it go into the public domain for their competitors.

Re:change patent law to use it or loose it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25726703)

Maybe you should get a patent on using loose when you meant to write lose. You certainly used it, so you can't lose it! hahahahahahahaha

Upon whom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25727335)

Use it or loose it? Who would you loose it upon?

working samples (1)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726635)

This kind of bullshit would stop if the patent office required working implementations again.

The hard part of most inventions is making them work, not having the original idea. Granting patents on ideas that haven't been implemented harms innovation because it discourages people from investing the money to make inventions work.

MS wouldn't do this for free (1)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 5 years ago | (#25726707)

MS wouldn't do this for free. Myhrvold probably offered them some insanely great deal whereby MS benefits from the patent trolling and Myhrvold operates with the understanding that industry majors (MS, Apple, Sony, etc.) won't be on his back about it.

Myhrvold is going in the direction he sees most defensible and profitable: We're just following what the law says and protecting our ideas.

The way I see it, Myhrvold is going to launch the attack before the public at large start realizing how dangerous the concept of IP is.

It is interesting that Google are on board too, though.

The public is only screwed for 20 years (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 5 years ago | (#25727177)

The good thing about current patent law is that they'll only put the US and Europe 20 years behind places that don't give a hoot about patent infringement. After that, the field's open.

In a way, this is a good thing -- if they patent *everything* right now, and 99% of those things don't get addressed for lack of technology or resources, until the patents have expired, then all those research directions are an open field, for anyone to explore. You could look at this as a retarded version of open source (where by retarded I mean both 'stupid' and 'slowed down', in this case, by 20 years.)

As long as they don't manage to lengthen the scope of patents, all they're doing is cutting their own throats.

Re:The public is only screwed for 20 years (1)

argoff (142580) | more than 5 years ago | (#25727283)

Slavery started out as short term indentured servitude that could not be inherited.

Copyright started out as 14 years max.

Is not a coincidence that slavery was maxed out just before industrial revolution forces killed it, and not a coincidence that copyright imposition has maxed out just before the information age is killing it. The more society advances, the more money stands to be gained by imposing these controls till it eventually reaches a point where society can't take it anymore and is forced to remove the parasite in a violent way. Unfortunately, patent is rather genocidal, so it's removal will probably be rather violent. (eg how patents lawsuits held back generic AIDS drugs from Africa, how they slowed development of anti-lock brakes and air bag development for decades while millions died)

Re:The public is only screwed for 20 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25727299)

They do mean to lengthen the scope of patents. In relatively out of the way places (Malaysia IIRC), they've already been pushing for effective 40-year patents by allowing the same thing to be repatented once if it has "new use" (not changed in any way!). Then, presumably, much like for copyright, they'll develop an international treaty requiring all signatories to "harmonize" to the longest of the international terms. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Big surprise (1)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 5 years ago | (#25728261)

It's no surprise that Gates and company are primarily interested in thinking up general ideas, grabbing patents on them and then beating people over the head to pay them for the ideas. This has been Gates' MO since day one - pick the pockets of every single human being on the planet with a pocket. Gates is greedier than a member of the Russian-Jewish Mafia.

"Gary Flake, one of Microsoft's top Internet gurus" - there's an appropriate name for a Microsoft employee. They're all "flakes".

Microsoft basically is an organized crime group which has incorporated. Actually, one could say that about most large corporations.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...