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USPTO Grants Bezos Patent On '60s-Era Chargebacks

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the let's-try-patenting-binary-numbers dept.

Patents 144

theodp writes "Chargebacks on computing resources are certainly nothing new, dating to the '60s. But five decades later, the USPTO has deemed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' invention — Dynamic Pricing of Web Services Utilization — worthy of a new patent. From the patent: 'Utilization of a storage resource may be measured in terms of a quantity of data stored (e.g., bytes, megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB), etc.) per unit of time (e.g., second, day, month, etc.). Similarly, communication bandwidth utilization may be measured in terms of a quantity of data transmitted per unit of time (e.g., megabits per second). Processing resource utilization may be measured as an aggregate number of units of processing effort (e.g., central processing unit (CPU) cycles, transactions, etc.) utilized, or as a rate of processing effort utilization per unit of time (e.g., CPU cycles or transactions per second).' Sound familiar, Greyglers? Another example of why it's not wise to grant software patents when people don't know much about computer history."

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Shit! (4, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705104)

There's a barrel load of stuff I've forgotten. Should have patented it while I could.

WAIT!!! Maybe I still can.

Go on, get off my lawn!

FFS, someone should take a hatchet to the US PTO. Don't they need to reduce the budget or something?

 

Re:Shit! (5, Interesting)

amentajo (1199437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705122)

No, increase the budget instead: give perks to employees that deny patents like this.

Re:Shit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32705142)

Bonuses for denying obvious/stupid patents? great idea.

Re:Shit! (2, Funny)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705246)

No, increase the budget instead: give perks to employees that deny patents like this.

Sorry, but someones already patented that...

Re:Shit! (4, Funny)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705568)

No, increase the budget instead: give perks to employees that deny patents like this.

Sorry, but someones already patented that...

Can we patent this type of reply on Slashdot so that we don't get the inevitable trite "that's been patented" responses? I mean heck... at try and be clever and original if you're going to pull out that crusty relic of a response.

Re:Shit! (3, Insightful)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705610)

Ironically, your post follows the response predicted by the meta-meme exactly.

Re:Shit! (1, Troll)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705778)

Ironically, your post follows the response predicted by the meta-meme exactly.

Thanks for noticing.

Re:Shit! (3, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705626)

No, its just a perfect example demonstrating that everything is already invented. As such there's no longer a need for the patent office.

Re:Shit! (3, Funny)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705846)

No, increase the budget instead: give perks to employees that deny patents like this.

Sorry, but someones already patented that...

Can we patent this type of reply on Slashdot so that we don't get the inevitable trite "that's been patented" responses? I mean heck... at try and be clever and original if you're going to pull out that crusty relic of a response.

But that hasn't been patented though. Rewarding an employee has been patented though for having/learning to do their job properly. Patent application number: 20100023384. [faqs.org]

Re:Shit! (3, Insightful)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705748)

You shouldn't need a bonus to do your job.

The organisation is corrupt from the ground up, the only option is to remove patenting. Whenever you have companies with a lot of money trying to get an edge, you're going to get corruption. Whether is congress/parliament or a government agency that enforces the laws, this seems to be rife.

There's no way a sane person would allow patenting of 50 year old business practices.

Re:Shit! (5, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705848)

FFS, someone should take a hatchet to the US PTO. Don't they need to reduce the budget or something?

The USPTO is entirely fee-funded. Your tax dollars don't pay the examiners' salaries.

On a side note, if you do know something about history and technology, and you'd like to put your money where your mouth is and improve the quality of patent examination, the USPTO is currently hiring qualified individuals with expertise in electrical, computer, and biomedical engineering. US citizenship required. In addition to standard federal benefits and a salary that can reach $100k in about three years, the USPTO has the federal government's flagship telework program, which allows you to work from home, anywhere in the country, once you meet certain qualifications.

See http://usptocareers.gov/ [usptocareers.gov] for more info.

Re:Shit! (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#32706376)

On a side note, if you do know something about history and technology, and you'd like to put your money where your mouth is and improve the quality of patent examination,

The government is in over it's head and bamboozled constantly with bullshit talk. The way to improve the system is to do away with it:
http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/againstfinal.htm [ucla.edu]

Re:Shit! (1)

nnnnnnn (1611817) | more than 4 years ago | (#32706424)

I don't understand why the USPTO is looking for employees? Heck, the USPTO can just post the patent applications on /. By the current comment count, we have 76 patent examiners ready to go. And we got full access to Wikipedia, etc, etc. Let's do this.

Re:Shit! (4, Insightful)

soundguy (415780) | more than 4 years ago | (#32706678)

The fact that in the year 2010, the videos on the USPTO website require RealPlayer pretty much explains the mentality at the patent office.

Re:Shit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32706770)

This is a perfect example of why government should never be allowed to run a business. IBM could certainly prove prior art; their data-centres had "perfected" this methodolgy more than 50 years ago. And obviously the patent exami we who approved this patent must have obtained his degree in computer science from a mail order diploma mill in China. Fire the SOB and blacklist him for life.

Re:Shit! (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#32706780)

the USPTO has the federal government's flagship telework program, which allows you to work from home, anywhere in the country, once you meet certain qualifications.

Is there a page on that? I looked through and they have lots on their parking garages and public transport, but nothing on telecommuting. The only thing I could find on a search was that you had to show up a minimum of once a week in the office so they wouldn't trigger any rules on per diems, traveling expenses, or such. Thus you could work anywhere in the US you wanted (and there's nothing that I saw that actually stated that, if you were an American citizen authorized to live and work in Canada working from Toronto or Vancouver, I didn't see anything affecting that), but you'd have to fly/drive into the office once a week, and flying LA to DC once a week would seem cost prohibitive on the salary, even the boosted salary they get.

If I could actually get a job there, work there for a month or two, then move back home and never have to physically set foot in the office again, I'd sign up now. Or, if the family wants to move to DC, then I'd consider it, but that's a much much harder sell than a month in a hotel.

Re:Shit! (1)

mikestew (1483105) | more than 4 years ago | (#32706978)

Is there a page on that?

Yes there is (http://usptocareers.gov/Pages/PEPositions/fitcheck.aspx), and it says:
"... all the basic qualifications for this position which include:

U.S. Citizenship
A 4-year degree in Engineering or Physics by June 2009
The willingness to relocate to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area
"

Re:Shit! (2, Interesting)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#32707122)

USPTO is financed by patent fees. So that's why they grant patents without checking the validity of the claim.

If they were to pay a fine for every patent that didn't hold then they would be much more careful.

frosty piss (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32705108)

lick out my asshole and I'll let you drink it!

So how much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32705112)

is Bezo's offering to pay us for charge-chargebacks?

Brainless (2, Insightful)

Kestrell69 (1302307) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705126)

So who is more brainless? The patent office for granting this abomination? Or the person at Amazon who simply typed up a description of a common computing paradigm from 40 years ago?

Re:Brainless (5, Insightful)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705184)

...or the people who comment on patents without studying them to determine what is actually claimed and the scope of those claims?

Re:Brainless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32705378)

Mod parent up...

Re:Brainless (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 4 years ago | (#32706304)

I came to the comments here with the thought that I might find the one solitary comment that tells me what the REAL scope of this is.

Re:Brainless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32706900)

...or the people who comment on patents without studying them to determine what is actually claimed and the scope of those claims?

We hear this all the time about bad patents that get mentioned on Slashdot. But I have yet to hear a concrete and convincing explanation about a particular patent that moves it from "wtf, how was that patented?!" to anything but "so, it's a minor variation on something obvious... they let them patent that?"

If this patent - or any of the others ridiculed here - is worthy, let's hear a defense. I'd really like to read that - not being sarcastic.

Re:Brainless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32706972)

It's easier to read just the summary and confuse background material for the actual thing being patented, which gives you more time to rush off to slashdot.

Re:Brainless (2, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705466)

Not the guy at Amazon. It takes intelligence with a lack of scruples to abuse this.

Re:Brainless (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#32706282)

So, most likely some new sort of Marketing Weasel / Lawyer cross-breed. Lets all hope they're sterile. FSM help us if these things start reproducing.

Re:Brainless (5, Informative)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705628)

So who is more brainless?

You're brainless for not reading the patent claims, and theodp is brainless for his nonstop anti-Amazon patent tirade [google.com] (372 results)

Here are the relevant parts from all of the links in the summary:

Wikipedia time-sharing article: "Users were charged rent for the terminal, a charge for hours of connect time, a charge for seconds of CPU time, and a charge for kilobyte-months of disk storage." Yeah, ok... that's metered service, just like your power bill or long distance charges.

Plato history article: Uh, this mentions getting a 50th anniversary Plato-style Google logo on Google. Nothing relevant on this link.

The actual patent abstract: "A method and system for dynamic pricing of web services utilization. According to one embodiment, a method may include dynamically predicting utilization of a web services computing resource that is expected to occur during a given interval of time, and dependent upon the dynamically predicted utilization, setting a price associated with utilization of the web services computing resource occurring during the given interval of time. The method may further include providing the price to a customer. "

Does charging for CPU time and resources involve dynamic prediction? No? I didn't think so. Lousy try, theodp. Better luck next time.

Re:Brainless (2, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705722)

"A method and system for dynamic pricing of web services utilization. According to one embodiment, a method may include dynamically predicting utilization of a web services computing resource that is expected to occur during a given interval of time,"

"Oh look, we want to charge you differently for usage rates"

As if this doesn't happen every day in all industries. This is *obvious.*

This belongs in a fucking contract, not a goddamn patent.

Amazon is evil in this regard. Jeff Bezos is one of a handful of people who have been the driving force behind patenting obviousness. The others reside(d) at IBM, Microsoft, and Unisys.

--
BMO

Re:Brainless (4, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705810)

As if this doesn't happen every day in all industries. This is *obvious.* This belongs in a fucking contract, not a goddamn patent.

Maybe so, but claiming that it's "60's-Era Chargebacks" is a complete misrepresentation based on the so-called "articles" linked to in the summary.

Re:Brainless (1)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705762)

The United States federal government already does dynamic pricing for all its services, via the IRS's progressive tax tables. And that pricing is based on their prediction (valid or otherwise) that the rich will benefit from federal services more than the poor, and so should be charged more for those services beforehand.

As for "dynamic pricing" etc., doesn't it all still come down to Bilski math territory?

Re:Brainless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32706632)

How about adjusting prices based on analyzing current trends in supply and demand of your product? That too is dynamic predicting of utilization and that's been done for years. What about pricing based on spot-auctions of resources where customers bid on CPU cycles, storage, and bandwidth where the reserved bid price is based on capacity? That too is dynamic prediction of utilization. Again, done for years.

The American patent system is so broke that it isn't even funny anymore.

Re:Brainless (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705902)

Or the person at Amazon that knew what he was doing, and pulled it off anyway?

Re:Brainless (2, Funny)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#32707156)

Isn't brainless an absolute?

Like saying "a little pregnant" - either you are or you aren't.

O'RLY (4, Insightful)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705134)

I don't really understand how this is patentable. It is essentially a patent covering 'charging for computer time' or 'charging for computer resources'? The credibility of patents is eroded day by day, diluted into pure paperwork used for litigation fodder.

Re:O'RLY (4, Insightful)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705200)

The credibility of patents is eroded day by day, diluted into pure paperwork used for litigation fodder.

That is a design feature, a direct consequence of a society run by lawyers for the benefit of lawyers and as an afterthought also sometimes their most wealthy clients.

Re:O'RLY (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705276)

The credibility of patents is eroded day by day, diluted into pure paperwork used for litigation fodder.

This is a good thing: reductio ad absurdum or at the very least reductio ad incommodum. Same with copyright.

Re:O'RLY (2, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705946)

I don't know if the actual patent is a good idea either, but to be fair, it is somewhat narrower than just charging for computer time/resources. It appears to specifically cover only charging for computer time/resources in a dynamic way based on a prediction of their utilization. So e.g. the cost for one CPU-minute would go up or down depending on the system's estimate of current contention for CPU-minutes. It seems that has probably been used in some other markets (e.g. in some electric markets), but it's possible that it's novel when applied to computer resources. Possibly obvious to a practitioner skilled in the art, but invalidation for obviousness seems uncommon these days, at least at the USPTO level.

Re:O'RLY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32706248)

As an inventory (yea, WTF does that mean... I know) I hove notice the USPTO approving all kinds of patents nobody in my industry would consider novel, not the software industry, for what it's worth. Uncommon knowledge seems to be left for us/the courts to decide anymore, as these poor unprepared and overworked patent agents just can't keep up. I guess it keeps the attorneys fat?

It seems to me this is nothing more than the Rackspace Cloud-Mozzo-my old shared MUD server pricing.

I can tell you this, all that matters is the first claim, and it is so obfuscated with what is obviously lawyere magic words that I doubt it could be used to stop anyone from doing anything.

This is a defensive patent imo, and while some MBA weenie may try to be clever, I doubt the intent was ever to license the technology.

Re:O'RLY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32706668)

if the summary were true it would totally not be patentable. but read the patent... you'll find that its much different then whats written in the summary. i only hope linking to an article about a google logo was a mistake cuz thats just so totally random.

IBM invented it first in the 50s (1)

vaporland (713337) | more than 4 years ago | (#32707062)

when I was a computer operator, we charged departments for CPU time, magnetic tape, paper, and hard disk space. IBM provided hooks into their mainframe OS for recording resource utilization. How Amazon can patent this is beyond me. What's next? Patenting breathing?

Free markets (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32705144)

USPTO is only a small organization - and there is only so much they can do. It is like expecting the coast guard to have the expertise to stop the BP leak.

A vast majority of USPTO decisions are right - and occasionally some are rotten. Those rotten one can be appealed by companies planning to use the technologies - esp. if the prior art is so obvious (and actually is relevant). Else, the USPTO will have to hire 200-400% more people, and take 5 times as long, to award patents.

Finally - Software patents are not all bad. If you find a new way to compress/decompress video - that is patentable. It is just some stupid business processes (like this one above) that needs to outside the realm of patents...... but that is a decision for the US Supreme court

Re:Free markets (2, Interesting)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705456)

"A vast majority of USPTO decisions are right"

[citation needed]

Re:Free markets (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705492)

but that is a decision for the US Supreme court

Congress could fix this. They're the ones that broke it in the first place.

Re:Free markets (3, Insightful)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705638)

Congress could fix this. They're the ones that broke it in the first place.

No, congress needs to fix what the courts have broken. The ability to patent software and business processes is strictly the result of court decisions.

Re:Free markets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32706800)

Congress could fix this. They're the ones that broke it in the first place.

No, congress needs to fix what the courts have broken. The ability to patent software and business processes is strictly the result of court decisions.

Yes, but that's not the end of the problem. IF (and I say, "if") the USPTO was actually perfoming due diligence and only granting patents for truly novel inventions, software and business method patents might not be as big a problem as they are. So look a bit deeper. It was Congress that changed the way the patent office operates, and provided it the financial incentive to not look too hard at patent validity. Their current policy is to grant patents and let the courts decide whether they're legit. Which is, of course, precisely NOT why we established a Patent Office in the first place. Granting protection to mere ideas and to common knowledge simply serves to tie up the courts, stifle innovation and employ legions of "intellectual property" attorneys. So yes, Congress is as much responsible for the current mess as any judge, and they're the only ones who can fix it.

Re:Free markets (2, Insightful)

symbolic (11752) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705518)

Bezos already has a find precedent for stupid patents. As long as companies are required to license use of the "one click" purchase, anything submitted by Amazon should be thoroughly scrutinized.

Re:Free markets (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32705940)

Actually, I don't believe that the "vast majority of USPTO decisions are right".

I just had to go through a set of patents issued to a particular company, in a domain that I'm quite "practiced" in for the last 30 years. There was a complete lack of innovation in any of those patents.

I have several patents, and I am amazed to this day, that some dork in the USPTO thought they all should be granted.

Most patents are filed as legal weapons, hoping that some naive fool within the USPTO will grant the weapon. The weapons are used either as offensive or defensive weapons, depending on the culture of the organization that the patent will be assigned to. High tech companies incent people to push up "patentable" ideas to the "IP Department". Then based on the resources of the company, they will spend the $20K+ to drive them through the system. The "inventor" gets paid incremental amounts of money as it goes through the stages until finally granted. We are talking 4-5 figures. On top of that, people get raises and promotions based solely on the number of US7xxxxx numbers they have collected, whether they have anything to do with their job, their projects or even the industry they are in.

The definition of a "Patentable" idea from a corporate IP department point of view has NOTHING to do with innovation or relavence. It is all about the potential grade of the weapon, the potential enemy, the cost of paying the USPTO to grant the weapon, and whether the USPTO examiners will be stupid enough to grant them. Major corporations will use their "Pocket" Senators or Rep, to put pressure on the USPTO to expediate and get dedicated USPTO just to service their "weapon" requests. It is all about whether the "Patent" can screw up a competitor, or neutralize an attack based on another "bogus" patent.

Every metric is about # of patents granted, from USPTO, to how "GREAT" US R&D is, etc. There is NO incentive in any part of the system to stop the issuing of a obvious (aka stupid) patent. Get a patent and then go to one of those Stupid Idiot Judges in west Texas and watch what happens.

Now one could debate the definition "Obvious". If it means that it immediately" comes to mind without a second of thought, then someone could have gotten a patent on using a blunt object to break up ice in a ice maker when the cubes refreezes together. So should we go to 10 seconds, 10 minutes, 10 hours? Too many patents that I have read, are about some idea/use case where all the effort was in filling out the "IP Departments Patent Disclosure Statement, find a few "friends" to sell and share in the IP Department windfall, and push something into Corporate Patent machine.

Too many patents are ideas; they are never implemented by the inventor. "Inventors" convince some hick sitting in a USPTO office that 'Diagram 400" will work, and voila they get a US74xxxxxxx. When real people that have a real problem to solve, they think about for a while, and after 10 seconds, 10 minutes, 10 hours come up with an approach and then ACTUALLY make that damn thing work. They have no need to look to see if there is anything in the USPTO patent files; they can figure out an approach without any "teaching" outside of their education and previous experience.

In my experience, the USPTO has a bunch of examiners that are NOT practiced in the art, because if they were worth a crap, they would be working in industry, building things that have value and making 2x their salary (and that is outside of the Patent windfall.) They don't know innovation nor invention from a thought. Because they don't practice, they don't know what is obvious. The whole system is a perversion.

So I can not accept your premise that the "vast majority of USPTO decisions are right".

I'm quite convinced that there are "inventors" that have done great innovation things and those inventions desire patents, but in my experience, in my field, the "vast majority of USPTO decisions are BS"

Re:Free markets (2, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#32706064)

No, it's like expecting the Coast Guard to guard the coast.

I see no reason why it is unreasonable to expect the USPTO to correctly do the one and only thing they exist for.

Don't care (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32705146)

IMHO this is just further proof that no billionaire deserves the money. They're all crooks, sometimes within the law, but still crooks.

Re:Don't care (2, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705222)

So... the patent office (ie, government bureaucrats) are incompetent (or possibly the summary is wrong) and that proves all billionaires are crooks?

Re:Don't care (3, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705438)

No. It's all the fault of the bankers. Do try to keep your scapegoats straight.

Obviousness Test FAIL (1)

niks42 (768188) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705188)

I thought we were meant only to call ideas inventions when they were ideas that are not obvious, and would challenge someone practiced in whatever discipline to come up with by themselves?

How does Amazon survive? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32705198)

If somebody just sends the Patent Office this Slashdot article, then they would be obligated to withdraw the patent; thus nullifying Amazon's incredible ability to claim ownership of common sense business processes and methods that anyone can think of.

How is it that Amazon still keeps on getting away with these illegal patents?

Re:How does Amazon survive? (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705486)

How is it that Amazon still keeps on getting away with these illegal patents?

The answer is painfully obvious -- some idiot keeps granting then.

Wait, I'll patent that.

Re:How does Amazon survive? (0, Redundant)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705532)

Sorry, there's already prior art for granting idiotic patents, so you can't patent the idea (of granting idiotic patents).

Oh wait...

Re:How does Amazon survive? (2, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705636)

If somebody just sends the Patent Office this Slashdot article, then they would be obligated to withdraw the patent;

Someone from the Patent Office would actually read the claims rather than relying on theodp's fabrications and misrepresentations and would conclude that the patent has merit.

How is it that Amazon still keeps on getting away with these illegal patents?

Illegal? Are you theodp posting as an Anonymous Coward now?

Misleading summary (5, Informative)

Mr 44 (180750) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705240)

The patent is actually for utilizing a predictive process to change pricing based upon expected future load. Still not necessarily new, but very different than the summary implies.

Prior art? (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705688)

The patent is actually for utilizing a predictive process to change pricing based upon expected future load. Still not necessarily new, but very different than the summary implies.

I think the airlines may have some prior art.

Re:Prior art? (1)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705786)

As well as the IRS.

Re:Prior art? (2, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705956)

Really depends on how a court interprets obviousness there. The airlines have prior art for predictive pricing of airplane tickets, but that's not precisely predictive pricing of metered computer resources. Predictive pricing of electricity might be another example, if that's used anywhere (as opposed to pricing based on bidding through an exchange). But to use those to invalidate this patent, you'd have to argue basically: given that predictive pricing is well-known, and given that metering computer resources is well known, metering computer resources with predictive pricing, even if novel, is an obvious combination to someone skilled in the art. Typically the USPTO hasn't made the bar to non-obviousness very high, though.

Re:Misleading summary (2, Informative)

tuomoks (246421) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705766)

Maybe misleading summary but what you just said is old, old, old - part of my job when started -71, and old already then! The problem today seems to be - add a couple of words, like WEB or Internet, to some old idea and , voilà, you can have a patent.

Seriously - is the USPO the only government office which, when not skilled on the issue, is supposed and/or allowed to make bad decisions anyway? Doesn't sound good or even very useful?

"Predictive process" has been used in any kind of business forever "to change pricing based upon expected future .. whatever" - especially what I did, combining insurance profits with having, charging and selling computer resources. It's very interesting and much what the patent describes is really out of the textbooks - maybe just too old textbooks, not any more in libraries, even in universities? Will be big again - you have to charge in cloud? Maybe that's why they really did go after a patent. Of course it can't hold - even abstracts as WEB are either defined as "interlinked documents" or not really defined at all, just needs a couple of million $$ to fight the patent and then you are free to do what you / most large sw/hw/cloud/etc service corporations have been doing 40+ years! If you still have any money left to do anything - LOL!

Besides, the mistake often is the load - you have to look much more than bits, bytes, seconds, etc - someone else is charging your resoures, be they hw, electircity, taxes, and so on - so, "It's complicated", sometimes changing daily - think currencies and almost any business today!

Re:Misleading summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32705948)

Yes. Not the same as Kilocharacters at all. I never should have posted without reading the article, but, on the bright side, my previous post will, very probably, immediately sink into oblivion, followed by this post, so, no harm done?

Re:Misleading summary (1)

maxwells_deamon (221474) | more than 4 years ago | (#32706950)

Flowers on holidays
Electical energy prices in Arizona in summer
Business recovery/continuation sites near y2k
any idiot who is running low on anything in demand

Also search for price gouge and a computer term to see if people have done it in the past

You have to dig deeper into the patent (2, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705250)

It doesn't matter that the idea is old - if the implementation of the idea is new.

Re:You have to dig deeper into the patent (2, Insightful)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705346)

It doesn't matter that the idea is old - if the implementation of the idea is new.

And if the description of the new "implementation" is suitably imprecise, you can block others from coding up the same old idea in a different manner. Which is why patents on processes / algorithms (aka software) are bullshit.

Re:You have to dig deeper into the patent (1)

pogson (856666) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705372)

So I can "invent" the shovel today? By moving manure, dirt, sand, rice, potatoes,.... I hope the USPTO has an infinite staff... Wait a minute! They CHARGE for applications! That's their new business plan: generate an infinite number of patent applications and pay off the national debt with the fees. I understand.

Re:You have to dig deeper into the patent (2, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705576)

So I can "invent" the shovel today?

Of course you can.

If you have something new to offer.

Perhaps a wheeled snow shovel for seniors. Sno Wovel - Snow Shovel [cozywinters.com]

Worthless Patent (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32705262)

Let's look at a claim:

1. A computer-implemented method, comprising: provisioning for an enterprise an enterprise-side web services computing resource to accommodate a given level of the enterprise's anticipated utilization; an enterprise-side computer system of the enterprise dynamically predicting the enterprise's own utilization of the enterprise-side web services computing resource that is expected to occur during a given interval of time; dependent upon said dynamically predicted utilization, said enterprise-side computer system setting a price to be charged for utilization of said web services computing resource by an entity other than the enterprise occurring during said given interval of time; and said enterprise-side computer system electronically providing said price to a client-side computer system for presentation to a customer associated with the client-side computer system as the price said customer will be charged for utilization of said web services computing resource during said given interval of time, wherein the client-side computer system is external to the enterprise.

WTF? That's not an innovative solution to a problem. That's not even a solution to a problem - that's a description of the problem itself. They just patented anything that is a solution to the problem.

This patent doesn't help other people implement any technology. The whole patent doesn't even contain any source code. If this document were released to the public, and had never been submitted as a patent, the world would be no better off than if it had never been written. Nobody would even care that it existed.

This isn't an invention. This is worthless junk.

Re:Worthless Patent (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32705392)

WTF? That's not an innovative solution to a problem.

You've got to understand that there are a lot of under-employed physicists out there who can't get academic work because they didn't ass-kiss their professors. With no good references the only type of work these physicists can get are either tech support work in call centres (but that has mostly been outsourced to India) or work in a patent office. Since most physicists aren't really interested in patents, perpetual motion machines, or business processes, they'll just rubber stamp whatever comes their way while working on the theory of the universe when their employers are not watching.

If patents were really meant to be useful in the first place, the government would have shut down Eastern Texas years ago (as an eminent domain, such as what they did with Centralia [wikipedia.org] ).

Re:Worthless Patent (1)

zQuo (1050152) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705886)

Actually, this 'valuable' patent is worth the application fee and the stream of maintenance fees for the life of the patent! That's, er, about $8k over the life of the patent. http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/qs/ope/fee2009september15.htm [uspto.gov]
And that's not counting all the patent litigation fees to keep the lawyers' children fed!

Sadly, there are no longer many worthy patents that are on the scale of a lightbulb, where the realized implementation of an idea is patented after some incredible effort and trial and error. Nowadays, a patent would be just the idea: "a method of generating light from electricity". The carbon filament lamp in 1879, the tungsten filament lamp in 1915, the tungsten halogen lamp in 1959, etc. would all just details that fall under the original idea.

http://inventors.about.com/od/lstartinventions/a/lighting_2.htm [about.com]

Re:Worthless Patent (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 4 years ago | (#32706262)

How is it that submitting a "sentence" like that claim would attract a fail mark in an English essay but is actively encouraged in a field dominated by supposedly educated people?

Tymnet. Kilocharacters. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32705286)

Worked there. Done that. Got the T-shirt. G56

All part of the design (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705374)

Milk the system for all it's worth. You never know when it's going to collapse on you. It's as predictable as any Pavlov experiment. I've gotten to where I don't give a shit anymore. If this is what people want, then who the hell am I to complain?

Expect a patent on the biological exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide...

It won't matter (0, Redundant)

jvillain (546827) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705388)

None of this is going to matter to me after my patents are granted for

-combining oxygen and a combustable material through the application of heat resulting in the production of heat and light.
-a circular object through which a shaft is placed. The shaft may or may not support a load which will then be able to travel across a surface with out coming in contact with it.
-combining oxygen and hydrogen in to create a fluid useful for sustaining light. Also good for stopping the first patent.

Overturn Now (2, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705470)

So why can't this just be overturned instantly with this proof of prior art? The problem with overturning even obvious patents is that it is so GD expensive in terms of money and time that very bad patents are allowed to remain standing until some idiot tries to enforce them.

Re:Overturn Now (2, Insightful)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705800)

So why can't this just be overturned instantly with this proof of prior art? The problem with overturning even obvious patents is that it is so GD expensive in terms of money and time that very bad patents are allowed to remain standing until some idiot tries to enforce them.

Actually, reexaminations are quite inexpensive to initiate. Why aren't more done? Because, contrary to Slashdot beliefs, there's a lot more to a patent than the title, and prior art needs to anticipate or teach each and every element of the claims, not just "this patent is on a method of X, and they were doing X decades ago!"

Re:Overturn Now (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#32706314)

Should you only have to address one of the claims to invalidate the patent?

Re:Overturn Now (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 4 years ago | (#32706360)

Should you only have to address one of the claims to invalidate the patent?

I don't understand your question... Are you asking whether you have to address all of the claims? If so, yes and no - any you don't address may be left valid, but you don't have to address them all to invalidate one.
Or, are you asking whether you have to address a claim at all, or whether you can address the drawings, title, abstract, or specification? If so, yes. The claims are the patent. The other stuff is only there to provide explanation for the claims, but it has little to no legal weight. You can't invalidate a patent by arguing the specification has some obvious stuff in it.

Re:Overturn Now (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#32707004)

Sorry, what I meant (and mis-typed) was "Shouldn't you only have to address one of the claims to invalidate the patent". I think you mostly answered it anyway.

PLATO (2, Insightful)

Andy Smith (55346) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705548)

Wow, reading that PLATO link has got me feeling all nostalgic, and sad that I wasn't a part of it. I was only 1-year-old. It sounds magical.

It also reminded me of how much I hate the locked-down mentality of certain modern computing companies. These companies only exist because of open systems and people tinkering, hacking, experimenting... and now they seek to deny those opportunities to new generations. Great shame.

Flashback. (3, Interesting)

uncqual (836337) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705622)

Wow, I hadn't thought of 'Kilo-Core Ticks" (or similar measures) for decades (back when I cared what they cost).

Maybe only people who have been in the field over 40 years should be able to file patents -- at least they might recognize crap like this and be too embarrassed to actually apply for a patent like this.

Perhaps we need to enable 'reverse patent trolls'. If someone patents something and the patent is later invalidated, the person (company) who made the application must pay the challenger's legal expenses. In addition, the entity filing for the application must pay the challenger, with interest, all revenue derived from the patent (both licensing fees paid to them and the added value derived from the patent in their own products - such as 'one-click' during the life of the patent). In addition, the entity applying for the patent would have to pay back (with interest) all licensing fees they were paid back to the people who paid them (yes, this is double!).

People might think a little more about filing bogus patents with a system like this.

Bilski (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32705720)

Surprised no one has mentioned In re Bilski yet. The SCOTUS Bilski decision will likely come out on Monday. This may have an effect on the validity of these claims, as well as other software patents, under 35 U.S.C. 101.

Re:Bilski (1)

kabloom (755503) | more than 4 years ago | (#32706756)

You might be interested in some speculation [patentlyo.com] about the likely outcome [scotusblog.com] of Bilski. It sounds like there's a good chance that Stevens is writing the opinion and that State Street will be overturned.

Been there, seen that. (3, Interesting)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705820)

Way back around 1972, I worked on a CDC time-share system. They charged 4 cents per CPU second, 1 cent per PRU (640 characters) transferred to/from disk, and 0.2 cents per kiloword-second of memory used.

Except after 5PM, when the rates went down 50%.

Luckily I worked for the computer center, so the long assembly times ( 5 minutes ) were charged against a funny-money account. Still it was humbling that one missing comma and I'd wasted about 20 minutes of real time and $12, when $12 was real money.

Did anyone actually read the paten (4, Insightful)

xianthax (963773) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705822)

Did anyone actually read the patent?

The summary author is an idiot and clearly doesn't understand the patent or simply didn't read it.

They didn't patent measuring and charging for computer resources.

They patented predicting resource utilization at a particular point in the future and varying charging at that time.

They basically patented the ability to charge users hosting services with them based on response time and performance, they implemented this capability by predicting loads at a point in the future.

Sounds like they don't want to charge by the RAM/disk usage/CPU time etc anymore but would rather charge based on guaranteed performance.

Also this isn't a software patent at all. They effectively patented a business model.

If you want to argue the merits of that, fine, lets at least stick to the real issue.

Utility do that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32706622)

"!They basically patented the ability to charge users hosting services with them based on response time and performance, they implemented this capability by predicting loads at a point in the future."

So the fact that my energy utility did that alread yback in the 80, invalidate that patent ? They charged me for used electricity, but also predicted how much I would use in the future based on my previous usage, and then each month I would get that to pay for the next year. Once inn 2 years they would give me back/make me pay the difference, and then use a new prediction.

Re:Utility do that (1)

xianthax (963773) | more than 4 years ago | (#32707124)

hate to break it to you, but using a common approach in one industry, on a new industry, is, indeed, patentable.

I don't agree with this practice, but again, lets argue that point, not sit about and bitch about software patents when that is not the issue at hand.

Re:Did anyone actually read the paten (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 4 years ago | (#32706836)

So in other words, do what airlines do, but with computers. NOVEL! NOT! I'm not too irked, because I still have yet to buy a single thing from Amazon. Oh yes, I've been tempted a few times, but knowing that I've not provided any support for this kind of nonsense is much more fulfilling.

Re:Did anyone actually read the paten (1)

niteshifter (1252200) | more than 4 years ago | (#32707134)

Oh, it's a business model patent ....
That describes how my (and yours) local Chinese buffet restaurant differentiates it's lunch and supper hours business.

Fail: Prior Art.

But wait! They're using a computer, that makes it different!
So does the restaurant owner ....

"Sound Familiar" (4, Funny)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705850)

From the patent: 'Utilization of a storage resource may be measured in terms of a quantity of data stored (e.g., bytes, megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB), etc.) per unit of time (e.g., second, day, month, etc.). Similarly, communication bandwidth utilization may be measured in terms of a quantity of data transmitted per unit of time (e.g., megabits per second). Processing resource utilization may be measured as an aggregate number of units of processing effort (e.g., central processing unit (CPU) cycles, transactions, etc.) utilized, or as a rate of processing effort utilization per unit of time (e.g., CPU cycles or transactions per second).' Sound familiar, Greyglers?

It should, since it's part of a description about the art generally. I mean, if you're going to quote mine in a biased effort to show that the patent is invalid, why not go for this:

For example, in some embodiments computing resource 100 may include tangible resources such as computer systems (e.g., standalone or rack-mounted systems), storage devices (e.g., magnetic/optical disk storage, tape storage, etc.), wired or wireless network communication devices (e.g., Local Area Network (LAN)/Wide Area Network (WAN) devices and/or media), input/output devices, or other types of computing devices.

Oh, no, they just patented every computer system, storage device, and network!

I mean, heck... if you're spreading FUD, why not go all the way?

errr.....did he just patent timeshare? (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32706022)

Hearing the stories of how well that worked in businesses and universities 30 years ago....good luck and have fun with that!

A Futures Market in Computer Time (Harvard, 1968) (3, Informative)

theodp (442580) | more than 4 years ago | (#32706106)

A Futures Market in Computer Time [ucsb.edu] , Communications of the ACM, June 1968: "An auction method is described for allocating computer time that allows the price of computer time to fluctuate with the demand...if the computer ever is idle, its price automatically becomes attractively low."

Bilski (2, Informative)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#32706116)

I think this coming Monday is the last day of the current SCOTUS session, and is expected to be the day that they give a ruling on the Bilski case. If we wish with all our might, we may hear on Monday that software and algorithms are not considered patentable material.

patent land grab (1)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 4 years ago | (#32706366)

I think the current patent situation is a kin to a patent land grab. It is little about valid patents, but the fact they are constrained to the US(Thru the USPTO).

It is cleary state sponsored.

Said it before, and I'll say it again: Patents will be the new oil resource, and wars will be fought over them in the future.

We need new legislation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32706782)

Sounds like we need an Intellectual Fraud law. Charge both the filer (the person, not the corp) and the clerk that approved it. Put a stop to this kind of crap real quick.

I'll be rich (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#32707362)

This article has inspired me to patent "a method where an employer removes an employee from payroll, and relieves said employee of all duties". I have no doubt it will be granted, at which point I will either have guaranteed job security, or a guaranteed early retirement.

I already have the patent on "reading something and then patenting it before the other guy does", so don't even think about stealing my idea.

Important to remember (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32707386)

The Constitution grants Congress the power to declare war and to create patents. The constitution does not require of Congress either of these things.

Not wise to listen to /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32707394)

Everybody should know by now it's not wise to listen to Slashdot when it comes to intellectual property law. If Slashdot knew anything about IP law, they'd know it hardly matters what the patent application says in the introduction. Pretty much all that matters is what's written in the claims.

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