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ITC Investigates Xbox 360 After Motorola Complaint

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the papers-please dept.

Microsoft 71

FlorianMueller writes "The US International Trade Commission, which is increasingly popular as a patent enforcement agency, voted to investigate a complaint filed by Motorola against Microsoft last month. Motorola claims that the Xbox infringes five of its patents. In October, Microsoft complained against Motorola, alleging patent infringement by its Android-based smartphones. Apple, Nokia and HTC are also involved with ITC investigations as complainants and respondents. A new one-page overview document shows the ongoing ITC investigations related to smartphones and the products that the complainants would like to have banned from entry into the US market. The good news is that any import bans won't be ordered until long after Christmas. The ITC is faster than courts, but not that fast."

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Patents are terrible for the little guy (4, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34639030)

While patents, on the one hand, provide a measured amount of protection against aggressive and litigious competitors, they are only useful in bulk. This leaves many little guys hamstrung and at the whim of big guys like Motorola and Microsoft. Here we see to goliaths go at each other, and it's interesting because both sides have deep patent portfolios that they can wield against each other. The ultimate solution will be some sort of cross licensing deal, no doubt.

But for the little guy, a company like Microsoft can extinguish in short order due to a limited amount of leverage. Where Moto can respond with a set of infringed patents, the little guy won't have that type of MAD defensive position. As a result, the big guys get bigger, and the little guys get snuffed, and the consumers get screwed.

Patents were meant to foster competition and promote a plethora of ideas. It has not done that at all in the software sphere. Perhaps it is time to rethink the whole software patent system.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (3, Insightful)

grantek (979387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34639136)

Part of the problem is that one patented idea/process/implementation isn't enough to do anything in today's world - a system like a game console or smartphone is built on thousands of patentable components.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34639196)

That's why a patent should be for a finished product and not the components and processes used to make it. Patents exist to ensure the inventor can make a profit off his invention... they should not exist to lock away a device in perpetuity so that only some giant conglomerate that bought the patent 3rd hand can milk future inventors of their profits. The current patent system works to retard progress, not promote it. All patents should be for an actual working device and should last no more than 10 years. Genes, Chemicals and other natural elements should not be patentable.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (1, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34639222)

When you say "finished product" are you precluding the possibility of inventing a useful component that could be used in many different applications? Let's say you invented a new kind of drain stopper that only makes sense used in tandem with existing drains. Surely, you would want to assign patent rights to the inventor of the new drain stopper even though his invention isn't a complete device but rather a part of a larger device.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34640374)

Indeed - alternatively, if "finished product" means any product which, in its end state, does something different to any other patentable product, I could just take an XBOX, build in a cooling system that's better than the stock fan and patent that as a new "finished product", despite the fact that I invented neither the cooling system nor the console, just the means of putting them together. I think we're stuck with a system very like what we already have, but it's clear the current system is badly hampering innovation now and needs some sever time limits in place.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34640948)

If you aren't selling it, you can't patent it. Again, the purpose of the patent is to ensure the inventor can make a profit off of his invention. If you invent a drain stopper, and invent a sink, but only sell them as a single unit then no, you can't patent the drain stopper. Someone else is free to copy your stopper design and use it in their patentable product. Don't like it? Too bad. We can't blanket the globe in patents and expect society to continue to be inventive.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#34639662)

There are lots of "finished products" that go into an XBox360 (or any computer) - thats what components are, someone-elses finished product.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34640170)

So you don't think a patent should have been awarded for something like a transistor?

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (1)

WorBlux (1751716) | more than 3 years ago | (#34644888)

Or reduce the patent lifetime considerably, instead of extending it. Two or three years should be plenty or even better one year past the first sale, or five years after the filing date.. The original span of 14 years was enough time to start production, for which you needed to train a set of mechanics 7 years to get a working prototype, and then another 7 years to train the final assemblers. Today it's unusual for a production cycle to be longer than 18 months.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (1, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#34640076)

It's built by Thousands of "should not be patented" components.

Honestly, If I buy your company's chips to make a product, YOU CANT SUE ME FOR PATENT INFRINGEMENT FOR USING YOUR PRODUCT!

Patent law ,like copyright law has gone spiraling out of control to the point that it's all useless bullshit designed to do nothing but provide extortion leverage against your competition.

Three is NOTHING in the Xbox360 that violates a Motorola patent. Just like how there is NOTHING in a Android phone that violates a MSFT patent.

It's just a bunch of immature assholes that dont play well with others sitting in the sandbox screaming and crying over the yellow truck, while a blue and red truck that are IDENTICAL are sitting unused.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (1)

kkwst2 (992504) | more than 3 years ago | (#34642778)

Yes, but the red and blue ones are not approved for that sandbox.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (4, Insightful)

AlecC (512609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34639234)

Patents exist to motivate inventors to invent, and then to put the inventions into the public domain after a due period.

Would any of these companies have decided not to develop their phones, and hence do the R&D that led to these patents, if there had been no patent system? I very much doubt it. And the fact that the other companies are, allegedly, infringing means that the first inventor has not been able to keep it secret - or, as is often the case, the idea was "in the air" as a result of the way the industry was developing.

The patent system is severely broken for the IT industry as it now is. For the industry as a whole, it is a zero sum game: no R&D is being done because the developer hopes to profit from license fees. On the contrary, it is a burden because to the time and effort filing patents, the effort of working around other people's patents, and the cost of fighting patent wars or negotiating patent armistices. Of course, interested parties (patent lawyers, including trolls, and the Patent Offices, insist that it is invaluable. But show me an engineer who would not like the whole thing swept away. (I speak only for the IT industry, though I think it apples much more widely).

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (0)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34639298)

keep it secret

Patents are, by design, open for review. They aren't secret by any stretch of the imagination.

Would a company develop phones if there were no patent protection? Almost certainly. The difference would likely be in how they protect their designs. Would they hold them close as trade secrets? Or would they use stronger contract verbiage to bind licensees?

It's an interesting question but only as a hypothetical. The patent system isn't going to be thrown out because people find it inconvenient. In fact, it's going to be kept because those inconveniences keep the system working.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34639352)

But in these cases, either the defendants in the cases deliberately infringed by reading the patents, which I strongly doubt, or they copied an obvious feature, in which case secrets are of no value, or the parallel-invented it, just a bit later, which is a common case.

Too many patents, of which one-click is the most notorious, are ideas which become obvious when a certain state of the art is reached. Nobody has the idea before the underlying technology reaches a certain point; once it reaches that point, and presents a particular problem/opportunity, many people will make the same development. The one who is, by chance, first gets the patent and can lock out the others.

I was involved in a case where two team in the same company (of which I was in one) independently made the same invention (later patented) within a two-week period. Looking back, it was because a certain tester, working on both the products concerned, had been making the same complaint. Two teams, presented with the same need, came up with the same solution completely independently.

The rate of development of the IT industry is such that the lifetime of a patent, 15-20 years, is vastly longer than the live-cycle of devices. By the time the patent enters the public domain, it is probably obsolete.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (1)

WorBlux (1751716) | more than 3 years ago | (#34644926)

The patent system isn't going to be thrown out because people find it inconvenient. In fact, it's going to be kept because those inconveniences keep the system working.

What's your definition of working? Unless Adding tens of billions of dollars of costs for marginal or non-existent consumer benefit is your definition of working, the current system doesn't work. See Boldrin and Levine "Against Intellectual Monopoly"

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34639414)

If you honestly believe companies would spend 10's/100's of millions of dollars on R&D if everyone was allowed to copy it then I have a bridge to sell you, slightly used but I promise I am the owner... really.

R&D is EXPENSIVE, The patent system is fucked up beyond repair, it needs a fresh start, but something definitely needs to exist, companies will not throw millions down the tube on research and innovation if the only advantage it gives them is the 2 weeks it takes for their competitors to copy.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34639488)

Name me /one/ patent that is protecting some companies product.

Yes, I do believe that companies will do as you say they won't. Has Apple dominated the MP2 player, smart phone, and tablet markets because patents stop people building competitive products? No, it has succeeded because it is a better systems and marketing company. Patents don't stop people competing: it is too easy to work around most of them. They add obstacles and add to the cost of doing business, which harms the whole community. But, outside pharmaceuticals, I cannot think of any cases where people embarked or research depending upon the patent system to protect the result.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (3, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#34640082)

One click.

Amazon.com would have went bankrupt 30 years ago without it.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (1)

Zonnald (182951) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647448)

Um, Jeff Bezos started Amazon in 1994 so maybe not 30 years?

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650832)

This is about patents... Reality and Sanity has nothing to do with this subject.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648166)

Holy crap, Apple dominated the MP2 player market? ...where have I been sleeping for the past ten years that MP2 is a useful audio compression algorithm again? I've never seen it used for anything longer than a 10-second clip (but it did make a couple of those fit on one floppy disk!)

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34639808)

If what you say is true, and companies would not spend money on R&D without patents, why do they spend 3X on marketing? R&D is the least cost of bringing a product to market, it is by far more expensive to market and litigate.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#34641046)

Companies would most certainly still do R&D if there were no patents, they would just keep the results secret until they had a product for sale... That way they would still get a lead on anyone else, who would have to reverse engineer and develop their own clone of the product (even without patents, copyright law would prevent them from making direct copies).

Also, doing away with patents would actually reduce the cost of R&D... Instead of having to work around or license patents, not to mention all the legal fees involved doing patent searches to ensure your products don't infringe upon any... You could focus on building small but worthwhile improvements on top of existing ideas.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (1)

WorBlux (1751716) | more than 3 years ago | (#34644980)

In order to effectively copy technology like patents, you need to invest about nearly the same amount of R&D as the first guy, and the first guy has a large advantage just by being the first guy.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (1)

internettoughguy (1478741) | more than 3 years ago | (#34644984)

If you honestly believe companies would spend 10's/100's of millions of dollars on R&D if everyone was allowed to copy it then I have a bridge to sell you, slightly used but I promise I am the owner... really.

R&D is EXPENSIVE, The patent system is fucked up beyond repair, it needs a fresh start, but something definitely needs to exist, companies will not throw millions down the tube on research and innovation if the only advantage it gives them is the 2 weeks it takes for their competitors to copy.

It's not hard: keep your invention under wraps until its release and reap the rewards of a having a monopoly on the market until your competitors can tool up.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (1)

bmcraec (1957382) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649970)

You've pointed out a real problem with the obsolescence of both monetary systems and the rules that govern them, as well as the legal system that is used to achieve balance. This is a bit like Galileo and the Roman Inquisition; "Never mind about he proofs and that mumbo-jmbo we don;t understand! We're the power, and you'll do as we say! Or Else!" The hamstringing of real creativity is the business constraints. I have no idea what could make the paradigm shift here, but clearly with the large number of variable in flux, the conservatism inherent in current economics and legislation is woefully wasteful.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (1)

sosume (680416) | more than 3 years ago | (#34639438)

The issue in rethinking the software patent system is that the big companies have invested insane amounts of money in their patent portfolios and have projected income on these portfolios for the coming years. Their shareholders certainly won't agree with invalidating software patents.

Heinlein springs to mind (5, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#34639482)

There has grown in the minds of certain groups in this country the idea that just because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with guaranteeing such a profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is supported by neither statute or common law. Neither corporations or individuals have the right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.

Robert A Heinlein, Life-Line, 1939.

Re:Heinlein springs to mind (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34639924)

Clearly I need to read more Heinlein. What he overlooked is that corporations & politicians are in collusion. "Too big to fail" is not in the law - but it is what they have paid the politicians to give them.

Re:Heinlein springs to mind (1)

bmcraec (1957382) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649988)

Holy Crap! I thought I KNEW my Heinlein! I swear I heard that on Jesse Brown's SearchEngine podcast in the last week or so.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34640882)

Patents exist to protect the inventor for a set period of time. They inhibit competition during this period, but long term provide incentive for inventors.

and the big guys (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 3 years ago | (#34642904)

Look at how much time and money big companies have been sinking into patent litigation lately? Their intention is to lock out big companies out of markets, but they just result in a counter attack. Eventually someone settles, and the lawyers are sent home with nothing to show for it.

I feel like we're on the brink of some sort of patent reform, once the big companies realize that the system is no longer beneficial to them.

As for the little guy, nobody cares about the little guy. politicians might talk about defending the little guy to win some votes, but they never manage to do more than talk. I think us little fish just have to hitch a ride on the backs of the big fish and try and steer them towards some compromise that benefits them and hopefully us.

Re:Patents are terrible for the little guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34645892)

just shorten that to "Patents are terrible". The notion that you can literally claim legal credit/rights for "ideas" because you were the first to file the right paperwork is laughable. You're telling me if some other genius re-invents the same exact thing on their own without ever even hearing about the work having already been done, that then that person has no right to even use what they've come up with... sure , makes sense.

I can just imagine the "Aliens" finally land here on Earth, only to inform us of our many grievous galactic copyright law infringements on their IP.

Well (1, Redundant)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#34639054)

Well I don't like these ridiculous patent claims, but seeing Microsoft as a victim makes it worthwhile

Re:Well (3, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#34639512)

This is what happens when you sue Motorola over Cellular phone software patents. Motorola invented, among other things, the Cellular phone. They have tens of thousands of patents in real hardware. They haven't been playing this game because they're civilized and gracious. But if you're going to get that stupid, they're ready to take you to school. In the end this is going to rank in the top ten of the dumbest things Microsoft has ever done - probably above acquiring Danger, Inc.

Re:Well (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#34644422)

Motorola invented, among other things, the Cellular phone.

To clarify, they "invented" ("engineered" would be more apt here, IMO) the first handheld cellphone. Heavier systems which used the same cell technology were in use long before that.

Re:Well (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645222)

Well I don't like these ridiculous patent claims, but seeing Microsoft as a victim makes it worthwhile

No, it doesn't.

upnp? wmv-vp9? (1)

anomaly256 (1243020) | more than 3 years ago | (#34639102)

So, is Motorola suing because the xbox uses upnp/dlna, wmv-vp9, and RDP for the media extender control channel? I don't get it...

Re:upnp? wmv-vp9? (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34639266)

Yeah not to mention thanks to MSFT forming a patent bloc [slashdot.org] with Apple AND Oracle, plus those 882 patents [slashdot.org] from Novell MSFT will in all likelihood run over Motorola like a Mac truck. Sure Motorola has been in the game for quite awhile, But Novell wrote the book when it comes to networking and what device that Motorola manufacturers today DOESN'T use networking?

So if Motorola is smart they'll be looking to settle this, and quick. MSFT can afford to drag things on for years, the patents owned by the bloc with Apple and Oracle probably cover a good 90% of the products Motorola makes, which means if it goes bad for Motorola it'll go REAL bad. While I hate all the patent warchests, patent trolls, venue shopping, and other crap that goes along with it, a company whose products rely on networking stirring up the shit around MSFT after they just bought pretty much the entire patent portfolio of one of the founders of modern networking seems like a seriously bad idea. Better to settle before it gets too nasty.

Re:upnp? wmv-vp9? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34639960)

More likely they'll just settle out of court, pay cash to one another, kiss, and that's the end. I doubt we'll see a battle between M and MS.

Re:upnp? wmv-vp9? (2)

sgtrock (191182) | more than 3 years ago | (#34640810)

Sure Motorola has been in the game for quite awhile, But Novell wrote the book when it comes to networking and what device that Motorola manufacturers today DOESN'T use networking?

Seen many IPX/SPX networks around lately? No? I thought not.

The facts are that (a) Novell came late to the networking game (TCP/IP, Banyan Vines, NetBEUI, SNA, X.25, and others predate Novell's offering) and (b) lost the networking battle about 20 years ago. Therefore, any networking patents that Novell has or had are probably useless.

I'll stipulate that Novell may actually have patents on applications running on top of TCP/IP, but I doubt that those are ones that have much of an impact on wireless as that wasn't their business. I just can't see Novell spending much in the way of R&D in this arena.

Side note: I think software patents are an abomination in the first place. I'd love to see some common sense from SCOTUS and see these things declared invalid. Not holding my breath, though.

Re:upnp? wmv-vp9? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#34641120)

Novell came and went in the low end small lan arena...

TCP/IP came first, and has outlived IPX/SPX, novell was only used in small companies that wanted to network together dos and early windows machines on a small scale. Unix, VMS and mainframe systems were being networked together long before novell ever introduced networking to the lowest end microcomputers.

Re:upnp? wmv-vp9? (1)

rubies (962985) | more than 3 years ago | (#34646478)

Eh?

At the time Netware was popular, half the offices in the world still had serial ports on the wall for a terminal. Networking was for big iron. Novell had some massive installations (and others too, 3Com comes to mind with it's XNS based stuff that eventuall became Lan Manager). We're talking tens of thousands of employees in a single setup, not just lawyers offices with two guys and a secretary.

Netware could have been a contender but it smelled too proprietary in an era when "Open" was the catch cry. Worse than that, when TCP/IP re-emerged with the *nixes as the proprietary mini computers died off, you had to load TWO networking protocols on your PC which resulted in all kinds of shenanigans over those 10,000 people. Novell got the idea far too late that it was easier just to run TCP/IP, ported their higher level protocols off IPX/SPX too late and gradually got white-anted by Microsoft bundling Lan Manager with Windows NT. It wasn't fast either, there were still massive installations of Netware up to five years ago because Microsoft took forever to get their directory services working.

Re:upnp? wmv-vp9? (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647746)

But what you and the other posters seem to be missing is the horrible vagueness of the average patent given out by the USPTO. It doesn't matter if the patent originally related to IPX, or TCP/IP, because the USPTO probably gave them a patent for "putting data in a frame and relaying it over a wired or wireless medium" or some other equally vague BS.

Think about it THIS way: Do you REALLY think MSFT would have shelled out all that $$$ for patents that only related to a dead protocol or other useless tech like Netware? Nope, I'm willing to bet my last dollar MSFT's lawyers took a look at those patents, saw how vague they are and went "Cha Ching baby!" which caused MSFT to swoop down like a starving vulture upon a dying buffalo. Are companies like MSFT, Apple, and Oracle run by assholes? Probably, CEO and vicious bastard usually go together, but one thing they aren't is generous with their money. they saw something that made them go all drooly when they saw those Novell patents, and I bet when it comes out it will make Motorola REALLY sorry they stirred up the hornet's nest.

I would like to compain about Microsoft to. (1)

Ismellpoop (1949100) | more than 3 years ago | (#34639108)

Can I have some money please? Promise I'll split it with you ITC.
With all the trouble they cause we should call them Stupid phones.

To promote the Progress ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34639144)

The constitutional justifcation for patents is the line "[Congress is empowered] To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

...products that the complainants would like to have banned from entry into the US market.

I can't help thinking this is not how patent law should be used.

It would be nice if a lot of this could be struck down on grounds of constitutionality, or on monopolistic behaviour grounds (a patent is a monopoly by definition after all, although i have no idea if this means anti-trust laws apply).

Re:To promote the Progress ... (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645630)

"products that the complainants would like to have banned from entry into the US market."

Quite simply, if those products infringe on your "exclusive right" they you can ask that they be made to stop infringing. The simplest and most immediate way is to prevent their sale.

If you can't stop infringement then the "exclusive right" is pretty much useless.

My head just exploded (1)

Frankie70 (803801) | more than 3 years ago | (#34639200)

Should I support patents & oppose Microsoft?
Or should I support Microsoft & oppose patents?

Patent Wars. (1)

rekenner (849871) | more than 3 years ago | (#34639296)

Or: How companies fight like petulant little children. With hair pulling.

Patent Chess (2)

Fraggy_the_undead (758495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34639396)

To me it seems more and more like these companies with their huge patent pools are bored and now play a game against each other.
company1: "Hey company2, I hold a patent vaguely describing what you do with product X"
company2: "Hey company1, I have two patents even more vaguely describing what you do with product Y"
company3: "Hey both of you, I hold ten patents that you both infringe on"
company1: "Oh yeah, well guess what, I have twelve other patents, that ..."
...Ad infinitum...
It's getting ridiculus...

Re:Patent Chess (3, Interesting)

imthesponge (621107) | more than 3 years ago | (#34640188)

It's really not possible to "invent" anything anymore as an individual. You'll inevitably violate some company's patent. You need your own war chest of patents to defend yourself.

Re:Patent Chess (1)

vgerclover (1186893) | more than 3 years ago | (#34642758)

"Bernard of Chartres used to say that we are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size." - 1159 A.C.

Re:Patent Chess (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34643208)

not true. I've done it, people I know have done it. You just aren't capable so you assume it's impossible.

Re:Patent Chess (1)

imthesponge (621107) | more than 3 years ago | (#34644012)

Well yes it is possible to invent things, but good luck selling them without being sued into oblivion. That's why you need to be working for someone.

Re:Patent Chess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34651134)

So you say. But where is your evidence? I think you're just repeating a myth here - that nobody can ever succeed because the corporations control everything and hold all the cards. Think about it - how do you know you are right?

I put it to you that you do not know. You are just reposting something you read on Slashdot.

I think it's quite likely that any new invention probably will be covered by a few existing patents. But there are ways to get around that. Firstly, you will only come to the attention of the patent holders when you are already successful - at which point, you can afford to make a deal with them. Secondly, if you are careful from the start, you will already be covered, because the IP you have reused will all be covered by existing patent licences from wherever you bought it. (Just like you could use an Intel CPU in your invention without being sued by Intel, AMD, or any other CPU patent holder.)

Re:Patent Chess (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34646958)

It's really not possible to "invent" anything anymore as an individual. You'll inevitably violate some company's patent. You need your own war chest of patents to defend yourself.

What do you mean by 'as an individual'? Because I'm still seeing plenty of startups - that don't have large patent portfolios - succeeding.

Re:Patent Chess (1)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 3 years ago | (#34640690)

Microsoft: Pawn takes Pawn
Motorola: Hey that's illegal
Apple: it's called en passant...
Oracle: You sunk my battleship!

Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34640234)

Why innovate when you can litigate?

Re:Who cares? (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34646544)

Why innovate when you can litigate?

What specific innovation is this legal action stifling?

Patents are corporate bargaining chips (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34640578)

Patents in corporate world are bargaining chips; I used to work for Motorola and one of my performance goal is to file at least 2 patents a year. Corporate giants have tens and thousands of patents--when we get sued by patent infringement, the first thing is to counter when one of our patents. I remember Bill Gates coming in to a meeting threatening with a patent infringement, but before the meeting was over, one of our patent lawyers reminded him that they are infringing with some of our patents, cutting the meeting short.

This is just part of corporate chess playing. I bet that this suit will be settled behind doors with the outcome of nothing more than handshake between lawyers.

...And I killed a guy with a trident. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34641098)

All the legal teams from all these corporations need to just converge in some back alley somewhere and settle this patent crap once and for all, Anchorman-style.

I think this is all planned (1)

Nyder (754090) | more than 3 years ago | (#34641932)

Here's what I think.

The big Corps don't actually like patents anymore. So some of them, mainly hardware/software makers, figure out if they start suing each other, and putting in patents for blatenly obvious stuff, that sooner or later the gov will stop sucking the MIAA & RIAA's dick long enough to invalidate all patents.

Or at least, that's my spin on some obvious greedy corporations.

It's tempting to guess what others think... (1)

Rob Y. (110975) | more than 3 years ago | (#34643498)

Much as I'd like to believe you're right, you should never underestimate the power of the literal interpretation.

I, for one, have a hard time believing that fundamentalists actually believe in a 6000 year old Earth (and most of the rest of it). Surely, they must just think that 'people are inherently selfish and they need our stories to keep them in line'. And that could be true of some of 'em. But unless they come clean, it's impossible to know. May as well deal with them as though they mean what they say.

R&D Costs versus total product budget (1)

protektor (63514) | more than 3 years ago | (#34641982)

If you want an idea of how little R&D spending is, you only need to look at medicine where you would think that R&D costs would be huge and they would want to protect their work fearsly. You might be surprised to know that R&D is about 10% of the amount made on the sale of drugs. The marketing of drugs can be upwards of 50% sometimes more of the sales of drugs. It is urban legend that medicine companies spend huge portions of their budgets on R&D, they simply don't. You should also realize that the government gives out a lot of grants to these companies for medicine research as well, and they get to keep anything they can patent and they get to sell the end results. Then to really piss you off, all that R&D is 100% tax deductible. So the public is double paying the drug companies to develop medicine.

Now I seriously doubt that the technology industry is any different. I would bet that R&D is a very very small percentage of the total budget of most tech companies. Very few companies due pure research rather than developing something to fix the problem at hand. When you are only fixing the problem at hand, there is no way you will come up with something so unique that no one else will think of it. Sorry, but if your trying to solve a problem I can guarantee you someone else out there is trying to solve the same problem and is going to come up with basically the same thing as you do. Software patents are a terrible idea as anything you can think of to do in software someone else will think of doing the same exact thing. You see it over and over again people coming up with the exact same solutions to programming problems. Software patents don't advance the level of computer science, they hinder the advancement of computer science.

Currently in the tech industry, the bio industry and the medical industry if patents were totally abolished not one thing would change in the market place. Companies would still figure out new products to sell to consumers, and companies would continue to do their minimal levels of R&D to develop new products.

All R&D is tax deductible in every field, so the public is very much paying for all these patents twice. Once in taxes and supposedly again in the price of the product. I personally think if you take government money in the form of grants or loans, and/or you take a tax write off of your R&D that you should not be able to apply for patents on those items. The public paid for it so the public should have free access to them. All of this is just another form of corporate welfare and I seriously doubt it will ever change in the near future.

tech industry is different (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34642968)

in the tech industry it is more difficult to measure. much of the R&D is done by start-ups. The ones that succeed are acquired by bigger companies, the rest are liquidated. This is how Cisco operates for example, they scoop up good companies on the cheap for their patents and employees.

If you want to measure tech industry R&D budgets you'd need to consider all investments. And not just look at the accounting sheets of a few large companies. And there are some companies that are large and spend little on R&D, like Oracle. And some companies that are large that spend a fair amount on R&D, like Intel, HP and IBM. And there are some companies that are small that spent proportionally a very large amount on R&D, such as VMware.

Re:R&D Costs versus total product budget (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34643266)

When you are only fixing the problem at hand, there is no way you will come up with something so unique that no one else will think of it. Sorry, but if your trying to solve a problem I can guarantee you someone else out there is trying to solve the same problem and is going to come up with basically the same thing as you do.

Well, damn, that's just great. So, If I want to create innovative ideas, I have to work on stuff that doesn't fix any known problems or else others will be working on the same problem, and come up with the same obvious "inventions". Yeah, and these "innovations" are by definition not going to help our civilization in any meaningful way...

Look, with patents on the book such as "Method for swinging on a swing -- sideways", I think you totally misunderstand the patent system. It's about patenting something that hasn't been patented before (irregardless of obviousness or prior art) and then charging others to use the technology that happens to satisfy the same obvious idea.

If Microsoft is infringing on Motorola, or vise versa, it's not because they did so on purpose; Its due to the bear-trap patent system. You have to willfully make a copy in order to infringe copyright, but with patents you can accidentally stumble upon a solution someone else already came up with; If so, YOU are out the R&D $$ and License fees if you want to continue to use your solution.

We all live in the present. We are all trying to solve problems of the now, other problems are already solved. Since "new" ideas (less than ~18yrs old) are the ones patents apply to, the patent system exists to reward those that solve problems first, and stifle all others who were contributing to innovations in the field.

In 1860 Johann Philipp Reis produced a device that could transmit musical notes, indistinct speech, and occasionally distinct speech.

If the patent system worked the way it does today, back then, then someone else would have patented the idea of a telephone [wikipedia.org] long before Bell did...

Two working telephone devices were submitted to the patent system within 1 hour of each-other. Bell got there first, the other guy, Elisha Gray, lost his ass [wikipedia.org] . If inventors the world over have been developing rudimentary telephones, and two different inventors come up with the same working solution at essentially the exact same time how can this "idea" not be "obvious"? Also, the telephone wasn't invented in order to win a patent, the patent system created the race to win, the telephone would have been created irregardless of the race.

Hey, guess who wins a patent race? The one with the most money & resources -- NOT THE LITTLE GUY.
The patent system never has worked as advertised, "to protect ideas". It has always been about enforcing a monopoly on obvious ideas. Subject to a monopoly, everyone but the monopolist suffers.

Perhaps I should just formalize and patent my "Method of anger mitigation, where said anger is caused by the interaction of an individual with one or more patent systems, and where the mitigation technique involves assaulting one or more patent examiners with a large herring."

If only demonstrations of "inventions" were still required before awarding of patents.

Re:R&D Costs versus total product budget (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34643324)

" R&D is about 10% of the amount made on the sale of drugs. "

False.

"The marketing of drugs can be upwards of 50% sometimes more "
not on new drugs. older drugs that aren't patents see 50% of their total costs in marketing. That's because the cost of manufacturing has dropped for the drug, and the RnD costs have been depreciated. It's harder to make money froma drug with an expired patent, that's why they have a larger push.

They money the companies get from the government, for the vast large part, is so they will produce drugs they make little to know money producing, like vaccines.

The RnD for Drugs and the RnD for 'tech' is vastly different. It's far FAR more expensive for drug companies. The exception being that medical devices are about the same in RnD has Drugs. When was the last time a mp3 manufacture had to have the plays go through a series of animal test? Develop a new molecule?.

And software RnD is DIRT CHEAP compared to any other RnD.

All RnD is NOT tax deductible.

Buy a clue:
http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/industries/article/0,,id=100123,00.html [irs.gov]

You are really too simple to discuss this.

Re:R&D Costs versus total product budget (1)

WorBlux (1751716) | more than 3 years ago | (#34645054)

" R&D is about 10% of the amount made on the sale of drugs. "

False.

"The marketing of drugs can be upwards of 50% sometimes more " not on new drugs. older drugs that aren't patents see 50% of their total costs in marketing. That's because the cost of manufacturing has dropped for the drug, and the RnD costs have been depreciated. It's harder to make money froma drug with an expired patent, that's why they have a larger push.

They money the companies get from the government, for the vast large part, is so they will produce drugs they make little to know money producing, like vaccines.

The RnD for Drugs and the RnD for 'tech' is vastly different. It's far FAR more expensive for drug companies. The exception being that medical devices are about the same in RnD has Drugs. When was the last time a mp3 manufacture had to have the plays go through a series of animal test? Develop a new molecule?.

And software RnD is DIRT CHEAP compared to any other RnD.

All RnD is NOT tax deductible.

Regulatory approval can constitute up to 80% of the cost of bringing a drug to market. Drug companies are a little weird because they aren't just drug companies, but drug effectiveness research companies. This creates a huge conflict of interest. The same people who want to sell the drugs are the same people designing the studies to try to prove that they work. The solution is to find a way to separate the two. Have insurance companies and doctors or a separate agency be responsible for making sure that drugs prescribed are safe and effective, and just let drug companies worry about the best process to make a particular drug in bulk.

Re:R&D Costs versus total product budget (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647616)

If you want an idea of how little R&D spending is, you only need to look at medicine

Why would you look there and infer numbers for the tech industry - which is the context of this discussion - instead of just looking at the tech industry itself? In the tech sector the average spend is around 12-15% [wikinvest.com] of total revenue, so as a percentage of their costs it is generally significantly higher.

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