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EFF Launching 'Patent Fail' Campaign

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the no-patent-for-you dept.

Electronic Frontier Foundation 72

netbuzz writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has long been at the forefront of fighting software patent abuse with its Patent Busting Project, is launching a new initiative called 'Patent Fail: In Defense of Innovation.' EFF staff attorney Julie Samuels tells Network World: 'The project has three components: educating individuals about the problems with the current patent system, providing individuals with resources to deal with patent issues, and then exploring what the system should be in the long-term.'"

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A fine initiative (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39053279)

It's a fine initiative.
Of course, it will be completely ignored by anyone that matters, but very fine nonetheless...

Re:A fine initiative (2, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053331)

It's a fine initiative.
Of course, it will be completely ignored by anyone that matters, but very fine nonetheless...

Of course .. dear old Microsoft and dear old Google were collecting software patents "defensively" and now we see what a mess even that turns into, in the right hands and with the right motivation.

Re:A fine initiative (5, Informative)

qzjul (944600) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054769)

Unfortunately, with Apple practising predatory patent behaviour, it seems as though they were justified...

Re:A fine initiative (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054889)

Unfortunately, with Apple practising predatory patent behaviour, it seems as though they were justified...

Not to forget the usual Patent Trolls.

Re:A fine initiative (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | more than 2 years ago | (#39061579)

they didn't forget the patent trolls, they mentioned apple in the above post.
now seriously apple google and microsoft are either going to sue each other into oblivion and we all will lose because they will also be suing other infringers to pay for their war on each other.
or they will cross licence and everyone else will lose because they will go after every other infringer patents need to be shortened and there needs to be real patent reform. and don't get started on copyright. but we all already know this this is not news. what would be news is if some one who has the power to do something about it would pay attention. wake me up when this happens.

Re:A fine initiative (2)

IRWolfie- (1148617) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057733)

I don't see what you are referring to, Google hasn't used it's patents for anything except defensive reasons.

Re:A fine initiative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39087181)

Yeah, and Microsoft has actively used its patents to threaten other companies, particularly the patents surrounding FAT32. Google is probably the only major patent-holding company that only uses them defensively.

Re:A fine initiative (4, Funny)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053641)

I think after they patent Fail they shouldn't license it to anyone.

Re:A fine initiative (3, Funny)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053909)

I think after they patent Fail they shouldn't license it to anyone.

But they will get filthy rich off of infringement lawsuits.

Re:A fine initiative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39057391)

Dicey. Too much prior art.

Re:A fine initiative (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054617)

Of course, it will be completely ignored by anyone that matters, but very fine nonetheless...

If all the EFF did was raise awareness, they're worth every penny they get.

By the way, if you like the Internet, and would like to see it not become cable television, you really need to drop $10 or a double-sawbuck on them. They use every nickel they get to do good work, and I promise it will make you feel really good. Make a sandwich at home instead of going to Carl Jr a few times and it will more than cover it. And your digestive tract will thank you.

Re:A fine initiative (3, Informative)

speedplane (552872) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056301)

And donating $99 gets you a really cool hat!

Re:A fine initiative (2)

butalearner (1235200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056329)

By the way, if you like the Internet, and would like to see it not become cable television, you really need to drop $10 or a double-sawbuck on them. They use every nickel they get to do good work, and I promise it will make you feel really good.

Optionally, wait for the next Humble Bundle (should only be a couple months at most, at the rate they're going), and get some games out of the deal. Instead of the tax deduction, that is. They always get a solid chunk of my purchases.

Re:A fine initiative (1)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39060259)

The next thing coming through humble bundle is a weekend special starting tomorrow and running through the weekend in partnership with Mojang, I believe they are going to make and release a game all in the weekend.

Come On Genetics! (4, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053411)

I'm advocating a biological weapon that targets IP attorneys.

Re:Come On Genetics! (2)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053439)

I'd tell you that may be a human rights violation, but then we would get more lawyer jokes.

Re:Come On Genetics! (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053533)

I'd tell you that may be a human rights violation, but then we would get more lawyer jokes.

How about Inhuman Rights and Zombie jokes?

BTW, see the short film A Morning Stroll, it's great.

Re:Come On Genetics! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39056235)

They are not humans, they are parasites, violence is justified.
I suggest some agent that kills brainless creatures. That way we know for sure no one is hurt, but the right individuals.

Re:Come On Genetics! (2)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053481)

I'm advocating a biological weapon that targets IP attorneys.

Sorry, they'll have a patent for it and sue you into oblivion before you get to use it.

Re:Come On Genetics! (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053675)

Wouldn't that be pissed off victims, err, targets, err, defendants of IP Lawyers?

Re:Come On Genetics! (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055629)

There is no disease cruel enough to make that a reasonable motive. Best let them remain IP lawyers. It is the worst fate I can think of.

Re:Come On Genetics! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39056935)

Way ahead of you, mate--we're developing a biological weapon that targets IP attorneys.

Should be pretty obvious when we begin testing...

Regards,

Your local Nihilist Anarchist Horde.

Re:Come On Genetics! (1)

psxndc (105904) | more than 2 years ago | (#39090405)

Hi, I'm an IP attorney. Thanks for wishing biological warfare - boils, seizure, death - on me because you don't agree with my profession.

And you say we are jerks.

Re:Come On Genetics! (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39090925)

Don't blame me because you're filthy repugnant occupation has right-minded people wishing every last one of you was dead.

Re:Come On Genetics! (1)

psxndc (105904) | more than 2 years ago | (#39091091)

Anyone that wishes physical harm on someone because they dislike their profession is not "right minded."

And lest you think I can't take a joke, I can, it's just not funny.

I'm starting a new campaign myself (0)

Zorque (894011) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053473)

It's against the word "fail" and anyone who uses it.

Re:I'm starting a new campaign myself (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39053541)

Oh and I suppose you're also against replacing "what do I do" with "wat do".

Language evolves gramps, and sometimes the new way is just more succinct and expressive than the old phrases it replaces.

Re:I'm starting a new campaign myself (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39054975)

Actually they don't. There's been very little change in the English language in modern times. Slang comes and goes and has little in the way of permanence.

Then again you are 16 and don't know much, so it's understandable you'd have this misconception.

I am also starting a new campaign (1)

Fned (43219) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053747)

It's for the word "lawn" and against anyone who is on it.

Re:I am also starting a new campaign (3, Funny)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055043)

It's for the word "lawn" and against anyone who is on it.

Now, get out of my turf, will ya?

Re:I'm starting a new campaign myself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39054379)

You have my support, at least. And may I add that I would also support the use of corporal punishment against anyone who uses "lol" in actual, spoken conversation?

Re:I'm starting a new campaign myself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39059059)

Fail is a perfectly fine word. It's just a verb, not a noun.

Free stuff (2)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053625)

I'd like to thank the countries which have hamstrung themselves by allowing software patents, for the mass publication of ideas which would otherwise be trade secrets.

Re:Free stuff (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39053729)

I'd like to thank the countries which have hamstrung themselves by allowing software patents, for the mass publication of ideas which would otherwise be trade secrets.

Argument 1: we need software patents, because otherwise the day after we publish our program, someone else will already have reverse engineered our super duper mega technique and use it in their own programs

Argument 2: you need software patents, because otherwise we will keep our super duper mega technique as a trade secret and nobody will ever be able to figure out how it works

Homework: find the cognitive dissonance.

Re:Free stuff (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057311)

See copyright ....no patents needed ,,,

Re:Free stuff (3, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054477)

If you want to sift through tons of useless verbose crap to find the rare nugget.

Love to see this at innovation events (4, Interesting)

ravenscar (1662985) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053661)

I work in the 'innovation' space and wish this would come up at the classes, conventions, etc. So many in innovation rush out to patent every idea they have in hope of making a fortune on IP - without any 'real' work. If these people understood just how this activity stifles their own endeavors it would go at least some way toward turning things around.

With that said, another problem in the patent space is that it appears to offer a 'silver bullet' to companies looking to get a leg up on their competition. I've worked with a number of small software oriented start-ups and some think (probably rightly so) that superior IP rights are much more effective at overcoming the competition than a superior product. I'm not sure what to do in this space or in the space where mega-corps use patents very effectively to erect a barrier to entry.

I frequently hear ideas about using patents in ways that I feel do nothing but stifle innovation. I launch off on my little patent diatribe and many people note that they've never really thought of it that way. Given that so many people look at patents simply as a war-chest item, it would seem that education is a good start in getting them to see the harms in that attitude.

Re:Love to see this at innovation events (1)

Dr Max (1696200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054469)

What we need to do is separate patents from ideas. Patents are a good thing, they are the reason big companies spent millions of dollars on R&D pushing the bounds of science. Where the system gets abused however is the use of other peoples inventions. Like apple owning the patent for fuel cells in computers when they didn't invent either tech. Not saying ideas like this aren't valuable but they aren't even in the same league as inventing the actual computer. So what if we start an idea register where the application fee is small, less legal work, and maybe a computer system to look for previous work; but the idea can only be owned by a small group of people, and a payout for use of the idea is mandatory, unbiased, and a fraction of what can be charged today for patents. It means many more people will have access to the system (I've looked into registering patents and even if you can do all the legal work your self, it still cost a small fortune), which will boost the amount of brains on the problems, and big companies won't be able to abuse simple ideas.

Re:Love to see this at innovation events (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054927)

What we need to do is separate patents from ideas.

Thank You! The way patents are supposed to work is by patenting the specific *implementation* of the idea, not the idea itself. For instance, see the movie "Flash of Geniues" and you'll see that they cover this concept very well. In their example, the idea was intermittent wipers. In the movie, Bob Kearns did not patent the idea of "wipers that turn on & off to prevent squeeking", but on his method of using electronics (as opposed to the current attempts using mechanics) to accomplish that feat. All the software patents I've seen recently are along the lines of "use large squares in a grid as icons to launch applications", not "use this algorithm to determine the correct order in which to display those icons". Now algorithms are of course not patentable, but you get the idea.

Re:Love to see this at innovation events (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056953)

Patents are a good thing, they are the reason big companies spent millions of dollars on R&D pushing the bounds of science.

Isn't that the exact *opposite* of what patents were supposed to accomplish? Patents were intended to help the small guy make inventions that the big guys couldn't take away from them. Large corporations with money don't need a legal monopoly that distorts market forces around them.

Re:Love to see this at innovation events (2)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057103)

Not at all, patents are about protecting the investment of whoever puts in the effort, whether they are the small guy spending months in his basement inventing or a huge firm spending 100 million on R&D, both have very valid needs to protection. Unfortunately between scumbag lawyers, patent trolls and a patent office that allows you to patent anything regardless of how obvious or prior art both the small guy and the big guy are getting screwed by whoever submits the dumbest patent the fastest.

Revise the Patent System (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39055711)

The current Patent System Stifles innovation in the worst ways possible.

The Patent system needs to be revamped with a more "Free Market Solution"... but not "Free Market" as the republicans define it.

If someone has a new idea, and wants to take out a patent for it, they should be given the patent, and allowed 5 years to produce, and release a product based on that idea. After that, the idea becomes Free Information, publicly available... by law.

No extensions upon that time, no loopholes, not even after the idea hits the market.
You have an idea, you Patent it, you rush to produce it, and get it to market before your idea becomes the property of everyone. That's it.

What will result is more innovation, less lawsuits, and more recognition for brands that produce Quality because the market will demand that a Brand name not only has good ideas, but implements those ideas in a way that makes things work better, and last longer than the competition.

No solutions in sight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39053667)

As usual with these efforts, no solution is offered except for some vague requirements for a solution. "it should, like, encourage innovation and stuff!"

According to the article, phase 1 is complaining, phase 2 is providing a "kit" for those sued by patent trolls (who really just need a lawyer), and phase 3 is solutions. Who wants to bet Phase 3 never sees the light of day?

Even if it does and they miraculously come up with something like a concrete plan, it'll just languish on the Internet, because they will never put together a plan to actually get legislators to pay attention to it.

Re:No solutions in sight... (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054717)

According to the article, phase 1 is complaining, phase 2 is providing a "kit" for those sued by patent trolls (who really just need a lawyer)

The problem with just getting a lawyer in phase 2 is a lawyer will say "if you can afford it, I'll help you settle. If you can't, roll over and die; even if the patent is no good it won't be worth the court fight, and they might win anyway"

Re:No solutions in sight... (1)

JeanCroix (99825) | more than 2 years ago | (#39061835)

You are the muppet known as Don Music, and I claim my fifty quatloos.

I have a dream... (2)

alienzed (732782) | more than 2 years ago | (#39053709)

where patents and copyrights are laughable exercises in greed and have no place in civilized society. They exist to make sure people have incentives to be creative and that people don't get rich off of other people's ideas. Are either of those goals really met in our current landscape? I think not. But then I guess I'm going against the status-quo just by 'thinking' to begin with.

Re:I have a dream... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39054091)

Its called communism. All the work product goes to the commune. The commune then distributes it back out evenly.

Are you talented? Do you contribute more than everybody else? Too bad, you get the same share as everybody else.

Re:I have a dream... (2)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055603)

Communism removes ownership from property (ie, physical objects). Copyright tries to create property where it does not exist. Society got along fine for thousands of years without information being property; items were property since nearly the dawn of civilization.

Abolishing copyright and patents has nothing to do with communism, unless you're an imbecile.

Re:I have a dream... (1)

WilCompute (1155437) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056219)

Copyright came into existence for a reason. It was intended to replace the old system of patronage of the arts, that didn't distribute the art, so much as keep it in a cage, and let it out to play every now and then.

Now, we do need reform, since the current system has led back to that exact same system of patronage. Meet your new masters, they are just like your old masters.

I propose that a copyright cannot be sold. The singer always has the rights to a performance, and can only lease that to companies for set periods of time. This would fix a lot of the wrongness of the current system, if we apply it across the board.

Also, by definition, a company cannot own patents, or copyrights, only rent them from people. I would much rather the scientist that invented something get a patent, and allow companies to use it.

Re:I have a dream... (1)

speedplane (552872) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056395)

Copyright did not come into existence "to replace the old system of patronage of the arts." It was originally intended so that printers could hold onto their monopoly. Learn your history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statute_of_Anne [wikipedia.org]

Re:I have a dream... (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057473)

It mostly spread, by support of the Romantics, to replace the patron system. I tend to agree that the GP is right on that count. Even though there was some precedent, it was the Romantics and their ideology that made copyright a global phenomena.

That said, it has completely failed. Changing how ownership of ideas is transfered (or not) will not affect how the idea is ill-conceived and immoral. In the US, copyright was supposed to be for a limited term; now it is being extended faster than it expires. There is no reason a rational person would think any modifications to the system will prevent its further abuse. The only final answer is outright and complete abolition of both copyright and patents.

Your logic is flawed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39059007)

You write:

"Communism removes ownership from property."

Doesn't abolishing copyright and patents remove ownership of the copyrighted or patented material? Hence, since there is no ownership of the copyrighted/patented material, anybody can use it.

"Society got along fine for thousands of years without information being property; items were property since nearly the dawn of civilization."
First, neither patents nor copyrights are "information." A patent is usually upon a product and sometimes a method. To be copyrighted, there must be a tangible embodiment. Second, the notion that "items were property since nearly the dawn of civilization" neglects the fact that many things were considered community property.

Re:Your logic is flawed (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 2 years ago | (#39061661)

Doesn't abolishing copyright and patents remove ownership of the copyrighted or patented material?

No, because you can't remove what never existed in the first place. Abolishing copyright and patents merely removes a privilege which attempted to artificially emulate the system of ownership which is natural for scarce resources in a context where scarcity, and thus ownership, do not apply.

... the notion that "items were property since nearly the dawn of civilization" neglects the fact that many things were considered community property.

Which, as the name implies, is still a form of property. Unless a resource is superabundant, you can either consider it property—in which case someone has the right to decide how it's used—or you can experience Tragedy of the Commons.

There's nothing wrong with group ownership, provided the group came by the ownership legitimately. A community can act as a whole to homestead property, or purchase it for public use. The problem with communism is that it doesn't recognize anything but community property. Private claims are always subordinate to the will of the collective, assuming they're permitted at all.

Re:Your logic is flawed (again) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39066461)

"No, because you can't remove what never existed in the first place."

Intellectual property exists in every modern nation in the world. How can you say that intellectual property never existed in the first place?

Abolishing intellectual property is taking property that belongs to one (e.g., a person, a corporation, etc.) and giving that property to everbody. How is that not communism in its purist form? Ownership becomes no ownership.

Re:Your logic is flawed (again) (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 2 years ago | (#39067447)

How can you say that intellectual property never existed in the first place?

What I said was that the ownership never existed, and thus can't be removed. Certainly "IP" exists as a legal concept, but that isn't the same as ownership. Even the law recognizes that there is a difference; for example, rights in actual property ("AP") don't automatically lapse after a predefined time. "IP" is an incentive system, nothing more. Abolishing it is no more "taking property" than abolishing any other kind of subsidy.

Abolishing intellectual property is taking property that belongs to one (e.g., a person, a corporation, etc.) and giving that property to everbody.

No, because (despite the name) "intellectual property" is not property at all. Property is a concept which applies only to scarce resources; initial use of the resource (homesteading) confers the right to continue use it in the same manner without interference from others, a right which can be transferred from person to person via contracts. Property rights are naturally exclusive only insofar as distinct uses are in conflict; anyone can benefit from the property provided their benefit does not interfere with the owner's use of it.

The concept of property rights exists entirely because the resource is scarce; either the resource can't be consumed at all, or someone must be in a position to decide when and how the resource will be consumed to the exclusion of any other conflicting use. Property rights specify who should make that decision; whether you agree with my views on that selection (homesteading & contracts) isn't really relevant. The point is that someone has to do it, because of scarcity.

"IP", on the other hand, has no scarcity, no natural conflict between uses. Creative labor is scarce, certainly, but that isn't "IP", and control over your own labor is already covered by self-ownership. The product of such labor is something which can be used by any number of individuals simultaneously without conflict. The concept of property rights exists to resolve conflict, but "IP" laws create conflict, not only by attempting to make "IP" scarce but also by interfering with the non-aggressive use of actual property.

Re:Your logic is flawed (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#39068593)

"Doesn't abolishing copyright and patents remove ownership of the copyrighted or patented material? Hence, since there is no ownership of the copyrighted/patented material, anybody can use it."

No. It simply stops acting as if information is a tangible, scare resource, which can be traded and sold finitely, by legal power.

Quoting your later post:

"Intellectual property exists in every modern nation in the world. How can you say that intellectual property never existed in the first place?"

I don't like to say this because it offends people (reasonably), but it really is the best counter to this line of thinking: by your argument, the abolition of slavery was also communism.

Length of time for any software patent rewarded (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39054187)

Some of these patents and "points" are to most engineers with more than 3 years of experience to be able to solve and would be obvious to them. One problem is that the law now considers this engineer an "expert" (LOL) and thus, it qualifies as a patent.

Now, the patents that have been flying around are 15 years old or so. It's ridiculous. When was the last time you even USED a computer that was 15 years old? How many people actually use the first generation Pentium? Basically no one. Why do we keep patents around for so many generations of computers? 15 years is essentially 10 generations old in terms of computers. I know patents help to protect the little guy, but do you really need *20* years for your patent?

No, make it a few generations, total. Cut it down to just a simple 10 or perhaps down to 7 years. (By the 7th year, you'll know if you will be successful or not in your business based upon the patent.)

Slash the years and let innovation thrive again.

I'm not sure what the EFF is getting at (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39054301)

They say, about FOSS:

While compelling, there are risks to this strong approach. Every piece of software released to the world without legal protections may leave open a door for someone else to attempt to patent the same technology (and may leave its creators more open to legal threats without a patent to wield defensively). Such a scenario may result in years wasted in litigation and the existence of a patent used as a sword to scare away further innovators

The implication is that if FOSS doesn't stop patents, something else will. I'm not sure what they think it will be. I've seen the claim that open-source publication of the actual implementation of a technique in source code doesn't constitute prior art for a patent; if that's the case, what is? Certainly not prior patents; the patent office issues patents for stuff that has already been patented all the time. Not publications in journals; they issue patents for that too.

Re:I'm not sure what the EFF is getting at (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39054381)

I've seen the claim that open-source publication of the actual implementation of a technique in source code doesn't constitute prior art for a patent

Wrong.

the patent office issues patents for stuff that has already been patented all the time. Not publications in journals; they issue patents for that too.

Any proof? or are you working with an urban legend?

Just give me the old patent number (or old publication) and give me the new patent number (i.e., the second patent on the old technology).

Re:I'm not sure what the EFF is getting at (1)

speedplane (552872) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056369)

Where have you seen that claim? Code that's freely available over the net can definitely be prior art.

Re:I'm not sure what the EFF is getting at (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39058369)

Where have you seen that claim? Code that's freely available over the net can definitely be prior art.

I've seen the claim here, on slashdot, I think. From one of the resident patent defenders.

Re:I'm not sure what the EFF is getting at (1)

speedplane (552872) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062327)

Ahh, slashdot, the bastion of well-reasoned legal advice.

Re:I'm not sure what the EFF is getting at (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 2 years ago | (#39059069)

I've seen the claim that open-source publication of the actual implementation of a technique in source code doesn't constitute prior art for a patent

I've seen the claim that Bigfoot is sleeping with Nessie's sister.

What I would like to see... (4, Interesting)

BillX (307153) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055251)

...is a Mechanical Turk / crowdsourcing engine for distributedly nuking crap patents with prior art. Occasionally, specific bad tech patents reach notoriety on /. and elsewhere and the comment threads fill up with posts from geeks who have potentially credible examples of prior art. Some 80% of those don't really understand how to read a patent (not really their fault; they don't exactly teach this in school), but overall there's a good chance the discussion turned up something that would narrow the patent in question. However, that leaves many, many other bad patents lurking below the notoriety threshold.

How many here would sign up to a service where you could subscribe to feeds for your fields / areas of expertise (e.g. "video compression algorithms" or "input devices", etc.), see an individual top-level claim and filing date, and get paid to point out examples of prior art that you are aware of?

Prior Art databases exist, but with some issues [nongnu.org] . EFF's Patent Busting [eff.org] project is a good start, but there are relatively few patents to bust, and no one with the incentive (other than ideological) to finance a specific action. I bet a lot of companies would be willing to pay a more than fair bounty for information that nukes a specific problematic claim in a competitor's overbroad patent.

Wishlist features:
* A quickstart guide for laymen / "non-lawyer professionals" on how to parse patent claim constructions, how to determine if prior work exactly matches ("prior art"), or "teaches" (alone or in combination with some other pieces) or "renders obvious" a claim, even if not an exact match. It can't make participants into patent lawyers overnight, but many do not even know the basics, and those basics would improve the quality of prior art submitted.

* Advice/tools for determining effective priority date. There are plenty of things (provisionals, continuations, filings across various countries, etc.) that will bamboozle many casual patent-busters in deciding if a piece of art is "prior" or not.

* Random / Rainy day browse modes. Claim-a-day sent to your mobile?

(Before anyone thinks this would just create another tool that could be used for evil, remember that the patent office - presumably in any country - is not supposed to be granting patents for things that already exist in the first place... so correcting such a mistake is not really foul play.)

Re:What I would like to see... (2)

speedplane (552872) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056339)

Something like that already exists (maybe not with all the bells and whistles). Take a look at http://www.articleonepartners.com/ [articleonepartners.com] However, in this space, hiring a few real experts in the field is often more effective than crowd-sourcing a thousand laymen.

Re:What I would like to see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39070041)

America is now a "First to file" system.

This effectively means that no matter how much "prior art" there is, it doesn't count unless that prior art is a patent.

I have a suggestion for EFF (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39055385)

They should let people submit patent numbers for them to investigate. If they turn out to be stupid patents they should work on getting them invalidated.

Copyright is the real problem (2)

dstates (629350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056185)

Copyrights are an increasing problem. Patents expire after 20 years. OK, 20 years is a long time in technology, but they do expire. Copyright is the better part of a century and the line between concept and copy is disappearing. In many areas of science, private multinational corporations hold copyright on almost all of the literature. It is literally impossible for a physician to practice medicine or an engineer to work without copying material from copyright texts in the form of medical orders or design procedures.

Re:Copyright is the real problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39057327)

It's like debating which is worse, murder or rape. I'd say both are fairly serious problems. Do you enjoy using windoze 3.0 by the way? (1990)

Infringing someones copyright is pretty difficult and takes real effort, while on the other hand it is practically impossible to avoid patents. So, I'd say patents are a much bigger problem.

Is Intellectual Property Good? (4, Insightful)

speedplane (552872) | more than 2 years ago | (#39056449)

Is Intellectual Property Good or Bad? Lots of people on this thread seem to come down pretty hard on one side or another (mostly the latter). But I think when pressed most would agree that sometimes it's good and sometimes it's bad. For a good introduction on fleshing out the good and the bad of intellectual property, I highly recommend Fisher's "Theories of Intellectual Property," available for free online here: http://www.law.harvard.edu/faculty/tfisher/iptheory.html [harvard.edu]

It goes through the justifications for intellectual property and can help you think clearly about when it is bad. It can help you justify the feeling that most people have that a patent troll is "bad" but a lone inventor that patents his invention is "good." Even if you don't think the lone inventor should get the patent, I think the article can help you explain why.

Re:Is Intellectual Property Good? (1)

Lando (9348) | more than 2 years ago | (#39060131)

Biggest issue I see with patents is in the cost. It's cost prohibitive for a small inventor to grab a single patent much less a portfolio with the current system; however, the cost is peanuts for those with the wealth. And attempting to enforce your patents are even a bigger joke. Basically, the way patents currently stand the haves get to keep all their toys and not share anything with the have nots. If you can't enforce your patent it is the same as not having one in the first place except that you costs are larger.

Where's the evidence? (2)

Logic and Reason (952833) | more than 2 years ago | (#39057347)

Let's step back a moment and examine the bigger picture. Lots of people support patents because they believe patents encourage innovation, and indeed that's more-or-less the Constitution's stated purpose in granting Congress the power to issue them:

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.

But here's the question I have never, not even once, seen a patent advocate address: where is the evidence that patents actually promote innovation (i.e., that they cause a net increase in inventions, discoveries, etc.)? Indeed, there are some compelling arguments being made against patents and other forms of intellectual property, like Boldrin and Levine's Against Intellectual Monopoly [dklevine.com] , mentioned previously on Slashdot. Should we not demand that such a costly and disruptive regime as the patent system be supported by hard evidence that it actually does what it's intended to do?

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