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Evaluating Patent Troll Myths

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the wooden-stakes-still-work-but-they-like-garlic dept.

Patents 167

An anonymous reader writes "In a guest post on the Patently-O blog, Villanova University professor Michael Risch summarizes his detailed study into the methods and efficacy of patent trolls. He writes, 'It turns out that most of what I thought about trolls — good or bad — was wrong.... Perhaps the biggest surprise in the study was the provenance of patents. I thought most patents came from failed startups. While such patents were represented (about 14% of initial assignees were defunct), most came from companies still in business in 2010. Indeed, more than a third of the initial assignees were publicly traded, a subsidiary of a public company, or venture capital recipients. Only 21% were patent assertion entities at the time the patent issued, and many of those were inventor owned companies (like Katz) rather than acquisition entities (like Acacia). ... Another area of surprise was patent quality. While trolls almost never won their cases if they went to judgment (only three cases led to an infringement finding on the merits), the percentage of patents invalidated on the merits was lower than I expected.'"

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The patent system is fcked up and going get worse! (5, Informative)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311632)

Very few patents are for actual original innovations that warrant a 21 year monopoly. Let me give you an example .. the concept of a magnetic breakaway safety mechanism for power cords was invented in the 1990's for deep fryers (though it may actually have a longer history than that). In the early 2000s, Apple got a patent for the same concept when applied to electronic devices. Now surely does Apple deserve a 21 year monopoly for copying an idea that someone else came up with .. just because they added the word "electronics devices" ?

OK, now there's that .. now here is something scarier .. the America Invents Act .. which is very shortly due to become law (its in the reconciliation process). The new law redefines what an inventor is (in order to get around the US Constitution which says only inventors can have patents) .. by defining inventor to be anyong who independently comes up with an idea. So that means that if you come with an idea before me, and can even prove it .. say you posted in online (somewhere which doesn't count as printed publication) .. I can still get the patent for your idea .. as long as I 1) File for the and pay the patent fee first and 2) state that I came up with the idea independently (though after you).

Not only that think about all the stuff out there that has not been patented .. for example .. In computer science .. the Bubble sort (to be honest I am not sure if it's patented .. but there are other algorithms out there of equal value that haven't) .. today maybe many apps on mobile phones may be implementing bubble sort in mobile phones applications .. but nobody got the patent on it .. I can file for a patent on "using the bubble sort patent in a mobile phone app" .. similarly I can go through all the computer science books and start patenting all the various algorithms by appending "on a mobile device" to it. The pay off will be huge and it will all be legal. Heck maybe I can patent the Bubble sort itself .. by claiming that I independently came up with it!

Of course, I sound ridiculous right ? How could they really be making such a dumb law? And why (it's to take away the burden from the patent office for having to google for prior art because a lot of patents were being overturned in lawsuits when it turned out that a simple google search would have brought up prior art .. thus humiliating the patent office).

Anyway .. dont believe me .. read it and weep:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America_Invents_Act [wikipedia.org]

Interesting results (2)

Mensa Babe (675349) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311670)

I wouldn't call the results of this study so surprising as the Slashdot story describes. The biggest and most destructive patent exploitations that I remember were all done by big and formerly respectable companies, from Unisys and the Santa Cruz Operation in the old days to Apple today. Of course most of the patents were just stupid - I mean gif [slashdot.org] ? Linux [slashdot.org] ? Rectangle [slashdot.org] ? Come on! Don't even remind me the "click" or "exclusive or" patents. But the harm to the industry is big in my opinion and the much more important conclusion that can be drawn from this research is not who is doing the harm, but to whom the harm is done, and for what reason. We have to answer one question: Do the patent system still stimulate innovation? Because if it doesn't then it is useless and should remain a relict of the past that may have been needed at some point but would never be used again, like slavery.

Re:Interesting results (2)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311724)

I live in Santa Cruz. By the time SCO was patent trolling, it had been sold a few times, was renamed SCO (with the letters no longer being an acronym), and was living in Utah.

Re:Interesting results (1)

thePuck77 (1311533) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311930)

Agreed. I'm from Santa Cruz (live in the Bay Area now). Don't blame us.

Defining publication (5, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311732)

say you posted in online (somewhere which doesn't count as printed publication)

This appears to be the key to the whole change. If a work is made available for download and gets downloaded, then it's certainly "distribution of copies to the general public with the consent of the author" at least under copyright law. I'd like to see a reliable citation stating that publication of a work under copyright law does not constitute publication of the machine or process described in the work under patent law.

Heck maybe I can patent the Bubble sort itself .. by claiming that I independently came up with it!

As I understand it, a change to "first to file" doesn't change novelty or obviousness, only interference: who gets the patent if two people file an application at nearly the same time.

Anyway .. dont believe me .. read it and weep

Reexamination of an issued patent is expanded greatly, and the period for filing third-party prior art that might threaten a patent application's novelty has been extended from two to six months.

Re:Defining publication (2)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311786)

First off, there is an easy way to deal with patent interference .. that is .. don't grant the patent to either party. If there is a patent interference that means the idea itself may not be brilliant .. so why does someone deserve a 21 year monopoly on it?

Also, no .. this is not to help the USPTO in interference cases .. that's the claim .. but it's not true .. there are very very few interference cases a year. Think about it, they are knowingly redefining the term "inventor" .. I could understand (sort of) .. if the law said they shall not consider unpublished material as proof of invention time .. but instead .. they are trying to push the notion that a person who independently comes up with an idea is also an "inventor" of something done before him and therefore eligible for patent rights. Do you realize how dangerous that is? You don't think corporations and high powered attorneys can't use that?

You tell me, if you come up with the wheel independently .. are you the inventor of it .. simply because nobody before you patented it? Now granted wheel is a bad example since every human has seen one .. but there are many examples in computer science of algorithms that you may come up with that someone may have discovered before you and may or may not even be in wide usage without being patented (say it's in a lib file). If you happen to come up with it independently, you deserve a 20 year monopoly?

Re:Defining publication (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311852)

First off, there is an easy way to deal with patent interference .. that is .. don't grant the patent to either party. If there is a patent interference that means the idea itself may not be brilliant .. so why does someone deserve a 21 year monopoly on it?

Doesn't even matter if it's brilliant or not. If two people independently file for the same patent around the same time, surely both should fail because it was an obvious invention?

Re:Defining publication (2)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311954)

So if two people out of 7 billion+ come up with something, it's obvious?

Re:Defining publication (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312110)

Yes.

Re:Defining publication (3, Insightful)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312224)

Moot.

Such questions are hard, bad, and pointless. Even if we could do so, there is no real value in coming up with the exact number we should use for making an arbitrary distinction about an invention's obviousness. It's bad because as well as implying all kinds of things, it frames the debate in a useless way. We want to encourage invention, not enrich lawyers.

We can change the system so that answers to questions like that are not important.

Re:Defining publication (5, Interesting)

mellon (7048) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312362)

I don't know who this "we" is to whom you are referring, but I do NOT want to encourage invention. Invention happens whether it's encouraged or not. There is no need to "encourage invention." This is the problem with the patent system: it solves a problem that doesn't exist, at extraordinary expense.

Re:Defining publication (2)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312602)

The point of patents, from what I understand, was to encourage documenting the concept and getting something in return, instead of hiding the workings and depriving people from that knowledge. It also provided the chance to recover and benefit from effort that led to the invention. Lack of patents won't stop people inventing, but it may stop people from inventing and may facility ripping off of true inventions in domains where progress is slow and expensive.

Research in software is rarely slow or expensive.

Re:Defining publication (2)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312482)

No, he's exactly correct. It's not patent-worthy if people independently invented it in multiple places at the same time. That's just a common combination of existing technology. That is actually part of the intent as far as patents go, that neither should be able to patent this. It's part of the "machine transformation" stuff, etc.

Meanwhile, it'll never be possible to prevent the first to file problem this way because things like this would slip past oversight from the patent office continually. The real problem is the ease at which patents are being obtained, not the "how do we fix after the fact?"

Re:Defining publication (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 3 years ago | (#37313648)

So if two people who can afford and actually file a patent out of a few thousand of 7 billion+ come up with something, it's obvious?

There, fixed that for you. A patent filer is not by definition an inventor. not in the least.

It's not 7 billion (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312136)

For one thing, foreign countries don't recognize United States patents nor vice versa. Patents are not like copyrights, which automatically apply worldwide. For another, not everybody works in the same "art", or specialty. If only about 2,000 people are skilled in a given art, and two of them come up with substantially the same invention as a solution to the same problem, then perhaps the prior art did anticipate the solution.

Re:It's not 7 billion (2)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312266)

Sadly, not true. There are many patent treaties, although this is not universal both in terms of types of patents, or their term. Whether or not they're enforced with the same vehemence is another story for another time.

Re:Defining publication (1)

ATMAvatar (648864) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312668)

If you filter the set down to two people (or more likely, two teams of people) amongst those who specialize in the same field at the same time looking for the solution to the same problem reduces the number ever so slightly from 7 billion people.

Filtering it down that far, there's a decent possibility that in some cases of interference, those two teams may represent every team looking to solve that particular problem at that time.

Re:Defining publication (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37313234)

That's quite possible. The US has over 900,000 software engineers I read somewhere. If only the most brilliant 1% of them, 9,000 people, are likely to invent a certain solution to a certain problem, perhaps only one or a few are the first to be confronted with that problem. And perhaps it is related to a development that happens in the US slightly sooner than in other parts of the world. But there still are 9,000 people that would likely do the invention when they had to solve that specific problem. It would become available to society without patent protection. With patent protection the majority of people that eventually solves the problem is at risk of finding out they aren't allowed to use their own results without paying someone else for it.

Ordinary skill in the art is not the right criterium when there are many people who practice the art.

Redefining inventor along the lines of author (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312154)

It sounds like a redefinition of "inventor" in patent law along the lines of "author" in copyright law. The copyright and patent clause of the Constitution gives Congress the power to award copyrights and patents using parallel language [wikipedia.org] : "science and useful arts", "authors and inventors", "writings and discoveries". If one can independently be an "author", then one can independently be an "inventor" without raising a constitutional problem.

You tell me, if you come up with the wheel independently .. are you the inventor of it .. simply because nobody before you patented it?

Under a redefinition of inventor in parallel with author, then yes, I would be an inventor. Notice that I dropped "the inventor" in favor of "an inventor". Not all inventors would be entitled to a patent. Reinventors of something in published prior art, for example, would be ineligible on novelty grounds.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (2, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311744)

Let me give you an example .. the concept of a magnetic breakaway safety mechanism for power cords was invented in the 1990's for deep fryers (though it may actually have a longer history than that). In the early 2000s, Apple got a patent for the same concept when applied to electronic devices.

The key word here is "concept."

The patent is not for the idea.

The patent is for the device or the machine or the process.

The solution that works for the deep fryer is not necessarily the right solution or the best solution for every superficially similiar problem.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (4, Insightful)

greenbird (859670) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311804)

The solution that works for the deep fryer is not necessarily the right solution or the best solution for every superficially similiar problem.

I think his point was that simple making minor changes to adapt something for a slightly different use case doesn't justify getting a 21 year monopoly.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (2)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311820)

The solution that works for the deep fryer is not necessarily the right solution or the best solution for every superficially similiar problem.

But in this case it is, they've taken that idea and applied to another kind of appliance, how does that deserve patent protection?

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311938)

It depends upon how different the implementation is. I could, for example, come up with two different implementations of the magnetic breakaway plug that are unlikely to violate Apple's patent. (The caveat being that they would be much more expensive to produce.)

Now I'm not saying that Apple deserves a 20 year monopoly on their implementation, but I do think it is overly easy to over generalize a patent into an idea then dismiss that patent on the merits of the idea rather than dismissing the patent on the merits of the patent. (By that I mean, ideas are more general than patents thus are easier to demonize.)

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312028)

It depends upon how different the implementation is.

So in this case for example, what is the innovative part? What's the thing that should be protected?

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

Taty'sEyes (2373326) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312142)

Well, the innovative part is the breakaway plug to protect an electronic device. It's like this: I'm having trouble getting my shoes on in the morning. Man, I need a shoehorn. So I buy one, but I notice that it could be better if it were made of a material that has low resistance to cloth (my sock).

Hey, what if I made it out of teflon?

Shoehorn - patented
Teflon - lots of patents
shoehorn made out of teflon - priceless

Guess what, I get the patent because both prior patents did not use specify their usage in shoehorns.

This is one reason you read a patent and it is very vague. That way is covers the most topics. Or you'll read a patent and it'll list a million ways it can be used.

Just the way it it.

I do disagree with the way they want to change it though.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (2)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312228)

Well, the innovative part is the breakaway plug to protect an electronic device.

But breakaway magnetic plugs already existed to protect appliances so what's the invention? What is new that didn't exist before? The thing that deserves to be protected by patent law?
The only thing i can see is that they've used it on a laptop, that's not an invention.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

Taty'sEyes (2373326) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312392)

Taking an idea and applying it to another industry IS patentable.

It may not stand a court challenge - it may be ruled "obvious", but this is how it works.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312432)

Taking an idea and applying it to another industry IS patentable. It may not stand a court challenge - it may be ruled "obvious", but this is how it works.

Well that's my point, there doesn't actually appear to be any invention so such things shouldn't be patentable. I understand that's currently the way it is but i suppose that's how messed up the system is.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312644)

Reading the actual MagSafe patent [uspto.gov] and the fryer patent [uspto.gov] , I find that it's not so much anything that didn't exist before, but rather the removal of an unnecessary feature (a heat-conducting probe) that separates the two inventions. Note that the fryer patent is the third item of prior art in the MagSafe patent.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37312296)

Shoehorn - patented
Teflon - lots of patents
shoehorn made out of teflon - priceless
Guess what, I get the patent because both prior patents did not use specify their usage in shoehorns.

wow, your idea of the patent system is actually more fucked up than the patent system actually is. you can't just take an existing patented invention, make it out of something else and then patent that.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312414)

You can if the original patents specifically exclude the new material. If the original inventor thought that the material was important enough that no other material would do, the original material would be included in the patent claims. Going off the shoehorn example, the original patent would have to include some requirement that the shoehorn be made from, for example, polished wood, to meet some need for flexibility and friction. A flexible plastic shoehorn won't meet the requirements of such a claim, so it could be patented.

Since patents are public sources and assumed to be visible to everyone, it is likely to affect the test for obviousness, of course, so it's not very likely that you will get a patent on "X made from Y", but you can.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312806)

That shoehorn example .. there is a simple way to test if your idea deserves a patent (20 year monopoly).

The patent judge should ponder these questions:

1. How long have shoehorns been around? decades?
2. How long has teflon been around? decades?
3. Also, has anyone previously thought of expressly making the shoehorn out of a material that reduces the slippage against socks? (you cannot get a patent by simply changing the material presumably unless there is a novel functional purpose of it)

If shoehorns and teflon have been around for a long time .. but nobody thought of putting them together .. then we can safely say your idea is novel & non-obvious. But if shoehorns or teflon were only invented a year or two ago .. then your idea is probably not that novel .. maybe it's like someone trying to patent the idea of GPS in flying cars right after the flying car gets invented.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 3 years ago | (#37313630)

If shoehorns and teflon have been around for a long time .. but nobody thought of putting them together .. then we can safely say your idea is novel & non-obvious.

Or that until recently, teflon was prohibitively expensive for a simple shoehorn. Diamond-tipped garden spades are obviously a good idea too. I probably won't bother patenting them though...

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37313006)

Indeed - in the real world an ordinary engineer can modify an existing design quite a lot in order to better fit the intended use, without requiring any huge R&D expenditure. Regardless, the patent office is happy to grant patents to modifications of existing technology to new uses, as long as there is no publication that "anticipates" such a use.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311838)

"The solution that works for the deep fryer is not necessarily the right solution or the best solution for every superficially similiar problem."

But it IS the same idea -- Apple's patent is broad so you can't even change the connector shape etc. They nicely got a broad patent on any electronic device that uses the concept of a magnetic breakaway power cord. You are telling me that Apple deserves a 21 year monopoly for being the first to apply the idea to protecting laptops instead of fryers? Nobody else would have thought of using a magnetic breakaway on laptops within 20 years (btw once you get that idea the implementation is obvious easy for anyone skilled in the art .. its just a connector with a magnet in it!).

It's nothing magical beyond what if you went up to any connector designer and said simply "hey I need a magnetic connector for my laptop power cord" .. it's something anyone can make.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (3)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311918)

What this also means is that whenever a new type of device comes out ... trolls can rush to the patent office to try to patent everything under the sun "when applied to a XYZ device" .. If someone invents a flying car .. the first person to rush to the patent office and file a patent for "GPS device in a flying car" will get the patent. "Door on flying car" ..patent granted. "Bubble sort algorithm used in a computer system in a flying car" .. patent granted.

Or even today they can scour the patent office for software patents and just apply the words "tablet device" or "mobile device" to it since many things don't have device specific patents even today. Hello riches.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312268)

... trolls can rush to the patent office to try to patent everything under the sun "when applied to a XYZ device"

Yup. For instance Acacia, one of the scummiest patent trolls, did not invent HTML or CDROMs. But they have a patent for "HTML on a CDROM". It was issued in 1994, so should still be valid. They have threatened to sue numerous companies, including mine. I didn't reply to their threatening letter, and got a more threatening letter a few weeks later. I didn't reply to that one either, and never heard from them again.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (2)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312468)

    If I recall correctly, that was the same company that tried to sue my company for something like 25% to 50% of their gross income. The had a stack of patents which basically covered any transmission of digital audio and/or video. So effectively the patent covered telephones, cable TV, satellite TV, and of course all those pesky Internet companies. Just think, they could nail every Geocities site that had the damned dancing baby, or some crappy song embedded on their home page. Too bad they picked the wrong targets.

    They hit the company I worked for. My company hit back, along with a bunch of other ones.

    [looking around] Yup, it was them. [forbes.com]

    I wasn't following it too closely. Our lawyers got into it, teamed up with the lawyers for several other companies, and tore them a new one. I heard the occasional mention of it, but after the first week they were just a nuisance that would eventually be laughed out of court. I didn't follow it too closely. It was a few months later that they started making the news (like that Forbes story).

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

Zadaz (950521) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312992)

The other day I noticed Microsoft had a patent on creating a table in a word precessing document using "keystrokes on a keyboard".

But thankfully I'm making a text editor and not a word processor, so I can still use a keyboard shortcut to create a table. Yes! The system works! Let me call my intellectual property attorneys!

(I'm to lazy to cite the number, but it was issued in 2010, so it patent number 8 million something if you want to look it up.)

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

sribe (304414) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312118)

But it IS the same idea -- Apple's patent is broad so you can't even change the connector shape etc

Is it really? What's your source?

It's nothing magical beyond what if you went up to any connector designer and said simply "hey I need a magnetic connector for my laptop power cord" .. it's something anyone can make.

Same 2 questions...

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (3, Insightful)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312320)

Is it really? What's your source?

It doesn't matter if he has nothing. What matters is that people believe the patent system covers ideas. Chilling Effects. This believe is so pervasive now that patents in effect do cover ideas. We have software patents and business method patents. Even if technically Apple has no grounds to stand on, they can still credibly threaten to sue, because they might win. Could a jury of average people make such a fine distinction as that between an idea and an implementation of an idea, with the lawyers doing their utmost to cast the issue in very different ways? Besides, they aren't really interested in a win, they'd rather it not actually go to trial at all. This is blackmail, not a serious and righteous reaction to a real injustice, and the punishment is not a loss in a court case which is of course uncertain, but the guarantee that a trial will cause expenses and delays no matter what the outcome.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

andydread (758754) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312276)

So if I invent something new that used a wheel I can get a 21 year monopoly on the wheel? how the hell does that work? ...confused.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (5, Insightful)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311758)

What you are referring to is the first-to-file system for patent priority. It is the norm for the rest of the world. America is the outlier and the AIA is meant to normalize our intellectual property laws with the rest of the (Western) world.

First-to-file makes sense when you consider the policy goals of a patent system, which is to encourage disclosure of new ideas in return for a (not so) limited monopoly. The current system of giving the patent to the first-to-invent encourages submarine patents and other ambush tactics. It also costs ridiculous amounts of money proving when something was patented. (You wouldn't believe how many inventors claim to have written the idea up on the back of a napkin that they wish they kept.)

Moving to first to file makes determining priority a lot easier. Who filed first? Let's check the USPTO website. Bang. So this system forces people to patent ideas as soon as possible after they invent it.

The AIA also (and very significantly) allows the USPTO to keep the revenue it generates on fees. Currently, the fees paid to the USPTO are taken by the government for general funds.That lowers the quality of patents issued because examiners are paid less, worked more, and encouraged to generate more fees by granting more patents and encouraging more applications.

Finally, the new law would make it easier for patents to be challenged by third parties in USPTO proceedings. For instance, Groklaw could submit prior art to knock out SCO's claims. That's a huge change.

These changes will make the patent system clearer and hopefully will increase the quality of the patents issued.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311860)

"(You wouldn't believe how many inventors claim to have written the idea up on the back of a napkin that they wish they kept.)"

Actually the USPTO themselves said it was not that many. How can ambush tactics work, how would you know what the other guy invented until after he files a patent or publishes it? Patent interference should be dealt with simply .. if two people invented the idea before the idea was publicly disclosed, that means it's an obvious idea. Patent Denied to BOTH parties.

After idea publication, if someone claims they wrote an idea on a napkin before someone else, but can't prove the date .. Patent Denied .. thanks for the fee.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

murpup (576529) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312064)

The problem with killing the idea entirely if two people happen to file close together is this:

Independent Inventor Guy invents the next "new big thing" in his industry. He files for patent. He then goes to Big Corporation to show his idea and get them to license his idea and market it. Big Corporation looks at the idea and thinks to itself "Wow, this truly is revolutionary!...... But the license fees are going to make it not profitable for us to incorporate into our product line". So Big Corporation tells Independent Inventory Guy, "Sorry, we don't see any future in your idea". Big Corporation then files for a patent on the same idea (perhaps even after conducting a little corporate espionage), thus causing the patent to become invalidated entirely. Big Corporation is now free to use Independent Inventor Guy's idea for free in its products.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37312206)

In what way is trying to license the idea before the patent has been granted not fraud?
What if the patent isn't granted on other grounds? In that case the "Inventor Guy" is just patent trolling with patents he doesn't have.
He can't do anything else but use the idea himself until the patent has been granted anyway.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312448)

He wouldn't be licensing a patented invention. He'd be licensing a "patent pending" invention, with the license likely continuing once the patent is granted.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312220)

First off, that's not true .. all the inventor has to do is to show proof that he showed the corporation his invention (this is standard .. he'll have an NDA).

Anyway, under the new law .. the Big Corporation will not only get to use Independent Inventor Guy's invention for free but they would be able to prevent Independent Inventor Guy from even making and selling his OWN invention.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312400)

Fraud before USPTO, etc., etc.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37312246)

Unless the patent is on something totally unrelated to what the industry is the Inventor Guy already lost their rights to the patent in favor of the company. It is very common that when you start work at a company you have to sign away the rights to anything patentable that you come up with while working there. You probably get to keep the snazy plack and your name is probably on the record, but you generally don't get the rights to it.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312906)

While true, Inventor Guy was not necessarily going to work for them, only sell them the tech.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37312886)

Newton and Leibnitz independently developed calculus, yet it was certainly not obvious. Simultaneous independent development != obvious. I know, I know: calculus is not patentable, not relevant, etc.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (2)

meburke (736645) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311992)

The so-called "invention" on the back of the napkin shouldn't be worth the paper it's drawn on. (An exception might be a circuit drawn with conductive ink and pasted components.) It should be the first working model that gets evaluated for a patent. Ideas should not be patent-worthy.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

ooshna (1654125) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312778)

People can have great ideas and figure out how to implement them on paper but might not have the funds of a big corporation to create a working model. Thus those with deep pockets would be the only ones able to file for patents.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

djmurdoch (306849) | more than 3 years ago | (#37313172)

The AIA also (and very significantly) allows the USPTO to keep the revenue it generates on fees. Currently, the fees paid to the USPTO are taken by the government for general funds.That lowers the quality of patents issued because examiners are paid less, worked more, and encouraged to generate more fees by granting more patents and encouraging more applications.

This paragraph doesn't make sense to me. I think it says the current system lowers the quality, but I can't see how a change in where the fees go would change that. Currently if an examiner grants more patents it makes no difference to the funding for the USPTO, so how does it encourage more grants? If examiners were paid according to how many they examined (as could happen if the USPTO budget was determined by examination fees), wouldn't that encourage quick shoddy examinations?

So (-1, Offtopic)

lochero (2454540) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311850)

I believe what you had said luxury shower curtains [luxuryshow...rtains.com]

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37311902)

Of course what it means is that us poor fucks will "invent" stuff that seems obvious to us just farting around tinkering with stuff. Lets not even mention that most of us could not afford the thousands of dollars in fees and legal research required to file for every actual invention, much less every little obvious incremental advance these guys are going to get. The money will sniff them out and buy patents based on our inventions. And, then, should any of us get uppity and actually try to make money off of something we made, get ready for that big legal ass-whooping. Situation Normal, enjoy the continued brain-drain. Cheers!

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (2)

Jimbookis (517778) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311964)

Very few patents are for actual original innovations that warrant a 21 year monopoly. Let me give you an example

No let *ME* give you an example. I bought an Aten UC-232A (which BTW gives me BSoD in Win7 when lots of data comes through) USB serial converter. It has patent D436924 attached to it. The claim, I kid you not is "The ornamental design for computer cord connector, as shown and described." Really?! They can spend money on patents for the molding shape of the connector but not on non-flaky drivers. .

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37312056)

No let *ME* give you an example. I bought an Aten UC-232A (which BTW gives me BSoD in Win7 when lots of data comes through) USB serial converter. It has patent D436924 attached to it. The claim, I kid you not is "The ornamental design for computer cord connector, as shown and described." Really?! They can spend money on patents for the molding shape of the connector but not on non-flaky drivers. .

You do realize that's a DESIGN patent, not a utility patent. There are significant differences between the two.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

Jimbookis (517778) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312218)

Doh! Well, the HTML standard needs a FACEPLANT tag now, doesn't it? I am now schooled.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1, Interesting)

psxndc (105904) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312170)

Very few patents are for actual original innovations that warrant a 21 year monopoly.

Wow, wrong fact right in the first sentence. All credibility: gone.

You don't get a 21 year monopoly, or even a "20 year monopoly" which is what you were probably thinking of. You get a monopoly that lasts between patent issuance and the end of a 20 year period starting from the earliest claimed priority date, plus any patent term adjustment (assuming the patent was filed after 1995; pre-1995 is a little different).

So you're wrong right out of the gate, then, yup, a bunch of anti-patent blathering. And modded up as informative. Good to see /. never changes.

"patent term adjustment" (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312248)

How long might a typical "patent term adjustment" last? And does Congress or the USPTO have the power to grant multiple successive "adjustments" in the same way that Congress has extended the copyright term?

Re:"patent term adjustment" (1)

psxndc (105904) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312278)

It's determined by how long the patent application took to get through the patent office, minus any delay caused by the applicant. That is a very short answer, there's actually a whole equation for it.

Typically it's not that long though. Most I see are on the order of a hundred days or so. For EE stuff it doesn't really matter, but for pharma patents, each days of exclusivity is millions of dollars in revenue.

You didn't challenge his core claim (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37312790)

That very few patents are for actual inventions to the original inventors.

Which is patently obvious, and has even been shown to be comically obvious when people successfully patent the wheel.

Tell me, if they received a 20 year patent for something they didn't invent instead of 21, does that fix it? Or is it insignificant detail that does not affect the main point.

Tell me, does the 1995 subrule make it different? Or is it insignificant detail intended to portray you as an expert whose opinion should be deferred to without challenge?

Patents need to be fixed, it's beyond comedy now.

Re:You didn't challenge his core claim (1)

psxndc (105904) | more than 3 years ago | (#37313114)

That very few patents are for actual inventions to the original inventors.

Cite please? Most inventions are made due to the funding of someone's employers, so.... not sure the point you're making here.

Which is patently obvious, and has even been shown to be comically obvious when people successfully patent the wheel.

Cite please.

Tell me, if they received a 20 year patent for something they didn't invent instead of 21, does that fix it? Or is it insignificant detail that does not affect the main point.

His main "point" was wrong in seven different ways. I've now outlined them in a reply. Feel free to check it out.

Tell me, does the 1995 subrule make it different? Or is it insignificant detail intended to portray you as an expert whose opinion should be deferred to without challenge?

Actually, yes, the 1995 subrule makes a huge difference because patents filed before then get the longer of 20 years from the earliest claimed priority date or 17 years from issuance. If it was filed in 1991 but issued in 1999, it would still have years of life left versus already being expired.

And on the contrary, I would just about KILL for someone to challenge me with ACTUAL FACTS, not just the weeping and gnashing of teeth that goes on. Slashdot USED to be a place where smart people discussed smart things (check my user # - yeah, I played that card). Now it's a Tea Party rally.

Patents need to be fixed, it's beyond comedy now.

I won't disagree with that. But little is ever solved with pitchforks and torches.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (3, Informative)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312848)

LOL .. you couldn't point out a single error in my analysis so you went after a few pedantic and irrelevant details.

"You get a monopoly that lasts between patent issuance and the end of a 20 year period starting from the earliest claimed priority date." -- "earliest claimed priority date" --> I assume you mean filing date .. because that's what the law states --- so how is this different than a 20 year monopoly? And it can actually be 21 years .. because you have a year from the date you publish an idea to file the patent ... so the clock on when people are barred from making that idea (aka your monopoly) technically can start one year before you file the patent .. which then starts the 20 year clock.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

psxndc (105904) | more than 3 years ago | (#37313074)

The earliest claimed priority date may be the filing date, but if it claims priority to an earlier application, e.g., it being a continuation or a divisional, then no, it's not this patent application's filing date.

And while you currently have a year to file a patent application (in the US) you have no monopoly during that year or until the day before your patent issues. Anyone is free to copy your idea and do whatever they want until you have a patent. Without an issued patent, you have no enforceable rights and thus no monopoly.

I do this for a living. Clearly you don't.

As to your previous diatribe: *sigh* fine.

Very few patents are for actual original innovations that warrant a 21 year monopoly. Let me give you an example .. the concept of a magnetic breakaway safety mechanism for power cords was invented in the 1990's for deep fryers (though it may actually have a longer history than that). In the early 2000s, Apple got a patent for the same concept when applied to electronic devices. Now surely does Apple deserve a 21 year monopoly for copying an idea that someone else came up with .. just because they added the word "electronics devices" ?

OK, I need to see the claims (since that's what actually are what is determined to be patentable) and the prior art. You have glossed over both and it's entirely possible that what Apple has a patent on is significantly narrower and inventive over the broad concept of a magnetic breakaway. As of right now you are just waving your hands and spreading FUD.

OK, now there's that .. now here is something scarier .. the America Invents Act .. which is very shortly due to become law (its in the reconciliation process). The new law redefines what an inventor is (in order to get around the US Constitution which says only inventors can have patents)

1) The metes and bounds who can have a patent are not laid out in the Constitution, the Constitution merely allows Congress to grant an exclusive right to inventors and authors; 2) it's actually being done to bring the US into alignment with the rest of the world, not for some nefarious purpose.

I can still get the patent for your idea .. as long as I 1) File for the and pay the patent fee first and 2) state that I came up with the idea independently (though after you).

Not what it says at all and what you just said is actually NO different than the current system. Your patent application is STILL subject to what is out there as far as prior art. And if you know about someone else doing it, you have to tell the patent office AND you can't sign that declaration stating you came up with it. Falsely doing so makes your patent unenforceable.

but nobody got the patent on [bubble sort].. I can file for a patent on "using the bubble sort patent in a mobile phone app" .. similarly I can go through all the computer science books and start patenting all the various algorithms by appending "on a mobile device" to it.

No, in fact, you can't because as part of that you have to disclose every book you referenced and "on a mobile device" alone is not going to give your claim patentable weight. Furthermore, it's not patentable since it'd be obvious under Section 103 to combine the two well known technologies/ideas.

Of course, I sound ridiculous right ? How could they really be making such a dumb law? And why (it's to take away the burden from the patent office for having to google for prior art because a lot of patents were being overturned in lawsuits when it turned out that a simple google search would have brought up prior art .. thus humiliating the patent office).

This is just pure conjecture and FUD.

You were wrong on just about every point you made. I didn't respond to your rant because, as stated in Billy Madison, "what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

Now please sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up. You have no idea what you are talking about and others are just going to repeat your bullshit as fact.

You are FOX News. Happy?

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 3 years ago | (#37313248)

I'm being very superficial, but the LOL and ellipses (...) don't help your case.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

jthill (303417) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312878)

His point doesn't depend on the intricacies of filing dates, so he used four words where you used forty and got it close enough. Your description is much more precise, but pounding it in as you did is inane.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

psxndc (105904) | more than 3 years ago | (#37313082)

See above. Nothing he posted was correct or accurate. Hope my long-winded explanation helps.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 3 years ago | (#37313340)

That's what weasel words are for: "Very few patents are for actual original innovations that warrant an up to 21 year monopoly." Experts can (hopefully) use them to prevent either the truth or their point from being obscured. The OP's technically flawed writing on such an emotionally charged issue that also revolves around a byzantine bureaucracy makes me not want to take their word as gospel truth.

To be clear, by "technically flawed writing" I meant the following little grammatical and general writing issues that individually aren't very important but which add up to a picture of sloppiness about detail: it's "21-year", not "21 year"; ellipses have three dots and not two; ellipses should not be used as a general replacement for commas, colons, semi-colons, and dashes; parenthetical asides should really be optional reading and they should be rare, rather than used at least once each paragraph, sometimes containing vital information; capitalization on "bubble sort" is inconsistent; ... I could go on.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

Zadaz (950521) | more than 3 years ago | (#37313490)

You've done a great job of pointing out what the law says, but do you haven't shown a single iota that you know what it means.

You can correct my spelling all day but at the end of it you still haven't proven yourself to be a writer of any worth.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

psxndc (105904) | more than 3 years ago | (#37313534)

Why bother when so many other places - if people actually looked - have done it for me.

http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/2011/03/america-invents-act-first-to-invent-and-a-filing-date-focus.html [patentlyo.com]

Here's your rod. Put some bait on line. Throw the line in the water. There, I just taught you to fish.

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37313686)

And for the record, I googled America invents act and chose the patently-o link. They always have good summaries of patent law decisions, legislation, etc.

psxndc

Re:The patent system is fcked up and going get wor (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312196)

today maybe many apps on mobile phones may be implementing bubble sort in mobile phones applications .. but nobody got the patent on it .. I can file for a patent on "using the bubble sort patent in a mobile phone app" .. similarly I can go through all the computer science books and start patenting all the various algorithms by appending "on a mobile device" to it.

First, the pending bill doesn't eliminate the one-year statutory bar that exists in current law. That is, if there is anticipatory prior art that was published more than a year before your filing date, then you can't get a patent on your invention. It doesn't matter whether it was a patent, scientific paper, book, magazine article, or what have you, as long as it was published.

Second, even by just adding "on a mobile device" to your claims, you're not going to get a patent on a well-known concept. At this point, it's clear that cell phones or other mobile devices are just small computers, so generically performing any well-known CS technique on them is subject to a finding of obviousness.

And why (it's to take away the burden from the patent office for having to google for prior art because a lot of patents were being overturned in lawsuits when it turned out that a simple google search would have brought up prior art .. thus humiliating the patent office).

Not true in the least. The fact that you don't know what you're talking about should be a clue to that. Gain an actual understanding of the current and proposed laws before you cast around these sorts of accusations.

the percentage of patents invalidated on the merit (1)

Stumbles (602007) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311704)

Of course; most that are confronted with a lawsuit would rather pay the racketeer.

Re:the percentage of patents invalidated on the me (2)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311722)

You also have a system where all parties assume that the status quo is fine and that some other part of the system will clean up after them.

The courts assume that the PTO is acting in good faith. The PTO assumes that the courts will clean up their crap.

No one seems to be minding the store.

Re:the percentage of patents invalidated on the me (2)

greenbird (859670) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311826)

Of course; most that are confronted with a lawsuit would rather pay the racketeer.

I think "would rather" is a bad phrase here. More like: most that are confronted with a lawsuit find very little choice between spending massive amounts of money on lawyers and suffering the distractions and stress associated with a lawsuit vs. paying off the racketeer.

Re:the percentage of patents invalidated on the me (2)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312100)

That tells me that the legal system is rather broken...

Re:the percentage of patents invalidated on the me (1)

greenbird (859670) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312798)

That tells me that the legal system is rather broken...

Not at all. The problem is ridiculous patents being approved combined with laws that assume patents are valid once approved and require a preponderance of evidence to invalidate along with having the outcomes determined by judges and juries that have no understanding of the technical complexities involved in most patents.

Re:the percentage of patents invalidated on the me (1)

robotkid (681905) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312434)

I agree - this is the most unsatisfying aspect of this study, in that most cases end with settlement and a non-disclosure agreement, meaning there is absolutely no data on how meritorious the claim was and how exploitative the settlement was. It seems quite obvious to me, (IANAL) that only relatively strong patent claims would actually result in litigation, and that most "troll-like" behavior would be in cases that are simultaneously weak but expensive enough to contest that a settlement is cheaper. Arguably, the prevalence of this behavior, which cannot be addressed in any way by this study, is at the heart of the patent troll debate.

from page 26 of TFA: "One important caveat is that most cases settle. Indeed, most of the cases studied here settled or were otherwise disposed of without a merits ruling. This can affect the findings in a couple of ways. First, it reduces the sample size. Second, it is unclear why cases settle. It may be that only the weakest patents are litigated because defendants refuse to pay. However, it could also be that the strongest patents are litigated because plaintiffs refuse to settle for a nuisance payment. Third, many cases are litigated to judgment because NPEs are asserting infringement where there is none."

Of course most cases settle (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#37313120)

Most civil lawsuits settle. If the defendant's attorneys see that they're likely to lose, they usually propose settlement.

Initiatives against software patents (2)

zopathan (1324091) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311716)

I've recently come across an interesting initiative against patent trolls, the onda protection fund: http://www.ondatechnology.org/protection-fund.html [ondatechnology.org] I've read the info and it seems that it could thrive if people pay attention to it

Re:Initiatives against software patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37311762)

I would have read that wall of text, but it was way to hard to follow with the lack of spacing and the super wide layout.

Seriously, did they even try to read that? I had to start highlight lines as i was reading them or I would lose track of which line i was on as i was scanning back to start the next one.

I take it the idea is basically legal insurance against NPEs?

Re:Initiatives against software patents (1)

zopathan (1324091) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311886)

They want to help you register your IP so patent trolls can't. But you are required to allow free licensing for open projects. Your IP is added to a database or some sort of a collection of easily licensable projects that are licensed freely to open projects and negotiable to closed projects.

Re:Initiatives against software patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37312166)

"I would have read that wall of text, but it was way to hard to follow with the lack of spacing and the super wide layout."
      Might want to check your browser setting, I get huge borders from that site in both FF and Chrome. Frankly I'm sick of stupid websites that waste over half my screen and make me scroll or click next through 18 pages of ribbonized text when even with an old 4:3 monitor it shouldn't take more than two or three.

Re:Initiatives against software patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37312188)

are you serious? are you using what? a 2560px wide monitor or you're just an idiot?
are you sure you'd like to read a whole width text in large screens?
that's impossible to follow. maybe you'd like to read your text written in a paper roll, one letter per sheet.

Re:Initiatives against software patents (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37311892)

I agree that most 'software patents' are fairly obvious garbage. But to say *all* are garbage is not true.

Lets start with the one that started it all. The LZW one. This is the one that pissed everyone off.

But LZ part of the name spent many years coming up with that work. It was natural that they patent it.

If you spent say 15 years working on something that could change the world. Would you just give it away?

I would say that answer depends on who you are and what you are working on.

For example the one click is just obvious. Click on something and you buy it. It is obvious. What is not so obvious is many would not really want that sort of thing. Most people want some sort of feedback that they are buying something. Not 'woops I just bought a car'.

What many people forget is the reason they do not like these sorts of patents. It is the submarine nature of them. Someone can spend 5 years making something putting a patent on it. Then go out of business. Then someone can 2-3 years later and come up with something similar. Then that second group is basically screwed. The first one is never going to use it. Ever.

I think I have what would clear this mess up is fairly clear actually. Go out of business (including chapter 7 and 11) and the patent is public domain. Patents can be assigned to a business from a person within the first 6 months. Then after that they are permanent. Person dies they become public domain. This sort of thing would clip most of this sort of patent trolls. Company buys another company all the patents from the acquired company become public domain. It would also stop groups amassing huge numbers of patents just to flame thrower each other. Basically the idea is stop transferring them around. The idea was to get inventors to publish their ideas. It is now consider property. Which is wrong.

Re:Initiatives against software patents (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312256)

Person dies they become public domain.

Is a hitman cheaper than a license?

Re:Initiatives against software patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37312332)

Person dies they become public domain.

Is a hitman cheaper than a license?

sometimes...

Re:Initiatives against software patents (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312258)

The answer is to pass laws that reverse the decision made in court cases such as State Street Bank v. Signature Financial Group, AT&T Corp. v. Excel Communications and others that lead to the mess we have now.

Re:Initiatives against software patents (1)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312526)

I think I have what would clear this mess up is fairly clear actually. Go out of business (including chapter 7 and 11) and the patent is public domain. Patents can be assigned to a business from a person within the first 6 months. Then after that they are permanent. Person dies they become public domain. This sort of thing would clip most of this sort of patent trolls. Company buys another company all the patents from the acquired company become public domain.

The trouble with this is that it screws up the economy. Companies that by all rights ought to merge for reasons having nothing to do with patents, but they can't because they would lose patents valuable enough to make it not worth it. Also, it harms start-ups because prospective investors and creditors would know that they couldn't sell the patents to recover part of their costs if the start-up fails.

But the overall idea is in the right direction. I think what would make more sense is to make patents "use it or lose it" -- not in the way most people suggest that you have to practice if you want to assert it, but more like the way trademarks work. If somebody is publicly infringing your patent for e.g. a year without a license and you don't send them a notice detailing which patent you think they're infringing by what activity, and then file a complaint in court if they don't stop or take a license, you permanently lose the right to assert any claims in that patent against that company.

That would put a stop to most of the submarine patents, because you can't wait until the entire industry has been using it for years before trying to assert it since by then the entire industry will be immune for your lack of action. It would also have the added benefit that it would temper the arms race between large companies to accumulate a huge patent arsenal for defensive purposes, because once those patents hadn't been asserted for a year they would no longer function. Which means that having a huge arsenal of low-quality patents is useless, and the only reason to get patents would be if you actually want to exclude competitors from your genuinely valuable invention, as originally intended.

Re:Initiatives against software patents (1)

dudpixel (1429789) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312604)

The problem I have with the patent system is this:

Using the LZW algorithm as an example - say I had no knowledge of this algorithm but through my own independent research I developed something very similar. Even though I had nothing to do with the original patent author, I'm not entitled to use my own invention, because someone else had already invented it.

I understand that you should profit from your work, but why should someone else not profit from there's just because it is similar to yours (without copying).

If someone DID copy your work - you could claim copyright.

Here is my solution:

1. If you have a patent and a 3rd party wants to license it, you MUST let them (all patented works would then be considered public - but for a fee).

2. Licensing a patent would still be worth money, so the patent owner still profits from it, but the price / payment plan of the patent would be agreed between the patent owner and patent office at the time the patent is granted, and any changes would require authorization by the patent office. Any patent that is less complex or trivial (but still considered patentable) would get a low maximum price. Other parties would also be able to appeal at a later stage to have these prices lowered.

I think this would guarantee progress. There are many benefits.

The problem with patents are that the patent owner can sit and do nothing, thus blocking progress.
The other problem is that patent owners can sit and wait until the other party has earnt significant income from the "infringed" patent, and then strike when there is profit to be made.

I think my solution above solves both these issues.

Re:Initiatives against software patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37313326)

incorporating is cheap. everyone would assign it to JoeSmithInc of their own name.

it's simpler if it would be just limited to 5 years from application.

Apple #1 Patent Troll (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37311798)

This doesn't surprise me one bit.

Apple, the world's most egregious patent troll, uses patents to sue competitors into abandoning the smartphone business.

Apple's potent mix of homosexuality and jews have turn this fruit themed company into America's most feared legal enemy.

Should patent 'patent trolling' (0)

morikahnx (1323841) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311832)

Sounds like easy money.

Like a pig or a turd... (2, Insightful)

jhd (7165) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311972)

...all of the lip stick and polish in the world will not change the fact that patent trolls are scum. (Unfortunately, the fault really lies with the patent system though.)

What about patent extortion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37312102)

Is there a possibility of extorting money on the basis of threatening to disclose prior art? Something along the lines of "nice patent you have there, would be a shame if I filed this prior art with the USPTO".

Re:What about patent extortion? (1)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312768)

Last I checked, extortion in any form for any purpose was illegal .. so no .. you can't do that unless you don't mind going to prison.

Non practicing entities (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37312352)

Non practicing patent holders should be mandated to license their patent at a reasonable rate. *Like everywhere else in the world.*

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