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Acacia Sues Amazon Over Kindle Fire

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the trollin'-trollin'-trollin' dept.

Patents 126

walterbyrd writes "A company called Smartphone Technologies filed the suit last Friday in Texas Eastern District Court accusing the Kindle Fire tablet of violating four of its patents. Smartphone Technologies is owned by Acacia Research, a firm that buys and licenses patents and is seen by many as a patent troll. 'One patent cited in the suit, U.S. Patent No. 6,956,562, simply refers to a method for using a touch screen to enter commands on a handheld computer. Another patent in question relates to a method for storing calendars on a PDA and was initially issued to Palm in 2002.'"

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126 comments

This is how the system fails (5, Insightful)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37686880)

A PDA is just a weak computer in a small form factor, so why did palm even get it in 2002 when a calender on a computer was decades old before then?

Patents are worthless, and are choking what little creativity is left in our country.

Re:This is how the system fails (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37686900)

I wouldn't say the Kindle Fire is very creative. See BlackBerry Playbook.

Re:This is how the system fails (3, Insightful)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37686936)

Your opinion on a particular product does not really matter, fact is everything sited in the complaint existed in the mid 1980's

Re:This is how the system fails (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#37686984)

And every particle used to make every invention existed in some form in the mid-1500s BC. Does that invalidate every patent?

Of course not. Patents are a specific assembly of specific solutions to specific problems. If a patent turns out to not be specific enough, it can be made specific later or discarded entirely. The mere existence of similar solutions does not invalidate a patent, nor should it. The whole of civilization has been built by minor improvements.

Must be new, useful, and non-obvious (4, Insightful)

jbov (2202938) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687096)

Why do you ask a question, then answer it yourself?

By definition a patent must be new, useful, and non-obvious. While the methods listed in the patents are useful, they are neither new, nor non-obvious. Either the USPTO employees are ill-educated on software methodologies, or just plain lazy.

I agree that the whole of civilization has been built by minor improvements. So, why should we slow that process down with software patents?

Re:Must be new, useful, and non-obvious (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687336)

My understanding is that they are overworked. There are too many patent applications to spend even ten minutes reviewing each one, so the task of the examiners is to weed out only the most obviously worthless and rubber-stamp the rest. Then it's down to the courts to clean up their mess.

Re:Must be new, useful, and non-obvious (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687518)

This would be fine if the courts didn't take the attitude of presuming that patents issued by the patent office are valid, thus leaving the expense of demonstrating their invalidity to the poor suckers that get sued on the back of a document that should never have been issued in the first place.

Red DENIED stampers... (1)

jopsen (885607) | more than 2 years ago | (#37688124)

My understanding is that they are overworked. There are too many patent applications to spend even ten minutes reviewing each one

I'm wondering if they have a must-approve-rate or if we should equip slashdotters with a red DENIED stamp and send them of to work at the USPTO for free...

Re:Red DENIED stampers... (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#37688240)

I'm all for that. Why can't they just look at it and if they can't see where it's obviously something innovative and new just deny it. Automatic denial without clear, unambiguous, super duper, eureka style idea.

Re:Must be new, useful, and non-obvious (0)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687412)

Why do you ask a question, then answer it yourself?

Because it's a device. [wikipedia.org]

By definition a patent must be new, useful, and non-obvious.

No. By definition a patent is the grant of an exclusive right to produce a particular invention. By United States law (and international treaties), it must be new, useful, and non-obvious.

While the methods listed in the patents are useful, they are neither new, nor non-obvious.

Let's look at the actual claims, then, and think about the history involved.

In the first patent from TFA, the invention claimed is (in simple terms) a system for accepting various commands drawn onto a touch-sensitive display. Yes, we've had touch-sensitive screens for years, but they've never used complex symbols (like circles, polygons, or letters) as commands. It's always been touching single points to select buttons, up until Palm created Graffiti. What does this patent cover? That's another rhetorical question. The patent appears to cover later implementations of Graffiti, which isn't surprising since it was filed by PalmSource, Inc. At the time, was it new? Pretty much, yes. A lot of it is based on earlier Graffiti work, but some the claims cover new functionality relating to what commands can be done with the input system. It's using an old idea in a new way. In 2000 when the patent was filed, most of the actions claimed were unheard of for a handheld terminal to use, like connecting a writing tablet to an optical projector. Skilled in the arts or not, that kind of system wouldn't really be obvious to anyone twelve years ago.

Now let's look at the second patent. This one's pretty easy to see the new and non-obvious use, because the first claim is quite clear:

A portable data storage module for simultaneously depicting multiple calendars on a single display...

Multiple calendars at once, on a single display. Note that we're not talking about having multiple sets of events like most calendar programs do, but showing separate calendars. Later in the claims it's clear that the calendars can be independently controlled to show different time scales. As a software programmer for over 15 years, I personally can't think of any instance where this was done before the patent was filed. I myself certainly wouldn't have thought of it, even if I had been working on a calendar application. It seems quite new and non-obvious to me.

Either the USPTO employees are ill-educated on software methodologies, or just plain lazy.

There is another alternative. You could just completely misunderstand patents, and therefore don't understand how the patent examiners come to their decisions. Just because any programmer could create a similar system, does not mean that the idea isn't worth protecting. Any engineer could have built Jacques Cousteau's diving regulator, if they'd had the idea to assemble all of the parts together in that particular way. No other engineer did, though, and it's unlikely any other programmer is going to produce the exact same software solution without seeing (or reverse-engineering) the original first.

I agree that the whole of civilization has been built by minor improvements. So, why should we slow that process down with software patents?

There is no guarantee and little indication that software patents would slow down innovation. Instead, there is just wild speculation and a lot of FUD.

The basis for rejecting software patents comes from the fact that all programs are merely mathematical expressions, written in a particular notation. Mathematics is not patentable because math is considered a fundamental truth of the universe, and therefore not invented but discovered.

Personally, I take an opposing view: Algorithms are not so much fundamental truths, but the combination of several fundamental truths in a particular fashion to accomplish a particular goal. I apologize to the mathematical purists out there, but I see algorithms as no different than a cog in a machine. Its particular shape leads to its particular result, and that shape may very well be the result of a significant amount of research. Why should we trivialize software research by forbidding software patents?

Instead, I'd like to see software patents become more like "regular" patents. I'd like to see them be valid for only the time it takes to establish a software product in the market - under 5 years, because manufacturing is far faster than with material goods. I'd like to see a set of specific terms established, to distinguish pure-software approaches from mixed-software-and-hardware implementations. I'd like to eliminate this common "system and method" crap, that only really serves to blur the boundary between software and hardware.

Re:Must be new, useful, and non-obvious (3, Insightful)

julesh (229690) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687526)

Yes, we've had touch-sensitive screens for years, but they've never used complex symbols (like circles, polygons, or letters) as commands. It's always been touching single points to select buttons, up until Palm created Graffiti. What does this patent cover? That's another rhetorical question. The patent appears to cover later implementations of Graffiti, which isn't surprising since it was filed by PalmSource, Inc.

You do realise that when Palm released Graffiti, they were sued by the owners of the patents on Unistrokes, a similar system that dates back to the 80s, and is now expired, right?

Graffiti was not new and innovative. It was at best a minor improvement on what came before. Actually, I'm not so sure it improved anything -- the original unistroke system worked pretty well, IMO.

Ironically (2)

jbov (2202938) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687778)

Correct. Even more ironic, is the reasoning behind Xerox losing a summary judgement to palmOne.

The reason was prior art. The two pieces of prior art were from 1983 and 1985.

So, at the time, palmOne said the software wasn't patentable due to prior art. Now they want to patent it themselves. Oh sweet irony.

Re:Must be new, useful, and non-obvious (1)

jbov (2202938) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687724)

Why do you ask a question, then answer it yourself?

Because it's a device. [wikipedia.org]

It is not, since you answered it yourself. The wikipedia link makes this even more understandable.

By definition a patent must be new, useful, and non-obvious.

No. By definition a patent is the grant of an exclusive right to produce a particular invention. By United States law (and international treaties), it must be new, useful, and non-obvious.

Here is a wikipedia link for you: Patent: Definition [wikipedia.org]
"The term patent usually refers to an exclusive right granted to anyone who invents any new, useful, and non-obvious process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, and claims that right in a formal patent application."

While the methods listed in the patents are useful, they are neither new, nor non-obvious.

Let's look at the actual claims, then, and think about the history involved.

In the first patent from TFA, the invention claimed is (in simple terms) a system for accepting various commands drawn onto a touch-sensitive display. Yes, we've had touch-sensitive screens for years, but they've never used complex symbols (like circles, polygons, or letters) as commands. It's always been touching single points to select buttons, up until Palm created Graffiti. What does this patent cover? That's another rhetorical question. The patent appears to cover later implementations of Graffiti, which isn't surprising since it was filed by PalmSource, Inc. At the time, was it new? Pretty much, yes. A lot of it is based on earlier Graffiti work, but some the claims cover new functionality relating to what commands can be done with the input system. It's using an old idea in a new way. In 2000 when the patent was filed, most of the actions claimed were unheard of for a handheld terminal to use, like connecting a writing tablet to an optical projector. Skilled in the arts or not, that kind of system wouldn't really be obvious to anyone twelve years ago.

Now let's look at the second patent. This one's pretty easy to see the new and non-obvious use, because the first claim is quite clear:

Have you never seen POS devices? I agree with the first comment in this thread, which describes a PDA is a computer in a small form factor. Whether the software resides on a desktop, laptop, handheld computer, wrist-top computer, etc... shouldn't determine the software's patentability.

A portable data storage module for simultaneously depicting multiple calendars on a single display...

Multiple calendars at once, on a single display. Note that we're not talking about having multiple sets of events like most calendar programs do, but showing separate calendars. Later in the claims it's clear that the calendars can be independently controlled to show different time scales. As a software programmer for over 15 years, I personally can't think of any instance where this was done before the patent was filed. I myself certainly wouldn't have thought of it, even if I had been working on a calendar application. It seems quite new and non-obvious to me.

Outlook has supported side by side calendars since 2003. Since 2007, Outlook has supported side by side and overlaid calendars. I admit, this was released one year after the patent was filed. Microsoft provided an official download knows as Multi-Calendar viewer for Outlook 2000, which could display up to 6 calendars side by side. This was released well before the patent application.

Either the USPTO employees are ill-educated on software methodologies, or just plain lazy.

There is another alternative. You could just completely misunderstand patents, and therefore don't understand how the patent examiners come to their decisions. Just because any programmer could create a similar system, does not mean that the idea isn't worth protecting. Any engineer could have built Jacques Cousteau's diving regulator, if they'd had the idea to assemble all of the parts together in that particular way. No other engineer did, though, and it's unlikely any other programmer is going to produce the exact same software solution without seeing (or reverse-engineering) the original first.

No. I understand patents. Your example of the regulator is fine, but its not a ubiquitous example to be applied to all other patents, especially software patents.

I agree that the whole of civilization has been built by minor improvements. So, why should we slow that process down with software patents?

There is no guarantee and little indication that software patents would slow down innovation. Instead, there is just wild speculation and a lot of FUD.

You are right. There are no guarantees. However, the only FUD being spread is by the patent trolls, aimed at software developers. Attempts at creating something new and improved are thwarted by fear of copyright infringement.

I think software patents hinder innovation. Then again, we don't really know as long as they exist. I think TFA is a perfect example of hindered innovation. This exclusivity diminishes competition. Competition is a leading driving force behind innovation.

The basis for rejecting software patents comes from the fact that all programs are merely mathematical expressions, written in a particular notation. Mathematics is not patentable because math is considered a fundamental truth of the universe, and therefore not invented but discovered.

Personally, I take an opposing view: Algorithms are not so much fundamental truths, but the combination of several fundamental truths in a particular fashion to accomplish a particular goal. I apologize to the mathematical purists out there, but I see algorithms as no different than a cog in a machine. Its particular shape leads to its particular result, and that shape may very well be the result of a significant amount of research. Why should we trivialize software research by forbidding software patents?

I agree with argument that all programs can be reduced to mathematical expressions, and therefore are not patentable.

Instead, I'd like to see software patents become more like "regular" patents. I'd like to see them be valid for only the time it takes to establish a software product in the market - under 5 years, because manufacturing is far faster than with material goods. I'd like to see a set of specific terms established, to distinguish pure-software approaches from mixed-software-and-hardware implementations. I'd like to eliminate this common "system and method" crap, that only really serves to blur the boundary between software and hardware.

I guess we can agree on one thing. Software patents should have a shorter lifetime, due to the dynamics of the industry.

Re:This is how the system fails (3, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687156)

Patents are a specific assembly of specific solutions to specific problems.

You would never be able to guess that from reading an actual patent application. Obfuscation seems to be the key.

Re:This is how the system fails (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#37688226)

The problem is in the wording you used, "Patents are a specific assembly of specific solutions to specific problems." In general software patents are anything but specific. Even computer hardware patents seems to often be broad and vague. When you read some of this stuff it's amazing how all inclusive these things are with little to no specifics at all.

Re:This is how the system fails (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37687322)

A PDA is just a weak computer in a small form factor, so why did palm even get it in 2002 when a calender on a computer was decades old before then?

Patents are worthless, and are choking what little creativity is left in our country.

Read the damn claims. You're talking out of your ass when you're arguing based on the patent titles. Patent titles do not in any way convey the scope of the legal protections provided by the patents. It is the claims which dictate the scope of the invention, and it is the claims by goods are determined to infringe or not.
 

$88 Billion wiped off (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37687438)

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2011/09/21/riddle-me-this-do-patent-trolls-create-wealth-or-d.aspx

Boston University study concludes that $88 billion has been wiped off the value of US companies by these trolls, raking in less than $8 billion in return, and since these trolls don't make things or really invent things, no manufacturing was made by them, and no scientists employed and no research done.

What the USPTO has done is a disaster for the USA, and the reforms don't fix anything.

Re:$88 Billion wiped off (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#37688278)

It's served it's purpose which is apparently to make lawyers filthy rich. It's impossible to do business in the US without a legal warfare unit. Small businesses are so screwed because they lack the necessary lawyers to protect them from patent trolls who are armed with thousands of impossibly vague, broad and obvious patents and huge legal teams that will wait until a startup has begun making money off of something that comes under the heading of a series of these bogus patents and then it's off to East Texas to cash in.

Re:$88 Billion wiped off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37691262)

The purpose isn't so much to benefit lawyers as to benefit the well-established wealthy corporations. RnD is expensive for them, so they need to ensure their ROI by gaining a monopoly on whatever they discover or invent.

Furthermore, they don't want some independent inventor coming up with something truly novel and pushing them out of business; they need a way to shut these inventors down, claim their invention, and start making money off it. Patent litigation is great for that. Even if the inventor has a patent, the corporation has several that are vaguely similar, and the resultant litigation fees alone will bankrupt the independent inventor whether or not his own patents had any merit.

So, patents protect the wealthy against threats to their wealth. That is the only real purpose. Everything else is just BS designed to win the hearts and minds of the oppressed.

Don't expect this to change, though.

Re:$88 Billion wiped off (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 2 years ago | (#37691490)

Actually it was our "founding fathers'" disaster. Specifically James Madison and Charles Pinckney, but of course adopted and enshrined by the whole cabal. It was a good intentioned but very naive notion that never considered possibilities such as the mess we're facing presently. Ultimately I suspect it unlikely that our technological progress would have been hindered though the actors probably different. More than likely we would have progressed even further since monies wouldn't have been sunk into the legal system nor lost due to hampered innovation. Companies would have had to pursue the novel idea of competing on the merits of their products rather than the merits of their patent portfolio and lawyers. The USPTO is just trying to "do its job" while being raped of funding by a congress that doesn't care whose cookie jar their hands are in when it comes to funding their pork.

Re:This is how the system fails (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37689814)

So not only can you patent any bullshit by adding "on the Internet" or "on a computer," but also "on a handheld computer."

Quick, everybody patent "$common_everyday_task on an implanted computer!"

Re:This is how the system fails (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 2 years ago | (#37691772)

That's not funny. But if I had the money I probably would. I'd also include "wearable computer," "biological computer," "with rounded corners," "with square corners," "with direct neural interface," "with indirect neural interface," "with direct neural interface having rounded corners," "..."

Re:This is how the system fails (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37691872)

http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/05/the-evolution-of-cell-phone-design-between-1983-2009/
1993
BellSouth/IBM Simon Personal Communicator

The IBM Simon was the first PDA/Phone combo.
Touch screen
Icons.
radio

2000
Ericsson R380

The R380 featured a black and white touchscreen, partially covered by a flip.

I had a LG much like this phone. First smart phone I ever saw. I was one of the first people in the US to have one, I think in late 1999.

How is this junk legit? Prior art.

The real question: Will they go after them? (1)

Zadaz (950521) | more than 2 years ago | (#37686884)

Amazon has the resources to go after these guys, to remove them from the gene pool. But will they bother?

(Seeing how tenaciously they hold on to the One-Click patent I somehow doubt it, but it would be nice.)

Re:The real question: Will they go after them? (1)

Redbaran (918344) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687026)

Amazon has recently been involved in disputes with much larger and more legitimate entities attempting to increase their costs and in all cases they didn't bend like a wet noodle. I'm referring to the multitude of states attempting to force Amazon to collect sales tax, therefore, I say they fight it. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_tax [wikipedia.org]

Re:The real question: Will they go after them? (2)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687140)

Amazon has the resources to go after these guys, to remove them from the gene pool. But will they bother?

The worldwide community of geeks have the resources, the time (at least, some of us have), and the tenacity, to invalidate most patents given enough motivation, or at least seriously water them down to render them ineffective, but why would we do anything in this case? Let's just wait until they go after the little guy, or a company we really care about (just not Amazon). In that respect, the patent troll made the right decision. That's what Jackals do. They go after the animal that the rest of the herd in the same boat will never even try to protect.

(Seeing how tenaciously they hold on to the One-Click patent I somehow doubt it, but it would be nice.)

You mean "held". Now that most of the Amazon one-click patent has been defanged by one seriously pissed off lone Amazon customer with no law degree but enough time on his hands and enough motivation, it's not like Amazon is making any additional money from that patent anymore.

Re:The real question: Will they go after them? (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#37688678)

the animal that the rest of the herd in the same boat

I thought we used car analogies, not ark analogies...

Yawn... (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#37686890)

Evil bastards sue evil bastards. News at 11.

Re:Yawn... (2)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687128)

There's a difference: Amazon are evil bastards who actually deliver useful products, while Acacia are evil bastards who exist solely to make money by threatening to keep other people (whether evil bastards or not) from delivering useful products. The world is full of evil bastards, and that's probably not going to change any time soon; until and unless it does, I know which set of evil bastards I'd rather deal with.

Re:Yawn... (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687162)

Amazon are evil bastards who actually deliver useful products

Actually nowadays I am noticing more and more often that Amazon isn't actually selling me products, they are merely providing a storefront for someone else.

Re:Yawn... (2)

SenseiLeNoir (699164) | more than 2 years ago | (#37688064)

And that's what a lot of people like about them. They feel more "confident" buying from the same retailer via amazon marketplace, than direct from the retailer, as they feel that they are more likely to be refunded if the retailer goes bust, etc.

Re:Yawn... (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37689398)

The news is: it hurts everybody else. It stifles innovation, and makes life nearly impossible for some start-ups.

Sue Sue Sue (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37686908)

Slashdot these days is little more than lawsuits, settlements and the ongoings of such. This is what our industry has turned into huh? Sad.

Re:Sue Sue Sue (2)

blarkon (1712194) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687696)

Discourse on the iniquities of intellectual property is Slashdotter red meat in the same way that gay marriage and guns is red meat to the viewers of Fox News.

Re:Sue Sue Sue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37688116)

This is why you guys should do things about it.

Check that link up in the reply to the 1st post. Print it out.
Give it to the simple folks. They'll explode it in to something far worse than Patent Trolls could imagine.
They'll be gone within a year. Or civil war. Either way, CHAAAANGE, the change Obama promised.
Do it, do it for... the children!

Let's hear it for the trolls! (3)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#37686942)

Without them taking companies to court over issues that should never have been patentable in the first place, no one would realize or believe just how seriously screwed up the patent system is.

Re:Let's hear it for the trolls! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37687214)

So... if they weren't there, then people wouldn't notice that there is a problem? How is that a problem?

Re:Let's hear it for the trolls! (1)

alienzed (732782) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687218)

Is it really the patent system or just a huge influx of technical patents that the patent office didn't have the man power to actually do any homework on. I mean, do you actually think that the people accepting those patents fully understood them before inking the stamp and certifying that garbage?

Re:Let's hear it for the trolls! (2)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687262)

If they don't understand the patents, they have NO BUSINESS issuing the patents.

The patent office is supposed to REVIEW patents for content, not rubber-stamp them. It is NOT supposed to be the job of the courts to do the filtering at some point down the road.

Do you really think underfunding, ignorance, and incompetence should be tolerated or forgiven when it costs the industry so many millions (if not billions) of dollars in legal fees to deal with the resulting morass?

Re:Let's hear it for the trolls! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37687938)

There is no realistic possibility of having sufficient manpower. Proving a negative (that nobody out of billions of people have done something before) is almost impossible. "Insufficient manpower" is just one of many fairytales that the PTO promotes - like many bureaucrats they have a hard time living in the real world.

Re:Let's hear it for the trolls! (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687294)

Really, the patent system would be pretty good if only its clerks knew an obvious idea when they heard one. That calendar patent basically sounds like "Method for Storing Data on a Computer". If the bar to get a patent was much, much higher than it is today, no other major changes would be necessary.

Re:Let's hear it for the trolls! (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#37688344)

Read about Tesla vs Marconi and it looks pretty screwed up even way back then. Of course it's a lot worse now (trading patents WTF?) but I can't see any signs of anyone trying to fix it, only signs of trying to export the damage to other countries that know better but cannot resist the lure of "free" trade agreements.

Thank god for American innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37686958)

Obviously most American innovation is concentrated in the judicial system rather than anything related to a free market.

Re:Thank god for American innovation (3)

Kagetsuki (1620613) | more than 2 years ago | (#37686990)

No no no, you see those who succeed in the free market decided to manipulate the legal system so that if anyone tried to innovate in some way that would reduce their market share they could sue them into oblivion.

Re:Thank god for American innovation (5, Insightful)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687042)

Which is why the free market is a myth. It can't last. As the players get bigger, and history shows that's the end result, they start to influence the countries they reside in, to make it harder for new companies to enter markets. Even if they don't, it is pretty hard to compete with entrenched companies benefiting from control of resources, logistics, resellers, etc..

Libertarian free markets are a nice idea, but corporatism is their real life counterpart, and it isn't very fun.

Re:Thank god for American innovation (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687166)

The free market is a victim of the tragedy of the commons? Canihasanobeleconomicsprizenao?

Re:Thank god for American innovation (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 2 years ago | (#37692058)

Don't worry, I've read a few sci-fi books and learned where we're all headed. The basic idea is that national governments collapse/implode and operate as merely the glue binding the military industrial complex now serving as the outsourced departments of government. Occasionally national governments are dissolved all together after being sold to a corporation after being unable to afford its services. Citizenry are officially or otherwise relegated to the role of cattle. In all cases the mega-corporations now no longer bound to a legal system are free to conduct corporate competition in much the same way as their government predecessors, through armed conflict. Potentially humanity becomes space faring and colonization is performed by the mega-corporations. The colonists tend to be indentured servants set with the task of building a profit center revolving around resource extraction, manufacture or both on the new world. Their debt obligation to the corporation either requiring their indentured service or is the price of passage to the new world. In the event that humanity does not become space faring, indentured service to a corporation is still a near certainty due to a society setup to ensure indebtedness to the corporations.

Re:Thank god for American innovation (1)

ldobehardcore (1738858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687046)

Mod parent up. This is the simplest (in a good way) explanation of public choice theory I've ever seen

It's looking like the patent courts are becoming.. (1)

Gimbal (2474818) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687028)

It's looking like the patent courts - in a manner of speaking, as I suppose there is really no single "patent court" - like the courts are becoming a sort of platform for marketing by obscure companies with uncertain patents on file - but not just any obscure companies, obscure companies with lawyers. Well, that's the judiciary's side of things to address.

In other words: Yawn. Next news item?

Re:It's looking like the patent courts are becomin (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687150)

It's looking like the patent courts - in a manner of speaking, as I suppose there is really no single "patent court" - like the courts are becoming a sort of platform for marketing by obscure companies with uncertain patents on file - but not just any obscure companies, obscure companies with lawyers.

Specifically, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas became nothing but a "platform for ... obscure companies with lawyers" some time ago. There seems to be something particularly toxic about this particular court's combination of judges, jury pools, and court rules that attracts this type of activity.

Re:It's looking like the patent courts are becomin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37687622)

The Eastern District of Texas doesn't have much hard crimes to fill the court with so the patent cases won't be stuck in the low priority queue for long. And with the amount of patent cases, they have built a lot of experience now so the trials will flow thru even quicker.

Re:It's looking like the patent courts are becomin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37687994)

It's looking like the patent courts - in a manner of speaking, as I suppose there is really no single "patent court" - like the courts are becoming a sort of platform for marketing by obscure companies with uncertain patents on file - but not just any obscure companies, obscure companies with lawyers.

Specifically, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas became nothing but a "platform for ... obscure companies with lawyers" some time ago. There seems to be something particularly toxic about this particular court's combination of judges, jury pools, and court rules that attracts this type of activity.

Refer to the This American Life show "When Patents Attack" to find out that you're not 100% correct here. The show is a very useful intro to the topic.

Re:It's looking like the patent courts are becomin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37688310)

Apparently it was mostly procedural. It is a court where your patent case goes to trial in a timely manner.

See http://www.law.com/jsp/cc/PubArticleCC.jsp?id=1202518061641&Texas_Judge_Leaves_His_Patent_Rocket_Docket_to_Practice_Law

Re:It's looking like the patent courts are becomin (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#37689890)

I still don't understand why the litigants get to choose their venue, especially if the plaintiffs are not headquartered there.

Sues (1)

bieber (998013) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687082)

I think it's pretty much certain that if you've developed any useful technology since the dawn of software patents, you've accidentally stepped on at least a couple actionable patents, and you just have to hope that the patent holder either doesn't find out about it or doesn't extort you for too much of your revenues. Is there a name for this principle yet? I'd love to slap mine on it if there isn't...

Re: Sues (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 2 years ago | (#37690592)

If you do, please consider changing your name first. Somehow, the Bieber principle doesn't sound quite right.

What can be done about it? (3, Insightful)

GoodnaGuy (1861652) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687084)

I have been reading about these patent wars for ages now. Most peoples reaction seems to be to grumble but put up with it. Is there nothing can be done? Our leaders seem unable or not interested. This is killing innovation in the electronics industry. Soon we'll be left with just a few big fish controlling everything. Maybe its time for the revolution!

Re:What can be done about it? (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#37688306)

Our leaders are very interested in this problem. They just passed some legislation to make things much worse.

Re:What can be done about it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37688334)

You wish - I've got a patent on achieving change via violence and/or protesting.

Re:What can be done about it? (1)

strawhatguy (539274) | more than 2 years ago | (#37688384)

Well, what could be done is obvious and simple: get rid of the patent office altogether. The problem with that is really in how to do the above, which is really hard and there's actually two issues: One, most people think a patent office helps, especially in areas other than computers, like medicine, when in fact the same problems exist there. It's just that in our industry, it moves much faster so we can see the problems more clearly, but they do exist in all industries as well. It's also mentioned in the Constitution rather directly, in one of the very few mistakes the founders made. Article 1, Section 8: "Congress shall have the power ... To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries". Now of course, having the power and using it are two different things, but call me a little skeptical on the ability of Congress to restrain itself.... Two, there's the issue of all the time and money spent now on acquiring and defending patents, so those companies which have patents and patent lawyers would be a heavy and focused lobby group against eliminating the patent office. And they would definitely use the people who foolishly believe the office helps to spread the word, couched no doubt in terms of, "But what about the small-time inventor?".

Re:What can be done about it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37688996)

Maybe we could set up a website where one could enlist all patents filed in any lawsuit. And then enlist for each patent all of the reasons why it isn't valid.
This could provide a centralized site of data for the defendant's lawyers

Re:What can be done about it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37690166)

Our leaders are paid (lobby monies, campaign contributions, etc) to be disinterested.

Re:What can be done about it? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#37691782)

The problem with revolutions is: things have to be really bad before killing people will make things better, and there's a fairly decent chance that things will actually get worse (see for example, Egypt).

Re:What can be done about it? (1)

Sunshinerat (1114191) | more than 2 years ago | (#37691892)

The real problem is that there are two camps that are competing for patent legislature.
1. Software/hardware patents. Enough is said about that on Slashdot.
2. Pharma patents. If you bind two chemicals it does wonders for a particular disease patents.

Developing a patent for the pharma group genuinely costs a lot of money (research, test groups etc.) whereas a software/hardware patent not necessarily does (think of an idea "People need blue handsets" and document it). Both camps have a ton of money and both have very different stakes at this. The software camp can do without, the pharma group cannot. This is a deadlock from different business interests which results in no effort to reform the mess. The recent changes in legislature are just weak.

Cut off your hands! (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687098)

"One patent cited in the suit, U.S. Patent No. 6,956,562, simply refers to a method for using a touch screen to enter commands on a handheld computer."

Go read it, it is essentially a "stylus-free" input method on a tablet, i.e. fingers. I guess you could use your wang or toes if you wanted to, though, since it does not explicitly say "fingers," just non-stylus. (Though I would love to see someone write up a patent for "dong-centered system input.")

Oh, yeah, patent troll, blah blah.

Re:Cut off your hands! (1)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687846)

It's even more specific than that. It's to do with doing things other than writing in a text-entry box or just tapping on an icon - doing things like writing an X on an application to delete it. That actually seems like it could be relatively non-obvious and innovative for 11 years ago. Whether it's sufficiently so to deserve a patent is another matter.

how strange (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687284)

has anyone else noticed almost every patent suit is filed in Eastern Texas? it's like there is something pulling them there. very strange indeed.

Re:how strange (1)

Zorque (894011) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687316)

I think the courts there are generally viewed as being very kind towards patent trolls like this, so they make every attempt to have their cases tried there.

Re:how strange (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687390)

thanks captain obvious.

Re:how strange (2)

Zorque (894011) | more than 2 years ago | (#37687402)

Uh... you're the one who seemed confused as to why the suits all happened there. Sorry I was trying to clarify it for you, shitstain.

Re:how strange (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#37690220)

Uh... you're the one who seemed confused as to why the suits all happened there. Sorry I was trying to clarify it for you, shitstain.

I suppose you think irony is something you do to your favourite shirt before a job interview?

Re:how strange (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 2 years ago | (#37692596)

That's probably better than thinking irony is feigning ignorance in order to make no point whatsoever.

Re:how strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37687646)

They doesn't have much hard crimes cases which means patent cases won't be stuck in the low priority queue.

Re:how strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37688314)

Everyone else noticed that a long time ago and there's a very good reason. The trolls discovered way back that the federal courts there were willing to partner with them to fulfill most of their wishes.

This is why the US is fucked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37687998)

Patent trolls are not innovation in any sense of the word other than possibly being a legal way to practice extortion.

Re:This is why the US is fucked (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#37688330)

I'm sure there's a lot more to why we're fucked than patent trolls. Maybe the fact that such a huge portion of High School graduates can barely read and write. Maybe the fact that so many teenagers drop out of school. The fact that so many teenage girls get pregnant before they turn 18. The fact that so many crack babies are born to a miserable existence each year. The list goes on and on. As disturbing as this patent crap is it's a drop in the bucket of whats wrong in the US.

Hard to feel sorry (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#37688414)

As much as I dislike patent trolls, it's really hard to feel sorry for Amazon in this one. They are the ones who patented one-click-purchase, after all. What goes around comes around.

Re:Hard to feel sorry (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 2 years ago | (#37692130)

As much as I dislike patent trolls, it's really hard to feel sorry for Amazon in this one. They are the ones who patented one-click-purchase, after all. What goes around comes around.

It isn't that Amazon patented 1-click. That could simply have been defensive to keep asshats like Acacia off of their backs. It's that they tried to enforce it afterwards that makes them less sympathetic now.

Re:Hard to feel sorry (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#37692338)

Indeed, and at the time claimed to be against software patents, while at the time using them to extort money from other people.

Holy permutations, Batman! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37688500)

Oh, yea.
"53. The handheld computer of claim 47, wherein the particular action corresponds to transmitting data by generating a signal emanating from a radiation emitter.
54. The handheld computer of claim 53, wherein the radiation emitter is an optical radiation emitter.
55. The handheld computer of claim 53, wherein the radiation emitter is a radio frequency radiation emitter.
56. The handheld computer of claim 53, wherein the radiation emitter is an microwave radiation emitter.
57. The handheld computer of claim 56, wherein the radiation emitter is coupled to a telephone network.
58. The handheld computer of claim 56, wherein the radiation emitter is coupled to a computer network.
59. The handheld computer of claim 53, wherein the radiation emitter is coupled to a computer network.
60. The handheld computer of claim 53, wherein the radiation emitter is coupled to a telephone network. "

Can't someone tell those million monkeys with the million typewriters to stop with patents and start with Shakespeare?

should be thrown out immediately (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37688764)

the kindle fire isn't even out yet. how do they know how amazon implemented anything?

The is great news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37688802)

If this goes through and hopefully it does this will mark the end of the evil fucks at Amafuck. Amafuck, like Crapple with their ifuck shit and Fuckle with their assdroid platform and crappy search engine should be eliminated from lawsuits for the shit they pulled. Once the popular toys disappear the sheeple will finally see how evil patents are. At that point they will see just how evil capitalism really is once they have lost their money to imaginary property. That is when the sheeple will wake up and want communism, the only truly workable economic system designed for the people rather than the greedy rich.

COMMUNISM FTW, CAPITALISM NEEDS TO BE FUCKING DESTROYED!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm kind of out of the loop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37689830)

So upon reading the headline, I thought Amazon was being sued because some kindles burst into flames in a warehouse or something.

Apparently you can't always get what you want!

Patent Trolls vs Wall-Street Traders (1)

SlashAdotter (1465581) | more than 2 years ago | (#37691042)

This situation strikes me as very similar to what happens in financial markets. The whole industry is not creating any value, since they primary occupation is buying paper and then selling it at a higher price. Some may argues, that the traders add efficiency and liquidity to company price formation. Can we apply the same argument to patent trolls?

Screw (1)

optymizer (1944916) | more than 2 years ago | (#37691760)

the patent laws. If "storing a calendar on a PDA device" is patentable, then I don't care what Good Things (tm) patents bring to the table, the current patent system has to be sent to /dev/null.

Use It or Lose It (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 2 years ago | (#37692096)

If Acacia isn't presently selling actual products with their patented technology then they have no real loses and deserve to lose those patents -- in a sane society, at least.
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