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The Dark Side of the Tech Patent Wars

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the is-there-a-light-side dept.

Patents 196

GMGruman writes "Bill Snyder warns that the tech patent wars are going nuclear, and could vaporize tech jobs in the process. He likens the situation to medicine, where so much money now goes to pay for insurance and 'defensive medicine,' rather than for actual care. In the tech world, he fears that the same will occur with patents, forcing companies to spend ever more money on patents and lawyers — and less on innovation and staff."

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Dark side? (4, Funny)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143122)

is the a bright side then?

Re:Dark side? (0)

itchythebear (2198688) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143292)

Nope, the opposite side of "the dark side" is "the darker side".

Re:Dark side? (3, Interesting)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143622)

Actually, once all the tech jobs are wiped out then there won't be any new tech to patent, and the companies will implode.
Once the owners of the patents all implode and the FSF owns all the patents, having bought them for haypennies on the dollar, tech inventers can resume inventing.

Since the patent minefield is such that nothing new can be made without stepping on at least one patent, the FSF can ensure any new megacorps have to enter a cross license. The end result is that the FSF will own or have a license for *all* tech patents. /dreaming
-nB

Re:Dark side? (1, Interesting)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143660)

You assume the tech patent holders care about what they leave in their wake.
If it implodes they will take their money and schemes elsewhere. Holy shit, just look at the pharma industry.
Have a heart condition that requires our pill to save your life? That will be $500 per pill, why that much? Because we can, and fuck you for living.

Re:Dark side? (5, Informative)

Necroman (61604) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143928)

No, it has to do with recouping the costs of development and testing. Wikipedia has [wikipedia.org] the estimated cost of producing a new drug in the US, which it says may be in the range of $55 million to $800 million (US). Different studies seem to disagree with one another about the costs.

Regardless, drug companies patent the drug prior to clinical trials [wikipedia.org] . It can take up to 6 years in R&D to develop a new drug, and another 8 years in clinical trials (that's the clinical trial period for cancer drugs). Lets say they get their patent 2 years before starting clinical trials. That means they only have 10 years to reclaim their R&D costs until their patent runs out (patent length of 20 years). Once the patent runs out, generic versions of the drug can be made and the original pharma will make much less money on the drug. Plus you have to take into account how many people will be purchasing your drug when setting the price. If it was something like cold medicine, you can charge less since you'll get a ton of customers. Cancer and heart medication is going to have fewer consumers, which means higher costs are required to recoup the R&D and testing costs.

I don't disagree with you that pharma probably charge way too much for their drugs, but you have to keep in mind that the cost of bringing a new drug to the market is very expensive.

Re:Dark side? (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143966)

I don't disagree with you that pharma probably charge way too much for their drugs, but you have to keep in mind that the cost of bringing a new drug to the market is very expensive.

And that cost is almost entirely imposed by the government, so it could trivially be reduced by changing the laws.

Re:Dark side? (3, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#37144228)

Thats BS

It did not cost taht much 10 years ago and no they do not do 5x as much R&D. Celebrex is as powerful as an asprin yet costs $$$$. Yet people seeing these commercials on TV want it and you and I both pay for it by our premiums. Fuck them.

They are price gouging and using patents to abuse their power. Their margins are well in the thousands of percents.

Re:Dark side? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37143318)

is the a bright side then?

For the lawyers there is.

Re:Dark side? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143854)

+1 Sad But True

Re:Dark side? (1)

jimmydevice (699057) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143350)

Came here to say THAT.

Re:Dark side? (1, Interesting)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143436)

The bright side is that the people who innovated to make the patents are being compensated for their efforts. This is how patents motivate people to innovate. Would you prefer if Google could use other people's innovations without compensating them?

Re:Dark side? (5, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143532)

The bright side is that the people who innovated to make the patents are being compensated for their efforts.

Are they, now? Please show me a list of wealthy inventors, and not just wealthy patent holders.

Re:Dark side? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37143628)

First, this is a crazy distinction. The problem is that inventions are commercialized by companies, not individuals. While individual inventors may receive something in the way of royalties or lump sum cash payments for either a license or assignment of an invention, the reason that companies either license or buy a patent is because they can receive more money than the cost of the license.

Second, a large number of the patents are the fruits of work of people employed by companies (the patent holder). These are exploited by the company and not the inventor and the inventor is compensated by the company as part of their standard compensation.

Re:Dark side? (3, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143726)

The bright side is that the people who innovated to make the patents are being compensated for their efforts.

Are they, now? Please show me a list of wealthy inventors, and not just wealthy patent holders.

GP said "the people who innovated to make the patents". That's the clever patent attorneys who made new and clever arguments as to why the invention was worthy of a patent, right? So he should be pointing you to a list of wealthy patent attorneys, not wealthy inventors.

Re:Dark side? (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143776)

Why do you assume compensated means wealthy? Compensated means gainfully employed. I can show you millions.

Re:Dark side? (3, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143906)

Why do you assume compensated means wealthy? Compensated means gainfully employed. I can show you millions.

That's not compensated. It does not adjust proportionally to the value of the inventions. Others are reaping the profits from the inventions.

By your logic, slaves were compensated, because they received room and board.

Here's a list off of the top of my head (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37144200)

Steve Wozniak - Apple Computer.
Kramer? - the dude who invented that two wheeled electric scooter thing that mall cops use. He has a lot of inventions that made him rich.
Raymond Damadian - inventor of the MRI. Kicked GE's teeth in when they tried stealing it from him - thank GOd for Patents otherwise GE would have gotten away with stealing the idea and benefitted for free Ray's years of research and all of his own money he spent developing it.
The inventor of Sky Vodka - serial inventor and his patents allowed him to continue to finance other inventions.

Contrary to what many folks believe around here, patents are quite beneficial to inventors and do in fact promote innovation - real innovation.

Re:Dark side? (5, Insightful)

spikenerd (642677) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143610)

Would you prefer if Google could use other people's innovations without compensating them?

Yes. I am an innovator. To build something truly useful, I must build upon the work of at least twelve others. If I have to pay royalties to them all, there's no way the royalties I collect will ever cover it. But I don't do it for the money. I do it because I am an innovator. I will innovate if I am compensate. I will innovate if I am not compensated. I will innovate even if I have to pay for the privilege of using my own brain. Google has demonstrated that they are (to some extent) of the same stock as me, and I think we'd all make more progress if we could pursue our passion to innovate without fear. If those who only innovate for money abandoned the game, that's okay with me--they are lousy innovators anyway.

Mod parent up (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143764)

Individuals like you give me hope for the future of our species and a strong desire for mod points.

-Rick

Re:Dark side? (1, Insightful)

Wovel (964431) | more than 3 years ago | (#37144110)

Do you spend 100s of millions of dollars on research to formulate new ideas and then bring them to market? Would you be able to afford to do that in a world where everyone freely copied your ideas and took them to market preventing you from ever recovering investment.

Your message sounds nice, how about some concrete examples. Show off some of the inovations you are talking about. Your post is interesting philosophy. It doesn't actually say anything.

Give us 3 examples of the significant contribution to life , technology or even pure research that has come from your innovation. Show us how the 36 people you borrowed from all benefited as well. Note, for your model to work, you may not have any business relationship to an of he people you are working.

Re:Dark side? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143864)

No, innovation happens with or without patents, especially tech patents. Innovation happens when one of two things happen.

A) There is a problem and I want to fix it, so I fix it and then later show/sell my way of fixing it to others who are having the same problem.

B) A company is faced with competition that they can't compete with on cost so they need to make something better.

The thing is with patents is that you have to be so forward thinking in the concepts for any non-troll idea that unless you are a huge corporation and can pay the $$$$ to maintain your patent and protect against potential infringer that most likely by the time it is commercially viable for your idea to come to market, the patents will have expired. As a perfect example, look at the guy who patented the digital media player, who, since his project wasn't commercially viable in the early '80s, wasn't able to raise the money needed to continue work on it and renew his patent application. By the time storage levels had increased so a decent level to make his project viable, the patent had already expired.

Re:Dark side? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143620)

Yes: It gives material for many Slashdot discussions. :-)

Re:Dark side? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37143668)

Of course. For lawyers.

Re:Dark side? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37143788)

The bright side is that it's great (and free!) entertainment.

Re:Dark side? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37143960)

"There is no dark side of the moon, really. Matter of fact it's all dark"

Thats what happens when you patent mathematics. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37143132)

Thats what happens when you patent mathematics.

After all, it is the base of all descriptive sciences, which is all computer science is.

MAD? (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143152)

Mutually Assured Destruction for patent trolls? Yes, please!

Re:MAD? (2)

wren337 (182018) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143224)

Not hardly, since so many patent trolls aren't developing anything. You can't even sue them back for violating your patents, so mutual assured destruction breaks down.

Re:MAD? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37143284)

You can't have mutual destruction of patent trolls. Patent trolls don't make anything - their business is buying patents and suing companies who actually do make something. Until someone patents a business model of buying patents and suing companies, they won't be sued into oblivion.

Contrary to what you might think, companies like Microsoft and Apple and Google and Samsung and whoever else you may or may not like because they're using patents to sue other companies are NOT patent trolls. They actually spend time and money on R they create products; their main source of revenue is not lawsuits. They are not patent trolls, no matter how much you are against their proclivity towards suing other companies for patent infringement.

If you're going to use the term "patent troll", please put some effort into understanding what the term actually means.

Re:MAD? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143874)

Which, at least as far as software patents goes, is meaningless. Software patents shouldn't be permitted... period.

Gee (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143162)

you just now figuring that out, when no one can make tech goodies cause of being sued to oblivion, people dont work to put them together and maintain them

no fucking duh

Re:Gee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37143254)

Sure they do. The only thing is, they do it in countries with saner patent laws...

The Dark side? (0)

lsolano (398432) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143172)

Is there a bright side?

How is it comparable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37143212)

The tech industry has nowhere near the liability of medical companies. Fortunes rise and fall on the performance of a single molecule, and thus it is a closely guarded patent. People put it into their bodies. And unlike electronics manufacturers, it's the pharmaceutical companies' asses on the line if ANYTHING goes wrong, and they get sued by everyone down the line: distributors, shareholders, providers (anything from HMOs to individual doctors) and ultimately the customer.

Never ask a barber if you need a haircut (2)

BBTaeKwonDo (1540945) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143226)

Now there's an arms race in the technology industry, with patents playing the role of ICBMs. "Patents are emerging as a new currency," Alexander I. Poltorak, chief executive of the patent licensing and enforcement firm General Patent, told the New York Times. "I've recently received several calls from financial analysts and bankers who want to know how to value patents and what does it mean."

I think there's a lot of truth to what he's saying, but Mr. Poltorak clearly has a vested interest in a patent war, or at least fear of a patent war.

I'm very surprised that Google would spend so much money on defensive patents for Android. Android can't be generating that much revenue, can it? I thought its selling point was that it was essentially free to carriers. The App Market can't be pulling in that much, can it? I feel like I'm missing something here.

Karma-whoring link to print version of TFA [infoworld.com]

Re:Never ask a barber if you need a haircut (1)

deains (1726012) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143378)

I'm very surprised that Google would spend so much money on defensive patents for Android. Android can't be generating that much revenue, can it? I thought its selling point was that it was essentially free to carriers. The App Market can't be pulling in that much, can it? I feel like I'm missing something here.

Advertising revenue, maybe? Google make their fair share out of developing Android OS, I think.

Re:Never ask a barber if you need a haircut (2)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143594)

I'm very surprised that Google would spend so much money on defensive patents for Android. Android can't be generating that much revenue, can it?

As any drug peddler knows, you need to push the product before you turn the screws.

Re:Never ask a barber if you need a haircut (2)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143782)

"I'm very surprised that Google would spend so much money on defensive patents for Android. Android can't be generating that much revenue, can it?"
I'm not sure that's the issue. I'd be more willing to bet it is more to do with perceived future control of the platform.
Imagine there was no android and that there were no PCs, everything done through tablets, mobile phones, set top boxes games consoles etc. Assume they are all sufficiently well integrated that it would work too. What platform do they run? Their own proprietary OS? Windows? iOS? Either way without android either Apple of Microsoft therefore controls the whole experience. With an open option like Android at least there is room for other to play.
Look at it this way in a future where 99% of people don't own a PC because their tablet/phone/set top box does everything from gaming to web browsing then where is there for Linux? Suddenly your phone comes with Microsoft Mail reader bundled, so you don't install the gmail app. So you use your hotmail address instead of your gmail. So you could go to OpenGames.org,to get a game or you could just look at the games that your Microsoft Apps Market offers you.
Own the Platform and own the Market.

So as Google you have to defend android to give yourself room to move, the best way to defend it is to buy it.
Google already did that, now what? Pour money into it to expand the platform, done that.
If they don't defend Android against patents then it could become an impossible platform to develop for because as Samsung and others are discovering developing for Android gets you sued. So you stop targeting android and sign up for the only other game in town Windows. You're now back to the picture I painted earlier of controlling the Platform to get rid of your competitors. Microsoft is very good at this but as has been discussed before it is almost impossible to make a truly open piece of Android hardware because mobile devices are so varied and by their nature have to be. (see /. article earlier today)

Re:Never ask a barber if you need a haircut (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143802)

I'm very surprised that Google would spend so much money on defensive patents for Android. Android can't be generating that much revenue, can it?

Yes, it can, even if not directly. Consider how important the mobile environment is and the disadvantages Google's profit-making operations aside from Android would be if the mobile space was a virtual iOS monopoly. Google needs Android to stop someone else (the short-term threat would be Apple) monopolizing the mobile space and being able to charge rents to online service providers that want to reach mobile, like Google. It also is, much like Chrome is in the desktop browser space, a lever to move the mobile market, including offerings from other vendors, in a direction that better supports Google's online services (both current and what they'd like to provide in the future.)

Re:Never ask a barber if you need a haircut (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37143844)

I'm very surprised that Google would spend so much money on defensive patents for Android. Android can't be generating that much revenue, can it? I thought its selling point was that it was essentially free to carriers. The App Market can't be pulling in that much, can it? I feel like I'm missing something here.

It's not a matter of how much they're making from Andriod. It's a matter of how much in damages they'd be liable for when they get sued for violating the patents that they could have purchased.

A big part of the patent wars is the acquisition of defensive patents, then once you have all these patents that keep you from getting sued you garner further value from them by going out suing others with your newly acquired 'assets'.

Unlike previous arms races between defense and offense, in the patent arms race the patent is both the big shield and the bigger stick.

Get on it (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37143268)

The only difference is that only a certain percentage of a population of sick people can go somewhere else. This isn't true with regards to tech companies.

Someone very high up in government better start caring about the effects of these trolls before our entire economy consists of cruise ships and booze. Not that this is entirely a bad thing, but I doubt the pay is all that great...

positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (5, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143280)

From a systems perspective the system is designed to requrie a lawyer. And the lawyers are in control of that requirement.
Until negative feedback can be applied somehow this system is just going to keep on requireing more lawyers.

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (-1, Troll)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143396)

I think some .357 Magnum negative feedback is what's called for when lawyers are involved.

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (5, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143482)

I'm a lawyer; are you going to shoot me? If so, are you going to do it to my face or are you going to shoot me in the back? Will you allow me to arm myself first, or will you eliminate your risk by making sure I'm unarmed? If I wrestle the gun away from you, do you think I am justified in shooting you with it? I'm really curious about your philosophy.

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (4, Funny)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143558)

Unnecessarily literal minded, overly argumentative and verbose, completely missing the point, yup, you're a lawyer.

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (2)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143572)

So you're only going to figuratively shoot me with a .357 magnum? What is the .357 magnum a metaphor for?

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37143762)

It's a metaphor for "you're a leech of society and you and your kind should disappear from it". Or you're just trying to justify your carrier choice and kid yourself into thinking that you have an honourable profession ? A bit like calling yourself a "exotic dancer" when you're just a stripper.

Plain and direct enough for you now ?

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143830)

It's a metaphor for "you're a leech of society and you and your kind should disappear from it". Or you're just trying to justify your carrier choice and kid yourself into thinking that you have an honourable profession ?

Possibly trying to trip you into saying something he can sue you over?

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37143880)

Ahh yes .... the old maximum of "everyone is american" and thus bound to the "american" legal system. Nop ... doesn't work that way!

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (0)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143786)

So you're only going to figuratively shoot me with a .357 magnum? What is the .357 magnum a metaphor for?

A Heckler & Koch HK416 semi-automatic rifle might be able to penetrate the selachimorphic skin.

Seriously, have lawyers really no imagination, and lack the ability to understand metaphors, exaggerations and understatements? All the more reason to rid the world of them.

To kill off all lawyers, what you need to do is make in unprofitable to be one. Many of the functions can be taken over by software, and the rest by public servants.

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (1)

Wovel (964431) | more than 3 years ago | (#37144174)

IANAL and I am not sure I understand the metaphor either. It was a very specific threat. First kill all the lawyers is one thing. Describing your means of doing so is going to another, more disturbing, level.

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#37144226)

IANAL and I am not sure I understand the metaphor either. It was a very specific threat. First kill all the lawyers is one thing. Describing your means of doing so is going to another, more disturbing, level.

I wasn't the one who brought up a .357 magnum. I only provided a tongue-in-cheek speculation on what a .357 magnum might be a metaphor for.

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (2)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143868)

"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." is a meme dating back to (at least) Shakespeare. Type "kill all " into Google and "kill all the lawyers" is the FIRST result. Perhaps society at large has felt for hundreds of years (and continues to feel) that your profession is a blight, a pox, a cancer on society. There's a REASON that most politicians tend to be lawyers: because they're snakes by nature.

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37144098)

Owned.

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (5, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 3 years ago | (#37144010)

What is the .357 magnum a metaphor for?

Justice? :)

Look, we're tarring with a single brush, but it really isn't that broad. Fact is, your industry is doing serious damage to our society, and profiting from the damage. That is reasonable cause for some pretty serious backlash.

You may be innocent, you may be one of the good guys. Maybe you are working to fix the problem. Maybe you are not, but you have convinced yourself that being a part of the system does not mean you condone it. Maybe you work in a corner of law that is not quite so seriously screwed up by your kin. If one of those things is the case, and that is enough for you, then relax, we're not talking about you.

If you want us to believe that lawyers, in general, are not worthy of society's scorn, well, simple fact is you are wrong, and it is not going to happen.

If you want us to express fondness for you, despite your profession, then you've got to tell us why you are not part of the problem. Same treatment you would get if you were a congressman or an Abu Ghraib guard.

This is how cultures deal with internal threats that cannot be easily handled through official channels. We ostracize them. You can get special dispensation, but you have to ask for it, and explain why you deserve it.

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37144028)

Really? The .357 is a metaphor for shut the fuck up and find something useful to do with your life. Something that contributes to society, rather than the thing you do that makes it worse. It's easy. Hey, maybe you could go back to college and get an English lit degree. That would be way more beneficial, and, at the same time, you'd be able to understand figurative language!

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37143980)

Well, obviously you're also an American lawyer. If I were to kill you, it would seem an accident, tripped over your feet going down the stairs, fell of drunk from the balcony, accidentally swallowed a fork and knife so on.

No, I don't particularly hate lawyers. I'm actually joking, to kill someone I'd rather use rat poison.

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (1)

NixieBunny (859050) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143658)

There's still time to get a non-lawyer job. Some of us actually invent stuff. I have no use for patents, as they seem to exist solely to give jobs to lawyers, and to induce large corporations to employ large numbers of lawyers.

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (1)

Wovel (964431) | more than 3 years ago | (#37144216)

What have you invented? Please post it here. You are the second inventor on this thread who does not believe in patents. There was also on innovator. Share away, were listening.

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143704)

Fer cryin' out loud - your UID says you've been online long enough to know about this phenomenon [ohinternet.com]

Now all that said? Seriously - your profession does leave a whole hell of a lot to be desired, all things considered. So while I certainly do not condone the GP's proposed action, I can easily understand why he expressed the sentiments.

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143976)

Or perhaps I was, you know, joking, to make a point?

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37143810)

You sound like someone who creates a false argument to mislead a conversation, or maybe you are just frustrated because you are in a line of work people dislike. People make comments like that because there are so many situations where lawyers make things worse. Lawyers, politicians, sales-people: all necessary, but when unchecked, they run amok. There is a small place in society, but they are all motivated in and skilled at making their space larger. Of course, there are good people with no bad intentions in all areas of society, hopefully you are one.

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143912)

You sound like someone who creates a false argument to mislead a conversation

Well yeah, he's a lawyer. Lying is what he does for a living.

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37143898)

No, in the back is fine. At range, so you can't wrestle the gun away. And you should be unarmed. Basically, we want to kill you in the way that Bond villains refuse to kill James Bond: directly, quickly, cleanly.

It's not personal. If life were a game of Nethack, I would use my scroll of genocide on lawyers.

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (2)

trout007 (975317) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143952)

Since you are a lawyer you are already heavily armed. You have the complete police state and the monopoly of the legal use of the instigation of violence at your disposal. What? Did you think people comply with your insane laws and judgements for any other reason?

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37144134)

Don't worry. People will come to their senses once they think it through. Trying to kill lawyers will inevitably lead to a lot of court cases in the aftermath, and that won't help at all. It's kind of like trying to "solve the vulture problem" by "shooting vultures". That just gives them more carcasses to feed on.

So, I'm fully in support of simply handling any and all business without lawyers being involved at all. Starve them into extinction, or at least in order to keep them at a level of involvement on par with a nuisance pest rather than a plague, the latter being where we are rapidly approaching when it comes to software patents in the tech industry.

Look, I sympathize with your chosen profession, and I think it is even an important and honorable one in many if not most circumstances. We need lawyers. But I don't understand why you should be involved so much in society's business and paid SO MUCH more than people who also play critical roles in society, such as garbage men. It's gotten completely out of hand, to the point that more and more of our best and brightest people are going into law "for the money", and we're going to have more lawyers arguing over what should be done, what was done, and who should be compensated than people actually doing and creating things to improve society. The solution to the world's problems is not to write more complicated laws and hiring more lawyers to figure them out. We can't keep piling complicated law and legal concepts ever higher and expect ordinary people to make sense of it and abide by it. There are great accomplishments in law and its implementation over the last couple of centuries, but the legal profession is gradually becoming like a heavy tax on all businesses. At some point I suppose society can collapse and we can all go back to growing our own food and arguing as amateurs rather than hiring professionals. Until then, you're going to find that lawyers often are not very popular among ordinary people because they are the representatives of a problem that practically everybody recognizes and complains about: a world that is becoming TOO litigious when it comes to solving its differences.

Look, nobody's really suggesting we kill lawyers, but don't you ever wonder whether we will ever have enough lawyers involved in every aspect of society and if the cost is becoming a burden rather than a help? If you can admit that there may be a problem there, then I'm sure that people will also admit that they don't really want to hurt you. They just want things to change, because in many people's opinion lawyers are gaining too much control over the way that society is heading, to the point that lawyers are writing the rules and implementing them to their professional favor (i.e. that business *can't* occur without lawyers getting involved at high cost at every step).

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (1)

Groovus (537954) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143414)

While the majority of innovation occurs in locations with sane approaches to the circulation of ideas.

Re:positive feedback increasing number of lawyers (1)

WhiteLudaFan (634444) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143580)

Cost is a negative feedback.

This is what happens. (4, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143282)

This is what happens when businesses and government consider "intellectual property" to be a great base for an economy.

Re:This is what happens. (1)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143404)

This is what happens when LAWYERS put themselves up as middlemen for everything in the economy.

Re:This is what happens. (1)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 3 years ago | (#37144142)

This is what happens when businesses and government consider "intellectual property" to be a great base for an economy.

Why wouldn't they think that? Seems like there's a lot of people making a lot of money in litigation.

WOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37143296)

Who would have thought of that!!!!!111eins

*facepalm*

Fix your patent system (1)

oobayly (1056050) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143330)

Seriously guys, it's starting to contaminate the rest of the world.

Re:Fix your patent system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37143448)

As the U.S. starts to lose it's grip, I think it's more likely we'll strangle ourselves and be ignored as we bitch about how everyone is violating our patents. China seems to have already figured this out.

Re:Fix your patent system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37143488)

There is no starting about it.

There is no dark side of the tech patent wars... (1)

hyp3rhippo (2224914) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143342)

Its all dark.

Surprisee surpriseee (4, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143360)

No different than feudalism. Most of the lords' resources and time were being spent on undoing other lords or defending their rights. And people got shafted during the process.

Patents are no different than intellectual feudalism. Claim a piece of land, and you can just suck blood off of anyone who enters on it to do anything on it by extorting money.

patent holders are the lords, and lawyers are their enforcers. all hail new intellectual feudal overlords.

Re:Surprisee surpriseee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37143908)

I for one do not welcome our new intellectual feudal overlords.

No that can't be right (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143382)

Patents are supposed to foster and support innovation. Everybody knows that.

Re:No that can't be right (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143576)

Patients can and do support innovation. The thing is that like everything else they can abused and some patients should never have been awarded.
Software and process patients didn't exist for the a long time. That changed in the 1990s and that is when things got nuts. Before then you used copyright to protect software which to me is logical.
You can look at software patients from two sides.
Take VisiCalc for instance. It was the first spreadsheet for microcomputers and some say the first at all. Had their been software patients VisiCorp would still be around and it would be huge. The down side is that we wouldn't have Excel. Would VisiCorp kept improving their product if no one else could have made a spreadsheet? Actually they might have. They could have also just offered licenses for a reasonable amount. Maybe 3%. If so they would have collected $15 from every Lotus 123 sale and goodness knows how much from other software makers. I am sure that the author of Visicalc would have been very happy to have had patient protection.
While I am anti patients I will say I can see why some would really like them and it isn't just all mega corps.

Re:No that can't be right (2)

trout007 (975317) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143972)

You are confusing your magical utopia where everything works perfectly according to you and the real world.

yes but no one proposes (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143420)

to use atomics here, its punishable by planetary annihilation. Besides, theres the spice melange to consider, and so long as the houses remain to gather it in service to CHOAM...

what...theres a good parallel here.

Re:yes but no one proposes (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143774)

The patents must flow....

To hell with the war on Terror (-1, Offtopic)

AlphaLop (930759) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143456)

How about a war on Lawyers? Worst case scenario we thin their numbers a bit and improve the overall health of the legal system. They have officially overpopulated the halls of justice. Just like areas with too many Deer, we removed their natural predator (common sense and decency in the case of lawyers) and now they are running amok causing undue problems. Rabbit Season, Duck Season, Lawyer Season... I for one would be first in line for my tag. It's not like they are an endangered species and their departure would surely only help the social and economic "Food Chain". And think, once we thin their numbers a bit we may actually be able to get some meaningful Tort reform passed without their special interest groups constantly blocking it. Just my two cents, or no sense... Not sure which.

Re:To hell with the war on Terror (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143574)

(common sense and decency in the case of lawyers)

Now that's an even better oxymoron than military intelligence and Microsoft Works.

Re:To hell with the war on Terror (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143758)

...wouldn't it be easier to simply bar them from ever becoming an elected official of any kind outside of the judiciary branch (for federal, state, local, etc)?

Re:To hell with the war on Terror (2)

arpad9 (814055) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143860)

I suggest the movie, "Hot Coffee." The Tort Reform Bush/Rove talking point should be recognized and citizens shouldn't be eager to give up their defensive options.

Overreacting (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143468)

Look, just because one of the world's most powerful companies tried to create new mobile products, and wound up having to pay $12.5 billion to be allowed the privilege is no reason to overreact. You see, $12.5 billion barriers to entry are good for innovation. Massive government fiat barriers to entry encourage entrenched incumbency, and entrenched incumbents are very inventive. Just look at the iPod and iPhone. Both of those devices are being produced by a company that is now the entrenched incumbent in the space, so it must have been an entrenched incumbent that invented them. Q.E.D.

Patents vs. India. (2)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143544)

"Bill Snyder warns that the tech patent wars are going nuclear, and could vaporize tech jobs in the process.

Uh, "could" vaporize? Outsourcing has likely vaporized far more US tech jobs than any patent ever will.

Also (1)

carrier lost (222597) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143596)

...forcing companies to spend ever more money on patents and lawyers

Not to mention the amount spent on lobbyists and politicians to NOT fix the problem.

Lawyers, MBAs and Marketing People (2)

methano (519830) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143604)

The USA is run by lawyers, MBAs and marketing people. The fix we're in is exactly what you would expect, given who is in charge. From now on, I'm only voting for scientists and engineers. Liberal ones only, of course.

Re:Lawyers, MBAs and Marketing People (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37143688)

Where are you getting the MBAs and marketing people? I don't see those types elected or employed by the US government.

most of the patents are in consortiums (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143618)

this is how everyone makes blu ray players or apple breaks into the cell phone market. you pool your patents into a consortium, cross license and for every device you sell you pay a fee back into the consortium that gets paid to all the members. just like the wifi consortium

a lot of these lawsuits have nothing to do with networking but with things like memory management and camera software. if apple or HTC doesn't want to pay kodak they should just write their own algorithms

Re:most of the patents are in consortiums (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143882)

if apple or HTC doesn't want to pay kodak they should just write their own algorithms

So what happens when they do write their own algorithm and then some troll climbs out from under the bridge and says 'no, that's no good, I patented adding numbers together on a computer, you owe me a bazillion dollars'?

malpractice objectivity questioned (2)

arpad9 (814055) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143734)

To be clear, take it for what it's worth but the malpractice data is sourced from Stanford which relies on opinions and research from the Hoover Institution (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoover_Institution) a Conservative and Libertarian think tank. If ideology filled rhetoric is to be propagated, it should at least be identified. Similarly, I feel that Bill Snyder is tainting his perspective with a Conservative anti-small business, pro-corporate ideology. Patent law exists to protect smaller businesses from larger ones (not to empower patent trolls) and mergers and layoffs happen irrespective of patent holdings for the enrichment of the top tier of financiers.

Defensive medicine / patents (1)

Tony Isaac (1301187) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143792)

If medical malpractice insurance is the author's example of Armageddon, then things could certainly be worse.

According to mymedicalmalpracticeinsurance.com [mymedicalm...urance.com] , malpractice liability insurance for a general surgeon in Texas is in the neighborhood of $50-60K per year. That is a very small percentage of the total income from all of the surgeries done by that surgeon. Other types of physicians have different rates, but they all amount to a similar small percentage compared to the total fees for services rendered. The cost of malpractice insurance cannot by itself be blamed for the high cost of medicine.

The patent wars ARE a problem, and the patent system DOES need an overhaul (as does the medical malpractice system). But it's nowhere near approaching catastrophe or forcing mass layoffs of programmers.

Where's Florian Müller? (1)

munozdj (1787326) | more than 3 years ago | (#37143998)

It's so common to find him in patent-related articles that I'm starting to miss him... What's happened to you, /., a sudden change of mind?

He's just now figuring this out??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37144032)

"Bill Snyder warns that the tech patent wars are going nuclear, and could vaporize tech jobs in the process."

Not terribly on the ball if he is just now figuring this out...

How is this a prediction? (1)

bickle (101226) | more than 3 years ago | (#37144196)

Wow, what a visionary. Other predictions include: the world economy may start to show signs of weakness,the Middle East will become an area of political unrest, and computers will become commonplace.

These and other predictions can be found in 'The Big Book of Things That Are Already Happening'.

This might have been noteworthy years ago, but this is pretty commonplace in the here and now.

"Intellectual Property" is an oxymoron (2)

trout007 (975317) | more than 3 years ago | (#37144212)

The whole concept of property is the ownership of a particular scarce resource such as land or object. The main word is scarce. It is something that your use precludes me using it. If you eat my cake I can't eat it. If you build a something on my land I can't build in it's place.

Ideas are not scarce. In fact they are the exact opposite. Ideas can be copied infinitely without destroying any copies.

The phrase "Intellectual Property" is an attempt to claim an idea is property which it can never be.

You have to recognize patents for what the are. Government granted monopolies on ideas. They should be eliminated. Great ideas have a natural monopoly based on how much of a technological leap they are because it takes the competition time and money to catch up.

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