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Why Patent Reform Won't Happen Anytime Soon

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the because-it-is-patented dept.

Patents 110

jfruhlinger writes "'If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.' So said Bill Gates in the 1980s. Now, of course, Microsoft is one of the biggest software patent holders around. And that's the key to the problem of software patent reform: the companies that had the most incentive to face the problem found it cheaper and easier to buy up patent war chests instead. And Congress won't act unless big stakeholders (read: big companies) make a stink."

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I am Quite Smitten by that Stripper (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37321552)

I went back to that club last night, the one that was presented to me as a house of ill repute. It turned out that the strippers who presented it that way were blowing smoke, all to lure new clientele into paying for expensive private dances.

One can get a lot more out of their private dances than their dances on the main stage, but Contact Sports are strictly forbidden. I am very disapointed, as I found them all to be such charming and lovely young women. I had the hope I could get my cash flow up to the point that, with time, I could bang every last one of their lot.

However, I am not kidding that I have had a "private dance" at another strip club that really is operated as a brothel. The strippers all made that fact plainly apparent the very instant I set foot in the place. They would not even let me order a bottle of water from the bartender.

In the end the performer that pulled the lucky draw did so because, as I told her after she was done blowing me, "It's obvious you take pride in your work." This because her dance routine had some interesting, novel choreography. Most of her colleagues just got up in front and did their best to writhe suggestively. This ambitious lady quite likely worked with a professional dance studio during her off hours.

Anyway last night I spent quite a lot of time with that stripper that I said looked just like a female Caltech Physics professor. I should not even give you her stage name, lest she get unwanted attention from The Series of Tubes.

I will call her "Lucy" as that sounds to me like a geeky name. To be clear, Lucy is not her real name.

I told her that I'd studied Astronomy and Physics at Caltech, and that all they do there is Science, Math and Engineering. I pointed out to her that with her dorky glasses and the way she wore her hair, she looked just like many of my female classmates at Tech.

I'm sure most men would find that unattractive, but I think she is really hot, because during my studies at Tech I wanted nothing more than to get those girls in the sack.

Imagine you had just met an attractive, sexy young woman who liked to dress up in frilly underwear so she could titillate you. How best to make conversation. "Want to see my iPhone App?" No? Guess again, she thought Warp Life was totally cool.

She really is a geek, one reason I find her so easy to relate to. Evidence of this is that she knew all about Conway's Game of Life as she had played it before. Even most software engineers these days don' know about Life. I'm constantly surprised by that.

She once had the aim of being an Astrophysicist. That was my first love as well, so we spent quite some time discussing astronomy. I suggested that their might be an Amateur Astronomy club in the area, and that we could attend together. She thought that was a great idea.

I am forty-seven years old. At nineteen Lucy is less than half my age, but I was very, very surprised she was really that young. While she does indeed look young, she speaks and acts like a much older woman.

My Fuck, when I was nineteen I had not the first clue. Neither did any of my friends of similar age. But Lucy seems wise way beyond her years.

She made it quite clear that she finds me captivating. She told me that I am quite unlike her other customers at the club. Oh, If She Only Knew!

I wrote my name, cell number, email address and Dulcinea's website on a piece of paper I got from the bartender, then said "Let's be friends as I gave it to her."

Will she call? I don't know. Strippers are generally advised not to fraternize with their customers lest some rapist follow them hope.

While I think she is incredibly hot, and can think of little that would be more exciting than to have sex with a good stripper, really what I hope to get out of her is genuine human companship. Perhaps I can get her to put on normal street clothes and meet me for coffee, or go on some kind of actively.

I don't regret having returned to see her last night, but I did not count on the fact that public transit being cut way back on Sundays. It took almost five hours and countless support calls to get VirtualBox to work that way I would inspect.

I am very, very tired and must post this lest I pass out!

Re:I am Quite Smitten by that Stripper (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37321690)

I am very, very tired and must post this lest I pass out!

Sounds like you have spinal subluxations. A good chiropractor can sort that out for you.

Dr Danny A.C.

Why any reform won't happen anytime soon (3, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322164)

You can take a cynical outlook to any situation needing reform and say it will never happen because people don't want it to happen. Missing in TFA is any concrete reason why it can never happen. "Companies find it cheaper to abuse the system themselves, and, you know, lobbyists" is about it.

During the Bush/Kerry election, there were plenty of people willing to glumly tell you that preexisting conditions would never ever ever ever be covered in the US because the health insurance industry wouldn't allow it, and a million other reasons. They were wrong. The health care reform that we got wasn't anyone's dream come true, one could argue that the health industry got a better deal out of it than they should, but pre-existing conditions are going to be covered. With patent reform, we should, like with healthcare reform, not expect to get a perfect solution out of it, as those don't actually exist when talking about something as complicated as that. Compromise is an inevitable part of politics.

Even earlier, there were people who said that the soviet union would never fall. Before that, people swore we'd never walk on the moon. Before that, everyone was just positive that man would never fly because there was gravity. And a while before that, there were posts on ITworld.com about how slavery was far too important to the economy of the south and it would never be abolished ever.

I don't see much point in predicting something is not going to happen for a very long time just because businesses may not want it to. Now if he had a crystal ball prediction, that would lend slightly more credibility to it...

Hrmm (1)

acehole (174372) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321592)

"And Congress won't act unless big stakeholders (read: big companies) make a stink"

(read: downsize or withold donations)

Re:Hrmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37321652)

Why not read "stink as their decomposing corpses lie in the streets."? It really is untenable that a race claiming sentience would permit this to occur. I sincerely hope we can pull out of this dive before any loose canons realize it only takes a high school level education to end it all for everyone.

On a fatalistic note, if these same multinationals can implant IP laws in exchange for aid like Bill and Melinda are doing then the public is probably too far gone already. Who would have thought a species capable of poetry couldn't see this coming? Truly bizarre.

Re:Hrmm (2)

zopathan (1324091) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321728)

I mentinoned in a comment in an earlier story about an initiative from a non-profit to fight against the flaws of the current patent system which I think might be a good idea, although it clearly lacks support: http://www.ondatechnology.org/protection-fund.html [ondatechnology.org] their idea is to gather a fund to help individuals register patents for free usage. then patent trolls can't do it. I've been following with particular attention this project because of my native disgust towards the way patents and especially software patents block us from development.

Re:Hrmm (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322846)

Right, let's fight the broken patent system by registering (paying for) a bunch of patents and making the patent office rich in exchange for literally NOTHING. I wonder why they didn't get much support in this endeavour...

Re:Hrmm (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321860)

The downside of this is, that it's almost like we're forced to cheerlead patent trolls.... hard. The pure patent trolls after all have nothing to counter-sue over.

Kinda sucks - it's like I'm stuck with hoping and praying that the entire Marshall, TX business directory pounds on the big boys often enough and hard enough to get them to finally start thinking that maybe this whole patent mess could use a little cleaning up. ...and this is in spite of the fact that I believe patent troll lawyers should replace animals in medical and commercial chemical testing programs.

You know? There are days when I look at the whole software industry and just hate it thoroughly. :/

Re:Hrmm (1)

citizenr (871508) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322090)

The downside of this is, that it's almost like we're forced to cheerlead patent trolls.... hard.

I think he meant downsize Congress, with guns.

Re:Hrmm (1)

Internetuser1248 (1787630) | more than 3 years ago | (#37324512)

And Congress won't act unless big stakeholders (read: big companies) make a stink

Such a pity that the public aren't considered a big stakeholder

Software patents suck (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321608)

Without silly software patents such as this one [patentgenius.com] , we'd all enjoy simple, non CPU-intensive encryption that just works. DES, RSA, AES, RC4 and all the other overly-complicated encryption schemes we "enjoy" today were invented specifically to route around that single patent. Well thanks a buncharoony...

Re:Software patents suck (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37321688)

What does "dynamically viewing images elements stored in a RAM array" have to do with encryption?

Re:Software patents suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37321718)

Those schemes get around a "Method for dynamically viewing image elements stored in a random access memory array?"

Not saying you're wrong; just curious what I'm missing or otherwise interested to see the right patent...

Re:Software patents suck (2)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321744)

How could DES have been a way to work around it when the publication of DES predates the filing of that patent by 3 years? RSA was also publicly published the same year as the filing date but clearly would have had to have been worked on for years before then. RC4 you could make a case for since it was published during the term of the patent but you'd make a hard case for AES since the patent expired before it was published.

Re:Software patents suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37321776)

Whoosh...

Re:Software patents suck (1)

timbo234 (833667) | more than 3 years ago | (#37324070)

Are you sure? That patent was issue in 1980, meaning it's long since expired.

Software patents should be illegal but this particular one is long gone.

Guess we all know (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321614)

Guess we all know about how politics really works now, eh? I think its just filthy.

Re:Guess we all know (1)

thePuck77 (1311533) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321920)

I don't really think this is the revelation that leads to that conclusion. It's been obvious how politics really works for a long while now.

Re:Guess we all know (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 3 years ago | (#37323084)

It's been obvious how politics really works for a long while now.

Perhaps even longer than you might think. Take for example In Verrem [wikipedia.org] (full text of oration [bartleby.com] ), a series of speeches made by Cicero in 70 BC during the corruption and extortion trial of Gaius Verres; the former governor of Sicily. Organized government and corruption of those in power go together hand in glove; they are like action and reaction, cause and effect.

Re:Guess we all know (1)

thePuck77 (1311533) | more than 3 years ago | (#37323450)

Oh, I completely agree. The Empire Never Ended.

Re:Guess we all know (1)

macpacheco (1764378) | more than 3 years ago | (#37324906)

If 10% of the population wanted patent reform it would happen in a few years at the most.
The issue is most people don't care or don't care enough about this.
Democracy is the best alternative to political system. However a Democracy with lazy population is very little better than a dictatorship.
Democracy with highly educated, enlightened people is something that doesn't quite exist in all but less than a dozen countries in the world. And most of those countries are small, like less than 20 million people.

Bilski (2)

recoiledsnake (879048) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321628)

Did they miss the Bilski case?

Instead of a "clear and convincing" standard, Microsoft proposed instead using a "preponderance of the evidence" standard. This would have, in effect, weakened or reduced the value of all issued U.S. patents.

Interesting to see the biggest company, Apple suing to keep competitors products off the the market, not being mentioned at all either in the article or summary.

Re:Bilski (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321892)

That's because nearly all of Apple's lawsuits center around hardware patents, or physical design patents. In fact, I don't think they have sued anyone over software patents yet.

Kind of hard to use them as a poster boy for Software patent reform when they don't go near it but rarely, if ever.

Re:Bilski (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321976)

Process is process, design is design. A computer (and thus the software that runs it) is a machine like any other.

Re:Bilski (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37323634)

They're either a benefit or a hazard. If they're a benefit, it's not my problem.

Re:Bilski (2)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322030)

Hasn't Apple patented gestures? That's software, and should be considered obvious by any sane person.

Re:Bilski (1)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322510)

Everything is obvious! Give it away because the people demand it! FREE THE WORKERS (from getting paid for their work.)

Re:Bilski (1)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322516)

And I know, I know.. it's only rich people benefitting and they shouldn't be allowed to have money because the noble poor deserve their nannies or some shit or another... I can never remember the whole screed.

Re:Bilski (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37322828)

Everything is obvious!

Given a 5 foot tall wall and a 6 foot tall ladder, I challenge you to get from the bottom of the wall to the top. And I patented climbing the ladder, so you'll have to come up with a different way. Good luck.

Necessity is the mother of invention. If you give N people the same problem, how many answers are you really expecting to get?

Re:Bilski (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37322092)

Wtf are you talking about, Apple sued HTC with plenty of software patents:

"System and Method for Performing an Action on a Structure in Computer-Generated Data"
"Message Protocol for Controlling a User Interface From an Inactive Application Program"
"Method and Apparatus for Handling I/O Requests Utilizing Separate Programming Interfaces to Access Separate I/O Service" (WTF?)
"Object-Oriented Graphic System" (Seriously?)
"Object-Oriented Operating System,"

Re:Bilski (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322914)

In fact, I don't think they have sued anyone over software patents yet.

They sued Samsung over the slide to unlock patent [appleinsider.com] . How trivial is that? Mind you, suing someone over rounded corners shows that they will stoop to the same level on the hardware side of things too.

Re:Bilski (1)

andydread (758754) | more than 3 years ago | (#37325584)

That's because nearly all of Apple's lawsuits center around hardware patents, or physical design patents. In fact, I don't think they have sued anyone over software patents yet.

Kind of hard to use them as a poster boy for Software patent reform when they don't go near it but rarely, if ever.

What!!??
system or method to unlock phone by swiping to unlock. (sued Samsung)
method of organizing pictures in a photo manager (sued Samsung)

THen there is :- cartoon drawing of a square with rounded corners with a flat screen. (sued Samsung)

Here is some more for you to chew on.

#7,362,331: Time-based, non-constant translation of user interface objects between states. Filed in 2001, this patent covers basic animated movement of objects in graphics user interfaces; the core "innovation" seems to be that the function for determining the object's velocity is not constant. Apple has patented acceleration of objects on the screen.

#7,479,949: Touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics. This patent was filed in April, 2008; Steven Jobs is the first on a long list of inventors. This patent claims the use of heuristics to determine whether a finger movement on a touchscreen display is vertical, diagonal, or is a "next item" selection.

#7,657,849: Unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image. This patent (2005) covers pretty much what it says; it's requirement for "moving an unlock image" along the path suggests a fairly straightforward workaround might be possible.

#7,469,381: List scrolling and document translation, scaling, and rotation on a touch-screen display (2007). This one is complex, but seems to cover the practice of "bouncing" the display when scrolled past the end of a document or list.

#5,920,726: System and method for managing power conditions within a digital camera device (1997). This is a hardware-related patent covering the process of powering down a digital camera in response to a low-power situation.

#7,633,076: Automated response to and sensing of user activity in portable devices (2006). This is a technique for filtering out touchscreen events resulting from putting a phone to one's ear. It requires the existence of a "proximity sensor" to determine whether a human is sufficiently close to the device.

#5,848,105: GMSK signal processors for improved communications capacity and quality (1996) is a signal-processing algorithm meant to improve interference rejection.

#7,383,453: Conserving power by reducing voltage supplied to an instruction-processing portion of a processor (2005). This hardware patent appears to be well described by its title; it covers a processor which can turn off its clock and reduce its operating voltage.

#5,455,599: Object-oriented graphic system (1995). By a broad reading, this patent would appear to cover just about any graphical system which maps between objects stored in memory and a representation on the display.

#6,424,354: Object-oriented event notification system with listener registration of both interests and methods (1999). The highly innovative technique of allowing one object to register an interest in changes to a second object and receive notifications is covered. This patent is owned by the "Object Technology Licensing Corporation" which is located at 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino - strangely enough, that's where Apple is located too.

Additionally, Apple has filed with the US International Trade Commission with the purpose of blocking the import of HTC's products into the US. That filing names a different, generally older, and more fundamental set of patents:

#5,481,721: Method for providing automatic and dynamic translation of object oriented programming language-based message passing into operation system message passing using proxy objects (1994). This patent covers sending messages between two objects in separate processes by way of "proxy objects" which translate the message for transmission. Remote procedure calls, in other words.

#5,519,867: Object-oriented multitasking system (1993) covers the entirely non-obvious technique of supplying an object-oriented wrapper around a procedural operating system's process creation and manipulation system calls.

#5,566,337: Method and apparatus for distributing events in an operating system (1994). Here Apple claims the technique of maintaining a list of events and processes interested in those events, then distributing notifications to the processes when the events happen. Broadly read, this patent could cover Unix signals, the select() system call, or the X Window System event notification mechanism - all of which predate the patent by years.

#5,929,852: Encapsulated network entity reference of a network component system (1998). An object is created to provide a graphical representation of a "network resource." When the user clicks on the representation, information about the resource is displayed.

#5,946,647: System and method for performing an action on a structure in computer-generated data (1996). This technique covers "recognizing structures" in data and allowing users to act upon those structures. Think, for example, of recognizing a phone number on a web page, then allowing the user to call the number or store it in a contacts list.

#5,969,705: Message protocol for controlling a user interface from an inactive application program (1997). This one covers the idea of an interactive program forking a worker process to do some processing and letting that worker process provide information which is shown in the user interface.

#6,275,983: Object-oriented operating system (1998). Another Object Technology Licensing Corp. special, this one covers the concept of providing object-oriented wrappers to procedural system calls; the one additional twist is that those wrappers are dynamically loaded at run time if need be.

#6,343,263: Real-time signal processing system for serially transmitted data (1994). A computer with a "realtime signal processing subsystem" and a programming API allowing that subsystem to be used. Something that looks, say, like a computer with a cellular network radio attached.

#5,915,131: Method and apparatus for handling I/O requests utilizing separate programming interfaces to access separate I/O services (1995). This patent appears to cover the idea of providing different APIs for access to different types of devices. Something like ioctl(), perhaps.

#RE39,486: Extensible, replaceable network component system (2003, a reissue of 6,212,575 from 1995). Essentially, this is the technique of building objects around different network protocols so that they all appear the same to higher-level software and users.

almost every single one of them are software patents that they are using to drive their competitors out of the market.

Apple has become more evil than Microsoft to the point where I can no longer recommend their products to anyone.

The fact that you cannot sit down in front of your computer and write code without it treading on Apple's anticompetitive software patents is pathetic. They are trying to own the concept of writing software. And you support this? No matter how much one may worship Apple and their products they should still keep a level head. Don't try to play off Apple's unscrupulous actions by claiming most of the patents they sue over is hardware. Its simply not true. They are threatening the very notion of sitting down at your computer and writing software. All your code are belong to them. It's sleazy on Apple's part.

i4i (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322498)

Did they miss the Bilski case?

Instead of a "clear and convincing" standard, Microsoft proposed instead using a "preponderance of the evidence" standard. This would have, in effect, weakened or reduced the value of all issued U.S. patents.

Interesting to see the biggest company, Apple suing to keep competitors products off the the market, not being mentioned at all either in the article or summary.

Not that I disagree with your post, but the first line should be "Did they miss the [Microsoft v.] i4i case?" Bilski was different - i4i was the one your quote refers to.

MS is already a strong proponent of patent reform (1)

Sc4Freak (1479423) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321632)

Er, the big tech companies are exactly the ones who are pushing hard for patent reform. Microsoft and Google are two of the biggest pushers for patent reform - they both spend a stupendously large amount of money on defensive patents and fighting lawsuits so it makes sense from a business perspective. Microsoft itself has gone before Congress and the Supreme Court a number of times, urging them to reform U.S. patent laws. I don't know what is preventing Congress from enacting patent reforms, but it certainly isn't the big tech companies.

Re:MS is already a strong proponent of patent refo (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321700)

A lot of Microsoft's concern over reform is in dealing with NPEs, since their war chests aren't at all useful against them.

Re:MS is already a strong proponent of patent refo (1)

elsurexiste (1758620) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321764)

I don't know what is preventing Congress from enacting patent reforms, but it certainly isn't the big tech companies.

I believe I got this article [huffingtonpost.com] from slashdot, but I'll post it just in case. Essentially, they were caught in a battle that involves Big Pharma, Wall Street, and an underdog with delirium of grandeur. That's what is h

Re:MS is already a strong proponent of patent refo (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322870)

Maybe the fact that the US gets a LOT of money from the fees companies use to register those patents, and the defensive ones used to fight them? It's like asking why an arms dealer, who deals to both sides, wouldn't want to make ammunition harder to get...

Re:MS is already a strong proponent of patent refo (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 3 years ago | (#37323492)

There are two major industries fighting against patent reform: agriculture, and pharmaceuticals. Both make a killing on patenting what's essentially software. The largest tech companies that produce real products are for patent reform. The ones against it mainly do not sell actual software, but sells the services their software is able to perform.

Actually, funny thing is, patent reform will also result in health care reform, as well as help fight obesity. Both Barack and Michelle's goals would be fulfilled almost overnight by fixing one system. But the interests are too entrenched.

Re:MS is already a strong proponent of patent refo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37324040)

You mean like Hollywood is a strong proponent of copyright reform... Not all change is good. Always read the small print.

ps. Since Hollywood already got the DMCA, they probably actually don't care about copyright term anymore. Their films are now forever locked in their encrypted containers...

A patent "reform" bill is almost passed (1, Informative)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321648)

It's called the "America Invents Act" and it stands to make the patent system 100x worse: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America_Invents_Act [wikipedia.org]

Very few patents are for actual original innovations that warrant an up to 21 year monopoly (1 year from disclosure plus 20 from filing date). 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. Does Apple really deserve a 21 year monopoly for copying an idea that someone else came up with .. just because they added the word "electronics devices" ?

There should be standards for obviousness .. for example if it's a combination of a two things .. one of which recently came into existence .. then there is no reason for the patent issuance .. since it's likely an obvious idea to combine the two. Also for patent interference (when two people file a patent on the same thing before either has publicly disclosed it), the patent should be denied. Why? because if two people can come up with the idea around the same time that means it's probably not a great idea in the first place -- most likely it's an inevitable evolution.

Everytime a new device comes out people will rush to the patent office to file claims. For example when a new flying car comes out .. people will rush to file a patent on "GPS in flying cars" or maybe even ridiculous things like "doors in flying cars". A company in 1994, Acacia, got a patent on HTML in CDROMs and started trying to sue everyone who made CDROMS that have HTML code in it (sounds crazy, but google it).

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). Read it for yourself: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America_Invents_Act [wikipedia.org]

Re:A patent "reform" bill is almost passed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37321656)

I think I liked this better the first time you posted it.

Re:A patent "reform" bill is almost passed (1, Insightful)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321692)

Yeah sorry to the people who have to see it again .. I reckon it's relevant twice. Since this bill needs to be zapped - thought there is virtually no chance of it. There's very little awareness about it.

The next hope is the Supreme Court which if properly educated should throw out the First To File nonsense which is clearly unconstitutional.

Re:A patent "reform" bill is almost passed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37321758)

but you're fundamentally misinterpreting first to file. Prior art still invalidates patents in first to file systems.

Re:A patent "reform" bill is almost passed (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321940)

You mean it would, if prior art was still being considered by patent examiners. Prior art is only useful if your have bignum dollars to withstand a lawsuit over it.

Re:A patent "reform" bill is almost passed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37321736)

Just one more fist in the ass of american innovation.

Re:A patent "reform" bill is almost passed (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321992)

Patents don't stifle innovation, they improve it. Without patents, inventors would have to keep their processes secret. With patents, you get a monopoly in exchange for publication. And even still, patents don't stop anyone from inventing anything. They just stop people from re-inventing the same thing over and over again.

Re:A patent "reform" bill is almost passed (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322154)

Saying that patents don't stifle innovation reeks of bullshit. The best argument you can make is that patents give us more innovation than they take away from us, but there's not much good evidence on that. As for inventors keeping their processes secret, that's generally bullshit too. If someone can practice an process widely and still have it functionally kept a secret for more than 20 years, they would be fools to get a patent. It only makes sense to get a patent for an invention that can't be kept a secret while being widely practiced for more than 20 years. Three reasonable possibilities exist for a patented invention:
1) the invention is widely practiced and kept secret for less than 20 years
2) the invention is kept secret for more than 20 years, but not widely practiced during that time
3) the resources put into development of the invention are not spent because an adequate return on investment can't be made

Most reasonable arguments for patents assume that 3) is the most common scenario, with perhaps a bit of 2) sprinkled in. 1) is going to generally be preferable than patents. Also, patents do stop something other than re-inventing. They can make the invention of something that depends upon an existing invention not commercially viable. This is actually quite common, since practically all inventions require the use of existing inventions.

Re:A patent "reform" bill is almost passed (1)

RighteousRaven (998592) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322212)

HA! Have you ever read a patent?
Sure.. there are some patents that you can learn something from... but the reason you file for a patent application is to protect your idea, and it's the patent office's job to read and understand your patent application (through all the legal jargon) and enforce that it sufficiently discloses the important aspects of the technology. How good of a job do you suppose the patent application office is doing at that?

The vast majority of patents don't disclose anything that someone with half a brain couldn't have figured out from looking at the product or reverse-engineering it. Disclosure of processes is useful, but they're in the minority.

Re:A patent "reform" bill is almost passed (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322382)

The incentives patents provide to reveal inventions is more than dwarfed by the chilling effect patents have on competing innovations.

Many things are squashed or suppressed either by companies suing for infringement, or even just using legal departments to intimidate.

Re:A patent "reform" bill is almost passed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37323144)

Patents don't stifle innovation, they improve it.

That would depend on how the patents are filed. It's a little more complex than patents equal good or patents equal bad. What is often of debate is how patents should be handled.

Would you support a 1000 year patent or a 6 month patent or any number? Do you believe 21 years is the optimal number of years in an industry that went from most people using the CLI to watching movies on their phones in that time frame?

Do different industries have different patent requirements? Could we codify it if they do?

Do you think the same algorithms/methods should have separate patents for each device that they run on?

Software is already protected by copyright that last long enough so that we'll most likely be dead by the time recently granted copyrights expire. Should patents even apply to software in any way? It makes sense to apply copyright (for how long is debatable) to an author, would it make sense to apply patents to a 3 act play whereby a method for the first act introduces characters, the second act challenges the hero and the third act redeems the hero?

Re:A patent "reform" bill is almost passed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37323522)

Patents don't stifle innovation, they improve it.

First, they don't "improve" innovation. At best, they incentivize (or in the Constitution's words, "promote") it. Perhaps a nitpick, but it's important to keep in mind what you're really doing.

Moreover, depending on how liberal you are with licensing it out to others, it certainly can directly stifle innovation depending on it. A classic example would be Ferguson's 3-point hitch*, where the refusal to license it (other than the Ford/Ferguson handshake agreement) led to other tractor makers being busy "inventing" other (inferior) ways to accomplish the same thing to dodge the patent, rather than innovating on top of it, and drastically reduces the market value of any innovation that is made depending on it, since Ford and Ferguson are really the only ones you can license/sell it to, and if they don't care to employ it themselves, they don't even need to buy it to stop you from using it (until the Ferguson patent runs out).

Without patents, inventors would have to keep their processes secret. With patents, you get a monopoly in exchange for publication. And even still, patents don't stop anyone from inventing anything. They just stop people from re-inventing the same thing over and over again.

That's a great theory, but you've said nothing to prove it works that way in practice. There's several ways it breaks down -- even if you could show evidence these are minor enough that the overall effect is what you've said (I believe it's not), there's still room for reform to address these cases and make the system more effective.

First, not all inventions can be kept secret. For example, say I invent a new suspension arrangement that gives better handling at speed (maybe an improvement over Mazda's twin trapezoidal link system) -- as soon as I sell a car using it, any engineer can disassemble it, measure the links, examine the kinematics, and see what I did there. Now one might argue that the extra profits from being the only one with this advantage will incentivize me to make that invention initially, rather than cutting back on R&D and just copying the next guy, but that's a whole different argument+. Society gets absolutely no disclosure benefit here.

Then, even for inventions that might have been kept secret, one of the big complaints about software patents in particular is that the disclosure doesn't appreciably alleviate the burden for anyone else to reproduce it. So you get the full benefit of the monopoly (at full cost to society), and society gets a fraction of the benefit. And society still pays that cost even if you're unable to make the invention work, or don't even try (which is why abolishing the model requirement, IMO, is ultimately more harm than good) -- nobody else can profit by doing the work you left unfinished, unless they pay you whatever license fee you demand. While this is particularly obvious with software patents, the same effect is seen (if sometimes to a reduced degree) in other areas.

*Also a demonstration that abolishing software patents isn't the fix some people see it as -- a patent-encumbered hardware interface promoting vendor lock-in and preventing interoperability in the 1950s is bad in all the same ways and for all the same reasons as a patent-encumbered software interface promoting vendor lock-in and preventing interoperability in the 2010s.

+And I don't blame you for not mentioning it, as it's a particularly tough argument to make convincing either way -- the flip side is that once I invent & patent something, I can sit on my butt for 20 years making money off it, whereas if everyone's free to copy me, I have to keep innovating to stay on top. Which effect wins out? Depends entirely on the actual market situation, how many companies are how competitive, etc., so it can only be answered on a case-by-case basis, and even then requires a lot of supposition.

Re:A patent "reform" bill is almost passed (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 3 years ago | (#37324608)

Patents don't stifle innovation, they improve it. Without patents, inventors would have to keep their processes secret.

This is silly. If inventors want to make money from their invention, they're going to have to publish it somehow anyway. Most patents are things that are impossible to keep secret anyway. The secret invention is a myth, especially in today's industry.

With patents, you get a monopoly in exchange for publication. And even still, patents don't stop anyone from inventing anything. They just stop people from re-inventing the same thing over and over again.

They also stop people from implementing obvious solutions, and force people to waste time and money on unproductive research just to see if anyone might have patented any of the obvious stuff that you inevitably use.

What patents do most of all, is tax small and new players in the market, and give big old players in the market unreasonable control over that market. It's against the entire notion of a free market.

Re:A patent "reform" bill is almost passed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37324616)

Begone, troll - your bullshit doesn't play here.

First to file is not evil ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321822)

The US currently awards patents on a first to invent basis. The rest of the world, plus the US if this bill passes, awards patents on a first to file basis. The opponents of first to file often make the erroneous argument that inventors get screwed under first to file. Nonsense, the first to invent is in the best position to be first to file. The "problem" is that in the US folks are used to gaming the patent system to get a few extra years of patent protection.

Under a first to invent system a person begins a well document process and invents something. They postpone filing for a patent because it will take some number of additional years to turn an invention into a commercial product. They rely on the fact that if some other inventor files they can trump that filing with their documented history of invention. Under a first to file system someone who invents something and postpones filing until they are closer to having a marketable product is gambling that another inventor will not appear. If some other inventor appears the gamble is lost.

All that a switch to first to file will mean is that inventors can no longer safely gamble that a competitor will not appear during the timeframe that an invention is turned into a marketable product. The first to invent merely has to file immediately to protect their invention. The only thing that is lost is some time under patent protection, the time to create a marketable product. Given that patents are 20 years this is not a big deal, most inventors will get 17-19 years on the market under protection rather than 20.

Re:First to file is not evil ... (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322046)

The first inventor can be screwed by a first-to-file system. Those with more resources can go from invention to filing faster. One concern is translating a useful invention into 'patentese', as well as doing a lot of searching for prior art. However, it's not really a point worth arguing deeply IMO. If two parties independently come up with the same invention in a short time period, then the invention is most likely obvious and no patent should have been granted ( a lot of the problems we have lie in our horrible methods of finding prior art and low standards for what constitutes 'obvious'). There are exceptions, but they would be very rare, perhaps within the same kind of frequency as lunar eclipses, and the best course of action in such cases very well may be to give a patent to neither even if the invention is clearly non-obvious.

Re:First to file is not evil ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322138)

The first inventor can be screwed by a first-to-file system. Those with more resources can go from invention to filing faster.

That seems exaggerated. A provisional patent can cost a few thousand dollars or less.
http://ipwatchdog.com/2011/01/28/the-cost-of-obtaining-patent/id=14668/ [ipwatchdog.com]

One concern is translating a useful invention into 'patentese', as well as doing a lot of searching for prior art.

A provisional patent skips a lot of the formalities. This will need to be addressed eventually and a regular patent will need to be filed.

Re:First to file is not evil ... (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322390)

It can be a few thousand dollars or less, or it can be higher depending upon the circumstances. Even so, a few thousand dollars may be prohibitively expensive to a start-up on a small budget in some cases. Also, within a year, a nonprovisional patent would have to be filed, which makes it have a fair bit more of a cost. And all of this is assuming that there is only one 'invention', since filing more patents means the costs multiply, with the likelihood of this being the case depending greatly upon the field in question.

I'm not saying anything about how often the first inventor being disadvantaged happens, but rather that it's not something to discount completely. The bigger concern to me is the incredibly low bar set for receiving patents, meaning that as a practical manner, many of these companies have to divert tens of thousands of dollars just to have some kind of leverage against the big dogs, with the vast majority of the portfolios for both sides often not having anything substantially new, and probably not really warranting the effort of even filing, let alone the social costs of two decades of monopoly.

Re:First to file is not evil ... (1)

psxndc (105904) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322454)

A provisional costs $110 if you are a small entity (e.g., a lone inventor).

Go here: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/qs/ope/fee2009september15.htm [uspto.gov]

Search for "Provisional application filing fee"

There are almost no requirements for a provisional other than listing who the inventors are, so you can file powerpoints, a thesis, hell probably a scan of a napkin.

People say the bar is low to receive a patent. Bullshit. I spend all day, every day trying to get my clients patents and it is not easy. The PTO is not some bigger rubber stamp machine despite what people here think. Yes, some bad apples get through. But truckloads of bushels do not.

Re:First to file is not evil ... (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322262)

Under a first to file system someone who invents something and postpones filing until they are closer to having a marketable product is gambling that another inventor will not appear. If some other inventor appears the gamble is lost.

The problem is that this solves one problem, but creates two bigger ones. So now, you've effectively shortened the duration of patents negligibly by pushing inventors to file them earlier. However:

  • Now, those inventors must file that patent because they can no longer count on showing documentation to prove that they invented it first. Therefore, if they invented it, they have to file a patent to avoid getting screwed, where otherwise, they might well have decided that it wasn't worth patenting. The result is that the number of patent filings will almost inevitably explode. You think the patent office is overloaded now, wait 'til you see it after first-to-file goes into effect.
  • It is no longer possible to create any sort of awe for consumers because the patents they are forced to file end up disclosing what's coming years in advance.

And in spite of all of that, the resulting patents will still last four or five times as long as they should in a fast-moving field like computer software.

In short, these reforms are a freaking train wreck that just shifts the problem around a little without addressing any of the real problems, such as patent duration, insufficient technical skill of the examiners (and thus, inability to evaluate what is obvious to an average practitioner), insufficiently narrow restrictions on obviousness, the outrageously high patent application rate, the low average patent quality (leading to the need to review a patent many, many times), the grossly underfunded nature of the patent office itself, and the fact that software is not really invention, but rather art, and is already protected adequately by copyright without the need for patents in the first place.

Re:First to file is not evil ... (2)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322322)

Under a first to file system someone who invents something and postpones filing until they are closer to having a marketable product is gambling that another inventor will not appear. If some other inventor appears the gamble is lost.

Now, those inventors must file that patent because they can no longer count on showing documentation to prove that they invented it first. Therefore, if they invented it, they have to file a patent to avoid getting screwed, where otherwise, they might well have decided that it wasn't worth patenting. The result is that the number of patent filings will almost inevitably explode.

I can't help but think this is somewhat exaggerated. If an inventor were to abandon a project I would expect them to do so before they got something working, not afterwards. I think those who take something from idea to working invention are *highly* likely to follow through with filing a patent. Especially provisional patents which don't have the administrative overhead, both for the inventor and the patent office, nor the costs of a regular patent.

Re:First to file is not evil ... (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322452)

If an inventor were to abandon a project I would expect them to do so before they got something working, not afterwards.

You're making the same two mistakes that lots of people make when talking about inventions in a patent context.

First, an inventor is rarely working as an individual. Most inventors these days are working for a company. That company is building a product. The company as a collective comes up with a hundred cool inventions that will make their product better.

Second, an invention is not a complete product. Each invention can be something as small as a better hinge design.

In first-to-invent: The vast majority of those are not worth patenting because they aren't sufficient to stop your competitors from competing with you. Thus, the company files patents only on the five or six that they think would give the greatest strategic advantage by actively preventing their competitors from competing with their product in the future.

In first-to-file: The vast majority of those inventions are worth patenting (or at least filing). In the absence of a patent, their competitors could patent any one of those hundred inventions and force a redesign of a product that's already in the pipeline, with a scheduled delivery date.

Thus, with first-to-file, the companies are likely to file protective patents on all 100 patents so that their competitors, if they happen to come up with the same idea, cannot kill some feature of their product before they are able to ship it. A few hundred dollars is nothing when compared with the need to avoid a delay that could cost millions of dollars in production delays.

Now, sure, a lot of those extra patent filings will be provisional filings, but only for inventions that the company expects to ship within a year. Most profitable companies have timelines that extend a lot farther out than that, however, so a sizable percentage of those will end up being full blown patent applications.

Re:First to file is not evil ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322470)

How are things going for the European patent office? If your hypothesis is correct and your scenario common we would be seeing problems over there.

Re:First to file is not evil ... (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322800)

By that same standard, doubling the cost of gasoline in the U.S. overnight can't possibly cause our economy to collapse because Europe has had such high gas prices all along.

Also, European companies don't seem to have nearly the inclination to screw each other that U.S. companies are so well known for. Most European countries (with the exception of Germany) file half as many patents per capita or less when compared with the U.S. We're patent-crazy on this side of the pond.

Re:First to file is not evil ... (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#37324284)

And Germany tends to file such huge amounts, because, well, we have a shitload of internationally operating manufacturers here, which, mostly, are actually quite innovative. Daimler, Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, Siemens, Osram, Bosch, MTU, Thyssen - just to name a few of the big ones. In spite of the high filing numbers, though, we don't see much litigation - and if someone wants to question the validity of a patent in court, it is way cheaper than in the US.

Re:First to file is not evil ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37323608)

Okay, forcing people to file sooner is good, but first-to-file destroys individual inventors.

IIRC, it costs on the order of $1000US for the actual patent (which many of us would have a hard time justifying), plus $10-20,000 for the lawyers to file it. Filing on one's own is possible, but the odds of surviving an attack by a corporation-financed legal team is drastically less. Who wants to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars defending their invention from a pirate and then lose everything (and no patent == no hope of recovering expenses) because a document wasn't worded correctly (admittedly, also a problem under the current system)?

In other words, patent protection will henceforth be mostly limited to large corporations.

When cars fly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37322022)

You don't have to wait until flying cars are invented to file patents related to it. Take patent 7,299,242 which AFAICT claims the use of all value recycling methods, including ones not invented yet, in single target reference counting. Except by definition of the problem, a multi-threading race condition, the solution is some form of value recycling. So basically you can get a patent not by proposing a particular solution, but by stating a problem and claiming all possible solutions to that problem. Linux uses RCU, a value recycling scheme, to do reference counting safely so it's in violation of the patent.

So for flying cars, you don't need to specify how to make a flying car, just define the problem of transporting people and goods through the air in a small vehicle and claim all possible solutions to that problem. And the patent office will grant it. IANAL but if some legal type would explain the subtlety here, I would appreciate it just so my flying car patent application has a better chance of making it through.

Re:A patent "reform" bill is almost passed (3, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322080)

Holy shit, people already tore your post to shreds the last time you posted it [slashdot.org] on account of you being wrong on numerous points. And you're repeating most of those wrong points in this thread, too. Why are you still here?

Re:A patent "reform" bill is almost passed (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322416)

Repeat a lie often enough, and it becomes "true".

Note: I've done zero research on this bill the OP is talking about, so I don't know if he's lying or not. I'm just responding to the question of why someone would repeatedly post an argument that had been debunked.

"Redundant" penalty in different articles? (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322506)

You posted this in this [slashdot.org] article, and people repeatedly pointed out your numerous errors. You didn't reply there, but instead posted the same comment here... Does this make you a troll?

Because it's reform (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321662)

You cannot expect any sort of reform whatsoever to occur anytime soon because essentially all of our agencies have been captured by industry.

Too long. Short answer.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37321686)

Greed.

... and when there is nothing left to patent? (1)

nido (102070) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321698)

Suppose humanity figures out most of what it needs to live in perpetual prosperity. Tesla's patents for polyphase AC system expired long ago, and all his notes and prior-art for next-generation energy systems was seized by the FBI when he died.

Drug companies have a real patent problem on their hands: all their old "blockbusters" are losing patent protection, and nothing's coming up to replace them. Why? Because the chemicals we have are good enough.

For the most part, true health is not produced in a chemistry lab, it is produced from "right living": the right kind of food inputs and the right kind of activity make a bigger difference in most people's lives.

There will always be innovation, but the pace will slow down substantially. Our focus needs to move to implementing the ideas we have, rather than fighting patent warfare amongst corporations. 20 more years... :)

Re:... and when there is nothing left to patent? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321732)

For the most part, true health is not produced in a chemistry lab, it is produced from "right living"

'True health' will be produced by genetic engineering. Of course US liability and patent laws will probably ensure it's produced in a more sensible country.

Re:... and when there is nothing left to patent? (1)

nido (102070) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321904)

I have a friend from high school who I caught up with on Facebook last year... They theorized that his kid's health problem was some kind of "de-novo" genetic mutation. They went to all the best doctors, and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of their insurance company's money on genetic tests and MRIs and blood work and pills, etc etc ad infinitum.

'Mom' is apparently a very smart cookie, and her research led her to experiment with ... Vitamin B-12, and Vitamin-A. And all the kid's symptoms started going away.

Why didn't any of the swarm of doctors notice? Who knows.

'True health' will be produced by genetic engineering.

You can wait for "them" to figure that out. Me, I'm sticking to the fundamentals.

Re:... and when there is nothing left to patent? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322362)

Why didn't any of the swarm of doctors notice? Who knows.

Because pharmaceutical companies don't give the doctors kickbacks for prescribing more over-the-counter vitamins, and hospitals don't make more profit by running fewer, cheaper tests.

Medical care in the U.S. became purely driven by profit motives a long time ago, which is why the U.S. has one of the worst health care systems of almost any industrialized nation (according to several key indicators), and yet has a higher overall cost of service than almost any industrialized nation. Remove the profit motive, and you'll bring things back to being about the patient instead of about the service. It's really the only way.

Write your congresspeople and tell them to fund the formation of a national network of independently operated, 501(c)(3)/501(e) non-profit hospitals and clinics.

Re:... and when there is nothing left to patent? (1)

VoidCrow (836595) | more than 3 years ago | (#37324092)

One of my exes had a prostate problem which resisted a number of attempts to clear via antibiotics. It was only when I tried giving him zinc supplements that the problem went away. I tend to look at the human body as a complex system with a spread of resource and maintenance needs. It's no panacea, but it does seem that the engineering/systems viewpoint is missing from the repertoire of tools provided by a medical education.

Re:... and when there is nothing left to patent? (1)

nido (102070) | more than 3 years ago | (#37324304)

There's a quite excellent article titled "100 Years of Medical Robbery"... 'twas posted over at mises.org about 7 years ago. Anyways, it covers how the drug trusts helped the American Medical Association weed out all the "subpar" medical schools. Now doctors just learn about how to pick drugs and perform surgery. Well, mostly just that.

Wikipedia has a few good links on the "Flexner Report" page too.... "How the Cost-Plus System Evolved"

Thanks for commenting. :)

Re:... and when there is nothing left to patent? (1)

chronoglass (1353185) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321790)

Drug companies have a real patent problem on their hands: all their old "blockbusters" are losing patent protection

oh, no, don't worry about them, they can twist a chemical bond and rename it to start their 21 years over again just like tacking mobile onto it for electronics.

real question is.. what's next?

"in a 3d space", "with your mind", or in an "augmented reality"?

I just patented patent reform. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37321730)

They have to pay me before they can fix the system.

Patent Reform will never happen... (1)

Ken Broadfoot (3675) | more than 3 years ago | (#37321742)

Patent Reform is just the kind of thing that would be gridlocked in congress. Whomever brought it up, regardless of merit, would be opposed by the other side.
However, in order to fill campaign coffers, I bet you will see stuff come up regularly, with a wink wink across the aisle, as a fund raising tool.

Re:Patent Reform will never happen... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37322802)

Whoever, not whomever.

We need a champion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37321750)

A guy or gal with credibility with the mainstream media, Congress and general public, someone who has a substantial and successful business record in technology (blogging and journalism don't count) and who is considered pragmatic, not an ideologue.

Not RMS or Lawrence Lessig.

Patent Reform (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37321762)

I doubt our founding fathers had any idea that corporations would own patents rather than individual innovators. Corporations claim they are the ONLY reason a patent is created and, therefore, they own it. Is that true? Think about Dennis Ritchie, Ken Thompson, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Should not they own their patents directly?

Should patents, once transfered have force? Patents are, indeed, property. But since they
are also called out explicitly in the US Constitution, they can be subject to special rules. After all,
they are not physical property. They are the archetypical "Intellectual Property". In the
history of "property rights" where does Intellectual Property show up?

I am very uncomfortable with the concept of patent trolls. (Paul Allen, are you listening?).
Patents should be granted to individuals in my opinion. Here is where the 'personhood'
of corporations should be denied - legally.

To me, a patent should be a grant by all of America to the INDIVIDUAL who created and deployed
an idea. I think there may be economic consequences of such a view, but I would be more willing
to accept them than what is currently happening in the "patent wars".

Ed

Umm...it's pretty much a done deal. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37321772)

Since the Senate passed the cloture vote on a mirror image of HR 1249 by 93-5 about an hour ago, I'd say that someone is incredibly uninformed. It will probably be signed into law by the end of the week.

Need to devalue patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37321808)

Maybe we need to devalue patents so that they are worthless to the companies filing them.

For software patents, which are the most bothersome, perhaps an open source implementation that would allow the rest of the world to use the invention might discourage this nonsense.

The real problem (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322058)

And Congress won't act unless big stakeholders (read: big companies) make a stink.

Quotes like this highlight the true root of the problem. While Congress acts on behalf of corporations instead of the public, anything that favours the public is going to be incidental. There's no point in trying to reform the patent system, unless the political system which undergirds it is reformed first.

you know Bill does not work there anymore (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322204)

just making sure cause its not really fair to quote someone who is not in the office anymore and making it out like current policy was their decision

Abolishing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37322214)

Patents is the only reform I can think of and that ain't gonna happen until they figure out a cheaper and easier way to bleed the general public.

There is no spoon. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37322224)

In the words of Gandhi, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

Live how you want and ignore such absurd laws and they will soon be relegated to the dustbin of history. Tolerate this and you are sacrificing freedom for an unrealistic dream peddled by snake oil salesmen.

possible way to stop software patents (1)

Tristfardd (626597) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322258)

The only way to get rid of software patents is to make the system too expensive for companies to support the current system. One way to do this is to create a large growing patent pool that is not available to commercial companies. The organization holding the pool would have to vigorously defend the patents. Some issues would exist, none insurmountable. One is the money needed to pay for the new patents and to litigate against those violating the patents. (Not wanting to write a manifesto, I will touch on this.) Say the EFF chose to do it. The issue branches into minimizing the cost and optimizing the money invested in patents. The application cost is fixed, the cost of preparing the application can be reduced a little, especially if EFF were handling writing the patent applications and writing all of them with a common goal. Consider a company that wanted to help the cause. Paying for some patents used in this way is a solid long-term investment if it helps break the patent system. It may even be possible to include commercial companies. Allow them to join possibly by transferring all patents to the organization. If a company has no patents, maybe they could join by paying for a patent or two. The solution is not a big deal. It is only a case of setting up an organization that constantly gets more patents and completely blocks any company that won't join. Such a system, once going, accelerates quickly. Oh yes. It should be set up that when a company joins, it joins irrevocably. This prevents large companies with patents forcing it to withdraw. Patent trolls are not an issue. Forcing the large companies into patent gridlock is all that is necessary. They will get the law changed.

Wait... (1)

n6kuy (172098) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322412)

> And Congress won't act unless big stakeholders (read:
> Big Campaign Finance Contributors) make a stink."

There. I fixed it for you.

Melancholy Elephants (2)

sabernet (751826) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322476)

More and more, I keep remembering Spider Robinson's Melancholy Elephants.

http://www.spiderrobinson.com/melancholyelephants.html [spiderrobinson.com]

Yes, I know that deals mainly with copyright, but the points about the damaging effects of intellectual property protectionism is still relevant. Besides, these days, the main differences between patents and copyright are mainly that one costs more money and effort to file for while the other is implicit.

That's not the main reason. (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322514)

The reason now is "in for a penny, in for a pound." How much of a software company's worth is the value of their patent portfolio?

Let's look at Google, and their project Android. Android was recently attacked by a series of patent infringement suits. [wired.com] These guys, Oracle [engadget.com] , a few others. [venturebeat.com]

How do they respond? They purchase Motorola Mobility, for $12.5 billion. [hollywoodreporter.com] Suddenly, bang! They have a gigantic war chest of mobile patents. Now the situation changes. Now it's like the guy who goes to see the dentist, sits down in the chair, and when the doctor comes in with the drill he grabs the doc by the balls and says "Let's not hurt each other." Suddenly these heavy hitters have something to fear.

Now the other side of the coin.

Google just plunked down $12.5B to defend itself from software patents. That's how much it was worth to them. Sure, they get Motorola Mobility as well in the deal. But we all know why they made the purchase. For the patents. Cheaper than going to the courts. How much of that 12.5 do you think the patents were valued at? How much did Google stand to lose fighting Android? Same number pretty much. Probably more than 5 billion. Probably less than 10.

Now imagine if software patents were suddenly made invalid. That is a LOT of money to suddenly go *poof*. And that's just one instance. Think of every tech company that has a patent war chest. How much value they place on it. How much money they make in licensing. Motorola Mobility just was purchased because of their patent "wealth".

If that all suddenly goes away it'll wreak havoc in the tech sector. All patent holding companies will have to be revalued. Expect companies to lose 20%, 30%...50%... What do you think that'll do for jobs in the tech sector? Your job?

I freaking hate software patents, but now that they're here and companies lean so heavily on them for valuation...it's going to be a rough day when they go away. Going to be a *lot* of unhappy stock holders and a lot of lost jobs.

Re:That's not the main reason. (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322680)

That's why you do things gradually, not cold turkey. What if we simply said that starting 1 year from now, no more patent filings would be accepted? Current patents would remain valid. People who had been working towards a patent would have 1 year to finish their work and submit it. About 22 years from now, the last patents would expire, and we'd be completely free of them.

Re:That's not the main reason. (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322974)

That's a great idea for a fix. Seriously, no sarcasm - I like it. I think that would work.

Only problem I see is that you'd still be asking companies to take a gigantic loss. And the market would still have some serious spasms on the announcement. And people with money tend to view things quarter-by-quarter. They don't really think long term.

I've thought along those lines w/r/t copyright (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 3 years ago | (#37323552)

I've thought along those lines with regards to gradually implementing shorter copyright terms. Seems like a similar process could work for patents and/or complete abolition.

2011 patents would last for 20 years (expiration 2031)
2012 patents would last for 19 years (expiration also 2031)
One could take this process all the way to zero or stop at a reduced term. For example, if you wanted to reduce the patent term to 14 years, you'd reach that point in 2017 but you wouldn't further reduce to 13 years for 2018.

In this example, there would be a glut of things expiring in 2031 thanks to the term having gradually been wound down.
However, if you fully reduced the patent term right away, you'd end up in an odd situation where some older patents expires after some newer patents.
(for example, 2011+20=2031 vs. 2012+14 = 2026)

Software patents are not evil (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322860)

LZ/LZW compression, RSA encryption, etc are excellent examples of software patents that were definitely not obvious, had no prior art, and were incredibly valuable.

However, simply adding "on an electronic device", "on a computer", or "on a mobile device" to an established method of doing something should not qualify for a patent. There needs be something else that makes the method novel and non-obvious, for it to qualify for a patent (i.e. it's an "improvement" patent, not merely applying essentially the same method to another class of products.

If we actually required patents to be novel, non-obvious, significantly different that prior art, and made it easier to contest/invalidate "dubious" patents that slip through, we might be able to create a workable patent system, including software patents. I can even see justification to give most software patents a reduced term (5-10 years?). Not because I think software patents are less valuable, but because they're usually cheaper to create/produce, and because most of them will have a shorter market life in the fast-paced software field, so a shorter term would mean fewer latent infringement suits, not necessarily significantly less revenue. The shorter term also addresses the public interest in making such inventions available for use such that the public benefits from them.

A bit of a left turn here, but patents for medications, gene therapy, genes, etc also need to be seriously reexamined. I have some ideas there, but those with more experience in those fields may have more suggestions for changes. One example I can think of is patenting a racemic mixture of stereoisomers, then when that patent is about to expire, getting a new patent for a single enantiomer [wikipedia.org] of the same medicine. In many stereoisomers, one of the enantiomers is the active component, while the other is either inert, or responsible for increased side effects. So, the isolated enantiomer is often a worthwhile improvement, however, I don't view that as grounds for another 17-20yr patent. If they have to invent a novel process for separating the enantiomers, that process might qualify for a patent, but the drug itself shouldn't. There are other similar examples, but I'll leave it at that for now.

The NEW business model (2)

RandomStr (2116782) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322976)

It's a sign of the times, the percentage of the population capable of coming up with a new idea is shrinking, and the model employee(technical) is now too specialised to see the big picture dew to technical requirements, etc... Not to mention the fact that most things have already been done.

Innovation is now something that is attained through acquisition of other companies. Recognise.

For a small company to "make a splash", hold on to their "idea" and be the one to profit, a patent is the only option.
At the end of the day, most starts-ups want to be bought-out, so a patent is essentially the dominant currency of today.

The age of "Inverse outsourcing of innovation", is upon us.

Lawyers are the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37324176)

Lawyers do well out of patents. Even if all the big tech companies decided they sucked, the lawyers would not want it to change. I am not sure they carry more weight than the legal profession, look how many politicians are lawyers.

... then just limit software patents to (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37324550)

1 year. Then they expire.

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