Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Google Enlarges Warchest With 1023 IBM Patents

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the put-it-on-the-pile dept.

Google 245

First time accepted submitter ElBeano writes "Google has continued to beef up its patent portfolio in the face of the onslaught from Apple and Microsoft. The best defense is a good offense. 'Google is building an arsenal of patents that the company has said is largely designed to counter a "hostile, organized campaign" by companies including Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. against the Android operating system for mobile devices. Google had already acquired 1,030 patents from IBM in a transaction recorded in July, and will obtain more than 17,000 with its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.'"

cancel ×

245 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Sweet (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37405756)

Steve Jobs' army is going to be sucking dick in hell while the Fandroid minions grow larger and slower.

Also, Windows Phone 7 is for the mentally disabled.

Re:Sweet (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406620)

Windows Phone 7 is for the mentally disabled.

Haven't they suffered enough?

Golden Girls! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37405762)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a cosmonaut.

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you ever knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend.

Re:Golden Girls! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406012)

You take the good, you take the bad,
you take them both and there you have
The Facts of Life, the Facts of Life.

There's a time you got to go and show
You're growin' now you know about
The Facts of Life, the Facts of Life.

When the world never seems
to be livin up to your dreams
And suddenly you're finding out
the Facts of Life are all about you, you.

Re:Golden Girls! (0)

jhobbs (659809) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406026)

Uh, that's a pal and CONFIDANT. As in, someone you confide in, not someone you wanna launch into space.

Re:Golden Girls! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406074)

That's hilarious.... Even the trolls on /. are Space Nutters...

Did they start counting at zero? (4, Funny)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#37405766)

1023? That is a suspiciously round number...

Re:Did they start counting at zero? (1, Funny)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 2 years ago | (#37405810)

I wasn't aware patents could be awarded fractionally...

Re:Did they start counting at zero? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406538)

If only you waited just a wee bit longer, you would've had one awesome UID.

Re:Did they start counting at zero? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37405892)

That's 3FFin' suspicious.

Re:Did they start counting at zero? (1)

Unoriginal_Nickname (1248894) | more than 2 years ago | (#37405898)

1111111111

Re:Did they start counting at zero? (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#37405998)

1777

Re:Did they start counting at zero? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406182)

Someone should patent some software that uses more than 10 bits to store the number of patents.

Re:Did they start counting at zero? (1)

itamblyn (867415) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406592)

2^10 - 1

Re:Did they start counting at zero? (1)

telekon (185072) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406706)

1023? That is a suspiciously round number...

Of course. It's a 2^10-element array of patents, the reporter just took the index of the last one and reported it as the count.

Unbelievable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37405776)

Hard to believe people get paid to sift through all these garbage patents looking for infractions. What a colossal waste of productive time.

Re:Unbelievable. (2)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#37405896)

Hard to believe people get paid to sift through all these garbage patents looking for infractions. What a colossal waste of productive time.

OT - still better than having the same people turning politicians, don't you think?

Submission quality... (0)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37405800)

The best defense is a good offense.

[citation needed]

Re:Submission quality... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37405952)

The best defense is a good offense.

[citation needed]

I find it funny, coming from a company posing as an anti-patent troll. I guess the only real anti patent trolls now are the linux patent protection pool and onda technology institute

Re:Submission quality... (5, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406090)

Sun Tzu, "The Art of War", Section VI, Lines 1-2: [wikisource.org]
1. Sun Tzu said: Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy, will be fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle will arrive exhausted.
2. Therefore the clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy's will to be imposed on him.

Re:Submission quality... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406346)

Frikken awesome response. Lamenting my lack of points. Miss you, Taco!

Re:Submission quality... (2)

Pikoro (844299) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406368)

Mel, the cook on Alice...

let the patent wars begin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37405832)

its not about products any more its about patenting everything in sight and then screwing over other people...

Re:let the patent wars begin (4, Interesting)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406056)

Actually this is more likely to stop the patent wars in this part of the industry then set them off.

The thing with software patents is that their primary effect (other than to allow patent trolls to hold up people who make stuff) is to prevent a new player from entering an existing market. The existing players have a whole arsenal of software patents and anybody who wants to enter the market will be infringing a slew of them no matter what, so the existing players can sue them and enjoin them legally from entering the market. And most of the time the new entrant knows that ahead of time and just doesn't bother.

In this case the new entrant was Google, so what happened is that everybody who had been in the market for a while and had a patent arsenal started to shake them down and demand high royalties or try to keep their products off of the market, because Google has never been in the mobile device market before and so didn't have a relevant patent arsenal with which to ward of the incumbents' attacks.

What Google is doing now is buying their way into the club. (Notice that only large companies sitting on a mountain of cash can do this -- the little guy is fucked.) If they buy these billions of dollars worth of patents then they can threaten the incumbents in the same way that the incumbents are threatening them, and at the end of the day they all just end up cross-licensing and Google becomes one of the incumbents going forward.

At that point companies can go back to competing based on merit, but only those companies that can afford to buy their way into the market. The patent system excludes everyone else.

Cross licenses? (1)

sillivalley (411349) | more than 2 years ago | (#37405836)

Google takes these patents subject to existing cross licenses. How many competitors (such as Apple and MS) already have cross licenses with IBM that cover these?

Re:Cross licenses? (2)

powerspike (729889) | more than 2 years ago | (#37405902)

Google takes these patents subject to existing cross licenses. How many competitors (such as Apple and MS) already have cross licenses with IBM that cover these?

I'm quite sure there is a clause in the cross licencing that if you take legal action the licencing agreement is null and void.

Re:Cross licenses? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#37405910)

Google takes these patents subject to existing cross licenses. How many competitors (such as Apple and MS) already have cross licenses with IBM that cover these?

Interesting! But... what a cross-licensing agreement is good for if the cross-licensor still attacks you?
(is it any different from having the patent war-chest without any cross-licensing?)

Re:Cross licenses? (3, Informative)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406462)

Cross licensing gets rid of the concept of one party still attacking another for the most part. Party A sues Party B: result Party A either gets money or Party B has to stop doing what they are doing. However if Party B has its own trove of patents, the idea of cross licensing comes through by Party B telling Party A "Hey, if you don't back that lawsuit off, we will sue you for patents x, y and z." At that point both parties are pretty much in a stalemate - so they agree that Party A can use patents x, y and z while Party B holds off suing them.

Both parties will pretty much want to keep doing what they are doing, so they rattle their sabres for a while until an equilibrium is reached with the patents.

If (like in this case) one of the parties is new to the group or bought up a bunch of patents, they can still be attacked - but they already know what their patents are worth to the other companies - they were likely already using them as part of some agreement previously. If they still get sued, they (as the new patent owners) can revoke previous agreements allowing the other companies use of their patents. If this happens, then basically the whole things starts from the beginning of this post until an equilibrium is reached.

Patents (1)

geefau (986367) | more than 2 years ago | (#37405868)

is there an easy way to get a basic understanding of what the 1023 IBM patents are for, are they mostly algorithm patents or?

Re:Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406360)

Most likely not about algorithms at all, more like design\style\look-and-feel and other very general ideas used in most portable devices and their corresponding software.

Software (3, Interesting)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 2 years ago | (#37405872)

I think what's really stupid about software patents is that you can't find out what part of your software is infringing on another company's patents. That's the idiotic part. Hardware patents, of course. Samsung can learn immediately what Apple's specific complaints are. But software patents remain hidden, so that Google can't go back and change whatever code is infringing on their competitor. You don't even need to get rid of patents. Just get rid of this ridiculous veil of secrecy garbage.

Re:Software (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406496)

All awarded patents are available and if someone claims your infringing on his patent, he has of course to tell you which patent your infringing.
With that information you should be able to change your software regardless how the other company has implemented it's patent.
The real problem lies in the fact that in essence you should match all known patents against your software/hardware/design.

Re:Software (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406554)

I think what's really stupid about software patents is that you can't find out what part of your software is infringing on another company's patents.

Sure you can. It's a huge amount of work, and generally not worth the effort, but it's certainly possible. And it's no different from hardware patents in that regard. What makes you think they're different?

Re:Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406818)

That's why companies nowadays fight eachother over the looks of their devices and user-interfaces, not the actual implementation.

Taking sides in the Patent Wars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37405876)

Despite the flack that Google got in the past couple of years for abandoning its "Don't Be Evil" motto - at least in appearance - I still trust them more with a patent portfolio than Apple. Apple's success in blocking the sale of Samsung tablets in Europe puts them in the "Evil" category, where they use patents to block competition from access to the market.

Microsoft went the route that patents were designed for: making money by licensing patents to Android phones. Whether software patents should be allowed or not is a whole different question, but Microsoft seems to have changed its stance from killing/buying-out the competition to charging them to compete with Microsoft.

Google, on the other hand, hasn't used its patent portfolio to prevent competition from reaching the market, or to make it pay to reach the market. Until they do, I will side with them.

Re:Taking sides in the Patent Wars (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37405944)

samsung should thank apple. Otherwise, they'd need to explain why nobody is buying their piece-of-shit tablet.

Re:Taking sides in the Patent Wars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406050)

lol..troll fail

Re:Taking sides in the Patent Wars (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406080)

Similarly, you should thank me for not kicking the living shit out of you, shit stain.

Backdating patents is okay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37405886)

Am I to understand that you can buy patent protection for violating *past* alleged infractions of someone else's patents?

This seems sort of evil, to me.

Re:Backdating patents is okay? (1)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 2 years ago | (#37405978)

It isn't "protection" so much as it is "ammunition" -- someone has come to Google pointing a gun and sticking them up. Google must then go out and acquire their own weapons so that they can negotiate peace from a stronger position.

There is no element of "backdating" -- Apple or Microsoft or whoever was always violating the patents that Google now has, it's just that the then-owner had not yet attempted to enforce them. After Google buys the patents, they can threaten to enforce the patents if the initial aggressor does not back down.

We can't let (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37405890)

Russia have more nukes than us!

IBM is Selling (1)

vlad30 (44644) | more than 2 years ago | (#37405942)

So when do they expire ? why are they selling ? after all IBM makes a lot from the research it did and licensing of said patents

Re:IBM is Selling (4, Interesting)

Kagetsuki (1620613) | more than 2 years ago | (#37405996)

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend." They can pass the patents to Google and let Google take the heat and fight the fight and they can generally stay out of it - for them that's good. Besides, this will surely strengthen the Google-IBM relationship and I'm sure there were other terms and conditions set out on the transfer that will be beneficial to IBM.

It should further be noted that IBM has actually taken patents for things and allowed totally free use simply to prevent anyone from controlling some fundamental technology. As far as patents go they seem like the good guys.

Re:IBM is Selling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406098)

IBM also employs the lead of the samba team.

Why? To understand MS protocols I guess.

Doesn't matter what your reason, someone will always be fighting someone, so do what you want to do and someone will back you if you're doing a good job!

Re:IBM is Selling (1)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406206)

It should further be noted that IBM has actually taken patents for things and allowed totally free use simply to prevent anyone from controlling some fundamental technology. As far as patents go they seem like the good guys.

I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, they seem to be fairly well behaved when it comes to software patents; you don't see IBM going out and trying to put its competitors out of business by threatening them with patent injunctions. (Although there was that one time [arstechnica.com] .)

At the same time, I have to wonder how much of that is just circumstance. IBM is one of the strong proponents of the scourge of software patents outside of the patent lawyers who don't want to lose their jobs. And when you think about it, who would IBM go after that they aren't already? Their direct competitors basically all have their own patents and they therefore almost certainly have cross-licensing agreements with them rather than court battles, which may or may not involve cash payments. And since license agreements are not generally public information, for all we know they are already collecting their tithe from everybody in the industry.

Re:IBM is Selling (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406442)

IBM is absolutely not on the good side when it comes to patents, they are on their own side. You will never see IBM make any move unless somewhere someone has calculated that it will make them profit. And they are very, very good at making that calculation, which is why they are still in business a hundred years later. Guaranteed Google paid them for these patents, more than they are worth to IBM, and that's why they got them.

IBM is not on the good side of the patent war. They make millions every year on patents alone. They nearly sued SUN into the ground, among other patents, for a patent on drawing a line. [forbes.com] Here is a quote by an IBM lawyer:

"maybe you don't infringe these seven patents. But we have 10,000 U.S. patents. Do you really want us to go back to Armonk [IBM headquarters in New York] and find seven patents you do infringe? Or do you want to make this easy and just pay us $20 million?"

IBM likes their patents.

well said (1)

dhammabum (190105) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406566)

Reminded me of IBM's siding with Oracle against Apache on the Java licensing dispute and backing OpenJDK. Then publicly lauding Oracle for putting Open Office under an Apache licence despite the disruption this would cause to the Document Foundation and Libre Office.

Re:well said (2)

thejynxed (831517) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406634)

That's because it would then allow IBM to incorporate any improvements more quickly into Lotus (competitor to both OO and LO) while at the same time slowing down improvements to LO (because they would have to delay even longer to review, improve, and approve any of the new stuff) and simultaneously giving them (IBM) and Oracle a way to muscle things where the Document Foundation is concerned.

That entire situation was "I scratch your back, you scratch mine."

Re:IBM is Selling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406722)

Actually, filing patents is a pretty expensive business if you just want to stop someone else from patenting the idea.

What big companies tend to do if they want to maintain "freedom of action" is to simply publish the patent submission as an article in (for example) IP.com. That gives them (and others) this freedom at a cost substantially less than a patent.

Ideas that are deemed useful in terms of use, but not so useful in terms of extracting money from others, tend to go down the publish route.

just pay up already (0)

kiwirob (588600) | more than 2 years ago | (#37405980)

Wouldn't it just be cheaper for Google to arrange a direct patent license with Microsoft and Apple rather than trying to build their own patent portfolio to try and go to war? It's pretty clear from the Lindholm email in the Oracle lawsuit that senior member of the Andriod team knew there was patent issues, which they ignored and decided to risk the legal problems later. So now instead of fairly paying their own way they are paying stupid money for Motorola and billions more buying patents from IBM and others. "Do no evil" what a joke, they are a dirty bunch of thieving bastards!

Re:just pay up already (5, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406122)

So now instead of paying protection money they are paying stupid money for Motorola and billions more buying patents from IBM and others

Fixed that for you. As for Google's motivation, probably "if once you have paid him the Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane."

Re:just pay up already (1)

kiwirob (588600) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406422)

Paying money as part of a cross license agreement is kinda standard practice in the technology industry. Google purchased Andriod and controls it's "free" distribution to hardware OEMs when they had virtually no patents apart from the origin PageRank patent (that they will not license to anybody else by the way). What's different from Google and Apple and Microsoft is they have been active in the research and development of software operating systems and hardware manufacture for ever. They already had a large number of patents and are also more than happy to pay FRAND fees for patents that are part of international standards.

As far as worrying about having to continue to pay more later thats a simple matter of contract negotiation. Google pays to license all current patents as at the date of the contract.

While you might not agree with software patents, they are in currently part of the legal system. There is an obligation on all corporations to follow the law until such time as the law gets changed.

Re:just pay up already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406200)

Let it go. Clearly you have an issue with Google (your posting history is my citation), but there is nothig Evil about buying patents, they may do something evil later with those patents, but this isn't it. Google is learning the only real lesson the current US patent system teaches, build a patent portfolio so that you can convince your major competitors that suing you will cost too much. Any attempt for a company the size of Google to license every patent that it might end up being sued for would cost several times what they just paid out for Motorola and the IBM patents. You are right, Google decided it would be better to fight Java patents in court rather than license up front. Until Oracle became the owner of those patents, that was looking like a pretty safe bet. Maybe Google should have just bought Sun. Even now, the size of the potential judgement has been reduced to the point that even if they lose they may not have made a terrible decision, and if they manage to invalidate the Sun patent claims then they definitely took the correct path.

Re:just pay up already (2)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406244)

Why should they pay their competitors when they can pay similar money to someone who isn't trying to sue them out of the market?

Re:just pay up already (1)

kiwirob (588600) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406472)

Go back and look at the history. Nokia and Motorola started the patent wars attacking Apple. The only people currently directly suing Google is Oracle and judging by the Lindholm email they have very good reason to.

Microsoft and Apple both are sitting on many $10Billion's of cash. Paying a couple dollars to them to license technology which has obviously been copied isn't going to give with company and more of an advantage in the market place than they already have.

In fact Microsoft has already offered Google to join syndicates to purchase patents so they don't end up in the hands on non practicing patent trolls. The fact that Google refuses to join in and play nice says a lot about their evil litigious intentions.

Re:just pay up already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406302)

Wouldn't it just be cheaper for Microsoft and Apple to arrange a direct patent license with Google rather than trying to build their own patent portfolio to try and go to war?

Re:just pay up already (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406384)

Wouldn't it just be cheaper for Google to arrange a direct patent license with Microsoft and Apple rather than trying to build their own patent portfolio to try and go to war?

You are assuming that Apple and Microsoft would be willing to license the patents to Google. But why should they? There's probably more money in having no competition from Google than Google could ever pay.

Re:just pay up already (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406446)

You clearly dont know much about this issue.

First, Google *is* paying Microsoft licensing for various things in their Android phones. However, this transaction only applies to the Android phones made by Google. They do not apply to the Android Phones made by others.

Google knew there was patent issues and they actually resolved them BY LICENSING THE VARIOUS PATENTS.

The evil part is that even though Google knew there were patent issues, they invited every other manufacturer to go ahead and just use the OS without getting their own licenses. Google fucked everyone.

expandio ad absurdam (0)

markhahn (122033) | more than 2 years ago | (#37405994)

will future history remember Goggle's main significance as hastening the demise of the current patent system?

Re:expandio ad absurdam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406388)

That's one of their hopes. Unfortunately, patent reform won't happen fast enough to save Android.

Re:expandio ad absurdam (1)

kiwirob (588600) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406438)

Hey Google seeing as you don't agree with software patents can I please have a free license to use your PageRank search algorithm patents. More competition is good for everybody right so how about it.....Whats that? You want to use everybody else's patents for free but you are not prepared to share your own patents?? Doesn't that make you a hypocrite?

Quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406006)

Have read several articles that suggest the 17k are not really that relevant to modern phone OS's, and were probably a waste of money.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/08/15/google_motorola_the_poker_chip_that_cant_be_redeemed/ [theregister.co.uk]

http://www.businessinsider.com/googles-motorola-patents-are-crap-2011-8 [businessinsider.com]

Wonder how useful the next 1k are?

LOL, Apple Fucktards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406060)

Still shitting themselves over the epic Google Motorola bombshell.

Sounds like the dumb bitches are still crying over their starbucks...

 

Why don't they just cross-license? (1)

SleepyHappyDoc (813919) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406010)

I don't understand why Google and Apple don't just sit down and agree to let each other use all their patents. Then they really could compete on the strength of their own innovations, rather than wasting all this money on lawyers. The customers will go to the one who implements the patents better.

Re:Why don't they just cross-license? (4, Informative)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406058)

Because prior to Google buying the IBM and Motorola patents they had nothing to offer. Why would Apple (or Microsoft, or Samsung, or anyone else) let Google just use their patents when Google has nothing of value to offer them? That is just throwing away money. Now that Google has something to offer they are in a better position to make such a deal.

Re:Why don't they just cross-license? (2)

SleepyHappyDoc (813919) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406088)

That makes sense. Now that Google has all these patents, do you think it will go down that way (cross-licensing)?

Re:Why don't they just cross-license? (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406186)

I don't understand why Google and Apple don't just sit down and agree to let each other use all their patents. Then they really could compete on the strength of their own innovations, rather than wasting all this money on lawyers. The customers will go to the one who implements the patents better.

Patents are part of the strengths of their own innovations. Or do you not get the point of innovation and patenting said innovation?

Re:Why don't they just cross-license? (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406548)

I don't understand why Google and Apple don't just sit down and agree to let each other use all their patents.

..because such a deal wouldnt apply to manufacturers of Android or iOS devices other than specifically Google and Apple. Such a deal doesnt help the HTC's of the world.

You do understand this stuff, right? ..well... perhaps now.

Do patents encourage innovation anymore? (5, Insightful)

mykos (1627575) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406014)

I have a feeling that if I were to make my own cell phone from scratch, without looking at a single patent and using only obvious ideas off the top of my head, I'd owe a lot of people a lot of money.

Re:Do patents encourage innovation anymore? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406092)

The of point patents is you don't have make one from scratch; you can read the patents. I think your underestimating the complexity of a cell. Just because a lot of patents are obvious, doesn't mean all of them are.

Re:Do patents encourage innovation anymore? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406330)

That's precisely what's wrong with software patents. "you can read the patents" is useful for hardware because it can save you expensive physical engineering R&D in exchange. But with software you can just solve a bunch of problems at your keyboard on the way to building your app, and then find out later you've infringed X number of patents. We've erected a complete minefield around software innovation.

Re:Do patents encourage innovation anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406102)

I think the point is you didn't, you probably do not have the resources and most importantly you can't prove if "from scratch" is now tainted with other peoples "obvious" ideas. The wheel seems pretty obvious but in retrospect I think the current laws governing patents would be fair to guy who made it happen first.

I have some of my own obvious idea's I'll go ahead and sell you right now if you want to beat them the next go round.

Re:Do patents encourage innovation anymore? (2, Insightful)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406240)

Yes, you can do that now, and you consider it obvious, because you have used a cell phone. You have used/seen different types of cell phones. You doubtless have read countless articles on how they work. You know what components are used in them.

Now, go back 30 years and tell us that you could have come up with a Droid or iPhone then. Not just a general idea (little handheld-device that lets you do things), but an actual, working, Droid or iPhone or equivalent. Remember, there were no Li-ion batteries, no touch displays, no GSM, no ARM processors. Even supposedly simple stuff like magnets small enough and powerful enough to make a speaker you could hear didn't exist. No digital cameras. To get from where we were 30 years ago to where we are now took thousands and thousands of innovations, damn near all of them patented.

So yes, undeniably patents encourage innovation. Furthermore, as you said, if you implemented your 'obvious' cell phone you would be infringing on many patents. The way to avoid those patents is to innovate new methods of doing things that cell phones do (which you can then patent). Make a new I/O method, etc. Or do you think we are at the end of the line for I/O, and 50 years from now we will still be using touch LED displays? I bet the real innovators are working on those things right now. And they will patent them.

Re:Do patents encourage innovation anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406300)

There is no undeniably in it. The likelihood is that patents encourage innovation but it is far from certain. To pull a number from where the sun shineth not, I'd give it about 4:1.

Re:Do patents encourage innovation anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406628)

Nice argument, but the problem with that comes from the fact that stuff 30 years ago should be public domain by now and not under the control of the inventor, that is how copyright and patents are supposed to work. If they didn't want the people to get access to it at all, then they should have just treated it like trade secret and not sold it or patented it at all. But you patent it and sell it, after a reasonable time (14 years with a single 14 year extension) you should have made enough money off of it and had it turned over for all to you, if you can't make money off it within the 30 years you patented it, sorry and if you did, great, now make something else if you want more cash from it.

Sorry but just cause I played a song or invented a piece of groundbreaking equipment 30 years ago, doesn't mean I should STILL be getting paid for that same piece now.

Re:Do patents encourage innovation anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406666)

Trying to reinvent the wheel in different ways time and again in order to circumvent patents is wholly counter-productive, innovation without evolution. This exaggerated patent system leads to insurmountable entry barriers for new players, corporate consolidation of the goliaths and constant decrease in competition. Yes, some kind of system meant to encourage big investments into R&D by enabling the investor to reap the benefits is needed. However, what we have now is very far from an ideal balance.

Re:Do patents encourage innovation anymore? (5, Insightful)

Sabriel (134364) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406772)

I suspect there's a "Whoosh" floating around your post.

GP is, I believe, referring to how the patent system fails to allow for innovations that are simultaneously developed independently, whether by complete strangers or by peers known to each other in their field.

go back 30 years

We can go back much further than that. Examples of concurrent independent development abound. To paraphrase an excerpt from this article [newyorker.com] : Calculus - Newton and Leibniz. Evolution - Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace. Oxygen - Carl Wilhelm and Joseph Priestley. Colour photos - Charles Cros and Louis du Hauron. Logarithms - John Napier, Henry Briggs, Joost Burgi. Sunspots - Fabricius, Galileo, Harriott, Scheiner. Piston engine plane - the Wright brothers and Santos Dumont. And so and so on.

It is a very strange belief that a bureaucracy enforcing the exclusive profit of singular entities within a society of billions of creative individuals will somehow ultimately encourage innovation to flourish, rather than stifle it.

Patents dictate that the fruits of your labors are not yours to trade as you wish, if any stranger you never met and never knew "invented" those fruits "first".

The only true benefit of patents is that they document the specifics of innovation, and this aspect does not actually require any grant of exclusivity.

Re:Do patents encourage innovation anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406816)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Tracy#Evolution_of_the_strip + pretty obvious extrapolation. I can extrapolate into the future too and say that in the future all of our brains will be wired together (wirelessly). Patents are only good for 20 years though so it would be a bit premature if I wanted to make any money.

Re:Do patents encourage innovation anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406306)

Even if you don't make your own cell phone from scratch, you owe me $3.50.

If I were Google CEO (2)

voss (52565) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406064)

Id also buyout Kodak...then tell Apple they have remove cameras from their iphones :)

Re:If I were Google CEO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406180)

Seriously.

There have been excellent roundups of the problems caused by the US patent system (Ars does this well), and excellent ideas for reform. More pertinently, there are a lot of deep-pocketed stakeholders in the status quo--I give meaningful patent reform before China reaches #1 GDP 10-to-one against.

Re:If I were Google CEO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406508)

their digital camera patents have probably expired now
since they sent some the "moon" in the 60's and patents only last 20 years

Re:If I were Google CEO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406658)

If I were CEO, I'd buy 1023 ponies, and fuck them day and night. However, the shareholders and the employees who's money I'm wasting might not like it.

Another blow to innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406112)

It's a sad indictment that innovation has come to this.

Re:Another blow to innovation (2)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406192)

But this is exactly what economic theory predicts. Intervene in the market with good intentions -- e.g. create monopoly profits for innovators -- and watch your "new" rules being exploited by rent-seekers, who then use the monopolistic profits to lobby for furthering the rules, further hampering the economy. The theory is very clear and explicit about it -- and has always been ignored in favor of patents.

The other prediction of the theory is that since the profit/loss is unevenly distributed (many people have a small loss, but few people reap enormous benefits), even in a democracy you're unlikely to see a change in the rules unless the loss becomes large enough that is painful to most individuals so that they take action. So, the crazy patent rules will be with us for a long time.

Highway to Hell (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406172)

Those of you who still believe there is value to "Intellectual Property", can you please think about where this "Patent Race" is leading us?

We've probably passed the point where any new product or innovation is safe from having an army of lawyers descend to destroy it.

Now tell me how patents "encourage innovation". Tell me how patents "protect innovators".

When the patent portfolios of a handful of the biggest corporations reaches critical mass, there won't be a single inventor or innovator who is safe or whose ideas are protected. It will stifle innovation in a much worse way than any "counterfeiting" or "piracy" ever could. There's a good chance that we've already reached that point.

No, I don't believe there is any longer a single valid argument for "intellectual property" laws, of any kind. Not trademark, not copyright, and certainly not patents.

Re:Highway to Hell (0)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406296)

As I said in a post above, think about what cell phone technology was 30 years ago. Now think about where it is today. Now think about the thousands and thousands of innovations it took to get from there to here. Everything from materials to magnets to batteries to software to manufacturing processes to chip design, etc. Virtually every one of those innovations was done by someone trying to make money. If you really believe we would have what we have today with intellectual property laws protecting all those developments you are seriously deluding yourself.

Re:Highway to Hell (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406298)

Obviously I meant WITHOUT IP laws.

Re:Highway to Hell (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406416)

As I said in a post above, think about what cell phone technology was 30 years ago. Now think about where it is today.

I never said IP was never of value. I'm saying it is no longer of value, and is doing more harm than good.

And regarding your example of "cell phone technology", when you look at the overall cost to benefit ratio for society, I'm not sure we're getting anywhere near our money's worth. The fact that there are fewer company-paid cell phones in employees hands is a good indication of my point. For most people, they are faddish accessories more than a valuable part of their lives. They own them because everyone owns them. They represent another way to funnel wealth from people who work and make and those that own.

If they were such a boon to productivity, then companies would be paying for a lot more cell phones for people. One reason RIM is in trouble is because of this trend.

Re:Highway to Hell (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406494)

Yeah, because before patents, nobody ever invented anything. And certainly not for making money with it.

Patents were not introduced to promote innovation. Patents were introduced to promote dissemination. People always invented, and will always invent, no matter whether there are patents or not. However, there's a tendency to keep your invention secret to keep your advantage. The idea of patents is: OK, you tell us how your invention works, and in return you get limited time protection against others using it.

Re:Highway to Hell (1)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406698)

There are payoffs from invention besides patents; some provide a market advantage until the competition copies it; some bolster the brands image providing something REAL in the mountain of advertizing BS.

Without patents, many things would still have happened. Companies would hold onto secrets more than they do today... A HUGE amount of actual influential inventions come from outside private industry; we foolishly undermine all of those under the misconception it all comes from business when it did not. They take credit for a great deal of work by others -- national laboratories or NASA for example do not get the recognition for most of their work upon which others profit and build whole industries. Universities and governments as well... Even now with far more privatization the government FUNDS a ton of R&D but doesn't seem to much in return anymore (before they were as corrupt as they are today.) Today it is all about public risk and private gain.

Before patent law, a great deal was invented. Music existed before copyright.

Re:Highway to Hell (1)

ascrewloose (2428700) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406398)

No, I don't believe there is any longer a single valid argument for "intellectual property" laws, of any kind. Not trademark, not copyright, and certainly not patents.

That solution is decidedly radical. Doesn't the best answer generally lie somewhere in the middle? If I find a single valid argument for intellectual property, then I have proved your solution/argument illogical.

Re:Highway to Hell (1)

mywhitewolf (1923488) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406534)

probably, but the point is i have the most to gain in the short term by wiping out IP laws, society be damned...

Re:Highway to Hell (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406612)

"probably, but the point is i have the most to gain in the short term by wiping out IP laws, society be damned..."

Devils Advocate here. Lets say you invent the next big thing and have a working model that costs your life savings and are ready to produce. Now lets also say I am the CEO of MegaCorp.

I see your product and immediately imitate it. I have factories in China that can produce it cheaper than what you can do here in a local wharehouse with only a few workers on an assembly line. I then call all the retailers to ban your product so you can't sell it and then tell Amazon.com to raise the prices sky high on your products so you lose money and my imitation will always be cheaper. ... now explain what short term gains you will get?

I just caused a divorce, a loss of your home, credit rating, and life and then bought a yatch based on your idea. Good job ... coming from my 4th vacation home in Jamaca.

As the saying goes never play poker with a millionaire. There are evil people out there who want to take advantage of you and care only about their own egos by having a bigger number in their bank account. Patent reform I agree is needed. But IP laws and patents are for you and your idea. If megacorp wants your product you now have the power for me to pay you to make it. It seems Apple does not want to collect royalities and is just beintg an asshole. But generally companies and competitors give each other licensing agreements and these laws protect them from being exploited.

Re:Highway to Hell (1)

mywhitewolf (1923488) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406824)

You do have a valid point. however companies do this anyway "with" patent laws, and the major problem being almost any idea is patentable, so good chance after I'd invested all my time and effort it would violate a patent anyway, leaving me with nothing, except the LAW says i can't go forward trying to compete in the market, instead of just a competitor trying to make it difficult for me.

with existing infastructure, whats stopping megacorp stealling my ideas, making a living mint in china and destroying my market advantage anyway in legals. Also, if megacorp didn't take my IP, doesn't mean my company would have been succesful anyway and i could have lost all the stuff you listed anyway without patents even coming into it... its just the risk of business.

however you completely missed my point... In this example, I'm a consumer. in which case I'm at no risk of loosing my lively hood to IP theft, which is why i get the most benefits straight away (free star wars movies!) and civilization (/business) be damned.

Ahhh... (1)

jimmyfrank (1106681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406390)

Nothing stifles technology better than a portfolio of patents.

Unintellectual Property (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406436)

Unfortunately the few legitimate uses for intellectual property law have now been drowned out by the sort of scum who use and trade patents and copyrights as a commodity. Looking back, the IT industry has constantly stifled itself with IP disputes that serve only as a corporate weapon against their competition, and just about every company is guilty of it.

It seems as the industry continues to grow, the more unscrupulous companies are about it. The growth of 'patent trolls' in the IT industry is especially worrying and worse still, the courts who treat these patents as legitimate legal claims. Not only does this go against the very spirit of intellectual property, it should be downright illegal.

That's the catch though, the legal system has given these practices validity and in the process invalidated the very purpose of intellectual property law.

The Patent Wars have gone nuclear (1)

spacecoyotefarva (2384168) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406712)

Looks like they're going for a Mutually Assured Destruction policy to me.

If these patents were worth anything meaningful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37406746)

If these patents were worth anything meaningful why would IBM sell them?
If these patents were worth anything meaningful why wouldn't IBM leverage them against Apple?
If these patents were worth anything meaningful why wouldn't IBM pit Apple against Google in a bidding war?

Nuclear Warheads (1)

guttentag (313541) | more than 2 years ago | (#37406840)

Does the patent war strike anyone else as being very similar to the nuclear arms race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.?

"Look at us! Metaphorically-speaking, that is, because we don't want you looking too closely! We have lots of non-specific weapons we will never use because they would do as much damage to us as they would to you! We can't tell you exactly which of your assets they threaten, but just know that we have more of whatever we have than you have of whatever you have! So don't even think about using your... Whatever it is that you have!"

We either need someone to adapt Dr. Strangelove to this scenario (think "How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Patent Office"), or perhaps we can persuade RMS to broker the first in a series of muti-generational patent-reduction treaties that will progressively reduce the number of times over the industry could potentially destroy itself from 18 million down to something more reasonable, like three.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>