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"Fair Trolls" To Fight Patents With Patents

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the living-above-the-bridge dept.

Patents 113

FlorianMueller writes "Can a patent troll ever be fair? Yes. The primary concern over the upcoming Defensive Patent License — a GPL-like non-aggression pact for patents — is that it might be too defensive to have the desired impact. But actually the DPL could grow very big if one or more 'Fair Trolls' are brought to life and enforce patents against companies that don't support the DPL. The 'Fair Trolls' would commit to the DPL's terms, so they would have to leave other DPL backers alone. In exchange for this, the community would gladly feed them with patentable ideas (financial rewards for contributors included). Over time, staying outside the DPL alliance would become a costly choice for companies whose products might infringe patents. The bigger the DPL pool gets, the more valuable it becomes to its members. The more aggressive the Fair Trolls are, the better for the cause."

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that's like sucking dick with dick (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32257274)

(something you know all about!)

Re:that's like sucking dick with dick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32257818)

I think you meant to say:

"Sometimes it takes a Dick to fuck an Asshole"

Capped off with a quick "America-- Fuck Yeah!"

Re:that's like sucking dick with dick (1, Interesting)

sillybilly (668960) | more than 4 years ago | (#32260084)

Yeah, ultimately nobody on Earth can afford to stay outside the coalition, including every single corporation and every single one of the 6 billion people. Why can't we call the DPL public domain? And then you're automatically in? The DPL is just another superfluous contraption that serves no purpose, other than drain resources out of everyone with no apparent benefit in return, if every single person and corporation has to be part of it. Somebody has to fix the patent system. Its original intent was to remove secrecy and promote innovation, but these days it neither removes secrecy (have you read any recent patents, like post 1990? they don't "teach" like they used to back in 1890"), and retards innovation of others. We might as well be better off going back to full public domain of everything, and keep your secrets. Which you can anyway, patents are an incentive not to, but it seems they cause more harm to society than benefit anymore.

Re:that's like sucking dick with dick (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32262022)

Sir, are you retarded? Probably by judging this thread you're in...

It's not like we're voting here whether we should have software patents, WE ALREADY DO! What this venture is all about is trying to to abolish that very rotten system...

Some people just amaze me with their stupidity. Daily.
(Here it would be the parent poster and whoever modded it up.)

Problem (2, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257284)

This assumes that those with vested interests in for-profit patent prosecution can't get the laws changed.

There are some great things about this planet, but I'm occasionally stunned by the filth and villainy of some of its residents.

Re:Problem (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257314)

No, this assumes that doing this will get those folks to change the laws. Honestly, this is going to be the only way to protect FREE software.

Re:Problem (3, Insightful)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257462)

In what way could for-profit patent holders get the laws changed such that not-for-profit patent holders can't use the same laws to bully them back?

Many of the for-profit patent holders that actually make things besides patents have a vested interest in keeping the system of offense and defense balanced.

For example if patent offense is too powered some no-name entity or shell corporation (SCO) could bring huge suits against IBM and win. IBM wouldn't like that. If patent defense were too strong IBM couldn't use its huge arsenal of patents against its competitors.

So there are some reasonably powerful entities out there that will do the right thing (not screw with patent law) out of self interest. IBM, Apple, Google, Microsoft will outspend any Patent Troll out there to maintain the current balance of terror.

Re:Problem (2, Interesting)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 4 years ago | (#32258040)

You're basically missing the point.

If IBM joined the coalition for Patent Defense, then it would only be able to sue companies suing IBM for patent infringement. Companies inside the coalition would be exempt from such a risk, and would lose their exemption the moment they sued a fellow member of the coalition.

In the case you listed above, using the scenerio that SCO was not a member of the coalition, and IBM was, IBM would not only have its own patents, but all the other members would be able to add theirs to the dogpile of patents that would ensue.

Now, if it were the other way around, and SCO was a member of the coalition while IBM wasn't and SCO sued IBM, then SCO would not be using its patents for defensive measures and would lose the protection being a part of the coalition, and possibly might be kicked out of the coalition as a result.

The only people who would benefit (or at least remain neutral) would be the real patent trolls, the ones that hold patents with no intention of ever making a product, who would not be subject to counter lawsuits by IBM types.

Of course, there is nothing we can do about patent trolls, except ridicule them and their owners every chance we get, or give the area served by District Court of East Texas back to Mexico.

Re:Problem (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 4 years ago | (#32258114)

Actually, it looks like you're the one missing the point. If you go read the thread again, remembering that each post is a reply to its parent post, I think you'll find that the SCO example was not presented as a flaw in the patent defense idea; but rather that it was presented as a reason to doubt that changes to the law will gut the patent defense idea (which the prior post had suggested without providing any supporting details).

I'm not sure whether I think the logic is valid, but if you're going to criticize it at least figure out what it's saying first.

Re:Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32261026)

Now, if it were the other way around, and SCO was a member of the coalition while IBM wasn't and SCO sued IBM, then SCO would not be using its patents for defensive measures and would lose the protection being a part of the coalition, and possibly might be kicked out of the coalition as a result.

I think the point the article is making is that this is not what we want. Instead, let SCO use their own and the entire pool's patents to go after IBM -- IBM hasn't joined the pool. If we inspire a thousand patent trolls to go after them unless they join, maybe they will. And then the trolls have all of IBM's patents to go after Microsoft, Apple, etc. until we get them to join the pool. Eventually the choice becomes joining the pool or paying a billion dollars in damages and being enjoined from selling any of your products.

And here's the kicker: Once all the large companies have been convinced to join the pool, the only people who can still assert software patents against anyone are the trolls, and they don't have enough of a lobby to prevent software patents from being eliminated by Congress at the behest of all the large companies who no longer derive any benefit from them.

I'm fairly sure... (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257294)

That this is the plot to "Colossus: The Forbin Project"; but with lawyers instead of ICBMs...

Re:I'm fairly sure... (1)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257348)

I will alert Gordon Pinsent err, I mean the President!

Re:I'm fairly sure... (2, Interesting)

painandgreed (692585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257566)

That this is the plot to "Colossus: The Forbin Project"; but with lawyers instead of ICBMs...

Yes, but although Colossus took over the world and eliminated the US and USSR while nuking a few cities to do so, and then went on to make himself a benevolent dictator, in the end, it turned out that there really was an alien threat and Colossus was needed to protect not only against the self destructive tendencies of mankind, but them as well.

Re:I'm fairly sure... (1, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#32262030)

Could you at least put some kind of spoiler alert before waving your geek-penis around?

Re:I'm fairly sure... (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 4 years ago | (#32258556)

Yeah, and stinkin' socialist lawyers at that.

There is no such thing as a fair.... (3, Insightful)

3seas (184403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257322)

...software patent. So there can't be a thing called a fair patent troll regarding software.
Maybe on non software patents.

All software patents are acts of fraud and public deception.

Software is not of patentable matter [abstractionphysics.net]

Re:There is no such thing as a fair.... (0, Redundant)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257386)

You may want to ask the MPEG-LA about that.

Re:There is no such thing as a fair.... (3, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32258254)

The existence of MPEG-LA demonstrates that under the current official interpretation of the law, software patents do exist.

However, the existence of MPEG-LA does not demonstrate that software patents should exist under a reasonable interpretatoin of the law.

Re:There is no such thing as a fair.... (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32259326)

I never suggested it did. I only meant to bring up the fact that the grandparent was living in a dream world.

No such thing as a fair gun (1)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257530)

There is no such thing as a fair gun. So there can't be such a thing as a fair gunfight. So I'll just bring this knife.

Um, yeah, here in the real world, we have software patents. Yes, I agree they suck. You are preaching to the choir here at Slashdot on that one, champ. Having to shoot someone in the head sucks too, but if I've got to do it, I'd like a gun, thank you very much. The other guy has one. You are asking us to bring a knife to a gunfight here. But you aren't even going to this gunfight, so sit down, relax, and open up a frosty can of shut the hell up.

Re:No such thing as a fair gun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32257644)

Um, yeah, here in the real world, we have software patents. Yes, I agree they suck. You are preaching to the choir here at Slashdot on that one, champ. Having to shoot someone in the head sucks too, but if I've got to do it, I'd like a gun, thank you very much. The other guy has one. You are asking us to bring a knife to a gunfight here. But you aren't even going to this gunfight, so sit down, relax, and open up a frosty can of shut the hell up.

When "real world" means the United States of America.

When the "real world" being referred to is within the European Union the patents are unenforcable.

Re:No such thing as a fair gun (1)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257916)

Hahaha, yeah. Sure thing, pal. According to who? Your bureaucrats are doing an end run around parliament on this one.

Re:No such thing as a fair gun (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32259272)

I don't think the World Health Organization has anything to say about this matter.

Did you mean "whom"?

Re:No such thing as a fair gun (2, Funny)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 4 years ago | (#32259702)

When the "real world" being referred to is within the European Union the patents are unenforcable

That will come as a great surprise to the many defendants who have lost software patent suits in Europe,

Guns are plenty fair (0, Offtopic)

IBitOBear (410965) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257672)

As long as everyone gets one.

Why might I want an automatic weapon? Hunting my ass, that argument should never have been raised.

You just never know when you might need to kill a non-trivial number of people in rapid succession.

That is neither a jest nor a threat. The express purpose of the second amendment to the constitution can be found in any civics book when reading about the actions of the British Red Coats as an occupying force. This is actually true of virtually all of the bill of rights. The citizenry is _supposed_ to have the right to be individually at _least_ as well armed as any member of the government.

As for guns, its supposed to function as the voting right of last resort. There are always more citizens, and if it comes to it they have the right to oust the constabulary or the government if it gets out of control.

The constitution was, after all, written by a bunch of Revolutionary Idealists who, by definition believed in the right of popular revolt.

But then again yea, if only patent trolls are allowed to have guns then only criminals will be patent trolls or something... 8-)

Re:Guns are plenty fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32257756)

The citizenry is _supposed_ to have the right to be individually at _least_ as well armed as any member of the government.

Well, one member of the government has the launch codes for a few thousand nuclear warheads. So by your logic, each and every citizen should have the right to his own personal nuclear arsenal. Yeah, that'll keep us safe.

Re:Guns are plenty fair (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257794)

A nuclear device is far too powerful a weapon for any one person to possess full control of.

Re:Guns are plenty fair (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 4 years ago | (#32260872)

A nuclear device is too powerful for anyone to have control over. Look how close we came to nuclear war when the Soviet Union still existed.

Re:No such thing as a fair gun (2, Interesting)

3seas (184403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257790)

Your rationality is in error. All you need to protect against patent trolls is to establish copyright date time.

Prior art. Thats what I did, and even managed to get the patent office to publish it. see references on the link I gave. And understand what it is I did. One knife, uh err double edge sword, to end all software patent fighting.

This is how I know the most powerful tool man has is denial. But denial doesn't change what is, only trys to ignore it. But denial won't last. Sooner or later both sides will give in and accept what is of that which is universally not patentable. Physical Phenomenon, Abstract ideas, Natural Law of which mathematical equations (which many want to argue against software patents with) are only a subset of these.

Or perhaps we can create another IP concept called "mine" and this would mean we need to "demine" for protection against "mine"?

See the foolishness of playing that game?

If you play someone elses game but not understand that game doesn't fit your playing piece , you will lose, no matter what you do.

Re:No such thing as a fair gun (3, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257954)

Um, yeah, see, the thing is: your method has not worked. Demonstrably has not worked. So I'm ready to try something new, you go on doing what hasn't worked. Or did I miss something, and software patents are no longer an issue?

Re:No such thing as a fair gun (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32259098)

Your something new is not going to work.

Like I said, the strongest tool man has is "denial".

There is no "not working" except for human brains not working in acceptance of reality happening here.

So long as the reality of the non-patentability of software is being denied, all there is is illusion being promoted.

And this is why software patents are acts of fraud and public deception.
Such denial goes against reality and as such it is predictable what problems will surface as a result and manifestation of this denial.
And these very problems are in fact surfacing.

So there is no surprise problems, just the observation of denial and by both patent supporting and anti-patent supporting sides of this illusional othello/reversi game. The double edge sword of reality, cuts both ways. One way it cuts off software patents, the other way it recognizes a natural way of software development methodology that allows software development to be so simple and powerful that anyone can produce it. Hence, being genuinely free, like how using a calculator to produce a result is free. And with this, it cuts open source software development a bit too.
However what does come about is genuine software engineering where some knowledge/data bases are engineered while much more might be produced in teh fashion of the likes of wikipedia, community produced programming data/knowledge bases. Copyright is the proper IP media here, not patents.

The Hindu Arabic decimal system took 300 years to overcome the Roman Numeral system of mathematics, but it did overcome it and good thing, as we wouldn't have much of what we have today, including computers, had it not been overcome.

The same matter of overcoming applies to overcoming the illusion of software being of patentable matter.

Re:No such thing as a fair gun (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32259254)

Your rationality is in error. All you need to protect against patent trolls is to establish copyright date time.
Prior art. Thats what I did, and even managed to get the patent office to publish it.

Woah, you got the patent office to accept a copyright, and the copyright office to accept your patent?!
That truly is amazing!

Re:No such thing as a fair gun (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32262176)

Sooner or later both sides will give in and accept what is of that which is universally not patentable. Physical Phenomenon, Abstract ideas, Natural Law of which mathematical equations (which many want to argue against software patents with) are only a subset of these.

Is anything patentable then? Every process or method can be abstracted as algorithm. Every invention has plan, a blueprint, which is as abstract as computer program. In fact, each patent application is an algorithm, you can't put matter in writing. What if someone "computerizes" someone's patented method and claims that patent doesn't apply "because it is an algorithm"? What happens once we have nanotech "smart matter"? If I program it to form a into shape of, say, some patented wrench, am I in breach of patent law? Either we abolish all patents on the ground of them being subset of

Physical Phenomenon, Abstract ideas, Natural Law

or we accept software patents in the lot. I am more inclined toward former then the latter, but I am not sure if world would be a better or worse place without patents. When I think about great inventors of the past, it is obvious that there were some things that needed great investments to be developed and that would never happen if, e.g. Tesla had to buy copper wire and other materials from wage he got by digging canals in 19th century New York streets. So, we see that there is an obvious conflict between what we need done (stimulate investment into invention without using tax money for it) and making clear definition of what an invention is and who should be rewarded for it. It is a tough problem that needs careful consideration.

Re:There is no such thing as a fair.... (1)

dmgxmichael (1219692) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257618)

You aren't a court.

Re:There is no such thing as a fair.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32257632)

If you can invent a way to build a sturdy house, why can't you invent a way to build a speedy database?

Oh wait, you can, it's just denied by a lot of deceptive and evil people.

Well, this specific (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32258008)

, no matter how cowardly he may be, will not fall for the virus falling over /. today!

Ah shit...

Re:There is no such thing as a fair.... (1)

jythie (914043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32258130)

Laws are an arbitrary agreement within a state which regulates human behavior.. If the state decides that software can be patented, then it can be patented. Good or bad idea, it is not fraud.

Re:There is no such thing as a fair.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32259136)

an overly broad patent without an actual implementation is the problem - take for example a huypothetical case of turning the screen off when a cell phone is near your head during a phone call.. Some one thinks this up and and patents it without saying how they really intend to impement it, just that the screen will turn off when it is near the head. The paptenting company eventually uses decides to do this and implements ib the following: put a light sensor on the phone near the ear piece and if there is a phone call, and the sensor thinks it is dark (because the ear piece is near the ear and there is little light). Now another company comes along and looks at how a phone is used. It says, look if it is in such and such an orientation and there is a call taking place, let's shut it off. And they use an accelerometer or GPS with enough satellites to determine orientation and if there is a call, the screen get shut off. Now even though they have come upi with a completely different way to do it, they are in violation of the patent. That is where the software patenst have a flaw. Two people could try to accomplish the same thing, but do it in entirely different ways, the second is locked out because the patent was too broad.

Okay... (2, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257326)

The benefit would be limited to non-aggression between DPL members. By agreeing to the terms of the DPL, they effectively accede to a multilateral non-aggression pact.
...
What's needed is at least one (ideally more than one) entity that will assert patents from the DPL pool very aggressively and systematically against entities who don't support the DPL. By acceding to the DPL once they are attacked, the pressured parties could limit the problem to backroyalties (paying for past infringement of the patents in question) because once they make their own patents available under the DPL, they will have access to the patents in the pool.

How is this not a cartel agreement?

Re:Okay... (2, Interesting)

Microlith (54737) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257374)

Ask the MPEG-LA and any other standards body.

Re:Okay... (3, Funny)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257624)

you just said it.
It is a cartel, but if we instead call it a general patent standards body then we should be all set. :-)

Re:Okay... (1)

Luke has no name (1423139) | more than 4 years ago | (#32259600)

You mean like the GPL?

Re:Okay... (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 4 years ago | (#32260682)

From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

A cartel is a formal (explicit) agreement among competing firms. It is a formal organization of producers that agree to coordinate prices, marketing, and production.[1] Cartels usually occur in an oligopolistic industry, where there is a small number of sellers and usually involve homogeneous products. Cartel members may agree on such matters as price fixing, total industry output, market shares, allocation of customers, allocation of territories, bid rigging, establishment of common sales agencies, and the division of profits or combination of these. The aim of such collusion (also called the cartel agreement) is to increase individual members' profits by reducing competition.

The DPL does not fit the generally accepted definition of a cartel because the companies involved are not doing so to reduce competition--they are in fact doing so to encourage competition by preventing the monopolization of ideas by a few patent holders.

In practice, it is quite literally a legal alliance in the same way NATO is a military alliance--if one member is sued, the other members counter-sue to deter the attacker. But all the actions taken are legal, with the intention of upholding the law and protecting the free market.

So I will grant you that, in this implementation, it does look a little like a cartel, but companies outside the group only get penalized when they try to engage in anti-competitive practices themselves (suing instead of licensing). The only other way to achieve the same effect would be to legislatively limit infringement damages to back-royalties, but this would be very difficult to achieve given patent troll lobbying efforts. The DPL seeks to achieve the same result without resorting to legislation.

No effect on NPE's (4, Insightful)

micheas (231635) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257338)

The big rewards lately have gone to Non-practicing entities. Those with no products. AKA Patent Trolls.

This provides no relief against someone that has no products.

Re:No effect on NPE's (1)

TopherC (412335) | more than 4 years ago | (#32258154)

I was wondering if someone was going to point this out, and there you go! That's the Achilles' heel.

IP law needs to be rewritten (2, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32258916)

The big rewards lately have gone to Non-practicing entities. Those with no products. AKA Patent Trolls.

Which is why IP law - not just patent law but also copyright (though possibly not trademark) needs to be completely rethought. Bandaid solutions aren't going to work for a system that sees the original inventor or creator of a work not rewarded AND others seeking to create or invent thwarted. The current system is madness and guarantees stagnation and corruption. This is the opposite to the stated goal of such law for the whole of society and the only ones seeking to uphold it and ever increase draconian punishments for failing to comply are profiteers who belong on the B ark.

Re:IP law needs to be rewritten (1)

ghostdoc (1235612) | more than 4 years ago | (#32260044)

The problem is that this doesn't work for software, but does work (well, works the way the industry wants it to work) for other industries, especially drugs and manufacturing.

After all, patent law was developed and refined into something that works well for those industries over many many years.

The problem is that in manufacturing you have to have a working prototype, and in the drugs industry you have to patent a specific compound, but in software you can patent an idea or broad concept without a prototype.

IMHO if they just required a working prototype for software inventions like they do for hardware inventions then a lot of the trolling would vanish.

Re:IP law needs to be rewritten (1)

avilliers (1158273) | more than 4 years ago | (#32260994)

I work in the drug industry. Competitor drug patents are aggressively read for clues on what to do and what to work on. In short, they often contain valuable, non-obvious knowledge that, once they are made public, spur further innovation in others. In short, at least at times they work exactly how they are supposed to. (Other times the benefit is less clear cut.)

In the software industry, my understanding is that no one reads patents because they aren't helpful and it's better to have no knowledge of a patent you may unintentionally infringe upon.

I do think people on Slashdot whose primary exposure to patents is reading about especially outrageous software patents, and the occasional gene sequence patent, are missing half the picture. It doesn't mean the half they focus on is good or 'worth it', but it's not even close to the whole picture.

Re:IP law needs to be rewritten (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 4 years ago | (#32261726)

I agree -- there are areas where the patent system works; software just isn't one of them.

I've built a few software products I would describe as innovative over the course of my career. In each case, the "inventive step" involved taking a good idea originally conceived for one application and applying it to a completely different purpose. In each case, this was a 5-minute "a-ha" moment, followed by weeks to years of development effort to build an embodiment.

I don't feel any entitlement to a 20-year monopoly for that "a-ha" -- for had the original idea I cribbed from in any of these cases been strongly protected, my own new application might have been foreclosed; shoulders of giants and all that. The real money in each case went not into funding my 5-minute "a-ha", but rather the follow-on development, and that's what copyright is there to protect.

The thing that really chaps my hide about software patents, though, is this: In each of these cases, this software may have had one "innovative" algorithm at its core. Presume that using this algorithm for this purpose had never before been done and was innovative and patentable -- fine and well. However, the larger embodiment of this software, like any other program, is composed of code -- code that by its very definition does nothing but describe and embody algorithms! Software developers are paid to invent and build embodiments of algorithms (and to reuse and adapt well-known published algorithms); it's the very definition of what we do day-to-day, and the number of algorithms involved in the embodiment of any software project of real-world size is necessarily huge -- with many of these algorithms created on-the-fly. I can't imagine the number of potential infringements involved in any and every complex piece of software; if such algorithm patents were both widely granted and automatically enforced in every case in which they were infringed, the number of patent infringements involved in building any piece of real-world software would be so unworkably huge as to bring any kind of effort at development activity to a complete and total standstill.

And that's really my core problem with software patents. I can't sanction or participate in a system with potential to destroy my ability to create; with a system that makes "cheap" actions -- the very essence of the creative work that I and millions of others do day-to-day -- into an activity strewn with legal landmines and thus accessible only to those with deep pockets or extensive cross-licensing portfolios.

If drug patents are not awarded for "cheap" actions, but rather for something which requires extensive investment and risk, my concerns don't apply there, and I don't wish to tear down something that works for others; I simply cannot abide the idea of a world where I did not have the freedom to create the things I envision.

Re:No effect on NPE's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32259138)

Sue their customers. Scorch the earth. Destroy the world to save it.

Re:No effect on NPE's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32261080)

The big rewards lately have gone to Non-practicing entities. Those with no products. AKA Patent Trolls.

This provides no relief against someone that has no products.

No, it does: It eliminates the incentive for large companies, who have to join the pool to avoid being sued, to continue to advocate software patents. Congress is never going to vote down a bill to eliminate software patents when everyone from Microsoft to IBM to the EFF is supporting it and the only ones on the other side are a bunch of patent trolls.

One ring to rule them all... (2, Interesting)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257368)

and in the darkness bind them?

Sounds like they’re taking a bunch of small trolls and defeating them with a mega-troll, but it’s okay because this one’s a nice troll. It’s our troll.

In order to stay competitive, you have to join... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32257372)

So imagine you're a small-time inventor. You come up with something cool, which unfortunately infringes on a few common-sense patents that the DPL has pre-emptively snatched up (to keep them out of the hands of the actually evil trolls).

Do you have to commit your patent to the DPL to keep them from suing you? And in return, they'll give you a cut of the profits? That sounds...well, it's starting to sound evil. Less evil, but still evil.

Re:In order to stay competitive, you have to join. (1)

Dthief (1700318) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257448)

I think the idea is that the people in the DPL are "good" and so if you asked them, and told them about your project, and you were not some large corporation trying to steal their work, they would grant you use of it.

Re:In order to stay competitive, you have to join. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32261156)

I think the idea is that the people in the DPL are "good" and so if you asked them, and told them about your project, and you were not some large corporation trying to steal their work, they would grant you use of it.

No, no... the idea is that you contribute your patent(s) to the DPL pool, but you can still use it -- just not against anyone else who has contributed all their patents to the pool. It's a defense pact that doesn't prohibit offense against those outside the walls, which gives everyone outside a huge incentive to come inside, especially as more people join and the set of patents they can collectively assert against you if you don't join becomes larger and larger.

Re:In order to stay competitive, you have to join. (1)

Arker (91948) | more than 4 years ago | (#32259182)

Yes, it is evil.

The whole patent system is evil.

Until it can be abolished, any practical solution is going to involve 'getting your hands dirty' as the phrase goes.

The alternative, continuation of the status quo, is infinitely more evil.

Re:In order to stay competitive, you have to join. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32261550)

If you invent something that infringes upon a patent, then yes, you need to license the mechanism from the patent owner. This is true whether DPL or not. Patent law is not a moral issue, its a legal one.

Re:In order to stay competitive, you have to join. (1)

randyleepublic (1286320) | more than 4 years ago | (#32261948)

The lesser of two evils is still evil. However is it less evil. Absent patent reform, (go ahead, hold your breath, I dare you...), I think it is a good thing to have less evil. Fuck!

This... (1)

indrora (1541419) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257378)

... is derp.

Seriously. What the PTO needs to do is throw out any patent on a software implementation on anything. MPEG-4 for example.

Viva la GNU!

Trolled? (0)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257412)

"There were seven and a hundred Trolls,
        They were both ugly and grim,
        A visit they would Justice make,
        Both eat and drink with him.

        Out then spake the tiniest Troll,
        No bigger than an emmet was he,
        Hither is come an honest man,
        And manage him will I surelie..."

odd question (1, Interesting)

Coraon (1080675) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257472)

why doesn't someone patent the business plan of, buying up patents and suing companies when they try to actually produce it? then put all the trolls out of business?

Re:odd question (1)

IBitOBear (410965) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257594)

The patent trolls would be able to easily argue prior art by pointing to themselves, or slashdot (in particular your posting of the idea and everyone who has posted the same idea over and over again for the last ten years).

Now enacting a law that it was legal to shoot to 5% disable any lawyer who files any motion for any NPE wouldn't go amiss. After all, 5% of the gross should be fair and non-discriminatory entropy cost to the practitioner, right?

Re:odd question (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257598)

Because its 'obvious' and the big companies would fight it on those grounds alone and spank anyone who tried. Then of course there is prior art.

Smaller companies can't really fight against someone like MS when the argument is 'its obvious'

Re:odd question (1)

manicb (1633645) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257678)

Not quite the same, but still oddly familiar... [slashdot.org]

Re:odd question (1)

TheDarAve (513675) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257696)

This was tried already: business models are not patentable. No, I'm not going to google that for you. You're a big boy, you can use that input bar in the upper right as well as I can.

This won't harm the trolls (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257476)

The trolls don't need to license squat thus they won't be bothered by this. It is somewhat rare for the larger companies to beat tiny people up with their massive patent portfolios and that is why it makes the news. Even the "evil" microsoft has a massive patent portfolio and it is infrequent when they beat people up. The FAT patent nonsense is sort of odd for them. I suspect their marketing department is more responsible for the lawsuits than their legal department.
But patent trolls are just evil lawyers who don't need to cross license patents seeing that the only patent they might genuinely try to use would be a patent on ruining lives through the courts.
Except for real killer inventions most large companies patent the crap out of what they do for defensive purposes more than anything else.

You've got to be kidding me (1)

TheWitness (1809958) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257478)

A patent troll love affair where the only ones protected are other patent trolls. It's like all the wolves of the world unite to divide and concur the rest of us sheep. Makes me sick. TheWitness

Re:You've got to be kidding me (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257674)

It's like all the wolves of the world unite to divide and concur the rest of us sheep.

No thats the European Union. Or maybe NATO. The UN?

Yeah..... (2, Insightful)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257536)

No matter how good the intentions may be here, I just can't see how this system could wind up as a force of good. You want some sort of benevolent dictator wielding the axe of patent infringement over the heads of everyone as some sort of deterrence system. That seems ripe for abuse. A good system has no head to cut off and no central authority to be corrupted.

Even at it's best, it's still sort of a colluding of the powers that be.

Re:Yeah..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32257684)

Indeed.

There are so many analogies to this (both in mythology and real life) and none of them end well. Sure, you get protection... for a price.

The Mayan gods who gave bountiful crops for the low, low fee of an occasional human sacrifice... similarly the Chinese dragons who drove away enemies if you kept them supplied with beautiful young virgins... or middle-age fiefdoms with their extortionate taxation... free health care systems if you submit to similarly high taxes... the antichrist with his system of trade that just requires you to take his mark (oh shit, did I really just open that can of worms?)...

Re:Yeah..... (1)

spmkk (528421) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257744)

"Over time, staying outside the DPL alliance would become a costly choice for companies whose products might infringe patents."

Geez - labor unions meet the Godfather. "Of course you don't have to join The Alliance, but if you don't join The Alliance you better watch your step veeeery closely..."

The law of unintended consequences is strong in this one.

Re:Yeah..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32258698)

collusion indeed. Not only that, but it would most likely promote oligopolistic tendencies.

Let's say microsoft and adobe are in this so-called alliance, and I am not. I have no patents. I could gain quite a bit from joining (the ability to freely use any technology microsoft or adobe have developed), where as neither microsoft nor adobe would stand to gain anything by me joining, in fact they would stand to lose potential profit(If I used some of their patents to enter the same production markets they are in).

If any shlub could join with-out qualification then it would be in microsoft and adobe's, best interest to leave the alliance. It would be in the alliances' best interest not to lose microsoft or adobe, resulting in microsoft and adobe getting their way, and restricting entrants into the alliance. This creates an even larger barrier for entry into a market dominated by members of the alliance, since new companies can't get in and can't compete with companies that can leverage a vast quantity of IP.

Anti-Competetive Practice (1)

Fuseboy (414663) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257542)

If such a thing got going strong, one or more detractors might accuse it of being an anti-competitive practice. I'd be curious how that would play out in court.

Re:Anti-Competetive Practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32259546)

It would play out the same way any patent licensing agreement played out. *Thats what the system was intended for*.

Patents are for licensing, this "agreement" is basically a big cross-licensing deal. If it were illegal to cross-license or license at-all then all the big tech companies protecting their oligopoly's by cross licensing each others tech (and suing to death any upstart that might infringe) - would be in BIIIIG trouble.

Basically, its a cross-licensing deal that spans anyone that joins. Totally anti competitive, totally a cartel, but that is what patent's and patent licensing is. They are legal technology monopolies! Sadly the timescale is way out for technology since 25 years is waaay outside the expected useful life of one new technology. (after 25 years, there are 25 different technologies that all require that initial technology, but by itself the initial technology is useless).

Quis trolliet ipsos trolles? (1)

bhamlin (986048) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257614)

Ah, but who trolls the fair trolls?

And eventually it becomes a big bureaucracy too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32257650)

And as it gets bigger, the administrators start looking to pay themselves a salary with a small fee. And then it gets bigger. And then it pretty much turns into all of the other patent pools like the BluRay pool.

Waiting for Bilski (2, Interesting)

Mark Gordon (14545) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257666)

I feel like I'm trapped in a Samuel Beckett play.

I am unconvinced (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257740)

Sounds too much like racketeering to me.

Re:I am unconvinced (1)

Bugamn (1769722) | more than 4 years ago | (#32257964)

What is this non-sense? We are just businessmen, capice? All we ask is for your friendship in this small matter, and you will always have our undying friendship.

Taking a page right out of Accelerando (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32257896)

This is pretty much exactly what the protagonist, Manfred Macx, does as he contributes to the Free Infrastructure Foundation (or something similar). The foundation exists just to hoard patents and then go after anyone who tries to hamper real innovation.

Re:Taking a page right out of Accelerando (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32259696)

Came here to say this. This

Wouldn't reforming patent law be better (1)

cramhead (241442) | more than 4 years ago | (#32258018)

Wouldn't be better to make patents non-transferable and therefore only those who actually created them could enforce the patents?

Re:Wouldn't reforming patent law be better (1)

Arker (91948) | more than 4 years ago | (#32258946)

It would be better to abolish patents entirely. But as long as that isnt happening, this looks like the first and only idea I've seen for patching the system that could conveivably work.

Re:Wouldn't reforming patent law be better (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 4 years ago | (#32259726)

Wouldn't be better to make patents non-transferable and therefore only those who actually created them could enforce the patents?

In other words, make it so patents are only useful for large companies? Why would you want that?

Charles Stross's Accelerando (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32258220)

Manfred Max would be proud.

Eye for an eye (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32258310)

Fight fire with fire. Nice, how about fixing the patent system instead.

Nonsense Instead of Public Domain (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32258338)

If they want to protect inventions from patent monopolization, they'll just publish the invention with a declaration that it's in the public domain. Which prevents anyone from patenting it.

The rest of this posturing is nonsense.

Re:Nonsense Instead of Public Domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32259208)

It's like 'copyleft', if you use the corrupt system to go against the system, all you are doing is legitimizing it.

This is why everything I produce is under PD and optionally 2-clauses BSD in case PD isn't valid.

Re:Nonsense Instead of Public Domain (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32259350)

Sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling "lah lah lah" is not going to change a damn thing.

Reinventing the Public Domain (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 4 years ago | (#32258426)

The alternative is paying taxes to a government formed by We The People, to defend the Constitution. Since the current regime refuses to do that, such a benevolent organization of patent trolls would be the equivalent of that branch of the government charged with enforcing sound, Constitutional intellectual property. The agreement and/or whatever relatively modest means required to fund the organization would be like a tax.

Where is the Sport? (1)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32258710)

The way to get participation is to offer the heart and blood of the enemy to eat and drink in a lust of carnage. This "patent commune" sounds too "milk toast" for that. We all know the road to hell is paved with pure souls and funded by good intentions.

REmoved (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#32259066)

Business methods and software and patent trolls don't matter anymore.

At this point, ideas are patents, not how they work. That is why there are so many patent trolls. If you had to actually design a specific device, it become a lot harder to patent troll and it's not nearly as cost effective.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss (1)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 4 years ago | (#32259612)

Just set these people up with a huge portfolio of patents and they'll look after you. Yeah, right - would you like a bridge to go along with that?

This kind of deal is how trusts / cartels are born. It always sounds like a good idea at first, but once the combination is established it does what every other combination of this type has always done. Power corrupts, and the leaders of this cartel will have a large amount of power. They'll use it for their own benefit - not ours.

Think your position through (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32259630)

The patent system is meant to encourage innovation and knowledge sharing. Your system is designed as a means to socialize the patent system. By socializing the patent systems you eliminate the incentive to innovate and share knowledge. You might as well just eliminate patents.

Poof - dead. (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 4 years ago | (#32259858)

The more aggressive the Fair Trolls are, the better for the cause."

And how long until the Patent Trolls buy off the Fair Trolls, especially when they are Major corporations withe billions of dollars to piss away on this?

Re:Poof - dead. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32259914)

You mean like how those Major corporations with billions of dollars to piss away successfully bought off the Free Software Foundation, eliminating the pesky threat of Fair software?

Software patents are broken in a different way (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32259870)

The way the US patent office works is that they check their data and any data that the submitter has provided. They aren't allowed to use search engines to find out if the thing had been done before since they would be leaking information out to the search engine provider. This means that the 1st software patent issued could have been for something very common if the patent office didn't have any reasonable documentation showing that it existed.

I think a solution to this problem (as it rolls into other countries) and the open source problem is a huge patent for "Processing information using a computer system" where everything anyone can think of is lumped in as a claim. Then the patent office will spend years knocking back every single claim and at the end of the process a patent may be issued with a few claims left but the patent office will then have lots of prior art on software patents. A good starting point would be to take The Art of Computer programming and add an useless extension to each algorithm in the books so as an example a claim could be done for "a method of sorting data about ice cream cones and other things by using a bubble sort"

We are the BORG! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32260704)

We are the BORG! You will be assimilated

I am not sure... (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32261966)

If I don't own a patent but infringe a dozen (i.e. I am a free software developer) what happens ?

"Patent Fairies" sounds better (1)

bugzappy (1524121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32262052)

no?
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