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UK Developers Quit US App Store Over Patent Fears

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the risk-vs-reward dept.

Patents 192

iamflimflam1 writes "The Guardian is running a story on how app developers in the UK are withdrawing from the U.S. app store over patent fears. 'The growth of patent lawsuits over apps raises serious issues for all the emerging smartphone platforms, because none of the principal companies involved — Apple, Google or Microsoft — can guarantee to protect developers from them. Even when the mobile OS developer has signed a patent licence — as Apple has with at least one company currently pursuing patent lawsuits — it is not clear that it has any legal standing to defend developers.' This follows a blog post from the iconfactory about the death of independent developers. Have the big corporations really won? What is the future for small teams and one-man-band developers?"

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192 comments

This tweet (FTFA) shows how screwed up it is. (1, Informative)

teh31337one (1590023) | about 3 years ago | (#36785788)

Re:This tweet (FTFA) shows how screwed up it is. (0)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 3 years ago | (#36786074)

Yeah, half a penny per dollar app? That's clearly outrageous.

Re:This tweet (FTFA) shows how screwed up it is. (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 3 years ago | (#36786198)

I agree, give me half a penny for every dollar you make. For insurance of course. It would be a shame if something happened to all that nice stuff you have.

Re:This tweet (FTFA) shows how screwed up it is. (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 3 years ago | (#36786280)

I agree, give me half a penny for every dollar you make. For insurance of course. It would be a shame if something happened to all that nice stuff you have.

But we're not talking about "every dollar" or "insurance." We're talking about a royalty of a patent only on products that use the patented technology. So, yeah, if I use your idea, and make money selling products involving your idea, then I should probably give you half a penny for each dollar I make on those products, as a royalty, for the period that the patent applies.

Or, if I don't want to, I can change the product so it doesn't include your idea. Then nothing is owed.

Re:This tweet (FTFA) shows how screwed up it is. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786402)

I see you changed it, but now it looks like it includes a different idea I own... as well as another idea a friend of mine owns....this ain't your lucky day. BWAHAHAHAH!

Re:This tweet (FTFA) shows how screwed up it is. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786444)

The patent system doesn't involve itself with seeing if you used someone else's idea, just with who came up with it first. The distinction is important: You can very well come up with something on your own, develop it into a product and then find out you have to pay someone else to be allowed to sell your own invention. Did you know that certain types of progress bars are patented? This bullshit needs to stop.

Re:This tweet (FTFA) shows how screwed up it is. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786590)

How about looking at that horrible patent system from a different perspective? We can't patent ideas, and the american patent system is out of hand. In Norway if you want to patent something, it has to be new and it has to be working (functional, real), and the patent has to be so detailed that you can make the patented product from the patent-application. In the USA you can patent a white webpage with a box and two buttons in the middle (Google did).

If two people has the same idea, and one of them makes some software implementing that idea, while the other patents it, who owes who money? In the USA it's obviously the guy with the patent :/

So in the end it's not about using someone elses idea, as you put it, but it's about the possibility that two people has the same idea. What good is an idea if you don't do anything about it? Where would we be today if democracy was "patented"? How about the idea about breathing - you can probably get that patented and sue every living citizen in the USA, or they can change their lives so that they don't use your idea - then nothing is owed!

Re:This tweet (FTFA) shows how screwed up it is. (5, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 3 years ago | (#36786616)

There are too many humans to allow the continued allocation of one idea to a person. We have too many eyes now for this system to provide benefit. Very few human ideas are both unique to that human and a benefit to mankind.

Re:This tweet (FTFA) shows how screwed up it is. (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 3 years ago | (#36787294)

Sorry, that was my idea, and I filed it as being mine back in '95. By publishing it like this, you now owe me a nickel for everyone that reads your post.

Re:This tweet (FTFA) shows how screwed up it is. (4, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | about 3 years ago | (#36786640)

how about MSFT's $15 per android device fee? is that good?

Also in software patents don't cover implementations but concept. therefore there is no way around and still meet spec.

Who the hell is Simon Maddox? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786086)

Who the hell is Simon Maddox? What is he supposed to be known for doing? Why should I take what he has to say seriously?

Re:Who the hell is Simon Maddox? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786588)

Who the hell are you? What made you fit to judge somebody who is more involved with this case than you are? Why should anyone take anything you say seriously?

Re:Who the hell is Simon Maddox? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36787000)

Okay, so that's at least two more of us (you and me), in addition to the GP, who don't have any idea who this Maddox fellow is.

the problem with extortion (3, Insightful)

Lead Butthead (321013) | about 3 years ago | (#36786414)

is that it never ends. it's 1/2% now, it will soon become 1%, then 2%, then 5%... and so on.

It has to get worse before it gets better (4, Insightful)

Flipao (903929) | about 3 years ago | (#36785798)

The way things are, this is as good a start as any.

Re:It has to get worse before it gets better (3, Insightful)

mrops (927562) | about 3 years ago | (#36785972)

I would have given this +1 Insightful however don't have mod points.

It really needs to get really bad before people start realizing how patents are hurting economy and innovation, to a point where there vote on such matters count.

Re:It has to get worse before it gets better (2)

jhoegl (638955) | about 3 years ago | (#36786302)

How long before AT&T was broken up?
How long after is it almost back together?
Yeah, nothing changes in the United States of Corporate America

Re:It has to get worse before it gets better (3, Informative)

elashish14 (1302231) | about 3 years ago | (#36786342)

>It really needs to get really bad before people start realizing how patents are hurting economy and innovation, to a point where there vote on such matters count.

This statement is a little too general. Patents aren't necessarily the problem, what is more problematic is that they're being abused.

Patents were supposed to protect small businesses and startups with a new idea. Now they're being used for extortion (a la Microsoft forcing Samsung, HTC, etc. to pay for a WP7 license on every phone they sell) and manipulation (see here [dailytech.com] ). And it's much easier for large corporations to acquire them becuase they can pay for the application fees or patent auctions.

What's obviously clear here is that patents aren't serving their original intention. What the US needs is legislation to stop patent abuse, particularly by large corporations. But there are too many lawyers in America, so it will never happen.

Re:It has to get worse before it gets better (5, Insightful)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 3 years ago | (#36786418)

This is not a fault of patents per se. This is a fault of the US litigation system. Unregulated lawyer fees, which I agree are ridiculous, the possibility of forum shopping, so everyone ends up in Bumfuck, TX for their patent cases, non-technical judges that have no clue about the engineering aspects of a patent, jury trials, just to make sure that the deciding body has no clue about the matter at hand, and ridiculously overblown damages. The US patent system differs from the European one, but not so much as to hurt. What hurts is the difference in litigation. Over here in Europe I have seen small inventors going after global corporation over their patents - successful and on a budget. I have seen patent cases to the highest national court for a total cost in the low five figures. That won't kill a small business. Pushing the litigation costs before damages in the millions - that kills the small guys. Regulate your lawyers, guys.

Re:It has to get worse before it gets better (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 3 years ago | (#36787008)

Patents were supposed to protect small businesses and startups with a new idea.

Wrong. They were supposed to protect those with new inventions.

"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."

An idea is little more than a wish. Put in the sweat and make something that works, and that's worthy of reward.

Re:It has to get worse before it gets better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36787318)

>An idea is little more than a wish. Put in the sweat and make something that works, and that's worthy of reward.

Logically then, as a first step, it should be made illegal to litigate over patents that you are not using in a physical product yourself. Key words: Physical. Product. Produce.

Re:It has to get worse before it gets better (2)

theolein (316044) | about 3 years ago | (#36786370)

I agree, the only way the patent suit business will ever die is if it gets so bad that only the huge developers can afford to produce products anymore. What is much more likely, though, is that people will stop selling products in the US market and that the US market will stagnate and slowly die. The Americans are extremely bad at implementing any legal reforms due to the immense amount of lobbying going on there. Frankly, given the state of the US economy, one would think that the Americans would see the need to implement reform, because all the patent nonsense does is isolate the US even more.

Why are app stores their only option? (0)

poity (465672) | about 3 years ago | (#36785828)

Would they have the same legal problems if they didn't use app stores?
In any case they should probably:
1. Throw away that "original" idea of a Crush The Castle or Galaga clone
2. Make a compelling niche game based on at least some research and innovation.
3. Use social media to publicize.

Re:Why are app stores their only option? (2)

master_kaos (1027308) | about 3 years ago | (#36785862)

no kidding, the amount of clones is ridiculous, as much as I hate patents, you can't just blatantly rip off someone elses idea.

Re:Why are app stores their only option? (5, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | about 3 years ago | (#36786040)

Thats as silly as it gets. If you were right, it would be immoral to build a house for shelter, just because someone else already had the idea to build a house. It would be illegal to make a cheese&bacon-sandwich just because someone else already made one. It's completely ok to build the umpteenth clone of Crush the Castle or Galaga, even if someone else already made one. You just shouldn't claim to be a creative game designer. And so I will my enjoy cheese&bacon-sandwich and continue to live in my house, well aware to be not the first one to ever do so.

Re:Why are app stores their only option? (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 3 years ago | (#36786336)

You are aware that the average lifetime of a patent is seven years? You can feel safe in your house, no one is gonna sue you. Even if it ever had been patented, house-building would have run out of protection a couple of millennia ago.

Re:Why are app stores their only option? (1)

jhoegl (638955) | about 3 years ago | (#36786316)

I know.. what was Blizzard thinking! They totally made a Warhammer clone and just called it WarCraft... I mean JESUS, how obvious can you get?

We are talking about that right?

Re:Why are app stores their only option? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 3 years ago | (#36786668)

Blizzard asked Warhammer for a license, they said no.

Re:Why are app stores their only option? (2)

gilesjuk (604902) | about 3 years ago | (#36785884)

It depends on the mechanism for converting a free trial version into a full version. That is what the patent is on.

Why not make that mechanism free? (1)

tomxor (2379126) | about 3 years ago | (#36786714)

I find this part interesting though Quite obviously the patent in question is not anything to do with the game itself (the content that actually sells), but the trivial concept of buying the full version of the game. Keeping that in mind, is it possible to retroactively re-licence portions of the product that are in violation of the patent and publish those as some kind of open source i.e publish a text-file containing the wording of that dialogue box and give it an MIT licence. I'm just thinking of how something like BSD which is itself a kind of free open source clone of proprietary code, is today used as part of other proprietary systems that are not free (think Apple, Sun etc). or is the unix that it derived from so old that the patents no longer apply? Also software like Open Office which quite clearly aims to mimic the functions of an entire software suite is not in violation of patents simply because it is free. Is it possible to segment software in this way to make it clear that what you are selling is not the functionality that is patented regardless of whether it is something significant as an entire software suite or something as patent troll-esque as this "buy the full version" thing?

Re:Why are app stores their only option? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 3 years ago | (#36785912)

Clone or not has nothing to do with it. These patents are on things like converting free game users to paying folks. In app payments stuff like that.

Re:Why are app stores their only option? (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 3 years ago | (#36786174)

4. Get sued for patent violation and lose everything?

STOP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36785834)

Stop killing the little developers with lawsuits. Your going to kill the whole mobile market or maybe this the plan.

riiiiiighhhhtttt (2)

Lead Butthead (321013) | about 3 years ago | (#36786428)

The patent trolls are holding all the cards right now. Hint - people holding all the cards isn't going to ask for a new hand. You think they're going to stop because you demanded so? I like to get some of that whatever the hell you've been smoking.

Irony (4, Insightful)

gilesjuk (604902) | about 3 years ago | (#36785866)

The irony that the US market is supposedly most free in the world yet patents are screwing it up.

Surely more jobs and growth are being stifled by them than saved by them?

Re:Irony (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 3 years ago | (#36785938)

That is what no one seems to be noticing. This will not kill the mobile market or the app developers of the world. Just hurt folks in the USA. These are the sorts of things that export our wealth and our capital. The more of these patent lawsuits are filed over trivial software the more companies will want to stay out of or get out of our market.

Free? as in speech? (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 3 years ago | (#36786070)

And there's supposed to be free speech too. However, say things that people don't like and you will rapidly discover that is not true. Free markets only operate among the big players - and even then the freedom is really only a freedom to make their lawyers richer as they all sue each other over minor variations of insignificant products.

Re:Free? as in speech? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 3 years ago | (#36786178)

Free speech exists. You can say whatever you like without the government coming after you. Unless you are admitting to a crime or someone causing one with words. An example of the latter would be "Give me all your money" during a mugging.

Re:Free? as in speech? (3, Insightful)

t2t10 (1909766) | about 3 years ago | (#36786748)

Free markets only operate among the big players

Markets dominated by a few big players are by definition not free.

Maybe you mean "unregulated markets"; that's something very different.

Re:Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786138)

"The irony that the US market is supposedly most free in the world"

Says who? US citizens might tell themselves this, whilst the rest of the world looks on laughing.

Gambling, shopping online, travel/ ticketing, media, education, health - all of these are governmentally policed in the USA without any of the benefits of actual state intervention. You get the worst of all worlds.

Re:Irony (4, Insightful)

elashish14 (1302231) | about 3 years ago | (#36786382)

The irony that the US market is supposedly most free in the world yet patents are screwing it up.

In America, freedom means 'freedom from government intervention.' What the translates to is slavery to private interests.

If I were given the choice, I'd much rather be subject to government control rather than private interests, seeing as I would have at least some voice against the government...

Surely more jobs and growth are being stifled by them than saved by them?

Both of these statements are true. Small businesses are muscled out and replaced with a cubicle in a large corporate tower. But a corporation can never do wrong in America, even if they spill oil all over the Gulf of Mexico, so people run to them anyways.

Re:Irony (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 3 years ago | (#36787050)

Hey, that was a British multinational, not an American one!

On a related note, Cuba is planning to do some deep water drilling using a Chinese built rig. What could possibly go wrong?

The US: A 4th World Economy HowTo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36785900)

The way IP and Patents are messing up the US it won't be long before:-

1) Major companies are told by their Liability Insurers to pull out of the US due to the risk of doing business their.
2) The Patent Trolls run out of people to sue and start suing themselves.
3) The US economy and the US Dollar tanks.
4) Even the Lawyers get laid off.
And importanly
5) The once almighty dollar is replaced by the Yuan as the world currency.

It can all be avoided but so many vested factions are only intent of getting their own way it will soon tear the economy up in ways that have not been seen wince the 1920's & 1930's.

Re:The US: A 4th World Economy HowTo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786390)

With the current state of the US I'm actually kinda looking forward to #5

Prohibition of the brain (3, Insightful)

belgianguy (1954708) | about 3 years ago | (#36785908)

Poor developers, putting effort, time and money in creating something original and functional, only to get sued by some bigcorp lawyer shmuck which informs you that they own the rights on the product you just made. They'll kindly ask you to cease and desist before they unleash lawyer hell on you and sue you right into the poorhouse.

If you want to make it in IT these days, you should become a lawyer, not a software developer.

Re:Prohibition of the brain (-1, Troll)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 3 years ago | (#36785964)

Poor developers, spamming up every repository with clones of concepts that probably were original way back before the war. Good riddance.

Re:Prohibition of the brain (2)

Macthorpe (960048) | about 3 years ago | (#36786090)

As someone mentioned above, this isn't about cloning concepts. This is about being unable to do trivial things like bring up a dialog box saying "Would you like to pay more for more content" on a mobile phone, because someone decided that's so incredibly inventive that it needs to be protected.

Re:Prohibition of the brain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786154)

If the US Patent Office did not allow for patenting of such trivial things there would be no problem. The USPO is crazy!

Re:Prohibition of the brain (1)

cob666 (656740) | about 3 years ago | (#36786262)

Yes, and hasn't something similar been around since the earliest days of Windows applications? I remember downloaded shareware with options to pay for the full version. Why does this only seem to be an issue with mobile platforms, I'm sure there are desktop applications that do the exact same thing, why not use them as prior art?

Re:Prohibition of the brain (4, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | about 3 years ago | (#36786666)

Why does this only seem to be an issue with mobile platforms

Because it turns out that if you add the limiting clause "on a mobile computing device", everything old becomes new again.

Re:Prohibition of the brain (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 3 years ago | (#36786320)

So, TFA is talking about one, maybe two developers tweeting about retracting from the US market due to their personal interpretation of some patent, without even getting any professional advice on whether they do infringe or not. Then the sheep start bleating about "Patents killing innovation". Sure. Go ahead. Innovate for a change.The article is pure FUD.

Re:Prohibition of the brain (1)

Lord Juan (1280214) | about 3 years ago | (#36786630)

Ok, the article is grossly exaggerated, but it still shows that there are serious issues in the US market.

1. They are small developers, do you really believe that developers that small should be seeking professional advice over whether or not they are allowed to display a message box saying "would you like to upgrade to premium?"

2. How could a patent this obvious and so widely in use be granted?, oh, I get it, because it is "in a mobile device".

I am starting to think that this new buzzword "the cloud" was actually invented by lawyers who are now patenting every single little idea that exists by adding the words "in the cloud" to them, so when/if the could catches up, they will have a new lawsuit fest.

Re:Prohibition of the brain (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 3 years ago | (#36786736)

1. Yes, they should. It won't cost them an arm and a leg with the usual European lawyer fees. That's the cost of doing business. If they can't cover that from their revenues, well, their business model has failed already.

2. Can't comment on that, since I don't know the patent.

Re:Prohibition of the brain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786654)

FUD, except Lodsys *HAS ALREADY* sued a few small developers. Are you going to pay for their legal fees if Lodsys goes after them (especially in Texas)?

I didn't think so.

Re:Prohibition of the brain (1)

Rakishi (759894) | about 3 years ago | (#36786782)

What legal fees? As far as I've seen, Lodsys wants money and not an insane amount of it. So you pay it and get on with life.

If you want to go to court with them for no economically practical reason, well that's your ideological problem so pay for it.

Re:Prohibition of the brain (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 3 years ago | (#36787076)

Top tip: Avoid being robbed by simply giving your money away.

Re:Prohibition of the brain (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 3 years ago | (#36786584)

Poor developers, putting effort, time and money in creating something original and functional, only to get sued by some bigcorp lawyer shmuck ...

Not a "bigcorp lawyer shmuck". We are talking about Lodsys here which is a one man company. Which is in more trouble than these poor UK developers because they are themselves now being sued by server "bigcorp lawyers".

US nowadays (4, Insightful)

cjcela (1539859) | about 3 years ago | (#36785914)

Greed for power and money is crippling the US. Hope we realize how to stop this before we become a 3rd rank nation. Software patents, corrupted politicians, shortsighted MBAs, unscrupulous lawyers ... all of them are contributing to a quick degrade of business ethical values and to the loss of opportunities of the common man for the benefit of few. Sad state of affairs.

Re:US nowadays (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786110)

The US already IS a third rank nation.

Re:US nowadays (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786274)

If I had mod points, I would give them to you.
I have been saying this for years.

Re:US nowadays (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786356)

Me too. Or is that copyrighted?

Re:US nowadays (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786338)

The third rank is currently held by Japan, after the U.S. and China.

Re:US nowadays (2)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about 3 years ago | (#36787022)

We're already there, AC. I hear a lot of jingoistic chanting from my countrymen and it is the saddest form of denial. We have a laughable health system, a failing pension system, and an education system that seems to be a joke without a punchline. We consistently reduce taxes on the rich to the point where they're paying less as a percentage than they were in the 1950's with the feeble hope that this will help the job situation. The empire of the United States came and went in the blink of an eye, but hey...it was good while it lasted.

Re:US nowadays (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786260)

before we become a 3rd rank nation. Software patents, corrupted politicians, shortsighted MBAs, unscrupulous lawyers ...

Those are all pretty good indicators of a 3rd rank nation. Add the military-industrial complex in there too. The military always has a lot of power in 3rd rank nations.

Do you grow bananas yet?

Re:US nowadays (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786462)

There is a dark thread that presents the American experience in terms of a broken covenant. It is expressed variously. We are pictured as fouling and corrupting the pristine Land of Promise. You see this vividly in Faulkner's novels and in Moby Dick, one of the monuments of American literature, a novel full of biblical symbolism. These writers and others express guilt for the American story in our new land--the slaughter of the aborigines, the establishment of slavery, reversion to the class system, reversion to the greed and nationalism of the Old World from which we fled, crimes we swore to eradicate.
--Frank Moore Cross

Re:US nowadays (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786646)

The problem in the US is cultural. Everyone equates "prosperity", "progress" and "value" with "making more money". Therefore, it's not surprising that finance has become the central concern in business and indeed everyday life - enter the billions of MBA's to try to squeze every last penny out of every effort, the hordes of lawyers to defend those pennies, and the corrupt politicians to facilitate it all at the highest level.

It used to be that the central concern in business was how much value your proposition brought, and that the expectation was that more value would equate to higher financial benefit. Although money was certainly part of the thinking, it was by no means the central point in the proposition.

That's the fundamental change the american mind must undergo: it's not about how much you have, but how much *value* you provide (or, rather, how big your "(potential?) contribution to society" is). In essence, that's the true measure of how "great" (or not) a person or company is.

BTW: I heard not too long ago that in underdeveloped nations, the single largest slice of college graduates were from law school (a significantly larger slice than the 2nd place profession) - and that that fact could be taken as an indicator to determine a nation's development status. Would be interesting to see where that is in the US...

Cheers.

So what else is new? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786688)

Greed for power and money has crippled, and driven, the human species ever since we learned to farm.

The cure is the disease. That's how humans work. All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again.

Power only comes to those who seek it. The most successful power-seekers are the least deserving of the responsibility. Wake up and smell the repetition of history.

Maybe once the human species achieves joint cognition through the mind-machine interface this will change. Until then, we are stuck in this cycle. All YOU can do is determine where you are in the cycle, determine your values, and make your play.

Re:US nowadays (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786752)

Well, the average consumer has already made it a point to remain ignorant to companies who lie in their press releases, put themselves voluntarily into monopolies, and throw their money at companies that generally behave like assholes to other companies.

Why should these companies change?

Happy with this ! (1)

Raffix (1875856) | about 3 years ago | (#36785942)

US courts are just dumb and are killing advancement in many sectors such as information technologies. I'm happy with the decision those developers took. Keep content for users outside USA, and block it for all visitors from the USA. Let them learn the lesson about how flawed their patent laws are.

Doesn't the US have patent treaties with the UK? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36785956)

Patents do have some international power unfortunately. Welcome to the future where you can't violate any country's laws. Which is too bad 'cause I was planning on being un-turkish and insulting the Thai monarchy later today, but I guess I'll just go swimming instead.

Re:Doesn't the US have patent treaties with the UK (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 3 years ago | (#36786226)

Patents do have some international power unfortunately.

Patents are strictly territorial. As long as you don't do business in the US, no US patent needs to concern you.

Re:Doesn't the US have patent treaties with the UK (1)

Jane_Dozey (759010) | about 3 years ago | (#36786664)

Don't forget to add in the European laws to that. Even if the UK decided to recognise US patents, developers could still get rulings overturned in European courts.

Re:Doesn't the US have patent treaties with the UK (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 3 years ago | (#36786720)

Don't even need the EU - the principle of territoriality is laid down in the Paris Convention of 1883, which the UK is a signatory to, and which is still binding.

Re:Doesn't the US have patent treaties with the UK (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 3 years ago | (#36787104)

I wonder if Gary McKinnon has heard of it?

Dear idiots at The Guardian... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36785978)

You managed to find one (1) developer in your story who pulled their apps from the app store. This does not mean developers are pulling their apps. This means developer is pulling their apps.

Also, you suck at journalism and probably at life.

Re:Dear idiots at The Guardian... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786094)

It might just as well be the indication of a new trend. The one developer is just smart enough to be the first a.k.a. a trendsetter.

So they find one developer... (1)

hsmith (818216) | about 3 years ago | (#36785996)

That doesn't really know what he is talking about and run with the story. Just because he withdrew his App from the US market on the Apple App Store doesn't mean he still can't be sued. US & UK have multiple agreements in place to protect IP between them. The mere fact he had already sold software with infringing IP on the store opens him up to suits. (And no, I do not agree with the Lodsys suits, it is BS)

If he was making decent money, the percentage of what Lodsys wanted was nothing compared to what he would be losing by pulling out. So, he obviously is making squat.

Great non-story.

Re:So they find one developer... (1)

wmspider (1333299) | about 3 years ago | (#36786050)

IANAL, so I might be wrong, but I think software patents are not even allowed in Europe, which means that such agreements probably wouldn't apply in this case. I would actually like to know if this is the case. Does anyone have specific information on it?

Re:So they find one developer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786190)

I think they are coming to Europe. There keep being lobbying attempts for them, over and over, I fear one day they will be a reality. Europe always lags behind what the US does. Probably by the time in the US software patents got removed, Europe will have them.

Re:So they find one developer... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 3 years ago | (#36787116)

Didn't they try to sneak them through on page 765 of the bill that legally defined how bent cucumbers could be?

Re:So they find one developer... (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 3 years ago | (#36786264)

Pure software does not fulfill the technicity criterion according to the European Patent Agreement. How much of a physical, tangible component your patent needs, however, is a bit in flux lately. But generally, yeah, software patents "as such" are not allowed here. If you want a detailed account on the latest decisions of the Boards of Appeal of the EPO, my usual hourly rate would apply, though ;)

(Yes, I am a patent engineer in training to become European patent attorney. Obviously this is not legal advice, yadda, yadda)

Re:So they find one developer... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 3 years ago | (#36787102)

IANAL, so I might be wrong, but I think software patents are not even allowed in Europe, which means that such agreements probably wouldn't apply in this case. I would actually like to know if this is the case. Does anyone have specific information on it?

No... Contrary to popular misconception 'round here, the EPO follows the same essential holding of the Bilski case in the US: "pure" software is not patentable, but including a machine actor in the claims makes them patentable. So "a method, comprising [new and nonobvious software idea]" would not be patentable, either in Europe or the US, while "a method, comprising [new and nonobvious software idea], executed by a processor of a computing device" would be patentable.

"But wait," you say, "processors are known!"
Doesn't matter... The entire claim has to be known to be invalid, and if [new and nonobvious software idea] is new and nonobvious, then the fact that it's performed by a known and obvious processor is irrelevant.

So, yeah, software is absolutely patentable in both the US and Europe, provided there's some machine involved. This way, performing the steps by yourself on paper with a pen is not infringement, and we haven't created a thoughtcrime.

(this is not legal advice, I am not your attorney, etc.)

Re:So they find one developer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36787356)

So, yeah, software is absolutely patentable in both the US and Europe, provided there's some machine involved. This way, performing the steps by yourself on paper with a pen is not infringement, and we haven't created a thoughtcrime.

A pen is a machine designed for writing. The correct patent defense is, "we aren't distributing a machine, we distribute only software which as such is unpatentable".

Re:So they find one developer... (1)

Xugumad (39311) | about 3 years ago | (#36786426)

> US & UK have multiple agreements in place to protect IP between them.

However, software patents are not allowed in the UK (or Europe). Doesn't actually stop a few being issued, but I would presume a patent that's invalid in the UK would not be applied on behalf of the US.

Well, I hope, anyway.

Re:So they find one developer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786624)

There are moves in the UK's current coalition "Government" to "introduce a US style patent system", because apparently "the UK patent system is broken".

Re:So they find one developer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786926)

Yes. International copyright law tends to only guarantee protection to foreign IP that would be enjoyed if it were domestic IP.

Apple is the same sort of troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786076)

When Apple sues for making a string of text that looks like a phone number invoke the phone app, or on touching the screen with two fingers, or on swiping with a left to right gesture, is it any wonder that smaller trolls follow suit?

The big companies need independent developers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786146)

Both MS and Apple need people to write software for their platforms. So I don't think they 'won'.

Another misleading headline (1)

CheerfulMacFanboy (1900788) | about 3 years ago | (#36786192)

TFA's headline only says "withdraw from US", while the text says "app stores" - as in more than one, also note the non-capitalized spelling.

US is gonna die (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786268)

can't wait to see it default on its trillions.

fat ass american dipshits will get a rude shock.

software patents are just one small symptom of your sick and twisted society

Re:US is gonna die (3, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | about 3 years ago | (#36786396)

Oh pipe down, and take your anti-psychotic medication.

Re:US is gonna die (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786872)

The entire planet will get a rude shock since every economy on the globe will collapse right along with the US. World War III will be fun when everyone's currency is worthless outside their own borders and the only way to get food and resources is to take it with bullets.

Re:US is gonna die (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36787282)

And then you'll get a rude shock when you realize that your retirement savings were invested in US securities and are now worthless, and that those "fat ass Americans" were the ones buying the products that keep your export-oriented industry afloat and allowed your country's economy to grow.

Us developers: Move to Europe? (2)

Delgul (515042) | about 3 years ago | (#36786442)

We escaped the Software Patent madness by a hair in the EU, but we escaped. Do it before August 2nd tho, or at least change your dollars to euros before that, or you will have to live under a bridge ;-)

government creates monopolies (3, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | about 3 years ago | (#36786788)

I am always amazed at people who believe that government is there to help them, well, maybe some feel that because they are getting government checks, or are hoping to get them one day.

But just look at the way government destroys free market and creates monopolies. You'd think that government wouldn't want monopolies for some reason (well, they say so) but in reality monopolies is governments' bread and butter. Government may be non-profit, but it's highly profitable to politicians, and others, who are near the trough. Monopolies have money to give to politicians and what would the competitive market participants give them and why?

This is in everything, not just software. Look at the pharmaceutical industry: FDA costs are probably higher than any other costs of releasing a new drug into the market. I hear it takes 600 million dollars for one single drug to pass all of the steps, FDA requires from manufacturers, which means that there cannot be an independent small firm, bringing an independent drug into the market. This maybe the biggest cost out of all other costs - to pass through government regulations. So anybody creating a drug needs to get a sponsor - a large pharma company to do what the FDA requires.

Now, if FDA only required to prove that the drug was safe for consumption, that's one thing. But they require the proof of efficacy - which means years of expensive studies, something that the market could have found much quicker and without this added cost, and something that actually causes real deaths, as people are not getting the drugs on time and the drugs are really expensive. Here is an interesting discussion on this matter, [youtube.com] which explains how government is working on making your food ever more expensive and reducing your choices in the market, helping out the large monopolies and destroying the competition.

The patents are a huge problem, they are not there to help you. As with everything that governments do, the effect of their actions and regulations is the opposite one. So if they are talking about fighting monopolies, in reality they create them, and if they are talking about increasing the innovation in the market, in reality they are actively preventing and destroying it.

Come to Russia, comrade! (1)

Chemisor (97276) | about 3 years ago | (#36786820)

Afraid of patent lawsuits comrade? Come to Russia! In our new not-so-soviet country there are no stinking software patents. There also are a lot fewer lawyers. Income tax is only 13%. Being a self-employed app developer you will not have to worry about the unemployment, and as a hopeless nerd you will not have to worry about the weather (or, you could move to a southern region like Krasnodar). Come soon, there's plenty of vodka to go around!

Re:Come to Russia, comrade! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36787024)

It's a sad day when the enemy of the US during the cold war (where the US was defending "freedom" ) has the right to make fun of our restrictive government.

Good ridence (1)

Kerstyun (832278) | about 3 years ago | (#36786836)

Shut the light on you're way out, pathetic limey cowerd's.

Servers still in the US? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786878)

Won't these guys still be subject to patent lawsuits due to the Apple servers and review team being located in the US? (unless i am mistaken...)

The Co-Op (1)

westlake (615356) | about 3 years ago | (#36787012)

The small independent developer is disadvantaged.

Well, duh.

Small businesses in the same fix have for several generations now formed cooperatives.

The benefits include branding and promotion.

Licensing and legal support. Technical support. Financing, and so on.

The co-op sets standards.

The co-op is market-oriented and the product it offers must be competitive. You won't get a buy if you try to sell them a rotten cabbage no matter how "green" your garden grows.

 

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