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More Oracle Patents Declared Invalid

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the quarterly-revenue-projections-dropping dept.

Oracle 150

sfcrazy writes "The validity of another Oracle patent has become doubtful in the dispute with Google about the infringement of Java patents and copyrights on Android devices. The US Patent Office and Trademark Office (USPTO) has provisionally declared all 24 claims of patent number 6,125,447 as being invalid. The USPTO based its decision on a patent that had been used in another case. This patent was granted in 1994 – three years before Sun filed its Java patent application. The US patent office also considered two publications released in 1996 as evidence that Sun's described method for protecting applications via 'protection domains' was anticipated by 'prior art.'"

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another win! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36657190)

this is getting good. screw Oracle!

Re:another win! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36657202)

Fuck Google! They shouldn't be breaking the law.

Re:another win! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36657212)

That's what she said.

Eat Poop! (1, Interesting)

abulafia (7826) | about 3 years ago | (#36657250)

Who the hell cares about corporate winners (modulo folks with stock, or other stakes)?

I care about good tech.

Eat it. It tastes good, if you chew a bit. No, there's a bit on your chin, see, there. No, well, let me help.

Jim, me need a helmet.

I'm sure this is just an episode.

Well, whatever, then. We'll need VB coders until we can't pay the cooling bills on those boxes, so... Can't fix everything.

Re:Eat Poop! (1)

e70838 (976799) | about 3 years ago | (#36658388)

I care about my freedom to write programs. All the corporates except Google are against this freedom.

Re:another win! (2, Insightful)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about 3 years ago | (#36657324)

So far - they aren't. At least according to the Courts...

Re:another win! (5, Insightful)

RazorSharp (1418697) | about 3 years ago | (#36657572)

Please. I doubt Sun would have ever filed any of these lawsuits. They actually wanted people to use Java. I don't think it should matter that Oracle bought them or not: when Google implemented Java into Android Oracle didn't own Sun and Sun apparently didn't have a problem with what Google was doing. They were probably happy about it. By not suing, Sun set a precedent on the matter which Oracle shouldn't be able to change because of the purchase.

Also, all these silly patents Oracle acquired along with Sun were probably defensive-minded. It's no surprise that some of them are becoming invalidated with the scrutiny that comes with using them offensively to sue.

Expect to see the use of Java decline. If Sun had been this litigious about Java it probably would never have become as popular as it has. No one wants to worry about paying a tax to Oracle just for using a language for which many non-taxed alternatives exist.

I'm not a lawyer. Maybe the law is actually on Oracle's side, but that doesn't make it right.

Re:another win! (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 3 years ago | (#36658054)

Please. I doubt Sun would have ever filed any of these lawsuits.

Oh, and look at the dancing ponies!!! Aren't they pretty?

Re:another win! (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 3 years ago | (#36658194)

Really? Then please explain how this is ANY different than the whole MS Java thing of the 90s. Look I think software patents are patently stupid as you are basically patenting algorithms but I have yet to hear how this is ANY different except that to fanbois it is "M$=boo and Google = yay!". Taking Java and making an incompatible version and ultimately hurting Java as everyone will write to the bigger companies "standard" over Java? Big check.

Hell they can call it Devilik, they can call it Pepperoni pizza for all that matters because in the end it is the SAME THING. You take Java and then alter it to fit the Google Devilik "standard" and tada! Java ends up dumped as everyone writes to the bigger company's version. Where did we see this before? Oh right MS Java before the courts laid the smackdown.

So while I personally wish software patents would DIAF as I believe they are not only killing innovation in this country they are also helping to contribute to that "giant sucking sound" that is ever more jobs going overseas to countries that don't play these crazy reindeer games it still doesn't change the fact that other than giving it a name that doesn't sound like Java it is the SAME SHIT that MSFT pulled in the 90s. I guess if old Bill would have called it a Capuchin it would have been cool? The only difference I can see is the rampant fanboi-ism of anything and everything Google.

Funny how it looks like Brin will succeed where old Bill failed and make an incompatible Java controlled by Google. While I'm glad there is one less software patent in the world hypocrisy isn't cool, so lets call a spade a spade shall we? this is the SSDD.

Re:another win! (1)

IRWolfie- (1148617) | about 3 years ago | (#36658522)

They never claimed it was compatible, microsoft did.

trademark (4, Informative)

sourcerror (1718066) | about 3 years ago | (#36658538)

"other than giving it a name that doesn't sound like Java it is the SAME SHIT that MSFT pulled in the 90s. I guess if old Bill would have called it a Capuchin it would have been cool?"

Yes, it would have been cool. The MS case was about trademark, not software patents.

JIT (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | about 3 years ago | (#36658582)

Re:another win! (1)

gtall (79522) | about 3 years ago | (#36658776)

Sun never opened up mobile Java because they wanted at least that part of Java to pay off for them. I'm unsure if the patents only cover mobile Java, but Sun already had Google in their sights if you listen to lawyers who put the Snoracle deal together.

Patents are not offensive or defensive, it is how you use them that make them offensive or defensive.

Snoracle could try to kneecap the non-mobile part of java, but they'd have a hard time doing that since the license they have for it is fairly permissive. IBM has their own clean room implementation.

It might help if you at least tried to keep up on the issues instead of confusing them.

Re:another win! (2)

paulsnx2 (453081) | about 3 years ago | (#36657674)

"They shouldn't be breaking the law"

What you are implying is that no tech company should exist. Well, none that use modern technology anyway. I say this because no high tech product can be produced without infringing on *some* patent somewhere. And any company that produces a high tech product knows this, so by your sentiment, none of them should produce any products. Now, to keep us all in the stone age while companies produce products not infringing on any patent (i.e. exclusively 20 year old tech) companies would have to furiously patent any and everything they can think of. This would allow us to perpetually consume 20 year old tech and avoid any new idea in an actual consumer product....

All so that *nobody* breaks the law.

  What a GREAT idea!

Re:another win! (1)

mcvos (645701) | about 3 years ago | (#36658642)

"They shouldn't be breaking the law"

What you are implying is that no tech company should exist.

Not true. They can safely exist in Europe. I guess he (and all pro-patent people) want all tech innovation to move to Europe. I'm fine with that.

Re:another win! (1)

jimicus (737525) | about 3 years ago | (#36659028)

Not true. They can safely exist in Europe. I guess he (and all pro-patent people) want all tech innovation to move to Europe. I'm fine with that.

Not necessarily true. While software cannot be patented under European law, the UK patent office (and, I suspect, many others in Europe) have been applying some creative interpretation to this for years, expecting the law to be "clarified" (read: "Clarified so that our interpretation stands") sooner or later - and that patents granted before the law is changed will be allowed to stand.

Many UK software firms are preparing themselves for this by patenting their work.

Re:another win! (4, Interesting)

tom17 (659054) | about 3 years ago | (#36657234)

Nevermind screw Oracle. This is another win for Screw Software Patents!

Re:another win! (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 3 years ago | (#36658238)

All we need now is for the judge to rule that the USPTO has to refund all filing fees, legal fees, and compensate everybody for wasting their time by issuing what they now admit was a junk patent.

Have to sue congress for the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36658826)

Have to sue congress for the money since they're the ones who took the dosh.

Kill SW patents, kill business method patents, kill algorithm patents.

That will reduce the load of the PTO massively all on its own.

Kill SW patents can be done by saying that software that is compiled CAN NEVER be considered an infringement of a patent. NEVER. Done, dusted, stick a fork in it it's done.

Re:Have to sue congress for the money (1)

jimicus (737525) | about 3 years ago | (#36659050)

That will reduce the load of the PTO massively all on its own.

Have you ever watched "Yes, Minister" or "Yes, Prime Minister"?

The one thing that no government department wants is for their workload to be reduced. If that were to happen, all the little empire builders would be in trouble - and seeing as the man at the top of each department (who may or may not be appointed by the political system) is almost certainly an empire builder in his own right, he won't allow that. Far better to keep the workload artificially high so you can constantly demand more staff.

Re:another win! (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | about 3 years ago | (#36658994)

Nevermind screw Oracle. This is another win for Screw Software Patents!

Well, it *could* end up being a loss for Oracle. How many of the patents that have already been shot down did Oracle license to others? They certainly won't be able to hock them again, but what does this do to Oracle's existing licensing contracts for these now invalidated patents?

Re:another win! (3, Insightful)

Gerzel (240421) | about 3 years ago | (#36657494)

I would call it a win, but not just to screw Oracle.

Patents and copyright need to be limited to narrow and specific terms and need to be lost over time. Otherwise big companies like Oracle simply gather IP and rest on their laurels giving more work to their legal than their research department. The point of IP law is to encourage research. Thus the guaranteeing of unique opportunity to profit from invention and creation is a good idea. Though of note that the guarantee is a monopoly on the opportunity to profit only not the profit itself.

Re:another win! (5, Interesting)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 3 years ago | (#36657688)

This (the hoarding of patents, not just software, but large swaths of patent "property") is disgustingly similar to lords owning the land, and the serfs paying rent to farm it. I believe in copyright and software patents for your average citizen to enrich themselves due to their innovation and ingeunity, but I don't believe large corporations should be able to hold us hostage with patent portfolios.

Patents should be like stock, with multiple classes. You're the original inventor who registeredt he patent? Class A patent. Longer duration, more protections.
You're a business who owns the patent? Class B patent. Shorter duration, less protections.
You're a "patent portfolio" company? Class C patent. Shortest duration, fewest protections.

This is not perfect, but please tweak it. Maybe we'll get something more sane than what we already have.

Re:another win! (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 3 years ago | (#36657744)

Better choice: patents are non-transferrable except to heirs upon death. Patents may be licensed, but not sold. This would immediately fix everything that is wrong with patents today, in that businesses would not be allowed to own them, which AFAIK is what was intended by the patent system when it was first created.

Re:another win! (1, Insightful)

jrumney (197329) | about 3 years ago | (#36657926)

Better choice: patents are non-transferrable except to heirs upon death. Patents may be licensed, but not sold.

The problem with this is that genuine individual inventors do not have the resources to manufacture by themselves, and do not want to spend their time administering a licensing scheme. They'd much rather sell the rights and move onto the next invention.

Re:another win! (1)

PeterKraus (1244558) | about 3 years ago | (#36658396)

Then the business you work for would put into your contract that any patents you are awarded during your employment are automatically exclusively licensed to the business, and you're compensated by your wage.

Re:another win! (2)

Captain Hook (923766) | about 3 years ago | (#36658520)

That would only work up until your employment contract is cancelled, if you leave your job or get fired, the contract is no longer valid and you take your patent with you to their competitors. It's a nice idea but there is no way it would ever be implemented like that.

Re:another win! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36657928)

This would immediately fix everything that is wrong with patents today

Yeah, right. So under your glorious system patent trolls would simply acquire exclusive usage rights for the lifetime of the patent (instead of "owning" the patent outright), and then still go and sue the world.

Deal with it. Patents on anything but actual hardware are fundamentally broken. And even then, a 20+ year monopoly is way too much time in today's fast-moving economies.

Re:another win! (2)

Joce640k (829181) | about 3 years ago | (#36658518)

Patents on anything but actual hardware are fundamentally broken.

I disagree. There *are* some algorithms out there which are truly creative and non-obvious. They have as much right to be patented as any hardware.

When the USPTO needs is a bunch of in-house hackers and when somebody applies for a patent the test should be whether they can come up with a flowchart for the process in less than a couple of hours (using google is necessary).

At the moment they're accepting stuff which any decent programmer could have coded up and fully debugged in less than twenty minutes, eg. this [uspto.gov] . How these patents pass the 'non-obvious' test is a complete mystery. The people involved should be sacked.

Re:another win! (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | about 3 years ago | (#36658406)

Even better: patents are not transferable period. You can't give the fact that you've invented something away. This does not hinder the fact that the inventor is not a full-size factory: the inventor can always grant a factory a license to manufacture under his patent.

Re:another win! (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 3 years ago | (#36658488)

Better choice: patents are non-transferrable except to heirs upon death. Patents may be licensed, but not sold.

That assumes that all inventions are done by men in sheds. Some patents actually require huge investment by venture capitalists, they're gonna want a return.

The problem with the patent system is that the USPTO will rubber stamp any old junk, no matter how obvious. Your 'solution' doesn't address that.

Re:another win! (0)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 3 years ago | (#36657970)

Posting to undo inappropriate mod (click error - damn slashdot for removing the mod confirmation step).

How'd this get to patents plural? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36657192)

TFS says one patent. Come on, people.

IN OTHER NEWS SOULSKILL SUCKS PENIS.

copyright infringement? (1)

exabrial (818005) | about 3 years ago | (#36657198)

Wasn't there alleged Copyright infringement in this case too? I thought someone had copied hotspot code straight into harmony/dalvik...

Re:copyright infringement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36657312)

(1) That is not hotspot code -- It is a test case.

(2) The code is not in harmony/dalvik, only in android SDK (but not the runtime firmware)

Re:copyright infringement? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36657330)

As far as I know there were only testing classes that were decompiled and the decompiled Java code was stored in the test folders of the Android code repository with an Apache license wrongly auto-pasted at the head of them all. They were never shipped with Android OS, but may have been downloaded and used by Android developers. There may be some liability on Google but it is not directly on any shipping Android OS and is not likely to be a big enough infringement problem to deal a blow to Google. The patents are key to Oracle's case.

Re:copyright infringement? (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#36657374)

There was some grumbling about Google not providing the source for Gingerbread at the same time that the binary release was made IIRC.

Re:copyright infringement? (1)

the linux geek (799780) | about 3 years ago | (#36657596)

That was (and is) Honeycomb, and is a completely unrelated situation. OP was referring to the allegation that Google had decompiled pieces of Java and pasted them into Android with an Apache license.

Re:copyright infringement? (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | about 3 years ago | (#36658580)

It was a reverse engineered compatibility test and some ZIP with J2ME something....

which shows the USPTO is incompetent (3, Interesting)

flibuste (523578) | about 3 years ago | (#36657200)

So in light of a lawsuit, the USPTO finds out that a granted patent should not have been granted. Or many. Everyone is focusing on the impact this may have on the case, but no question asked about the USPTO? (besides Slashdotters?)

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36657254)

It seems like the least bad of a bad bunch of options to me. Perform the same kind of research they did here before granting any patent? This would make patents extremely expensive and only for large, established companies. Abandon general prior art and go on first to file? This decision would never have happened, the invalid patents would be valid. Or the current method, (roughly) being cheap patents with minimal vetting, but a chance to go back and correct poor decisions in cases where it really matters.

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36657270)

Abandon general prior art and go on first to file?

There appears to be a common misconception that adoption in the United States of the more common "first to file" rule will end the role of prior art in determining what is patent-worthy. But as I understand it, a "first to file" rule affects only interference (patent application vs. patent application) disputes, not novelty (patent vs. prior art) disputes.

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (1)

dudpixel (1429789) | about 3 years ago | (#36657444)

Abandon general prior art and go on first to file?

There appears to be a common misconception that adoption in the United States of the more common "first to file" rule will end the role of prior art in determining what is patent-worthy. But as I understand it, a "first to file" rule affects only interference (patent application vs. patent application) disputes, not novelty (patent vs. prior art) disputes.

in any case, even with that distinction, the GP is right in saying that this decision would never have happened, and the invalid patents would be valid. The fact that the prior art check is only done when the first patent is filed, means that it is not done when the 2nd patent is filed.

Either way there are flaws.

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36658978)

That doesn't make any sense. I think you're completely and utterly wrong.

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (5, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | about 3 years ago | (#36657258)

So in light of a lawsuit, the USPTO finds out that a granted patent should not have been granted. Or many. Everyone is focusing on the impact this may have on the case, but no question asked about the USPTO? (besides Slashdotters?)

Who though?

The judge has to maintain his impartiality in the case so he cant ask.

Oracle/MS/Apple/IBM and so forth are too busy protecting their own patent war chests and beating the patent war drums. They've got to much of a vested interest to ask.

Organisations like the EFF have been shouting this from the rooftops only to be told "shut up, I just want my Iphone" by the average person.

So who? Whenever someone raises a voice, they get shouted down because patent reform is hard.

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36657294)

Exactly. And this is proof that the system works. Small developers would have needed to spend too much money to discover patents are invalid, and so patent threats are still completely valid. So the large corporations can continue to rule the lesser masses.

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36657422)

It't not that hard:
1. Don't allow patents for things where they don't make sense. (i.e. software, business methods).
2. Make people choose ONE form of protection for a certain item, if it could be construed as eligible for more than one. (i.e. you can copyright it, or patent it, but not both).
3. Actually enforce the requirements of novelty, etc.
4. Punish people who submit "original inventions" that aren't. People that know (or should have known) that they are lying to the USPTO benefit from the patents until they are invalidated, so they should be fined whatever benefit they are deemed to have gained from the patent at hand, and then fined for perjury as punishment.
5. Don't allow NPEs for more than a brief period of time, and don't allow them to bring suit against anyone.

Doing those things wouldn't stop people with legitimate new ideas from patenting things that are novel, etc., but it would stop most people from playing around and make people think twice before gaming the system.

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (2)

Loconut1389 (455297) | about 3 years ago | (#36657606)

#4 would make it tough on individual/small biz researchers.

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (2)

Haedrian (1676506) | about 3 years ago | (#36658076)

I'm not quite sure about 2 . Copyright is automatic on 'created works'. So what you're basically saying is that if I patent my mega-super algorithm, any works I have which use that won't be able to be protected by copyright? Similarly, if I use (say) a patented codec in my software, would this remove the protection copyright has on it? Could other people sell my product when the patent expires?

4 is a big problem too. Lets say I have an idea while walking down the street. Do you think I have the time/money/inclination to stay searching for prior art, and previous patents to see if something matches, and the degree of matching? I'm not a patent lawyer. Do I have to employ one?

What I would do is make patents protect against 'copying ideas'. If I come up of something independantly of you, then I shouldn't be blocked by a patent. There are billions of people in the world, there is sure to be a match somewhere. If of course they find out that its a rip off / plagerism, then yeah. Sue them.

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36658240)

#4 would pose huge restrictions on small-time inventors, as there are millions of patents in the system to search through...who would want to invent things with the risk of simply having the same idea that someone else already did costing so much?

However...#2 is a good idea. After all...both of your examples should NOT be patentable. Codecs, and software in general should not be patentable - they should be protected by copyright only. Likewise, you cannot patent an algorithm. Copyright and patents should protect two DIFFERENT areas.

Copyright covers expression (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36658728)

Copyright covers expression. Patent covers the method. But if you patent code, you have to patent the expression since in code, that is the method too.

When you patent something, you allow it to be seen. The diagrams can be copyrighted, but you CAN create a copy of them from the patent because otherwise you cannot use the patent.

Therefore if you patent the method, you must allow someone to use that method and that is the source code.

The problem bigger is that the patent lawyers know that all you need to do to "build a better moustrap" is to use a different expression of the moustrap. Therefore patenting the method is pointless: just change the patentable bits, keep the algorithms (since they are not patentable) and you now have a clean implementation. Hence they patent the problem, NOT the solution.

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (3, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | about 3 years ago | (#36657328)

Happens all the time. Now that I am dealing with a number of patents issued in the last decade, I have found that many of the USPTO ppl were foreigners working here (mostly chinese). I have already come across 6 patents issued over the last 7 years that have prior art (this is for PHYSICAL items, not software).

Basically, USPTO was gutted under W. It needs to be revamped and restore to what happened to it.

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (3, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | about 3 years ago | (#36657666)

All USPTO examiners must be US citizens. Many are naturalized, yes, but they're not "foreigners".

Under W, the USPTO hired thousands of additional examiners. Any underfunding was the result of Congress repeatedly raiding the USPTO's collected fees to spend them on other non-patent-related things (military, entitlements, blame whatever you want).

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 3 years ago | (#36657850)

Almost all of the new ones ARE naturalized. The problem is that they have no PRIOR ART EXPERIENCE within American context. So, you can think that is ok, but not even close. I like the idea of having SOME come from other nations, but the vast majority should be from HERE so that they can see and shoot down such obvious BS patents. Instead, they wasted HUGE amounts of time on them.

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (1)

jasoncrowley (1907198) | about 3 years ago | (#36658230)

I don't know that being born here gives you some sort of holy knowledge of our convoluted patent system. The skills needed are research, clerical, and maybe field specific knowledge for some specialization. It's easy to be an outsider and see that the system is broken. Without having first hand knowledge of how the system works internally I can't say what part of the system needs more work. I do think that using blanket terms like 'those foreigners took ur jerbs' doesn't see the problem for what it is.

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36658360)

Almost all new USPTO examiners are naturalized? That's an interesting finding, do you have a source for that fact?

I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but I'm asking because comments like yours are often just thrown out there in other contexts with little connection to reality. Not saying yours is like that but it looks so very much like the basic "foreigners have taken over" -post that I'd really like some verification other than anecdotes... Especially after you first claimed they were foreigners.

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (1)

SenseiLeNoir (699164) | about 3 years ago | (#36659000)

Thank god YOU are not involved in recruitment!

I would rather have a "foreign born" person who can effectively research the matter, than have soemone who "should" know better simply because he is home born.

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 years ago | (#36659018)

I would rather have a "foreign born" person who can effectively research the matter, than have soemone who "should" know better simply because he is home born.

What you are saying is immeasurably stupid, for a number of reasons. One reason is that clearly the research was not done. Another is that the Chinese don't have any edge over Americans when it comes to doing research. And finally, there is a "home field advantage" to someone who has grown up in the country where the patents are granted. This is especially ironic considering that one of the places Sun went wrong was that they played the usual merger game, apparently specifically to inflate their stock price. They bought lots of companies and then sacked the people who knew how the products worked. Oracle had zero chance to keep those product lines afloat because they were already withering under Sun. And if they did the same thing at the patent office (or simply failed to hire people who knew what they were doing) then that makes this extra-funny.

I would rather have the person most capable of doing the job. And furthermore, I would prefer to see jobs first go to natural citizens before we look outside the nation to fill them. If the job was going to be done incompetently anyway, then surely we can find some incompetent citizens to do it.

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (1)

xnpu (963139) | about 3 years ago | (#36658584)

If you're born outside the US, you're a foreigner to US citizens. Naturalization doesn't change where you were born.

Or so says dictionary.com:

1. A person born in or coming from a country other than one's own.
2. A stranger or outsider.

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (1)

SenseiLeNoir (699164) | about 3 years ago | (#36659016)

I am not trying to call you a racist as I hardly know you, but your words are exactly the sort of words a closet racist would use.

You are comparing two terms that dont serve the same conext.

a US Citizen is different from a US BORN person. A Foreign born person person that is a US citizen is as much of a US citizen as a US Born US Citizen.

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (1)

tyrione (134248) | about 3 years ago | (#36658200)

Happens all the time. Now that I am dealing with a number of patents issued in the last decade, I have found that many of the USPTO ppl were foreigners working here (mostly chinese). I have already come across 6 patents issued over the last 7 years that have prior art (this is for PHYSICAL items, not software). Basically, USPTO was gutted under W. It needs to be revamped and restore to what happened to it.

Aren't you glad you made crap up about the citizenship of employees at the USPTO? It sure makes your hyperbolic rhetoric all the smaller.

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (1)

MrDoh! (71235) | about 3 years ago | (#36657346)

Pretty much. It's bad that when attacked, you have to then hire huge amounts of lawyers to trawl through prior art/invalidate prior claims, when if the USPTO had done their job correctly in the first place, we'd not be in this place.

Pity people can't sue the USPTO for negligence or at least the costs they've incurred having to fight these claims. It might cause them to do a better job/chuck it all out and start again. (which would be hilarious in the case of all this Nortel stuff).

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#36657388)

You'd still do that, even if the USPTO get it right 98% of the time there would still be those 2% of the cases where trolling through the patents would be warranted.

Re: this means nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36657510)

It's a non-final rejection in an Ex Parte Reexamination.
It means nothing. SoP in reexam is to initially reject the claims and then ultimately withdraw the rejection.

Re:which shows the USPTO is incompetent (2)

drolli (522659) | about 3 years ago | (#36658122)

No. The patent office has no obligation to search for prior art. Its the obligation of the person/institution which is granted the patent to do this research and provide the well known published material of the field to the patent office for review, even if terms were changed or it is a specialization of prior art. If you apply (and pay the legal fees and the lawyers) for a patent, where somebody extremely competent in a field can point to a prior publication describing exactly that, then its really your problem if the patent does not hold up in court.

There is no way the patent office can have an expert for *everything* - when new things are invented, then very often for a few years there is only a dozen of people on the planet who understand the subject and the relations to other fields.

I think what should be done is that patents have a "review time" in which the public can comment on them before being finally granted. Then these things would be very easy.

This will not stand (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 3 years ago | (#36657230)

Oralel iisa great crompany thatisnot ITALIAN and I surppot tjem 1000% per-sent.

Would love to read the spin on this development (1, Troll)

bogaboga (793279) | about 3 years ago | (#36657272)

Before Android zealots rejoice, let them remember that Oracle can still appeal. Overall though, things do not look that promising for Oracle.

We should pin the USPTO (1)

bogaboga (793279) | about 3 years ago | (#36657308)

And here's why:

How were the patents 'certified' in the first place? Actions as such, which project incompetence or ineptness, waste court's time and provide opportunities for folks peddling FUD.

I am still looking for a single government agency that actually works. Does it exist?
 

Re:We should pin the USPTO (2)

rwven (663186) | about 3 years ago | (#36657380)

The waste collection department in my town works and I suppose you could call that a "government agency." They pick up my trash every Tuesday and Friday. But yeah...that's about as complicated a job as any government agency can handle.

Re:We should pin the USPTO (1)

bogaboga (793279) | about 3 years ago | (#36657502)

That's half the story! What they do with the waste (garbage) leaves a lot to be desired.

Re:We should pin the USPTO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36657542)

About which the original poster apparently cared as much as the average person about software patents. I'm starting to see a pattern..

Re:We should pin the USPTO (1)

Required Snark (1702878) | about 3 years ago | (#36659014)

So you think the government is useless. Then why don't you get the hell out of here. I suggest you go someplace where there is no functioning government, like the tribal areas in Pakistan, or Somalia, or Mexico where the drug lords rule. Any place in the world that you would want to live has a reasonably functioning government. Anyplace the doesn't is a stinking pit where life and liberty are always at risk, and forget about the pursuit of happiness. Your wouldn't last a week.

I am sick and tired of smug asshats like you who want and expect all the benefits of governance, and then bitch about how the government is useless. Get off my roads. Stop using my government regulated power and communications. Don't go to my closely regulated medical care or my pharmaceuticals. Turn off my government GPS. Don't call the police or fire or paramedics or drink my clean water or breath my clean air . Since you don't want them, and I do, they're not yours, but mine.

And don't give me your crap about how you paid for it. You don't appreciate what you have got, and I know from your attitude that you don't want to take any responsibility for maintaining civilization. You are happy to fiddle while Rome burns, as long as it's not on your block and the cable is still working and you have cold beer.

I don't even know why I bother to rant at you morons anymore. I would do just as much good yelling at a tree.

Re:We should pin the USPTO (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36657392)

I am still looking for a single government agency that actually works. Does it exist?

Tax office. They go to great lengths to ensure they are able to steal an arbitrary amount from your pay each week. Of course, they are rich so they also go to great length to make sure that rich people have lots of loopholes. Get between the man and his tax dollars and see how swiftly they smack you down.

Re:We should pin the USPTO (1)

bmo (77928) | about 3 years ago | (#36657404)

The FCC does a pretty good job, and they are entirely fee and fine based.

--
BMO

Re:We should pin the USPTO (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 years ago | (#36657536)

The FCC does a pretty good job, and they are entirely fee and fine based.

-- BMO

Actually, given the constraints laid upon them, a number of Federal departments and agencies do a 'pretty good' job. That doesn't mean that nobody is pissed at them (which would happen no matter how 'good' they were). Doesn't mean that we shouldn't be screaming for reform when needed. But in the grand scheme of things we muddle along reasonably well.

I think a lot of people have this idea that we can have a 'government' that is set up so we push a button and it just works. That isn't ever going to happen. There will be competing interests, greed, dishonesty and just plain error that has to be corrected. The only department that I think just should be abolished outright is Homeland Security. That was just a giant hastily conceived cluster fuck which does nothing useful and helps no one with the exception of a few companies who have got rich on the various 'save America from the turbans' schemes.

Re:We should pin the USPTO (1)

Sique (173459) | about 3 years ago | (#36658276)

Of course. Government agencies outside of the U.S. seem to work in many cases. The SNCF (French Railroad) is very working well, as is their japanes counterpart Kokutetsu, EADS is mainly owned by european countries and is currently the most successful civil airplane manufacturer of the world. In Germany, the water supply is the best controlled food supply, and nearly 100 percent owned by the local municipalities. It seems that the U.S.population, expecting the government agencies to be incompetent, actually get what they are expecting and thus ready to pay for: incompetent government agencies.

Re:We should pin the USPTO (1)

gtall (79522) | about 3 years ago | (#36658832)

FDA, CIA, NSA, Heath and Human Services, Social Security Administration, NIH, NSF, DARPA, , etc. Actually, most of the federal government works just fine. Most people, when whining about the federal government, hold up a few anecdotal cases and then claim the whole system is corrupt. It isn't and holding government agencies to an ideal of perfection is just plain silly, unless...maybe....your job performance should be similarly held to such an ideal? How about it, eh? One screw up out of you and you should be shitcanned like you would the federal agencies.

USPTO Should be fined when Patents are invalid... (2, Insightful)

borgheron (172546) | about 3 years ago | (#36657314)

I believe that the USPTO should be fined when patents are declared invalid. Who those fines should be paid to is another matter. I also believe that the examiner who reviewed the patent should, at the very least, get a mark on his or her record to indicate any patters within the organization with regard to issuing poor patents.

I do not believe in software patents. They are, fundamentally, wrong and indefensible. Every other country in the world has rejected them except for the United States. What I mentioned above, however, would remove the cavalier attitude of the USPTO with respect to issuing patents of poor quality. It would make them think twice about the novelty of an idea and would make them be VERY sure that the patent covers something worthy of patentability.

Software patents need to be struck down in general.

GC

Re:USPTO Should be fined when Patents are invalid. (1)

rwven (663186) | about 3 years ago | (#36657394)

Considering the amount of money it takes to file and get a patent approved, I think they should be required to refund any fees when a patent is declared invalid. That would be enough of a fine, and hopefully enough of a deterrent against rubber stamping patent applications.

Re:USPTO Should be fined when Patents are invalid. (1)

flimflammer (956759) | about 3 years ago | (#36657498)

So they're forced to give back the money they weren't even allowed to keep and use for their comically understaffed department in the first place? I'm sure they're quaking in their boots.

Re:USPTO Should be fined when Patents are invalid. (2)

deblau (68023) | about 3 years ago | (#36657554)

You'd have a good idea, except the courts continue to reinterpret the laws used to determine whether inventions are patentable. Some patents that were valid become invalid, and sometimes the other way around. So, your idea of penalizing examiners is actually quite unfair. Also, it's not the examiner's fault that he only has X number of hours to search and read hundreds of pages of prior art, apply them to dozens of claims, and issue a written action. The fault lies at least partially with the point system devised by the patent office that is used to track examiner workload.

One answer to ease the workload burden is to hire more examiners. This has been tried for the past several years, with limited success given the steep learning curve and high turnover rate. Another answer is to raise the fees for filing and prosecuting patents to cut the number of new applications. However, PTO fees are a huge political football right now, and in any event the patent office can't raise them too much without backlash from the big players in the industry. Another answer is to change the "count" system used to track examiners. This could result in higher quality patents issuing, if longer is taken with each application. Doing so would of course increase the backlog of applications, another political mess.

The USPTO does not have a cavalier attitude, based on my personal experience having spoken with many examiners and supervisors over the course of several years of patent practice. They're doing the best with what they have, and what they have isn't good enough.

Re:USPTO Should be fined when Patents are invalid. (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | about 3 years ago | (#36657612)

The USPTO does not have a cavalier attitude, based on my personal experience having spoken with many examiners and supervisors over the course of several years of patent practice. They're doing the best with what they have, and what they have isn't good enough.

Thank you for that. I'm not even American and I realize that the USPTO has a massive job that would be ridiculously difficult even with infinite funding, simply because of the limited number of hours in a day, the volume of patents they receive, and the range of topics covered that each have a gigantic body of work contained within that could supply prior art or previously patented ideas, not to mention that if someone's not familiar with a field, the novelty/obviousness of something can change.

Re:USPTO Should be fined when Patents are invalid. (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | about 3 years ago | (#36658600)

Have you seen the crap that the patent lawyers generate out of very reasonable patent applications? I don't blame the examiners for not knowing what the hell that patent talks about. What I would like US and any other patent system to have is the requirement of clarity. If a professional in the field can't understand the legalese of the application - it should be deemed as gaming the system and rejected immediately. Patent's should not have ambiguity...

Re:USPTO Should be fined when Patents are invalid. (2)

dachshund (300733) | about 3 years ago | (#36657778)

I also believe that the examiner who reviewed the patent should, at the very least, get a mark on his or her record to indicate any patters within the organization with regard to issuing poor patents.

The patents in question were filed nearly 15 years ago. It's possible that the examiner is still working at the USPTO, but more than likely he's moved on to another job or just left the organization.

The problem with most of these patents is that they were examined during the 1990s, when anyone with an ounce of technical skill could command a huge salary from a .com business. So the people who took government salaries at the USPTO at that time were, to a disproportionate extent, drooling morons. The USPTO has somewhat rectified the hiring situation, but the patents are still around.

Re:USPTO Should be fined when Patents are invalid. (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 3 years ago | (#36657864)

Do you have any evidence to back up your claim of brain drain stealing talent from patent examiners?

Or are entirely unrelated factors the basis for the PTO's looseness and even silliness in freely granting patent protected monopolies to anyone buying them.

LOL (1, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | about 3 years ago | (#36657316)

Well, here's to hoping that most of sun's software patents are found to be wrong. If so, then Oracle will have to re-think when they buy up companies.

c'mon! (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about 3 years ago | (#36657318)

when is microsoft going to sue redhat/debian/torvalds for patent violations in linux? i guess there's more money in fud so maybe never. they might start a fight if the linux community pokes n prods a bit more; a new distro that blatently violates as many questionable microsoft patents as possible? the open investion network (oin) might be able to offer some legal advice to defend the distro, and the whole community could get behind the case providing evidence of prior art. lets force microsoft to prove patentability!

Re:c'mon! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36658596)

Why sue small fish like RedHat (much less Debian, who have exactly $0 to pay), when you can sue companies actually raking in cash from Linux, like HTC and other Android phone manufacturers.

And guess what? They are paying. Right here, right now, every HTC phone sold earns MS $5.

Fees? (1)

muphin (842524) | about 3 years ago | (#36657364)

so when a patent is marks as invalid, does that mean you get your fees refunded from the start? as there was no protection in the first place.

Re:Fees? (1)

OKK77 (683209) | about 3 years ago | (#36657414)

Then, who is going to pay for the effort to examine these patent applicatons that will be invalid? The taxpayers? The onus is on the applicant to make sure it is patentable. The current norm of companies submitting as many patent applications (because USPTO is anyhow approving a good majority of them) to inflate their asset values and add more firepower to their legal weapons is such a joke.

Re:Fees? (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | about 3 years ago | (#36658460)

Who else? Isn't the USPTO a government organization?

Die, Oracle Troll (2, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 3 years ago | (#36657436)

None of these Oracle patents are "promoting science or the useful arts". They're obviously just ways for Oracle to compete without doing anything for anyone, by buying a monopoly impeding the progress of others who are investing in doing something with invention.

A corporate repeat offender should be prohibited from getting any new "temporary" government monopolies like patents when proving they are a serial abuser. That might make their corporate boards think twice before trolling, and costing the people and the markets so much in lost time and expensive government mediation.

Re:Die, Oracle Troll (1)

imric (6240) | about 3 years ago | (#36657518)

Now THAT is an amusing idea.

Re:Die, Oracle Troll (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 years ago | (#36659044)

This is a bad idea because it would be enforced arbitrarily, and used to punish those who do not support the status quo. Your idea is _x_ Unworkable due to _x_ Humans are corrupt animals.

null and void (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36657634)

Let's just declare ALL existing patents registered through the USPTO null . Start fresh and any existing patents (before today) are considered "prior art". Think of the paperwork burden lifted, the leap in efficiency, and the immediate ROI for the world at large. Staggering.

Software Innovation Is Evolutionary (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 3 years ago | (#36657854)

Innovation in SW, even when instantiated in epochal releases like Java, is evolutionary. Every SW patent was at most a few percent extra improvements on some other techniques being developed elsewhere before it, usually directly adapted by the "inventor". Patents on those filings are BS. They don't "promote progress in science or the useful arts", their only Constitutional justification. They just interfere with the free expression of the programmers and incremental inventors.

Re:Software Innovation Is Evolutionary (2)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | about 3 years ago | (#36658476)

Absolutely true. But the very same applies to any technology. The steam engine wasn't invented in one go either, and patents hindered its development also as different "inventors" did not want to pay for each other's patents.

Re:Software Innovation Is Evolutionary (1)

am 2k (217885) | about 3 years ago | (#36658824)

But the very same applies to any technology. The steam engine wasn't invented in one go either, and patents hindered its development also as different "inventors" did not want to pay for each other's patents.

While you're right, there's a difference to software patents: Back then, everything was progressing much more slowly. 14 years patent terms were nothing, the steam engine is relevant even today. In software, nowadays' 20 years is several lifetimes. Nobody cares about the state of the art in 1991, except to get a retro feeling. So the software patents that expire now don't contribute anything to the public knowledge. In my opinion, software patents should either be abolished or granted for the duration of maybe 6 months maximum. Of course, since it takes so long to get one granted, that's not practical.

Re:Software Innovation Is Evolutionary (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | about 3 years ago | (#36658948)

Maybe it is the world we live in. There are also great patent difficulties in DNA engineering, and a hardware factory is built before you can say "oops". So if you invent a nice structure and want to build it yourself, your competitors can often beat you in mere days. Even if you license the production to a factory, you can be beat before you know it.

But I don't think that was any different in the old days. Maybe there weren't that many patents and maybe it was expensive even for a company to have a "defensive portfolio", but when the steam engine became economical enough for commercial production, none of the manufacturers could (or wanted to pay up to) build a state-of-the-art machine. There's always a technology that is "hot". Now it is bio-engineering and software engineering, back then it was steam power. It is these "hot" technologies that suffer. Nothing has changed, really.

Why patent's won't go the way of Dodo bird. (-1, Troll)

roman_mir (125474) | about 3 years ago | (#36658196)

I [slashdot.org] said [slashdot.org] it [slashdot.org] before [slashdot.org] , and will say it again:

government [slashdot.org] has [slashdot.org] no [slashdot.org] business [slashdot.org] protecting [slashdot.org] any [slashdot.org] form [slashdot.org] [slashdot.org] business [slashdot.org] .

Government is protecting corporations by taking away liability of the management, which creates moral hazard of people not having to care about the outcomes of their actions, it is protecting monopolies by regulations and laws, which prevent competition, and patents are a large part of that racket, but so are various laws that are on the surface aimed at 'protecting consumers', but in reality serve to protect large corporations from small startups - competitors, like in the case of FINRA, which makes it impossible for new comers into the financial market and keeps the old monopolies, that are now part of the government and thus must have their businesses protected by the government from any competition.

Patents do not increase innovation, what increases innovation is lack of red tape around your every move, what increases innovation is lack of punishment for working - income/payroll/and yes, corporate taxes. What increases innovation is people being able actually to try and do things, without having to jump through bureaucratic hoops and without being stopped by a system, that is deliberately set up to keep only the largest corporations in play, because monopolies are what governments prefer, as monopolies do not have to compete and thus they can over-charge, they are guaranteed profits from the government (even given profits, the way Fed discount window and Treasury 'market' works now), so monopolies with their guaranteed profits of-course recycle some of the money to the politicians.

Do you think politicians want a good efficient market, where prices fall due to increased efficiencies and where money is stable or even appreciates in value over time, rather than falling in value? Do you think politicians want companies that are constantly thinking about actual customers, trying to give customers more value for less money, because that's the way to survive in that game against other competitors?

Who will have the money for kickbacks? Who will do the bribing? Who will finance their campaigns? Who will hire them to be lobbyists, if government would not interfere into business and economy in the first place?

Oh, come on, there will be no meaningful patent reform, there will be no meaningful reduction in government spending, there will be no stoppage of any wars or money printing, there will be no meaningful reduction in bureaucracy and regulations and taxes, nothing that actually would help the economy will be done, because it is absolutely not profitable for politicians.

Government may be a 'non-profit' organization, but it's certainly profitable for many many people, and those who profit are the ones who make the rules, and you think they'll change the rules so that they can then get less profit and less power?

Hmmmmm.

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