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Lawmakers Take Another Shot At Patent Reform

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the but-I-thought-of-it-first dept.

Patents 154

narramissic writes "Patent reform legislation was introduced yesterday (PDF), which, if it passes, would be the first major overhaul of US patent law in more than 50 years. (It should be noted that the new legislation is very similar to the Patent Reform Act of 2007, which died on the Senate floor last year.) The legislation would bring US patent law in line with global laws, and introduce 'reasonable royalty' provisions, which change the way damages are calculated and would reduce the likelihood of massive payouts for some patent holders. Representatives from Google, HP and Intel were quick to say that the changes would cut down on frivolous patent lawsuits. But the Innovation Alliance, a group representing patent-holders that oppose the legislation, said that it would 'devalue all patents, invite infringement — including from companies in China, India and other countries — and generate more litigation that will further strain the courts.'"

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aonnymous coward takes another shot at first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27067097)

ahh, frosty piss!

NO, Faster-issued, shorter lifetime patents. (2, Interesting)

gravos (912628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067169)

If there is a problem with the patent system, it is not that patents are issued too hastily, but rather that many are issued too slowly. On the other hand we need to ensure that the quality of patents that actually ARE issued is very high, and that they only last for a brief period of time (maybe 2-4 years, tops).

So overall, I'm not sure this is the right direction that we want to go.

Re:NO, Faster-issued, shorter lifetime patents. (5, Insightful)

defile39 (592628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067201)

Arguably, a problem with the patent system is that all technologies are treated the same. This is, of course, necessary because of treaties obliging member states to treat all technology the same, but it causes problems with incentives. We need long patents in regulated industries (namely, bio and pharma). We don't need long patents in EE industries where changing technology makes patented technology obsolete more quickly. This, however, is a hard issue to address. We're mired in international treaties that protect the status quo.

Re:NO, Faster-issued, shorter lifetime patents. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27067321)

We need long patents in regulated industries (namely, bio and pharma).

Yeah because they never abuse the patent system. They really need to patent 20% of our genes to protect their massive profits because the
5000% markup on AIDS drugs doesn't earn them enough.

Re:NO, Faster-issued, shorter lifetime patents. (4, Insightful)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067617)

Ok, so no one should be patenting "genes" period. It's a separate discussion the list of things that may be considered patentable that shouldn't be.

His point is valid, patents are intended to promote innovation. In many industries they're actually retarding it, particularly in many EE/CS/ME areas. Investment in these areas is pretty cheap, and the innovation alone is its own reward in most cases. The real issue is that these patents are often obvious enough and essential and trivial such that they really shouldn't have ever been granted. The right thing would be to toss them out a window...

In bio/pharm, I'm still not sure 17 years or whatever it is, is the right number, it seems awfully long for the way things are today... but it does cost a crapload of money to research and test and create the new ideas. Patents are still needed to keep companies interested in R&D.

Re:NO, Faster-issued, shorter lifetime patents. (3, Informative)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067813)

In pharma, it takes a long time after the patent is granted before you get your product onto the market, because you have to do lots of tests on it to satisfy the regulators that it is safe. Generally they have about five years of sales under patent before the generic manufacturers can move in.

If tech patents lasted 5 years, that would take us back to around the time WIndows XP SP2 was released. I think we could live with that.

Re:NO, Faster-issued, shorter lifetime patents. (3, Informative)

Moryath (553296) | more than 5 years ago | (#27069061)

In pharma, you generally get 5 years of sales under patent.

In electronics/tech, you generally get 5-10 years before the tech is "stale." Unless you're like Intel or IBM or some other big company that can get their patent into the "root" of a tech standard and force everyone else to pay for the use of your patent. This is why Sony put DVD drives in the PS2 and Blu-Ray in the PS3, and spent tons of money pushing Blu-Ray on everyone: if they can get their stuff to be "the standard", then they stand to make a mint. They've also managed this with certain other technology (Beta, for instance, survived quite well in the TV production industry where quality mattered more than relative price).

In manufacturing/tech, you can sometimes have the full run of your patent to make money, either by being the "exclusive" provider or (again) by getting people to license it.

What's absurd isn't those limits, but the oddly strange "copyright" limits. If copyright terms were the same as the current patent terms, you'd see a lot less DRM and other foolish bullshit-crap being forced on consumers, because the primary reason for a lot of DRM (think, for example, printer cartridges [hojohnlee.com] ) is to try to "copyright" [drmwatch.com] what should, at best, be covered under a patent.

Re:NO, Faster-issued, shorter lifetime patents. (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27069511)

This is why Sony put DVD drives in the PS2 and Blu-Ray in the PS3, and spent tons of money pushing Blu-Ray on everyone: if they can get their stuff to be "the standard", then they stand to make a mint. They've also managed this with certain other technology (Beta, for instance, survived quite well in the TV production industry where quality mattered more than relative price).

And this is why Sony technologies almost never win in the marketplace. That, and their amazing sense of timing. As your example shows, this isn't how you win in the marketplace. Even BluRay is struggling to find its takeoff point before it's made obsolete by flash media, and they bribed the HD-DVD out of the market. They make money, but this strategy to exploit the customer just doesn't work any more for Sony - if it ever did. There are just too many different ways to do everything.

Which of course makes the whole patent idea silly.

Re:NO, Faster-issued, shorter lifetime patents. (2, Interesting)

von_rick (944421) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067389)

Oftentimes there are patents that cover several technologies - a patent in medical imaging can cover the field of medicine, engineering and sometimes even natural sciences. There will always be an uncertainty in deciding the shelf life of any technology and even more difficult in determining how long before it gets obsolete in a given discipline.

The duration of a given patent is an issue best left alone. However it would be nice if we make the process a little faster and have some way to filter out patents that are in no way innovative.

Re:NO, Faster-issued, shorter lifetime patents. (2, Interesting)

defile39 (592628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067447)

Hence the need for longer patent terms in REGULATED industries. With regulation, you put up huge barriers to innovation. Patents are good for surmounting these barriers. The weaker the patent for these technologies, the less "activation energy" donated by the patent system. Face it - you want safe and effective drugs, proven by substantial clinical evidence? It's going to cost you. Without the ability to extract monopoly prices, we can't afford to innovate in regulated sectors. Unless you want to come up with an alternative compensation system. Good luck with that, though.

Re:NO, Faster-issued, shorter lifetime patents. (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067639)

I'd be all for cash reward coming from taxes. Imagine our healthcare taxes going into the active development of new and useful treatments and remedies that aren't too expensive to use?

Let the government buy these patents or otherwise compensate the developer in some what in exchange for the royalty-free ability to manufacture and sell drugs for the lowest price available.

Part of the drug patent problem is that big pharma keeps changing the drugs, often making them more dangerous or otherwise having more risk and more side-effects, in order to keep their patents going. We definitely need something better than the "pay up or die" system we have today.

Re:NO, Faster-issued, shorter lifetime patents. (1)

defile39 (592628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067707)

Though I agree with you - big pharma engages in minor drug tweaking to extend monopoly profits beyond the original patent term - please give me an example of an instance where this was the motive AND the resulting new drug was more risky or more dangerous than the old, off-patent drug. I don't think such a case exists. Sometimes these incremental tweaks bring about improvements, sometimes they offer no improvement at all, but never have I seen a tweak produce a WORSE product.

Re:NO, Faster-issued, shorter lifetime patents. (1)

holmstar (1388267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067991)

It wouldn't make sense to make a patented but more poorly performing (lame side effects) drug. Nobody would buy it! They would just use a generic version of the old drug.

What they probably do actually do, is produce drugs that have an enhancement that makes the new drug more effective in some way, wile also adding a side-effect that is negative, but is generally outweighed by the positive.

Ie... people will buy the new patented drug that, on top of it's normal effects, now prevents migraines rather than the generic one that doesn't, even if the new one now gives them a stomach ache.

Re:NO, Faster-issued, shorter lifetime patents. (1, Insightful)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067783)

Imagine our healthcare taxes going into the active development of new and useful treatments and remedies that aren't too expensive to use?

And imagine Harry Reid deciding which drugs are worth investment?

Re:NO, Faster-issued, shorter lifetime patents. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27069085)

We're mired in international treaties that protect the status quo.

We pushed hard for international treaties that protect the status quo.

There, fixed that for you, assholes.

--The Rest of the World

changes (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27067109)

0. Any patent not being sold in a current product line shall pass into public domain.

Might as well add this to copyright reform too.

Re:changes (2, Insightful)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067345)

So you think that a company has to develop a product and put it on the market before getting a patent? By your reasoning, that's the only way they could get one, and doing that leaves them open to having other people a)copy their idea and then b) using that copy as "prior art" to fight the eventual patent. Do you even take one second to think before posting?

Re:changes (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067487)

YES. That is why a whole bunch of products are protected by those "Patent Pending" labels and the like. At the very least, a patent needs to have been applied for but not necessarily granted.

There are a LOT of "inventions" that can be imagined for which adequate materials have not yet been developed. What if I were to patent "antigravity panel that uses an unknown material that acts against gravity when power is applied"? This panel material is critical to the invention and I can claim to have first thought of its use even before the material with said properties has been developed.

Patents need to GET USED not trolled. A great test for using a patent is actually producing a product for sale that works.

So the "protection" you are looking for is the "patent pending" label.

Re:changes (3, Insightful)

sir_eccles (1235902) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067825)

For a start your anti gravity patent wouldn't get granted because you haven't reduced it to practice. In simple terms this means you haven't worked out all the details and written them down.

But just suppose you knew of a new material that made your thing work. You can make it in teeny tiny amounts on your kitchen table. But you need a big pile of cash, time, a large lab and a team of research scientists to take that kitchen table process and scale it up.

You could go round to some banks (ha!) or maybe a venture capitalist or some bored millionaire asking for help. But they all turn you away because under your system, you can't get patent protection until you have a product. So they all walk away because the risk is too great.

There are many inventions like this that are filed for by people who don't have the means to commercialize or even build a single prototype. For them, patents offer a valuable thing they can get that has value to investors.

Re:changes (2, Informative)

coolsnowmen (695297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067949)

You should look into what an "invention disclosure is"
http://www.patentapplications.net/disclosure/index.html [patentapplications.net]

I believe you can begin the patent process WAY before actually receiving a patent, and thereby protect yourself from people copying your product (in USA atlease) if/when you are given your notice of allow-ability.

Then if someone has decided to copy your product you can force them to stop, or license it to them and sit back and make money off of their work (because they are making money off of yours).

Re:changes (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067845)

In other words, the law should read:

In that patents are intended to protect actual inventions, no patent shall be granted on any hypothetical product or service, nor on any portion thereof, until such time as that product or service is rendered in a form suitable for use by others and is made openly available to the public in the form of sales of the product or use of the service. Should the product or service be removed from the market, the patent shall expire two years after the date that the product or service ceases to be generally available unless the patent is employed in a new product or service within that time period.

Or some such.

Re:changes (2, Insightful)

srleffler (721400) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068197)

The trouble with that is that some technologies take effort to develop from the concept stage to the "marketable product" stage. Unless devices can be patented before this development is done, there is no way to secure financing to develop the product. Prototyping is expensive and takes time. Designing a final product takes further time and money. Building production capacity to actually make that final product takes still more time and money. Who is going to pay for that if someone else could start selling them two days before you're ready to ship your product, and invalidate your patent?

Re:changes (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067847)

Without details of the material, what's the invention here? Your idea isn't much use outside a science fiction book.

Re:changes (4, Insightful)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067895)

which is why IMHO:

1) get rid of software and business method patents
2) in order to patent something, you need to have a working model, or show that you have the means to produce said model within a certain timeframe.

I've had plenty of ideas. Some of them I could have patented. Why didn't I? I had no intention of going through the effort of building any type of prototype. If someone else does all of the work without ever seeing your work, then you should have no right to any type of money from that work, squatter.

Re:changes (3, Informative)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068251)

YES. That is why a whole bunch of products are protected by those "Patent Pending" labels and the like

You do realize, don't you, that all the words Patent Pending [wikipedia.org] do is put people on notice that they may be liable for damages later, if and when the patent is granted? In the US, at least, the phrase has no legal effect whatsoever, and is only used as a warning that borrowing the idea now might lead to trouble later.

Re:changes (2, Informative)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068989)

It is not completely without legal ramifications. For instance, the very same Wiki entry you linked cites this:

35 U.S.C. 292 False marking.
(a) Whoever, without the consent of the patentee, marks upon, or affixes to, or uses in advertising in connection with anything made, used, offered for sale, or sold by such person within the United States, or imported by the person into the United States, the name or any imitation of the name of the patentee, the patent number, or the words "patent," "patentee," or the like, with the intent of counterfeiting or imitating the mark of the patentee, or of deceiving the public and inducing them to believe that the thing was made, offered for sale, sold, or imported into the United States by or with the consent of the patentee; or Whoever marks upon, or affixes to, or uses in advertising in connection with any unpatented article the word "patent" or any word or number importing the same is patented, for the purpose of deceiving the public; or Whoever marks upon, or affixes to, or uses in advertising in connection with any article the words "patent applied for," "patent pending," or any word importing that an application for patent has been made, when no application for patent has been made, or if made, is not pending, for the purpose of deceiving the public - Shall be fined not more than $500 for every such offense.

(b) Any person may sue for the penalty, in which event one-half shall go to the person suing and the other to the use of the United States.

In other words, marking products "Patent Pending" does not protect the patent applicant but if misused does result in up to $500 in fines per offense.

Re:changes (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068401)

I would say that SOME time needs to be allowed to get from patent to production, but it should be considerably less than the full life of the patent. For example, if after 5 years you are essentially no further towards offering a product than you were the day the patent was applied for, you probably never will.

Likewise, if you introduce the product and it flops to the point that you withdraw it from the market AND you don't manage to sell or license it to someone else, the patent should go away to give others a chance to make the invention useful to society.

Likewise, independent invention should be taken as prima facie evidence of obviousness.

Re:changes (1)

Alinabi (464689) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068689)

I don't know what AC thinks, but I think there should be a grace period after obtaining a patent and failure to bring a product to market within said grace period should place the invention in the public domain. Five years sounds like a reasonable time frame, but the actual limit should be based on statistical data.

Re:changes (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#27069203)

failure to bring a product to market within said grace period should place the invention in the public domain.

That would be just fine, as far as I'm concerned. If nothing else, it would completely kill the patent troll's business plan. Of course, there are sometimes problems that slow down bringing a patent to market and it might be fair to have a way for a business to get an extension to the grace period, but they'd have to prove that they were really working on it and not just stalling. As always, the devil is in the details.

Huh? (5, Informative)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067127)

...it would 'devalue all patents, invite infringement -- including from companies in China, India and other countries...

Pardon my ignorance, but even if that is true does it matter? These countries, especially China, have a long history of not respecting patents and they don't look set to change that attitude.

Re:Huh? (2, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067719)

Further, since when is a patent's value determined by how big of a legal payday (triple damages) you receive for infringement?

It does matter... (1)

solder_fox (1453905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067809)

It does, to some degree, because they are moving at least a little bit more toward accepting and enforcing IP law, and as the domestic IP grows they'll have stronger interests in enforcement of IP law in general. (Because they'll want other countries to recognize their IP rights.)

What's more interesting about this to the /. crowd, I should think, is the movement from first-to-invent to first-to-file. That is, the "inventor" in the U.S. won't be the person who invented something first, it'll be the person who first filed it at the patent office claiming to be the inventor.

Every other country in the world does it that way, but it's quite a philisophical change from our system.

Re:Huh? (1)

jeti (105266) | more than 5 years ago | (#27069309)

The governments you're thinking of will change their attitudes when enforcing patents will gain their own industries a net profit.
It already happened in Japan and other eastern countries.

What? No Child Porn & Terrorism? (5, Funny)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067129)

But the Innovation Alliance, a group representing patent-holders that oppose the legislation said that it would 'devalue all patents, invite infringement -- including from companies in China, India and other countries -- and generate more litigation that will further strain the courts.'

These guys really need a new PR firm. Vague insinuations about the threat of SEAsia and clogged courts is soooo pre-9/11. It's all about child porn and terrorism now, guys - get with the program.

Re:What? No Child Porn & Terrorism? (3, Funny)

soren202 (1477905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067767)

Reforming patent laws would flood the market with cheap knock off products of currently patented technology. This flood would spur the growth of child porn leading to more abused children, as well as allow terrorists in the middle east to purchase newer, up to date technology.

Don't support perverts and terrorists! Help the children and support America! Don't pass patent reform laws!

Re:What? No Child Porn & Terrorism? (2, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067771)

That comment was soooo 2002ish. Child porn, drugs, gambling, and prostitution ARE terrorism these days, Bob - get with the program.

Re:What? No Child Porn & Terrorism? (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#27069159)

It's all about child porn and terrorism now, guys - get with the program.

Maybe they can combine them to, you know, improve their pitch and make the effects of patent reform sound doubly scary and dire. If we don't all want to go home and lock our doors when they are through then this PR firm hasn't done their job to make patents safe for trolls everywhere.

Booting the troll from under the bridge? (2, Insightful)

AuralityKev (1356747) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067133)

I'd rather go one step further - instead of measures that will reduce patent troll-filed lawsuits, why not add a punitive measure?

A good first step, but . . . (3, Interesting)

defile39 (592628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067135)

This is a good first step. The US *should* be on a first to file system. Venue for patent suits *should* be restricted to venues that make sense (rarely ED TX).

But some provisions go too far. Damages should be linked to some market definition - NOT what the trial court thinks is reasonable. Also, we need a change to the laws that provide incentive for innovation in regulated industries. Patents are most valuable in the life sciences. We need reform here. We need to better align value with innovation. We've still a long way to go.

Re:A good first step, but . . . (2, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067311)

The US *should* be on a first to file system.

Why?

Why shouldn't the person or company that actually invented it first get the reward? Why should we put a premium on getting your legal paperwork in order first over getting your research and development done first? While I like the bit about people working on the same type of invention at the same time getting some immunity from patents issued to one of the parties, I don't see why the person with the fastest lawyers should be the one to profit from everyone who comes later.

Re:A good first step, but . . . (1)

defile39 (592628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067493)

Practical reasons. The US is (I believe) the only country with a first to invent system. Why stay that way? Also, it is a lot easier to adjudicate a first to file system. There is less to prove when inventorship disputes arise. This simply gives people a kick in the pants to get to the patent office. Lawyers and inventors will adapt. The first to invent will most likely become the first to file by default (in most instances).

Re:A good first step, but . . . (2, Insightful)

holmstar (1388267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068155)

Yeah, but patents are damn expensive. If Joe Blow invented a thingamabob in his garage, there is little chance he could afford to patent it.

So Joe goes out and tries to find a financier to pay for the patent. But one of his prospective financiers decides to cut joe out and just "invent" the thingamabob themselves. They file for a patent and Joe is screwed. Since first to invent doesn't matter, he can never invalidate the financier's patent.

Granted, most patents are filed by companies, not Joe Blows, but it certainly doesn't seem fair to the Joe Blows as long as it costs ridiculous amounts of money to file for a patent.

Re:A good first step, but . . . (1)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#27069097)

It doesn't have to cost ridiculous amounts of money to obtain a patent. Despite what patent lawyers may tell you, if you have sufficient time and effort you can obtain a patent all by yourself. The filing fees are more than some can afford, but are not outside the realm of reasonableness given the amount of patent examiner time needed to evaluate the application.

The most difficult part of a patent application is writing concise claims and properly citing any prior art.

Current USPTO fee list [uspto.gov] . Note, you even get a 50% discount for being a small entity if you are a person or small business.

Re:A good first step, but . . . (2, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068177)

The US is (I believe) the only country with a first to invent system. Why stay that way?

For the same reason the US switched to first to invent. (The US used first to file in the past)

Re:A good first step, but . . . (1)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068513)

Alexander Graham Bell.

Re:A good first step, but . . . (1)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067511)

I agree, why should we be first to file? Its not like you can just claim you did something, you need a dated legally recognized document that has a witness's signature that claims you came up with an invention, and you have to file for the patent within a reasonable time frame of that document (i.e. 30 days ish). If you don't do that, then it is just like first to file. Seems like our system is just an improvement IMO.

Parallel development is a poor use of resources (3, Interesting)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068343)

Patents should reward putting your invention out in the open. Having a huge period in which to do secret development is the anti-thesis to what patents should reward.

The only problem with first to file is that there is no grace period.

Lawyers hate grace periods, because if a paper without a million of legalese claims holds any value in court that diminishes their contribution to patents ... they see the exact wording of those legalese claims as somehow more important than the subject covered. Which is ridiculous ... in the areas I'm an expert I can recognize the innovative parts of a paper better than a lawyer can capture it in claims.

I think the first to file vs first to invent difference is just being played up by lawyers to disguise the fact that the real thing they want to get rid of is the grace period.

Re:A good first step, but . . . (5, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068647)

Why?

Because "first to invent" encourages the tactics similar to that of submarine patents:

1. Invent something.
2. Wait for others to invent it too and start using it.
3. File for the patent.
4. Sue everyone who had been using your invention.
5. Profit!

Re:A good first step, but . . . (1)

naasking (94116) | more than 5 years ago | (#27069301)

1. Invent something.
2. Wait for others to invent it too and start using it.
3. File for the patent.
4. Sue everyone who had been using your invention.
5. Profit!

Actually, if everyone is using it, it is no longer innovative, ie. it is common knowledge to experts in the field, and so would not qualify for a patent.

Re:A good first step, but . . . (1)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#27069333)

Indeed. I propose also that there be new rules for certain patentable product categories such as pharmaceuticals whereby:

a) A patent application is filed upon a drug reaching a stage of development where efficacy in treating, preventing or curing a disease or condition has been demonstrated.
b) Clinical trials are completed until final FDA approval is issued.
c) Patent is issued, issue date being that of the FDA approval date. Patent duration is to be 5 years.

The key with a plan like this is that the long period of time that is needed for drug development becomes unimportant. Public disclosure of the drug's basic function occurs in a timely manner, the drug company gets the same fixed duration of patent protection regardless of the number of clinical trials needed to obtain FDA approval and the drug company has an opportunity to exploit their monopoly status to fund development of new drugs with a little profit added in.

In addition to this, I also believe only NEW drugs should be patent eligible, meaning combination of existing drugs should not be eligible for patent protection unless there is demonstration of marked utility in combining the drugs. A good example are patents issued for combination drugs that have statins and other drugs included in the same pill, but are available and useful separately.

Re:A good first step, but . . . (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067401)

Damages should be linked to some market definition - NOT what the trial court thinks is reasonable.

Why, so that the law can be out of date before it's even passed? The market is constantly changing. The only way to have reasonable amounts is to let the court decide what's reasonable then and there.

Re:A good first step, but . . . (3, Insightful)

defile39 (592628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067569)

Let me explain the debate a bit -

The bill proposes to link reasonable royalties to what the court deems is the value of the technological innovation of the patent. This removes any market valuation of the patent, i.e. what a patent holder can extract from a potential infringer through a negotiated settlement. Instead, the court will assign the value of the patent by sitting back and thinking about how valuable the technology is in this instance. What it fails to take into consideration is that, in most cases, patents can be used to PREVENT someone from making, using, selling, etc. the invention.

This inherently devalues the patent. If you can only extract the value of the added quantum of technology added by the patent, you sometimes won't be able to get damages at all. For instance, if an infringer used your patented technology, but they could've alternatively used some public domain non-infringing technology, you won't get much in the way of a damages award. There is a problem with this arrangement - it changes the fundamental nature of a patent.

Re:A good first step, but . . . (1)

Ornedan (1093745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27069325)

But why is that a bad thing that patents are "devalued" thus? I see no problem in only being able to obtain damages relative to the actual value of the patent.

Re:A good first step, but . . . (1)

edizzle2 (1492041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067583)

without patents - how would a small guy with a software innovation able to survive without being able to patent their innovation?

Tell me because I want to know, I've got something I feel is pretty worthy that I have spent considerable time & effort on but know that without protection bigger fish will copy-paste my innovations into their next service pack or website update.

Re:A good first step, but . . . (2, Informative)

defile39 (592628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067627)

There are many ways outside of patents. Be the first to market. Be the best implementer. Be the most frequent innovator. Be most in touch with consumers. Generate the strongest brand. Solidify dominance, through branding, in a certain market segment.

Some of these actions require more resources than others, but there is almost always a way to do them well on the cheap . . . depending on how broad or how narrow your marketing plan is. The broader your targeted market, the more you're going to have to spend. Talk to a business/marketing consultant. Frankly, a good marketing plan is MUCH more valuable than a patent.

Re:A good first step, but . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27068057)

I've watched several big examples of innovation over the past 15 years lose out to much bigger fish. Perhaps none worse than Mosaic/Netscape truly innovated and got smoked by Microsoft's relatively inexhaustible resources. Netscape had everything what you suggest - great branding, solid dominance, in touch with customers, frequent innovator, first to market, best implementer for many years but couldn't hold on.

I believe your suggestions are needed *together* with some form of protection. If not for the possibility for patents I would have given up long ago and got a regular job making $100k/year with a lot less stress and worries.

Re:A good first step, but . . . (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068651)

Netscape made money!

Would the situation today be better if they had a monopoly position? For them, sure ... for me? Oh hell no.

Re:A good first step, but . . . (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068121)

Damages should be linked to some market definition - NOT what the trial court thinks is reasonable.

Why?

Also, we need a change to the laws that provide incentive for innovation in regulated industries.

Such as what? Why should regulation stifle innovation?

Patents are most valuable in the life sciences.

If you're talking about genetic engineering, I don't think life should be patentable. Your neighbor plants some genetically engineered corn and it pollinates your crop and you owe Monsanto patent fees. Why should this be?

If you're talking about pharmaceuticals, the patent system seems to be working all too well, and newly patented, expensive drugs are being prescribed when a public domain drug or even an herb will do as well for far cheaper to the consumer. An example is antidepressants. Although Paxil's patent has run out, triple blind studies between Paxil, Wort, and placebo show that St John's Wort is just as effective as Paxil, twice as effective as placebo.

We need to better align value with innovation

Are you in marketing? That sentence conveyed no information whatever.

Innovation Alliance == Patent Trolls (5, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067137)

The Innovation Alliance, which opposes these patent reforms, include some of the best and brightest in patent/IP trolling [innovationalliance.net] . One prominent company is the Canopy Partners, which is famous for its previous ownership of The SCO Group and Tessera, which is suing everyone in the wireless industry right now.

Re:Innovation Alliance == Patent Trolls (3, Funny)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067381)

Didn't you know? Innovation Alliance is just a cover name. The group's real name is Patent Troll Association of America: PTAA.

Re:Innovation Alliance == Patent Trolls (3, Funny)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068961)

Great New Association Acronym. Too bad they'll get sued by the Patent Infringement Troll Association.

BTW, New Acronyms Make Baby Lesus Angry.

Infringement, so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27067143)

There already is MASSIVE software copyright infringement going on globally.

Who really thinks legislation in any shape or form is going to stop that?

Re:Infringement, so? (1)

EEBaum (520514) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067267)

There already is MASSIVE software copyright infringement going on globally. Who really thinks legislation in any shape or form is going to stop that?

this legislation will stop that, seeing as it deals with patents, not copyrights.

Re:Infringement, so? (1)

EEBaum (520514) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067313)

There already is MASSIVE software copyright infringement going on globally. Who really thinks legislation in any shape or form is going to stop that?

I don't think many people think this legislation will stop that, seeing as it deals with patents, not copyrights.

Re:Infringement, so? (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 5 years ago | (#27069117)

There already is MASSIVE software copyright infringement going on globally.

No there isn't. Software patents are not valid outside the US. In fact patent trolling seems to be far worse in the US than most other countries. I don't know why that is. Patent offices world wide approve of equally lame patents. Perhaps its just the litigious culture in the US?

Innovation Alliance? (1)

dwiget001 (1073738) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067149)

Where have I heard the word "innovation" or "innovate" repeatedly, over and over and over, ad nauseam?

say wha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27067161)

" 'devalue all patents, invite infringement -- including from companies in China, India and other countries -- and generate more litigation that will further strain the courts.'""

Like this would have ANY effect on other countries. If they're going to rip off your patents they're going to rip off your patents regardless of the punishments threatened since the US can't touch them. For those in the US, if they're ripping you off on purpose then it will be easier to extract what's due you if the law defines some rational amount instead of the typical patent troll going "YOU OWE ME A BILLION MILLION DOLLARZ!" Of course, people in the US make it a point not to "purposefully" rip anyone off anyway.

Devaluing patents? Good move I say. :P Especially where software patents are concerned.

Ridiculous arguments against, obvious need for. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27067163)

Do you think the Chinese patent-infringing manufacturers care about US laws?

I can see why some patent holders wouldn't want to be aced out of royalties due to reforms,
but at SOME point we're going to have to bite the bullet and someone, somewhere won't like it.

If you don't acknowledge that the system needs reform, these ridiculous arguments might hold.

But it does.

Re:Ridiculous arguments against, obvious need for. (3, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067681)

Do you think the Chinese patent-infringing manufacturers care about US laws?

They do if they want to sell their wares here.

Re:Ridiculous arguments against, obvious need for. (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 5 years ago | (#27069589)

If they're not asking for permission to make the product, they're sure as hell not going to ask for permission to sell it. You don't just slap a Sorny store up in the middle of town and go about your business. The whole point of making knockoffs is to either compete on price through illicit channels (i.e., sidewalk or back alley stores), or to introduce the product to a legitimate marketplace via illicit means (i.e. substituting a counterfeit in an order for a legitimate product).

I've already patented this (0, Troll)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067227)

As the patent holder on "patent reform," these so-called lawmakers are infringing on my intellectual property.

And I'm going to sue them if they don't give me *dramatic music* one BILLION dollars!

Bailout (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27067293)

You should have patented bailouts instead.

The Best Form of Patent Reform (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27067317)

The only way to "reform" patents is to eliminate them entirely. Who the fuck needs god-damned fucking patents except the god-damned fucking rich ?

Re:The Best Form of Patent Reform (1)

Camann (1486759) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067587)

The less you know, the louder you know it, eh? Patent law came into existance as an incentive to inventors to invent. Giving them a temporary monopoly on the sale of products covered by the patent.

Related reading [wikipedia.org]

Re:The Best Form of Patent Reform (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068377)

How about the poor who have ideas that are anywhere from useful to revolutionary?

Re:The Best Form of Patent Reform (2, Insightful)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 5 years ago | (#27069177)

Patents only give you a right to enforce. Hence you need to come up with legal costs. aka a corporations knows that you can't afford to litigate, they may not even bother offering a crap deal and just infringe. I know of one person personally where this was the case.

So in summary if you are poor forget patents. You just told everyone your invention.

The only winners in the current system are the lawyers.

Patent Fairness? more like Large Corporate Bullies (1, Interesting)

edizzle2 (1492041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067351)

Two of the large proponents of this so-called Patent Fairness are Google and Microsoft. Let's take a look at these companies financial situations:

Google:
-Profit margin=20%
-Profits=$8billion per year
-Cash=$15billion

Microsoft:
-Profit margin=28%
-Profits=$20billion per year
-Cash=$20billion

Seems that the large software companies have had very little problems competing in today's environment. How much more profitable do they need to be? Or is this more a result of soul-less corporations relentless search of increasing their profits?

These same large corporations love to throw around the term "patent trolls" but it is difficult buy their story that the small inventor is hurting or impeding them.

In fact, the last time they tried patent reform many small inventors spoke up AGAINST such a reform citing that the world is already tilted against them - and such reforms would only increase the leverage the large companies already have. Many small inventors are unable to get any traction when approaching the large software companies in selling their innovation.

In fact - small software inventors have found that their only chance to introduce their innovations to the marketplace is by trying to get a license deal rather than compete with a Google or Microsoft or even much smaller corporations. Many inventors ask for a small fee of almost always less than 1% but we don't hear Google's or Microsoft's point out how little the innovations actually cost.

There is plenty of proof that innovation occurs at the small companies (in fact, the Google's of 10 years ago, and the Microsoft's of 30 years ago).

Large companies would love nothing more than get rid of patents and then simply monitor competitors for the best innovations and then incorporate those into the next service pack or website update.

Interesting how large companies like Google have the resources for people like Michelle Lee and "Head of Patent Strategy". You think the small inventor has time or resources for this?

Re:Patent Fairness? more like Large Corporate Bull (1)

ardor (673957) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067885)

There is nothing redeemable about Forgent Networks' JPEG RLE patents (which is *extremely* trivial), the infamous Acacia project-killer, the Alcatel-Lucent MP3 patent trolling, Creative Labs' game audio innovation lockdown and zfail-Shadow Volume-Patents etc.

All of these used trivial patents to squash companies that were actually producing something. They contribute nothing and just act like bloodsuckers. I doubt anybody would be sad to see these go.

Also, you seem to think that only large companies want this reform. In fact, EVERY PROGRAMMER OUT THERE wants it. We want to develop without danger of infringing trivial nonsensical patents like the "progress bar patent".

Re:Patent Fairness? more like Large Corporate Bull (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27068183)

don't speak for me when you say "every programmer". I wouldn't have taken the past couple of years off to pursue my innovations (without $100k/year salary) if it wasn't for the possibility of having some kind of protection for my innovation that I will try to bring to market (either produce myself, find a willing partner, or license to someone in a better position to take advantage of my innovation).

For many small software companies that are trying to innovate, we find we spend all this effort then approach larger companies and ask for a pittance (0.1% to 1% of just one product under certain circumstances - often less than $250k) and are shunned away. I have colleagues that then find out later the company strings them along enough to find out the steps to carry it out and copy before releasing a coincidentally similar product. For large software companies this is their goal:
-remove software patents from the field
-cut their R&D significantly (almost to 0)
-monitor their competitors for best innovations to emerge
-outsource the copying-pasting to China/India

But of course, you drink the Slashdot koolaid and don't believe me.

The JPEG patent is not trivial ... (3, Informative)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068967)

The problem with the JPEG patent was it's non enforcement for all those years.

AFAICS the inventor in question was the first to combine RLE+VLC coding and the first to use zigzag scanning of DCT coefficients. Both pretty inventive steps for which I see no real prior art at the time. Nothing at the time could get anywhere close to his results.

Although I'm opposed to software patents in general, I think this one was more deserved than most.

Re:The JPEG patent is not trivial ... (1)

ardor (673957) | more than 5 years ago | (#27069611)

RLE + VLC? This is one of the first things people try when toying with data compression. Of course, usually the VLC of choice is huffman or arithmetic coding. Huffman has been around since the 50s, RLE even longer, combinations of the two were omnipresent in early archive formats, among others. Now, patenting one very specific VLC technique, that is another matter. But patenting RLE + VLC in general is just braindead.

Respect for Patents? That's a laugh. (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067357)

"...it would devalue all patents, invite infringement â" including from companies in China, India and other countries.

Er, yeah, because other countries have such a high regard for patents and trademarks(cough, black market, cough) today...

Are you kidding me? (5, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067371)

But the Innovation Alliance, a group representing patent-holders that oppose the legislation said that it would 'devalue all patents, invite infringement - including from companies in China, India and other countries

Yeah, because our American patent system has certainly stopped China and India from infringing thus far! Are these people nuts? Why the hell should these countries obey our patent laws regardless of whatever they happened to be? We're not the law there!

And another thing while I'm at it:

The legislation would bring U.S. patent law in line with global laws

This legislation would have the best chance for getting China and India to respect our patents, since we'd be adhering to a global standard and not a local one.

So this Innovation Alliance is, as far as I can tell - arguing against the very legislation that would have the best chance of supporting its agenda. In other words - yeah. They're nuts.

Re:Are you kidding me? (1)

edizzle2 (1492041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067503)

ahem, please show some good examples to backup your claim (where a Chinese product has infringed an american product that was patented in the U.S.). Good luck.

Re:Are you kidding me? (5, Informative)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068201)

I don't need luck - it happened at my last job. We used to make an OBD2 car code scanner.

The Chinese would buy them, disassemble them, reverse engineer them, and then sell clones. Not just patent infringement but blatant theft of IP. They'd copy our units even down to the bugs.

And there are loads of patents in this particular product space. I worked on a team that wrote about half of them.

Good enough?

Re:Are you kidding me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27068393)

nope, if you had a good patent on the innovation you introduced AND the product truly infringed then you could stop them in court from selling in U.S.

Before you say "that costs a fortune" know that there are contingency firms.

Re:Are you kidding me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27068451)

The thing is, to enjoy the societal benefits of a true free market, such activity is necessary. It's not wrong and it's not theft. You still have first-mover advantage. Patent monopolies represent the worst of socialism and the labor theory of value fallacy.

Re:Are you kidding me? (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068541)

Not just patent infringement but blatant theft of IP.

I hate it when people steal my IP. I'm all like "Here's a good idea.." and then they just reach into my brain and TAKE it, and then it's gone. I can't even remember it anymore, because they stole it. Hell, for all I know, all the products lining the store shelves were *my* ideas.

Or did you mean "not just patent infringement, but blatant, wanton, bad faith patent infringement? Either way, I'm suing the fuck out of whoever steals my next idea. What were we talking about again?

Re:Are you kidding me? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067755)

Yeah, because our American patent system has certainly stopped China and India from infringing thus far! Are these people nuts? Why the hell should these countries obey our patent laws regardless of whatever they happened to be? We're not the law there!

There are treaty obligations that over ride (or force conformity upon) local laws.
You can't just say "we're not the law there" and expect to be right 100% of the time.

Re:Are you kidding me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27068277)

You are really showing your ignorance here. Go google PCT and spend some time reading.

Re:Are you kidding me? (3, Interesting)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068461)

And you are showing your naivete. China knows there is no way to enforce this.

Examples, you ask? Sure.

Here is the family of devices I worked on. [actron.com]

Here is an absolutely infringing device being sold. [dhgate.com] It is as blatant of a ripoff as you could possibly get. They didn't even change the freaking color of the unit.

They reverse engineered our unit and built clones. We know this because we bought one and used it. It duplicates subtle bugs in our unit. It is absolutely 100% certainly an illegal copy. And the patent space in the OBD2 market is carved up VERY tightly, so they are certainly breaking patent law by selling this unit. Not to mention the whole "theft of IP" issues.

And you'll notice that nobody is kicking down any doors to get these people to stop.

Face it - this sort of thing is absolutely unenforceable. It's naive to think otherwise.

We need editor reform (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27067591)

Find kdawson a new job... like flipping burgers.

May the lord save us (1)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067603)

...including from companies in China, India and other countries...

My God! Not in China! And India!!! And other countries!!! This is it, all we can do now is sit and await the four horsemen. May God have mercy on our intellectual properties.

yo mom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27067609)

o ya

fugsdfkfadgkadggrt
eetrtgtrtwhrthgsgfgfdgfgytjtyt

mod 0p (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27067633)

Vqery si!ck and its of OpenBSD versus

Umm...excuse me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27067761)

"and generate more litigation that will further strain the courts"

Oh, like the Courts enjoy all the patent trolling cases they get already?

Lawmakers Take Another Shot At Patent Reform (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27068253)

Duuh. ...and we wonder why our US patent system remains broken.

Maybe shots isn't what they should be taking at our beleaguered USPTO.

Two things... (1)

madsci1016 (1111233) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068811)

1. That's not a vacuum model. It's an irobot Create which is just a platform to build hobby robots off. It has no cleaning power at all.

2. This is an old video. I mean OLD; years old. It was done by a few geeks asked to demo what the irobot create could do, when they were first introduced to the market. That's all, no 'hamster cleaning' market in mind.

Bad slashdot, bad. Check your sources before publishing a story.

Re:Two things... (1)

madsci1016 (1111233) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068865)

oops, i had a coworker switch which article i was looking at while i was afk. Ignore this.

don't touch it (2, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27069021)

17 years is bad. but it ends comparatively soon.

i'm sure if they touch it , it is going to come out at 50 years or longer.

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