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Patents Google Bought From IBM Are "Weak"

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the how-patent-lawyers-taunt-each-other dept.

Google 78

holy_calamity writes "Slashdot noted in September that Google had bought 1023 patents from IBM. Now IP analytics firms IPVision says they're a 'mixed bag' of mostly unrelated patents that won't be much use in defending against competitors such as Microsoft or Apple. Patents are most useful when they are tightly linked into clusters by references, such that they cover every angle on an idea, something Google's new collection lacks."

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78 comments

Other reason? (2, Interesting)

mvar (1386987) | more than 2 years ago | (#37644698)

IBM's patents might be useless for defending against MS & Apple (after all they bought Motorola for this reason) but they might prove useful for other plans that Google might have

Re:Other reason? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37644738)

Like?

(I'm not saying you're wrong. I just want to see what you think they might be planning.)

Re:Other reason? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#37645256)

Something that nobody else has thought of yet, otherwise it would be obvious..

Re:Other reason? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37644924)

The IBM grab-bag clearly wasn't purchased because the patents cluster into convenient cudgels to attack other companies with. They're a broad array of crap that covers stuff Google doesn't do and probably never will do. The broader the array of crap, the more likely it is that the competitor attempting to extract licensing fees does something you have a patent on.

IBM, you'll notice, almost never licenses. It cross-licenses, which means at a minimum, that they dug through the locker of thousands of random-ass patents, and found some the company that wants licensing fees could just possibly infringe. (IBM has licensed from a few trolls, because they don't infringe anything expect perhaps a business method patent on trolling.

So Google wants to come to the table with it's own pile of crap the other company might infringe. That's it.

Re:Other reason? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 2 years ago | (#37648246)

So Google wants to come to the table with it's own pile of crap the other company might infringe. That's it.

Yes, I agree. Furthermore, it was probably Apple who taught them they needed to go down that route. You have "the world's most valuable company" threatening Google's own plans for the mobile (and other markets), intimidating their preferred vendors, and the reasoning behind Google's recent purchase of Motorola's physical and intellectual assets becomes clear. The thousand-odd IBM patents are just part of that overall defensive posture.

Re:Other reason? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37645092)

Finally, someone who thinks positively about the future. This is how we move forward. This is how we evolve. Not the way around.

Re:Other reason? (1)

dvdwholesale3 (2432850) | more than 2 years ago | (#37645476)

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Are the commenters covering every angle? (1, Insightful)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#37644706)

I am tired of crystal ball seers, really. How about this angle: this week: "Baaah. Google's patent portfolio is weak". Next week: Google releases new service, patents cover every angle of it. Two weeks hence: "Baaah. Visionary. Baah".

Re:Are the commenters covering every angle? (-1, Offtopic)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 2 years ago | (#37645040)

Software patents are abhorrent and should be abolished. This kind of news is like reporting the latest tactic moves on mob activities, or new cool ways of cooking kittens.

Re:Are the commenters covering every angle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37645096)

While that may be true, it's also -1 off topic. I understand that most around here dislike the patent system, but not every discussion about patents needs to revert back to one condemning their moral/logical/practical status.

Even if you feel this way, why did you say so in response to this guy who was just discussing the strategic possibilities here? For all you know, he agrees that the rules to the game should change (as do I), but as long as these rules are in place that's how the game is played and there's a lot at stake. So people care about it and talk about it. It has nothing to do with whether patents are right or wrong.

Re:Are the commenters covering every angle? (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#37645110)

I agree, but even if you place yourself in the frame of mind the legal environment wants you to be and embrace patents, this kind of reporting is still pathetic, both by the lack of information it contains, and by the lack of analysis it provides. But "news" has to sell, and journalists apparently do their damned best to make it happen. And just maybe, the company that provided the journalist with the headline wants to sell a report or two.

Re:Are the commenters covering every angle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37646352)

mod parent up. This angling of the acquisition is straight up FUD. An IP firm (who obviously has some tie to a google competitor) says that google's patents are crap? Wouldn't ya know!

Why don't they analyze the "how many software patents are valid in the first place"? (zero) before getting to "doom and gloom for google"?

The patents are weak? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37644724)

The patents are weak? Fucking patents are weak. You're weak.

Re:The patents are weak? (2)

afabbro (33948) | more than 2 years ago | (#37644864)

The patents are weak? Fucking patents are weak. You're weak.

Well played.

Re:The patents are weak? (1)

smashr (307484) | more than 2 years ago | (#37645600)

Your patents are weak old man. When I left you, I was but the licensee, now _I_ am the patent troll!

weak? (4, Insightful)

macshit (157376) | more than 2 years ago | (#37644764)

Er, the vast majority of patents being flung around in all the crazy control-freak corporate slap-fights we've seen recently seem to be horribly weak (of the "should never have been granted" variety). That hasn't stopped them from being flung around like monkeys do with, er, you know, and it apparently hasn't stopped other companies from being scared of them.

And in the end, fear is the goal...

People aren't afraid of patents (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#37644792)

People aren't afraid of patents.

They're afraid of protracted, expensive lawsuits to defend against the patents, no matter how valid or invalid the patents may be.

Re:People aren't afraid of patents (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#37644886)

True, but some of the damages award have also been nasty so they do care about winning or losing in the end. Nothing like losing $100m to a cringe-worthy patent.

Re:People aren't afraid of patents (2)

macshit (157376) | more than 2 years ago | (#37644986)

Precisely; what they (er, well, corporations) are afraid of is uncertainty, and hard-to-predict risk. Software patents are a sufficiently wacky area that it's difficult to say what the courts will rule in any particular case, and any time somebody's waving a big bundle of patents at you, there's a danger you'll get reamed (regardless of what "IP analytics firms IPVision" [who?] said).

So instead of taking on that risk—however silly the patents in question might seem—they'd much rather pay or deal or whatever. Such payoffs may be morally in the same realm as protection money, but at least they're budgetable...

The only real solution to this mess is to get rid of software patents entirely.

Re:People aren't afraid of patents (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 2 years ago | (#37648274)

People aren't afraid of patents.

They're afraid of protracted, expensive lawsuits to defend against the patents, no matter how valid or invalid the patents may be.

They aren't afraid of guns either. They're afraid of the holes they make.

Re:weak? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37644896)

They considered these patents weak not because they fall into the abovementioned category of yours, but because they are likely to be of little use in court.

Re:weak? (1)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 2 years ago | (#37646096)

corporations are scared of monkeys? Are you sure?

I have it on good authority that a tech company or two whose technical support team consists of highly trained monkeys. The monkeys who dont make the cut for the tech support gig are given typewriters. Thats how user agreements and TOS contracts are born.

Re:weak? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37648288)

seeing as RIM had to pay out half a billion dollars for some useless patents, then it doesn't matter how weak they as as long as you can threaten to stop your competitor from selling their devices

why... (2)

jimpop (27817) | more than 2 years ago | (#37644782)

....is this listed on /. under "apple"?

TFA seems like an advert for some patent analysis software.

Re:why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37648780)

Sheesh, isn't it obvious? It is because it is about patents, and Apple like shoving their nebulous patent claims down their competitors throats.

On their own, maybe (2)

loftwyr (36717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37644794)

But since they've inheritied 16000 from Motorola, and another 1000 from IBM and I'm sure they're bidding on others, I'm sure the Google patent portfolio will do just fine.

On it's own Google's word processor isn't the greatest. Add the rest of the Google Apps portfolio, and suddenly you have something interesting.

Re:On their own, maybe (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37644902)

Have you masturbated enough to your Android phone today? Think about it whilst you earn 80k and have an ugly significant other.

Google only have 1023 patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37644798)

Patents are most useful when they are tightly linked into clusters by references, such that they cover every angle on an idea, something Google's new collection lacks.

Right, because Google don't have a whole bunch of other patents they can combine with those 1023 patents they just bought to form "[a] tightly linked...cluster".

Next up in our amazing analysis, which breakfast cereals Google prefers and why Kellogs should be worried!

IPVision.. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37644818)

So.. Who's "IPVision" and why do we care what they think? For all we know they could be an industry shill looking to perpetuate the awful mess that is "IP" law. Google's made lots of enemies and they're getting in to the IP game by proxy. Because companies are turning to that avenue of attack, rather than legitimate competition.

Re:IPVision.. (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#37646396)

IPVision is a company that sells Patent-Analysis Software. Its visionary software represents the Patent lawyer of tomorrow (without any of the pesky human limitations, nor any of his/her expensive student loans).

And just like we have essay-analysis software that can grade a student, replace a teacher, and pronounce a student "weak", we can equally analyzes complex technology patent portfolios worth billions of dollars and make vague pronouncements of "weakness" just as accurately as our essay-analysis software can do it for its students.

How fitting... (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37644848)

There's a sucker born every minute...

or

A fool and his money are soon parted...

Though I guess this is a good use for the $40B in cash they have to burn...

Covering from every angle? (3, Insightful)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#37644856)

This is what's wrong with the patent system. The idea that you should cover every angle of an idea rather than just patenting the fundamental technology behind it. When did we go from patenting technology to patenting the application?

For example. Canon has scores of patents related to cameras and imaging technology. Rightfully so. They are useful patents. But then some of them are like this beauty [uspto.gov] . Now here's an patent which covers the use of fuel cells in electronic equipment. Think about that for a second. Covering the frigging obvious use of this technology which the entire world is hoping will replace batteries, with a patent for using the technology (which is not practical yet) in an electronic device.

We need a cleansing fire. The patent office and all their data should burn down, and all employees should be replaced. The patent system needs to be re-written by some people with zero experience in it. As Einstein said, "Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them."

Re:Covering from every angle? (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#37644984)

We need a cleansing fire. The patent office and all their data should burn down, and all employees should be replaced. The patent system needs to be eradicated forever.

There, FTFY.

Re:Covering from every angle? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#37645948)

No I completely disagree with this in every way. You could spend millions on developing something, come up with an idea, and just as you go to capitalise it pretty much every man and his goat could produce the same thing. They being the entrenched producer will often be able to produce cheaper and with more marketing.

The patent system was originally envisioned to protect inventions. We just need to return to these roots. Be able to for a limited time patent genuine creations, not formulas or methods. Otherwise you'll be in the exact same position you are now, the innovation black hole.

Re:Covering from every angle? (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#37646242)

I disagree. These roots you are talking about are evil. Technological progress is better served through organic growth, where companies spend relatively little capital upfront and grow as the market demands. This is how industries and communities become strong and robust.

Your idea of a single company playing lone inventor for an uncertain payoff that must be protected through patents is more akin to gambling than progress. It's an aberration that must not be *encouraged*.

History is full of examples of communities and industries that have grown strong and vibrant without patent protection of any sort. There really is no need for a patent system.

Re:Covering from every angle? (1)

vakuona (788200) | more than 2 years ago | (#37646400)

Yeah, because human progress was slower before patents were introduced!

Patents are a good thing when used properly, to protect unique and significant inventions. It means people can be sure of reward if they invent something that is useful and desirable.

Patents are not just about lone inventors, and progress is most certainly not of the slow evolutionary kind. Once in a while, we make a leap forward. The invention of the transistor is a case in point. Sometimes, you have to spend a lot of money to invent, test and refine something before you can profit from it, and a patent helps you recoup your costs.

Re:Covering from every angle? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 2 years ago | (#37648362)

Yeah, because human progress was slower before patents were introduced!

Was it? That may be, but I think you're conflating a whole lot of things that aren't conflatable. The pace of human progress (e.g., the effective utilization of our best and brightest to advance the state of numerous arts) has very little to do with patents and far more to do with legal, cultural and societal norms that support the creative mind. America, for a long time, was seen as an attractive place to emigrate for those of other nations who had ability, but no means of expression in their countries of origin. Progress is not something for which you can account by using simple metrics such as number of iPhones sold.

It is not a given that ridiculously strong IP protection, of any kind, benefits human creativity and the creation of wealth. It's only one way to go about it, a way that has always had flaws and serious issues, and one which is overdue for major reform or replacement. What that will be I cannot say, but going on the way we are is not an option.

Here's one question: if strong IP laws are as closely tied to economic prosperity as our corporate overlords would have us believe, why is it that nations which have very little protection in comparison to us are experiencing exponential economic growth ... while we are not? Is it possible that maybe we're doing something completely and utterly wrong in that area?

Patents on physical invention are on thing, if as you say they are truly novel and deserving of such protection. Patents on mathematical expression, algorithms, gene pairs and "business methods" (whatever the hell that is supposed to mean) are something else again, and it is rather obvious that they are dong nothing but hindering progress at every level. Furthermore, given the importance of software to virtually every aspect of our lives, ceding effective control of future progress in said software to a few large patent holders is a mistake.

Re:Covering from every angle? (1)

Shihar (153932) | more than 2 years ago | (#37648916)

No I completely disagree with this in every way. You could spend millions on developing something, come up with an idea, and just as you go to capitalise it pretty much every man and his goat could produce the same thing. They being the entrenched producer will often be able to produce cheaper and with more marketing.

That is non-sense. Patent law has nothing to do with innovation. The cell phone industry is an excellent example of this. Apple, Google, and Samsung wouldn't suddenly give up if they couldn't patent things. They would still be in a bloody knife fight to the death where each tries to out do the other by innovating faster. The first one to stop would be dead.

The only REAL difference is that it wouldn't just be the big manufacturers.

Right now, if you wanted to build a start up that takes off the shelf components to make a custom phone, you couldn't. It isn't because cell phones are too hard. The components are off the shelf, and with Android and some other Linux alternatives, you don't even need to bother developing your own OS. The manufacturing is trivial and can be easily outsourced. Sure, your costs will be higher than Apple or Samsung who can order a few billion parts at a time, but you could stay within a reasonable distance and compete for the high end market. I know I sure as hell would happy pay a heft amount for a custom pimped out phone with personalized extras for me. The only reason why there are not a thousand and one silicon valley start ups offering custom phones is because... ...they would be sued into utter fucking oblivion...

Patent law has created a cartel. Everyone is violating everyone else's patents right now. You physically can not make a phone without violating dozens or hundreds of patents owned by dozens of different people. The way everyone gets around this is by building up a war chest of patents, and engaging in some MAD economics. Samsung can sue HTC, but HTC will turn around and sue Samsung back. Both are technically in the wrong. Instead, they come to an accommodation where they won't sue each other. Sure, it prevents one side from taking out the other, but it also has the happy side effect (happy for them, very unhappy for the consumer) where no one else can enter the market.

If Steve jobs and the iPhone team, a relatively small group of people in the grand scheme of things, had tried to enter the cell phone market as a start up, they would have been killed on sight. They wouldn't have gotten anywhere near to sell their product before being sued into oblivion. The only way they were able to make a product was because Apple was sitting on a few billion dollars and was able to buy their own patent arsenal. Think about that for a moment. The iPhone, the phone that ushered in a new wave of smart phones, would have been murdered on arrival if it wasn't for the fact that Apple had a pile of money and could buy its way into the cell phone patent cartel.

How many innovations have we NOT seen because some young designers and engineers have been shut out of the cartel created by patent law?

That isn't "innovation". This is a bunch of very large corporations screwing consumers, wasting money (your money) suing each other, and creating a cartel to ensure that they never have to face too much competition. Small businesses and innovative movers and shakers are getting fucked. As awesome and as advanced as cell phones are these days, they are echos of what could have been if that entire market wasn't locked up into a big patent cartel.

Re:Covering from every angle? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#37651302)

You're right the cellphone industry is a great example of this.

Say you come up with a way of improving bandwidth utilisation or speed. You don't have the money to start your own cellphone company. What are you going to do, Pitch your idea to Apple and Samsung in the hope they may pay you millions when they could simply rip off your completely unprotected idea?

My point was not about entrenched mega companies innovating, it was about small startups. The patent system was designed to put people on equal footing. If you're completely without it you don't stand a chance in hell at making so much as a dime.

Re:Covering from every angle? (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#37645804)

For example. Canon has scores of patents related to cameras and imaging technology. Rightfully so.

Actually, I believe the most fundamental (and valuable) patents on imaging tech - at least as it applies to digital cameras - belong to Kodak.

Re:Covering from every angle? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#37645972)

Yes.

But no. The modern camera can't be made without licensing technology from multiple vendors. Autofocus patents aren't owned by Kodak. Patents on creating image sensors that produce excellent quantum efficiency and improving quantum efficiency outside the sensor aren't owend by Kodak. Many of the image processing patents aren't owned by Kodak. Heck the filtering pattern on the sensor in nearly every digital camera on the market is owned by neither Kodak nor Nikon/Canon/Olympus.

Kodak does own some fundamental patents, but then so do the other photo imaging companies. I'm highlight a bad example from Canon who otherwise have some truly innovative and critical patents relevant to modern cameras.

Re:Covering from every angle? (1)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 2 years ago | (#37646834)

But then some of them are like this beauty [uspto.gov]. Now here's an patent which covers the use of fuel cells in electronic equipment.

Actually it covers a system where a camera body supplies fuel (rather than electrical power) to accessories (lens, flash etc.), each of which have their own fuel cell. It's not a patent covering merely using a fuel cell in a portable device - it's covering a specific method of distributing power to accessories. Still overly broad and obvious IMO, but not as bad as you imply.

Re:Covering from every angle? (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 2 years ago | (#37651368)

"Attempting to give the illusion of endorsement to your argument by propping it up with a quote from a famous intellectual is obnoxious and cliche."
- Not Albert Einstein

Re:Covering from every angle? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#37652498)

Reading someone as quoting something someone famous said and implying that it somehow was meant to appear as an endorsement is plain darn weird. But hey there's someone on every forum who does this, and you just happen to be by your own admission "thatoneguy".

Not stupid (2)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 2 years ago | (#37644866)

Google isn't stupid. More importantly, Google's lawyers aren't stupid. And if there's one thing Google's good at, it's sifting through masses of data, teasing out the relationships and putting them together. So I'm assuming Google has a plan and it's not completely half-baked. We'll have to see whether it's successful or not, but they do have a plan.

Re:Not stupid (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37644922)

Google isn't stupid. More importantly, Google's lawyers aren't stupid.

Google is stupid and has done plenty of stupid legal things. But hey, the biased Google fanboi says otherwise so it must be true!

Re:Not stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37645712)

Google isn't stupid. More importantly, Google's lawyers aren't stupid.

Google is stupid and has done plenty of stupid legal things. But hey, the biased Google fanboi says otherwise so it must be true!

Well, who better to know then a little dipshit like you. It's not like they tried to buy Yahoo for 40B or Skype for 9B.

Re:Not stupid (1)

amnesia_tc (1983602) | more than 2 years ago | (#37645866)

So I'm assuming Google has a plan and it's not completely half-baked.

Google's a company BUILT on half baked plans.

So Now There Are Good Patents and Bad Patents (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 2 years ago | (#37644874)

So now there are good patents and bad patents. Good patents have lots of close friends, while bad patents are anti-social and pretty much live alone.

I'll tell you what I'd like to see. I'd like to see all technology patents held by companies not currently producing products involving those patents immediately Voided.

Then I'd like to see all remaining patents compulsorily licensed so that everybody can build everything and we can chose among who does it best. This current lawsuit climate doesn't suit the average citizen at all, and that's who the patent system was supposed to protect.

The way we're going, I'm afraid that we are going to end up in a deadlock of nobody being able to build anything -- and guess who suffers in the process.

Re:So Now There Are Good Patents and Bad Patents (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37645038)

average citizen at all, and that's who the patent system was supposed to protect.

Ehm No. It was never supposed to protect the average citizen, it is to protect the ones who innovate against the ones who copy.
Android isn't about innovation at all, it's about putting things that are already there together and not in an entirely new way, but in a way that it would match the features of modern proprietary OS but using free software. Thus patent system is not supposed to protect Android.
And it's plain hipocrisy that Google claims Apple is attacking Android with bogus patents, which is entirely not true, Apple at least uses their own patents, while most Google patents are bought pieces of IP of other companies, which makes them a lot more bogus to me.

Re:So Now There Are Good Patents and Bad Patents (1)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 2 years ago | (#37645632)

Ehm No. It was never supposed to protect the average citizen, it is to protect the ones who innovate against the ones who copy.

False. It is only supposed to "promote the Progress of ... useful Arts" -- you are confusing the means with the ends.

Android isn't about innovation at all, it's about putting things that are already there together and not in an entirely new way, but in a way that it would match the features of modern proprietary OS but using free software. Thus patent system is not supposed to protect Android.

What you're saying is that in any fast-paced industry, one company should have a monopoly -- whoever is first to market should patent everything with any relation to the market, then exclude all others from competition. Then they can innovate at half or a quarter or less of the speed the market would in the absence of the patent system, as long as by the end of 20 years they have used their monopoly power to guide the market in a direction that they had the good sense to file a new crop of patents to cover and so retain their monopoly indefinitely.

Thankfully, you're wrong. The patent system is supposed to protect Android, because Android is doing new and different things. The open model itself is an innovation in the mobile device market -- and is a model that drives other innovation. You look at the variety of Android devices on the market. They're not all the same, so obviously each device is doing something different than the others -- something innovative to separate itself from the pack. That is exactly what the patent system is supposed to be promoting. The fact that it isn't is a blatant flaw that ought to be corrected.

And it's plain hipocrisy that Google claims Apple is attacking Android with bogus patents, which is entirely not true, Apple at least uses their own patents, while most Google patents are bought pieces of IP of other companies, which makes them a lot more bogus to me.

Bogus patents are so because they attempt to patent that which is already in the public domain -- things that are already known or obvious. Google is buying a patent has nothing to do with that -- if Apple doesn't like to be sued for patent infringement then they shouldn't infringe other people's patents. The fact that Google can find patents that Apple is infringing only goes to show how defective the patent system is when the largest company in America with an army of lawyers still can't even avoid infringing.

Re:So Now There Are Good Patents and Bad Patents (1)

Shihar (153932) | more than 2 years ago | (#37648958)

Ehm No. It was never supposed to protect the average citizen, it is to protect the ones who innovate against the ones who copy.
Android isn't about innovation at all, it's about putting things that are already there together and not in an entirely new way, but in a way that it would match the features of modern proprietary OS but using free software. Thus patent system is not supposed to protect Android.
And it's plain hipocrisy that Google claims Apple is attacking Android with bogus patents, which is entirely not true, Apple at least uses their own patents, while most Google patents are bought pieces of IP of other companies, which makes them a lot more bogus to me.

Do you know how many patents an iPhone violates? The innovative parts of the iPhone are just a few thin layers on top of boring mundane components. The only reason why the iPhone was allowed to come into existence was because Apple came into the market with a pile of money. They waded in, bought a pile of patents... not useful patents, but basically just any old patent they could swing at someone, and made their phone. The reason why Apple did this is because Nokia and the other makers in the field would have bludgeoned them to death with patent law if they hadn't.

The team that made the iPhone was originally pretty small. The iPhone could easily have been as a silicon valley start up. If Steve Jobs had been in a start up with the same people and some VC money, the iPhone would never have existed. He could have made the exact same product, and then when he put a toe into the market, Nokia would have beaten him to death with lawyers.

That is the problem with IP law. Apple was able to make the iPhone because it had more money than god and could buy its way in. I'm glad they did, but how many other Steve Jobs are out there NOT making innovative new products because they don't have a few billion dollars on hand to buy up useless patents to ward of the entrenched players with?

Re:So Now There Are Good Patents and Bad Patents (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#37647730)

I'll tell you what I'd like to see. I'd like to see all technology patents held by companies not currently producing products involving those patents immediately Voided.

Why do you hate research universities like MIT and Cornell?

Horrible. (2)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#37644904)

It is by now an accepted concept, that 'patent war' thing is. And, we are all little bitches caught in the fight in between 4 major companies, regardless of what the size of our small business/outfit is... What we do does not matter zit. the winner takes it all. and we got to this point despite everything that has been done, everything that has been said.

This tells me patents are unworkable.

What makes a patent strong... (3, Insightful)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 2 years ago | (#37644960)

What makes a patent strong is how much money the holder is willing to try to enforce it.

Consider what IBM had to do to defend itself against SCO. The claims were non-existent, the patents were non-existent, and yet it dragged on for years.

So if Google could really cause another competitor to squirm. Look at Apple; they managed to convince a judge the shape of an iPad and iPhone are unique and worthy of protection and so they're used to cause Samsung pain. It doesn't matter if its valid or not, Samsung can't sell their devices.

Patents are legal tools to aid in delaying a competitor. Once you understand that, then the real value of patents become clear.

Re:What makes a patent strong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37645644)

SCO vs IBM was about copyrights, not patents.

Re:What makes a patent strong... (1)

chrismcb (983081) | more than 2 years ago | (#37646266)

>

Patents are legal tools to aid in delaying a competitor. Once you understand that, then the real value of patents become clear.

Of course I didn't RTFA, but according to the sumarry I think this is IPVision's point. But the patents are only good legal tools if the net they cast is a big net with few holes. "Patents are most useful when they are tightly linked " It seems to imply that the more patents you have in an area, the better chance that your competitor is infringing one... uhmmm DUH!

Re:What makes a patent strong... (1)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 2 years ago | (#37646900)

Look at Apple; they managed to convince a judge the shape of an iPad and iPhone are unique and worthy of protection and so they're used to cause Samsung pain. It doesn't matter if its valid or not, Samsung can't sell their devices.

There was a lot more to it than just the shape of the devices. Samsung didn't just make another tablet, they slavishly copied the iPad's industrial design, UI and packaging. You'll note that other tablet manufacturers can still sell their devices, this is because they only copied the concept rather than copying the whole design from top to bottom.

Re:What makes a patent strong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37669990)

Or is it because Apple hasn't sued them yet?

"Patents are most useful when " (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37645076)

...they are used to promote/incentivize a healthy development of new ideas (yes I know you don't patent ideas (poster heads the pedantics off at the pass;-) ))

Re:"Patents are most useful when " (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37645298)

...they are used to promote/incentivize a healthy development of new ideas (yes I know you don't patent ideas (poster heads the pedants off at the pass;-) ))

FTFY. But then again, here I am, so...

...they are used to promote/incentivize a healthy development of new ideas (yes I know you don't patent ideas (poster makes futile attempt to head the pedants off at the pass;-) ))

FTFYFR.

It's now officially a patent bubble... (2)

randomlogin (448414) | more than 2 years ago | (#37645192)

When I read this article I had flashbacks to the spurious crap that people used in ye olde Internet bubble. Or maybe the CDO credit bubble. In short, making arbitrary valuations by looking at second or third order artifacts and completely ignoring the value of the underlying thing.

What makes a good patent is the exact opposite of what these guys suggest. The membership of a patent 'thicket' that they regard as indicating patent quality is really an artifact of the way in which a single potential invention now gets salimi sliced into the maximum number of applications. This allows the corporation which owns the patents to brag about the size of its patent pile, it allows the employees who wrote the patents to maximize the number of patent bonuses they get and it obviously results in the greatest number of billable hours for the patent lawyers. In short, it's a win-win-win!

In reality, the most valuable patents should be ones that are as unrelated as possible to anything that went before and which stand completely on their own merits. Patents where any expert would look at and say 'I've never seen anything quite like that before'. However, making that judgment call requires that you actually analyze every patent in the portfolio in detail. Just as I'm sure the bankers carried out a detailed analysis of every underlying debt when they were trading CDOs...

Mod up please (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 2 years ago | (#37645982)

Currently out of points and he's spot-on. This is exactly right. We are in a patent bubble - it'll be the next thing to tank.

Billions of dollars of bogus estimated worth is just getting ready to evaporate. Gonna be a rough ride.

Re:It's now officially a patent bubble... (1)

cviuan (2477406) | more than 2 years ago | (#37646528)

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Patently false (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37645198)

Patents are most useful when they are tightly linked into clusters by references, such that they cover every angle on an idea, something Google's new collection lacks.

Er, no. Patents are most useful when they encourage genuine inventors to reveal genuinly novel inventions to the public, in exchange for a brief period of legal protection.

Patents are harmful when they are used as legal blackmail, as they are in this case.

Your patents are weak, old man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37645872)

...

Hey Guys! This is for U! (0)

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"most useful" (1)

GodWasAnAlien (206300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37647018)

I think "most useful" here means "most profitable".

Ideas are most useful ... when people use them ..., not when they are collectively monopolized.

A round number (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#37647028)

I find it highly unlikely that Google actually bought 1023 patents from IBM. I suspect they actually bought 1024, but are counting the first one as 0.

All patents are inherently weak, until proved ... (1)

Gimbal (2474818) | more than 2 years ago | (#37647270)

I'd like to suggest that all patents are inherently weak, until proved in court. Imagine though one may, about the weight of a patent outside of an actual court case, and regardless of how much the thought of a company's ownership of patents may be forwarded as part of an agenda towards stockholders, but practically speaking, a patent has no practical use except as leverage in any legal proceedings for protecting a supposed invention allegedly addressed by the patent.

The proof is in the pudding, as it were, or at least in the legal system's pudding.

What a great quote, submitter (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 2 years ago | (#37647844)

Patents are most useful when they are tightly linked into clusters by references, such that they cover every angle on an idea

I'm so confused. I thought patents were most useful when they promoted the progress of science and useful arts. ;-)

Look how far we've come. The ostensible purpose of patents isn't even given lip service anymore. Everybody knows they're not for what we say they're for. There isn't even a thin veneer of pretense left.

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