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Supreme Court Orders Do-Over On Key Software Patents

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the no-trade-backs dept.

Medicine 167

Fluffeh writes "It seems that the U.S. Supreme Court has an itch it just can't scratch. A patent granted to the Ultramercial company covers the concept of allowing users to watch a pre-roll advertisement as an alternative to paying for premium content and the company is demanding fees from the likes of Hulu and YouTube. Another company called WildTangent, however, is challenging Ultramercial's 'invention' as merely an abstract idea not eligible for patent protection. Add to this a recent ruling by the Supreme Court restricting patents — albeit on medical diagnostic techniques — and you get into a bit of a pickle. The Supreme Court is now sending the Ultramercial case back to the lower courts for another round, which doesn't mean that the court disagrees with the original ruling, but rather that it thinks it is a patent case that is relevant to the situation and they want to re-examine it under this new light."

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What else is there to say? (5, Insightful)

LordNicholas (2174126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40099801)

This nonsense is crushing innovation. It's one more in a long line of examples of how we need to reevaluate how we govern ourselves.

Re:What else is there to say? (-1, Offtopic)

BootysnapJones (2646923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40099815)

Around a year ago, I was mindlessly surfing the internet (as I often do) when I came across an enigmatic web page. The page, which looked like a warning from my web browser, informed me that I had a virus installed on my computer and that to fix it, I should install a strange anti-virus program that I'd never heard of (which I found peculiar considering the fact that I already had anti-virus software installed on my computer). Despite having reservations about installing it, I did so anyway (since it appeared to be a legitimate warning).

I cannot even fathom what I was thinking at that time. Soon after attempting to install the so-called anti-virus software, my desktop background image changed into a large red warning sign, warnings about malware began making appearances all over the screen, and a strange program I'd never seen before began nagging me to buy a program to remove the viruses. What should have been obvious previously then became clear to me: that software was a virus. Frustrated by my own stupidity, I began tossing objects around the room and cursing at no one in particular.

After I calmed down, I reluctantly took my computer to a local PC repair shop and steeled myself for the incoming fee. When I entered, I noticed that there were four men working there, and all of them seemed incredibly nice (the shop itself was clean and stylish, too). After I described the situation to them, they gave me a big smile (as if they'd seen and heard it all before), accepted the job, and told me that the computer would be working like new again in a few days. At the time, I was confident that their words held a great degree of truth to them.

The very next day, while I was using a local library's computer and browsing the internet, I came across a website dedicated to a certain piece of software. It claimed that it could fix up my PC and make it run like new again. I knew, right then, merely from viewing a single page on the website, that it was telling the truth. I cursed myself for not discovering this excellent piece of software before I had taken my PC to the PC repair shop. "It would've saved me money. Oh, well. I'm sure they'll get the job done just fine. I can always use this software in the future to conserve money." Those were my honest thoughts at the time.

Two days later, my phone rang after I returned home from work. I immediately was able to identify the number: it was the PC repair shop's phone number. Once I answered, something strange occurred; the one on the other end of the line spoke, in a small, tormented voice, "Return. Return. Return. Return. Return." No matter what I said to him, he would not stop repeating that one word. Unsettled by this odd occurrence, I traveled to the PC repair shop to find out exactly what happened.

Upon arriving inside the building, I looked upon the shop, which was a shadow of its former self, in shock. There were countless wires all over the floor, smashed computer parts scattered in every direction I looked, fallen shelves on the ground, desks flipped over on the ground, and, to make matters even worse, there was blood splattered all over the wall. Being the reasonable, upstanding, college-educated citizen that I was, I immediately concluded that the current state of the shop was due to none other than an employee's stress from work. I looked around a bit more, spotted three bodies sitting against the wall, and in the middle of the room, I spotted my computer. "Ah. There it is." Directly next to it was the shop's owner, sitting on the ground in the fetal position.

When I questioned him, he kept repeating a single thing again and again: "Cannot be stopped! Cannot be stopped! Cannot be stopped!" I could not get him to tell me what was wrong, but after a bit of pondering, I quickly figured out precisely what happened: they were unable to fix my computer like they had promised. Disgusted by their failure, I turned to the shop's owner (who I now noticed had a gun to his head), and spat in his general direction. I then turned my back to him as if I was attempting to say that nothing behind me was worth my attention, and said to him, "Pathetic. Absolutely, positively pathetic. I asked you to do a single thing for me, and yet you failed even at that. Were I you, I'd be disgusted by myself, and I'd probably even take my own life. Such a worthless existence isn't even worthy of receiving my gaze!"

After saying that, I left the shop with my computer as if absolutely nothing had occurred there. And, indeed, there was nothing in that shop that was worthy of my attention. Still understandably disgusted by their inability to fulfill the promise, I said to myself, "I'll have to take this into my own hands." After getting into my car to drive home, I heard a gun shot from inside the repair shop. Being that it originated from the worthless owner of that shop, I promptly decided to ignore it.

Once I returned home, I, filled to the brim with confidence, immediately installed the software that I'd found a few days ago: MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] . The results were exactly what I expected, and yet, I was still absolutely in awe of MyCleanPC's [mycleanpc.com] wonderful performance. MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] removed every last virus from my computer in the span of a few seconds. I simply couldn't believe it; MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] accomplished in moments what "professionals" had failed to accomplish after days of work!

MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] is outstanding! My computer is running faster than ever! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] came through with flying colours where no one else could! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] totally cleaned up my system, and increased my speed!

If you're having computer troubles, I highly recommend the use of MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] . Don't rely on worthless "professionals" to fix up your PC! Use MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] if you want your PC to be overclocking, if you want your gigabits to be zippin' and zoomin', and if you want your PC to be virus-free.

Even if you aren't having any visible problems with your PC, I still wholeheartedly recommend the use of MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] . You could still be infected by a virus that isn't directly visible to you, and MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] will fix that right up. What do you have to lose? In addition to fixing any problems, MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] will, of course, speed up all of your gigabits until every component on your PC is overclocking like new!

MyCleanPC: For a Cleaner, Safer PC. [mycleanpc.com]

Re:What else is there to say? (-1, Offtopic)

PIBM (588930) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100029)

Well written! It's sad that the MyCleanPC part was all hidden, when I opened up the remaining I was expecting a worthy followup bashing the uselessness and virus-like behaviors of MyCleanPC rather than a single spam bomb. Oh well, too bad!

Guess whose bootysnap I'm gonna violate? (-1, Offtopic)

FuckSuchANiceBooty (2646927) | more than 2 years ago | (#40099867)

A few months ago, I accepted what at first appeared to be a very simple job: remove a virus from someone's computer. Given the fact that I owned a PC repair shop (and I still do) and had over 15 years of experience, I was confident that I could complete the job in a timely manner without any complications along the way. Little did I know, however, that accepting this job would spiral my life into a nightmarish den of anguish and uncertainty.

First, I tried booting up the PC. When Windows finally loaded, it became apparent that this was no ordinary virus; it was a merciless monstrosity of a virus that would stop at nothing to ruin your entire life. However, despite this, I bravely pressed on and attempted to combat the virus. "I absolutely will not let a mere virus scare me off!" I thought.

After numerous unsuccessful attempts at removing the virus and after exhausting every single option to combat viruses that I had, I finally realized that the situation was absolutely devoid of hope. This was a virus more fearsome than any other, and it was simply impossible for someone with my abilities (skilled as I was) to fight against it alone. Even reinstalling the operating system completely didn't help. I quickly sank into a pit of depression and despair.

Being that I was extremely stressed due to my numerous failures, I began verbally abusing my wife and kids a few days after I received the job. This situation soon worsened when I began resorting to physical abuse in order to relieve some of my anger. Eventually, after not being able to withstand my daughter's constant moans and whines any longer, I locked her in the basement in order to retain an ounce of my sanity.

That's when I had a stroke of genius: "If I can't fight this nightmare alone, then why don't I call in the World's Greatest Minds?" I immediately contacted the World's Greatest Minds and pleaded that they examine the computer. To my delight, they accepted the proposal, collected the computer, and began their experiments.

After weeks of trial and error, numerous experiments, and many failures, the World's Greatest Minds had at last reached a conclusion. They contacted me by phone and told me that this, being no ordinary virus, called for extreme measures. They quite vehemently recommended the use of MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] to combat the virus and destroy its very existence once and for all. "MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] will completely eradicate the virus without a single problem," they enthusiastically told me.

As soon as I got the computer back from the World's Greatest Minds, I installed MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] , ran a free scan, and then sat back and watched in awe as it totally eliminated the very same virus that I had spent weeks trying to get rid of in mere seconds! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] had accomplished a feat that nothing else in existence could have accomplished! I was positively astonished by MyCleanPC's [mycleanpc.com] miraculous performance.

What was my daughter's response, you ask? "MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] is outstanding! My dad's client's computer is running faster than ever! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] came through with flying colours where no one else could! I recommend that you use MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] right this minuteness to fix all of your problems!"

MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] totally cleaned up my client's system, and increased his speed! As a computer repair professional, I highly recommend that you use MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] to fix all of your problems. That's not all: The World's Greatest Minds also recommends MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] for all of your computer repair needs. By using MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] , you're ensuring that your gigabits will be running faster than ever, that all viruses will vanish off of your computer in seconds, and that you'll be overclocking with the rest of us!

Even if you're not having any visible problems with your computer, I still wholeheartedly recommend that you use MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] . After all, you could have a dormant/silent virus on your system. Additionally, MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] will speed up all of your gigabits to levels you could never imagine! You'll be overclocking in no time thanks to MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] !

MyCleanPC: For a Cleaner, Safer PC. [mycleanpc.com]

Re:Guess whose bootysnap I'm gonna violate? (0, Offtopic)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 2 years ago | (#40099999)

You do realise that this constant spamming of MyCleanPC at your target audience will pretty much guarantee that not only will none of us buy it, but we'll tell other people you're Satan's Spawn and not to go near your product or company ever? Just Saying...

Re:Guess whose bootysnap I'm gonna violate? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40100037)

You do realise it's not a real spamturd, but a troll disguising itself as one to get replies like... well, like yours.

YHBT; YHL. HAND.

Re:Guess whose bootysnap I'm gonna violate? (1, Offtopic)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100471)

I doubt he'll see your response, as he's not here to read or comment, just to spam. He probably has a bot scraping the net for places to put his spam that most likely is all automated.

Now I have to look for the parodies, some of them are hilarious.

Re:Guess whose bootysnap I'm gonna violate? (1)

steveg (55825) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101593)

Don't think they care if anyone here buys it. They're engaging in "Search Engine Optimization" -- enough links and they hope to game their search results to move higher in Google's listing.

Re:Guess whose bootysnap I'm gonna violate? (1)

Plunky (929104) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101683)

thats not how it works.. if he spams here, on a highly google-ranked site then his messages will start to appear high up in search rankings. Then if you search for that product name, you will see messages in the search results where the extract on display consists wholly of "and ${product} did a really fantastic job at ${action}!!!" and there will be pages of it, so people who are ignorant will see that and assume it is legit. Thats why it is important to down-moderate any spam here, because I suppose -1 comments don't get crawled by googlebot. They are not advertising to us, they are using our good reputation to bolster themselves in the search results.. IMO slashdot should implement filtering to block that stuff from being posted, so that the moderation can go back to being about the comments (maybe thats what those flags are for, I dunno)

Re:Guess whose bootysnap I'm gonna violate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40101003)

Fuck this asshole. Use gamemaker motherfuckers! It now cums with a custom hosts file option.

Re:What else is there to say? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40100019)

Patents have never been an innovation incentive, hell look at what Alexander Graham Bell did with telecom, his company sat on patents and expanded glacially making sure to profit from a few key technologies in what would become backbone areas, it was only when patents started expiring that telephones started spreading, and even then his legacy is still apparent in monopolies across North America

Imagine if Nikola Tesla had defended the design of the electric motor as viciously as Bell had telecom, the mind boggles...

Re:What else is there to say? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40100555)

Right, so you are saying that R&D magically appears and investors who pay folks to invent things don't care if they get any return on their investment. I totally agree that software patents are bogus, but you need to come up with a better argument than "wah, Bell" if you are going to convince anyone that patents on real things are a bad idea.

Re:What else is there to say? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40101177)

Oh yes, that old chestnut, if the product is so great and you're first to sell it you'll recoup your costs.

"But what if someone steals your idea" you say, well that already happens and if that person makes it to the patent office first you're still fucked.

Again, who invented the telephone? Innocenzo Manzetti, Antonio Meucci, Johann Philipp Reis, Elisha Gray, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison... ?

Bell was the only one awarded the patent so all those other guys lost out, had there been no patent system there would have been healthy competition between them potentially leading to more innovation in the field as it developed.

Re:What else is there to say? (5, Funny)

isopropanol (1936936) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100031)

Hell froze over; I'm siding with WildTangent.

Re:What else is there to say? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40100113)

Blame useless congress for patents and how asinine its become. When did the supreme court started having to do Congress job. Congress has become such a joke.

Re:What else is there to say? (3, Interesting)

magarity (164372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100591)

This nonsense is crushing innovation. It's one more in a long line of examples of how we need to reevaluate how we govern ourselves.

Sure it's nonsense, but I appreciate how the Supreme Court moves slowly and thoughtfully compared to the other branches of government. Perhaps they move a bit too slowly some times but the other two move so knee-jerk quickly most of the time that maybe the SC needs to be even slower to balance it out.

Re:What else is there to say? (5, Insightful)

Rob Y. (110975) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101655)

...except on deciding that 'money == speech'. They were quick as bunnies deciding that. Faster than you can say "money also == bribery".

Re:What else is there to say? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40100735)

This nonsense is crushing innovation. It's one more in a long line of examples of how we need to reevaluate how we govern ourselves.

Completely agree. Now if we can just get the ignorant masses to recognize that not only are they pare of the problem, but that their zombie-like endorcement of a two party system will only encourage further corruption.

Personally, I bet on stupidity. The stupidity of stupidity never fails.

Re:What else is there to say? (1)

Blindman (36862) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101787)

You can't talk about crushing innovation in the abstract. First, what affect if any does patent protection have on this type of "invention"? Absent a patent, would somebody have done this anyway? You can't crush the inevitable. Second, the question in this context is whether this patent should be entitled to patent protection. Stated another way, is this a patent to an idea or an application of that idea? Is this a special way of allowing users to watch a pre-roll advertisement or is it the idea itself? One deserves patent protection and the other does not.

Anonymous Coward order do-over on frosty piss! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40099803)

And don't forget the hot and steamy floater!

Windows 8 has mandatory flash built in (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40099807)

Why hasn't Slashdot done a story on this yet? Oh yeah, because Microsoft buys all the ads on here.

If you thought having IE built in to the OS was bad just wait for Windows 8 where Flash is integrated into the OS!

Re:Windows 8 has mandatory flash built in (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100105)

Can someone hand me a phone? I need to make a call

/me dials the phone

Hello, Bullshit?

Why the fuck would MS integrate Adobe's competitor to their own Silverlight platform into their own OS? Get off the crack.

Re:Windows 8 has mandatory flash built in (1, Informative)

John Courtland (585609) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100345)

looks like you're both retarded
http://www.neowin.net/news/former-microsoft-pm-silverlight-is-dead [neowin.net]

Re:Windows 8 has mandatory flash built in (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100457)

Netflix is keeping it alive, apparently.

Re:Windows 8 has mandatory flash built in (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100355)

Reality is often weirder than anything we can dream up.

Welcome to the crazy house [arstechnica.com]

Re:Windows 8 has mandatory flash built in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40100635)

There are ads here?

Meanwhile... (3, Funny)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40099811)

Try as I might, I seem to be unable to get a patent on Euclid's algorithm.

Re:Meanwhile... (4, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#40099987)

Add, "...on a computer", noob.

Re:Meanwhile... (2)

w_dragon (1802458) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100205)

I think they're getting wise to that now. Try '...on a social network'.

Re:Meanwhile... (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100373)

"On a social network running on a computer attached to the Internet."

I win!

Re:Meanwhile... (2)

cjb658 (1235986) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100725)

Now I shall patent the mobile version...

Re:Meanwhile... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40101651)

Don't forget to make it a common geometric shape and copyright it, just for good measure (and bigger lawsuits, obviously meaning more money for you).

Patents that cover concepts? (3, Interesting)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 2 years ago | (#40099813)

How is that even possible? What if someone had patented the concept of "auctions" or "transportation of persons other than by foot"?

As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40099841)

How is the concept of computing something substantially different from an algorithm that computes something? Patents are supposed to be on physical inventions, not abstract ideas. The formal, "When run on a computer," clause does not mean a math^H^H^H^Hsoftware patent is somehow not a patent on an abstract idea.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (4, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40099865)

Patents are supposed to be on physical inventions, not abstract ideas.

35 USC 101 states that "Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title." Processes aren't "physical inventions".

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (-1, Troll)

TheUltraBootyFuck (2646929) | more than 2 years ago | (#40099889)

About six months ago, I was overexerting myself trying to get rid of a terrible virus on a client's PC (I own a PC repair shop and have been fixing computers for over 10 years). Given my level of expertise, I thought I'd be able to get rid of it fairly quickly and without hassle, but as was made evident by my colossal failure, I was horribly, horribly wrong.

I couldn't remove the virus no matter what method I used. I tried all the latest anti-virus software and all the usual tricks, but it was all in vain. Failure after failure, my life was slowly being sucked away as I spent more and more of my time trying to get rid of this otherworldly virus.

Frustrated and stressed by my own failure, I began distancing myself from my wife and children. After a few days, I began verbally abusing them, and it eventually escalated into physical abuse. I was slowly losing what remaining sanity I had left. If this had continued for much longer, it is highly probable that I would have committed suicide. A mere shell of what I once was, I barricaded myself in my bedroom and cried myself to sleep for days on end.

That's when it happened: I found MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] ! I installed MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] right on the client's PC, ran a scan, and it immediately got rid of all the viruses without a single problem. MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] accomplished in record time what I was unable to accomplish after a full week. Wow! Such a thing!

MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] is outstanding! My client's computer is running faster than ever! I highly recommend you install MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] right this minuteness, run a scan, and then boost your PC speed in record time! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] came through with flying colours where no one else could!

My client's response? "MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] totally cleaned up my system, and increased my speed!" All the PC repair professionals are using MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] to solve all of their problems. This should be reason enough for you to switch to MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] ! It'll speed up your computer, rid it of all viruses, and you'll be able to work productively again! Wow!

Even if you're not having any obvious computer problems, you could still be in danger. That's why I very highly recommend that you still use MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] . After all, it will boost your PC & internet speed to levels you never would think are possible!

MyCleanPC: For a Cleaner, Safer PC. [mycleanpc.com]

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40099985)

Dude, have you got such a pathetic, lonely existence you need to do this?

Does your tiny penis cause you shame and thereby make you act out for attention?

Did your daddy touch you? Did you like it and secretly wish he'd do it again?

Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you?

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (1)

trum4n (982031) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100077)

I'm wondering how sharing files is illegal and worthy of jail time, and fuckers like this get no punishment. They arn't even shut down. Fraud is illegal. Fucking do something about it already!

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100137)

Thats because the grandparent makes money for having SEO and having Google show MyCleanPC top, for any of the keywords typed.

Now if it doesn't make profit. Then its ILLEGAL. But not if its used to make money

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (1)

vinayg18 (1641855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100187)

When an action (or lack thereof) is suspicious, follow the money. There's no money for the MAFIAA in pursuing these spammers.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40101709)

When an action (or lack thereof) is suspicious, follow the money.
There's no money for the MAFIAA in pursuing these spammers.

Quick question: How much actual money has the **AA collected in the course of their lawyer fetish? And of that, how much was anything approaching a profit, after considering the aforementioned lawyers they needed to pay to satisfy their aforementioned fetish?

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40101069)

Can you repeat that as a custom hosts file?

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40099917)

Except that the process clause is meant to cover industrial processes that are not strictly machines, but which are physical inventions nevertheless (at least in the sense that they transform physical material from one form to another).

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (3, Insightful)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100005)

Except that the process clause is meant to cover industrial processes that are not strictly machines, but which are physical inventions nevertheless (at least in the sense that they transform physical material from one form to another).

Agreed... But that doesn't mean that the "process" is a "physical invention," but rather that it must operate on a machine or perform a transformation of some physical material, no (hence the old CAFC test). At which point, software that operates a controller counts.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100491)

Sure, and that was the original logic behind the first software patent. The difference is that today's software patents are not on industrial processes, they are on pure mathematics, which is not supposed to be patentable.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100545)

Sure, and that was the original logic behind the first software patent. The difference is that today's software patents are not on industrial processes, they are on pure mathematics, which is not supposed to be patentable.

But they're not. As noted above, today's software patents "operate on a machine or perform a transformation of some physical material" - such as "operat[ing] a controller". There aren't any "pure mathematics" patents.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (4, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100991)

There aren't any "pure mathematics" patents.

What about these:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECC_patents [wikipedia.org]

Or these:

http://blogs.teamb.com/craigstuntz/2012/04/04/38707/ [teamb.com]

Or any of the hundreds of other patents on mathematics? What specific machine or material does a patent on finite field representations cover? Keep in mind that Certicom claims that its patents cover all computer architectures equally.

These are not industrial processes, these are not specific machines, these are patents on pure math with a formal statement about running the software on some computer.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101133)

There aren't any "pure mathematics" patents.

What about these:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECC_patents [wikipedia.org]
Or these:
http://blogs.teamb.com/craigstuntz/2012/04/04/38707/ [teamb.com]
Or any of the hundreds of other patents on mathematics?

That's a link to wiki and a blog. Neither of those are patents. Is there a specific patent number you're referring to?

These are not industrial processes, these are not specific machines, these are patents on pure math with a formal statement about running the software on some computer.

So, in other words, they're not patents on pure math?
It would be easier to discuss this if you'd provide a specific patent number so that we can discuss a set of claims, rather than a wiki page or blog post about someone's interpretation of some "hundreds of other patents" that are not in front of us. I'm happy to discuss any patent number you name.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (3, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101419)

OK, we can go through these patents, if you want:

http://www.google.com/patents?vid=6563928 [google.com]

Can you even see what machine this patent refers to? The closest thing to that is in claim 122,

a data communication system

Which may not even refer to a machine, since we can communicate by shouting at each other across a room, by writing numbers of sheets of paper, etc. This is not even a formal reference to using a computer; it is just a vague reference to the concept of communicating electronically. Otherwise, these claims all cover pure math.

http://www.google.com/patents?vid=6782100 [google.com]

Tell me if you can find a claim that even vaguely refers to a machine, because I cannot.

http://www.google.com/patents?vid=5854759 [google.com]

Again, I am not seeing a claim that mentions a machine, but maybe you can point it out for me.

The ball is in your court; tell us how these patents are somehow not actually patents on pure math.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101775)

OK, we can go through these patents, if you want:
http://www.google.com/patents?vid=6563928 [google.com]

Claims must be read in light of the specification as it would be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art. The "broadest possible reading" of a term applies during prosecution, but in litigation, the claims must be interpreted more narrowly based on the spec. In this case, the claims recite correspondents, which the spec describes as including a random number generator and performing computing functions. While it's possible to read these as humans, I think a more reasonable reading is that they're computers.

http://www.google.com/patents?vid=6782100 [google.com]
Tell me if you can find a claim that even vaguely refers to a machine, because I cannot.

That one's even easier. Claim 1 recites a cryptosystem, which is illustrated in FIG. 2 including an ALU and RAM.

http://www.google.com/patents?vid=5854759 [google.com]
Again, I am not seeing a claim that mentions a machine, but maybe you can point it out for me.

Claim 1: "1. A method of generating in a digital data processor..."

The ball is in your court; tell us how these patents are somehow not actually patents on pure math.

There you go. In all cases, pure math - or performing the steps in your head or on a pad of paper - would not be covered by the patent claims. Therefore, they can't be claiming pure math.

running on a computer is still pure math (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101529)

If the only input is data and the only output is data (rather than running a motor controller or servo or something) then I would argue that we're talking about an algorithm, i.e. pure math.

The fact that it runs on a computer is beside the point, you could in theory do it with pen and paper or in your head.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (1)

BenLeeImp (1347831) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101749)

http://www.google.com/patents/US6384822 [google.com]

This seems pretty "pure mathematics" to me. I suppose the phosphors of a monitor count as a physical material, but I think that's stretching it a bit.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (5, Interesting)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40099981)

That is a new law.

The original constitution states "physical inventions".

  If it subverts the original meaning that is grounds for the supreme court to throw it out. The second issue is math should not be patentable because they are laws of nature and not manmade. Computer algorithms are just this and a process is simply math. Laws of nature have been ruled not to be patentable as well in the past and I think your text from the America Invents act are clearly unconstitutional but I am no lawyer.

What I want to know is if laws of nature as unpatentable are a European idea or American or both? The grandparent is correct in that original patents were for physical inventions with a prototype already functional only. Not for an idea. Otherwise everyone would be quite wealthy or broke as nothing could be made without infringing on everyone else.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (5, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100211)

That is a new law.

"New" as in from 1790. Specifically, the 1790 Patent Act [ipmall.info] - passed just 3 years after the Constitution was drafted - included as patentable subject matter "any useful art, manufacture, engine, machine, or device, or any improvement therein." The term "useful art," as it was known at the time, meant an industrial process.

The original constitution states "physical inventions".

Au contraire. The Constitution grants Congress 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." [archives.gov]

The phrase "physical inventions" does not appear in the Constitution.

In fact, the word "physical" does not appear in the Constitution.

If it subverts the original meaning that is grounds for the supreme court to throw it out.

First, as noted above, the same people who wrote the Constitution wrote the Patent Act, passing it just a couple years later. Thomas Jefferson was the first Patent Examiner. It's a pretty tough argument to say that the founders didn't understand what the founders intended.

Second, the patent clause of the Constitution is one of the explicitly enumerated powers of Congress, and Congress has the power to pass any laws "necessary and proper" to performing those powers. Which means that the Supreme Court is supremely deferential when it comes to whether Congress has the power to pass a law regarding one of those enumerated powers. Basically, if Congress says that "useful arts" includes processes, the Supreme Court isn't going to reverse that by arguing they lack the power to define "useful arts".

Third, as noted, the Constitution doesn't include "physical inventions" as a limitation. Accordingly, it's a misreading to say that by allowing patenting of processes, they are "subverting the original meaning". I think you're getting confused with an entirely different clause - the "to promote the progress of [the] useful arts". Whether patenting processes subverts that is an entirely different question, which as of yet, you've not raised.

The second issue is math should not be patentable because they are laws of nature and not manmade. Computer algorithms are just this and a process is simply math.

You're right, and that's why computer algorithms are not patentable by themselves. Instead, they must be explicitly tied to a machine or performed by a machine, because machines are not laws of nature, nor are they man-made.

Laws of nature have been ruled not to be patentable as well in the past and I think your text from the America Invents act are clearly unconstitutional but I am no lawyer.

I have no idea what part of the AIA you're referring to. It says nothing about patenting laws of nature. Would you care to quote a passage?

What I want to know is if laws of nature as unpatentable are a European idea or American or both?

Both. However, "software patents" are patentable in both Europe and America, provided they are tied to a physical machine. It is software per se that is unpatentable.

The grandparent is correct in that original patents were for physical inventions with a prototype already functional only. Not for an idea.

As noted above, the grandparent is provably wrong, based on the Constitution and the original Patent Act of 1790. Additionally, the requirement of a prototype went away in 1880.

Otherwise everyone would be quite wealthy or broke as nothing could be made without infringing on everyone else.

And yet the economy continues and Apple is the wealthiest company in the world. People complain that the patent act stifles innovation or makes it so unprofitable to innovate that no one does it, but they have no evidence for this other than gut feelings, and it's contraindicated by the incredible innovations being made right now. If Google is to be believed, we'll have wearable heads-up displays by the end of the year. I mean, come on - that's freakin' science fiction right there.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (1)

JamieThomson (2646941) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100295)

And yet the economy continues and Apple is the wealthiest company in the world. People complain that the patent act stifles innovation or makes it so unprofitable to innovate that no one does it, but they have no evidence for this other than gut feelings, and it's contraindicated by the incredible innovations being made right now.

It might not be the end of the world, but it could very well be stifling innovation. As in, if we didn't have such a nonsensical patent system, we'd probably have more innovation. Patent trolls and idiotic patents are a real problem.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100413)

It might not be the end of the world, but it could very well be stifling innovation. As in, if we didn't have such a nonsensical patent system, we'd probably have more innovation.

It's a good starting hypothesis, but where's your evidence?

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100773)

O please, the chilling effect from the current patent situation is felt by every maker on the planet.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100863)

O please, the chilling effect from the current patent situation is felt by every maker on the planet.

So, no real evidence, just anecdotes and intuition?

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101141)

trollolololololol you dont want to debate, you want to argue. If you cant understand how the current patent situation can stifle innovation, then you arent paying attention. By their very nature, patents restrict, not enable. So while we get more money driven inventions, that doesnt automatically mean that its the most productive system or that its societal benefit is maximized. Patents are a nicety given by society to encourage innovation. If it becomes apparent that patents stifle more then they benefit, then the entire concept needs to be revisited. Patents are for SOCIETAL benefit, with a side dish of offering the inventor a nice little limited monopoly to give him a 'attaboy'.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (3, Insightful)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101379)

trollolololololol you dont want to debate, you want to argue.

... says the guy whose initial post consisted solely of: "O please, the chilling effect from the current patent situation is felt by every maker on the planet."

If you'd like to come back and actually debate by stating a conclusion supported logical arguments from your evidence-supported premises, then please do. If you'd like to shoot off single-line snipe attacks, then why not just post as an anonymous coward like all other trolls?

If you cant understand how the current patent situation can stifle innovation, then you arent paying attention.

Conclusory statement. Not an argument.

By their very nature, patents restrict, not enable.

Irrelevant, no one had raised an argument that patents "enable" things.

So while we get more money driven inventions, that doesnt automatically mean that its the most productive system or that its societal benefit is maximized.

True, but likewise irrelevant, and fails to support your original argument of a chilling effect. Just because we don't know that the system is not the best system doesn't mean it therefore is the worst system.

Patents are a nicety given by society to encourage innovation. If it becomes apparent that patents stifle more then they benefit, then the entire concept needs to be revisited. Patents are for SOCIETAL benefit, with a side dish of offering the inventor a nice little limited monopoly to give him a 'attaboy'.

Agreed. Now, I'm simply asking for your evidence that patents stifle more than they benefit. This is the original evidence I asked for, to which you demurred and instead said "but everyone knows it exists". If you can't support your conclusion with facts, then, while it may be true, you'll never convince a reasonable person.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (2)

Chirs (87576) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101607)

Agreed. Now, I'm simply asking for your evidence that patents stifle more than they benefit. This is the original evidence I asked for, to which you demurred and instead said "but everyone knows it exists". If you can't support your conclusion with facts, then, while it may be true, you'll never convince a reasonable person.

I am a computer programmer. The assumption is we probably infringe on something even if we invented it independently, so we have been explicitly told not to look at any patents related to our field because we could be liable for treble damages if it appears we may have knowingly infringed.

This is chilling because it means I'm not supposed to see what other people are doing, even though we may be able to trivially work around it.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100303)

Laws of nature are math. Plain and simple and should not be patentable PERIOD. Infact a process is math where you do this, then, do that. It doesn't matter where its performed. Just because a computer does it doesn't make it patentable and no longer laws of nature or math. If laws of nature are ruled unpatentable then most of these patents need to be thrown out! A process can not be patentable therefore they need to be thrown out as well.

The arts are refering to blue prints for industrial designs. Not expressions as is the common definition of arts today. I can make a patent for anything and just say "Used in a tablet/computer .." otherwise and get away with patenting math or any other law of nature. That is sneaky and I should not be able to get a patent on anything that would be impossible if it were not at work or in a computer then its patentable.

I doubt a process is considered an arts in design at all. You can't own something that is not real or already exists. A blueprint on the otherhand is a design to an invention in contrast and yes that is man made and real.

Expressions and laws of nature/math, or anything else like a series of steps are not real and therefore not patentable.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100467)

Laws of nature are math. Plain and simple and should not be patentable PERIOD.

And they aren't. I already said this, you don't need to keep repeating it as if you've said something new.

Infact a process is math where you do this, then, do that. It doesn't matter where its performed. Just because a computer does it doesn't make it patentable and no longer laws of nature or math. If laws of nature are ruled unpatentable then most of these patents need to be thrown out! A process can not be patentable therefore they need to be thrown out as well.

But processes are explicitly patentable under 35 USC 101, provided they're not merely the mathematical steps.

The arts are refering to blue prints for industrial designs. Not expressions as is the common definition of arts today.

No, they aren't. As it was used in 1787, the term "useful arts" referred to any industrial process, including smelting, forging, shaping, etc. Interestingly, the term "science" referred to expressions of knowledge. Amazing how language changes.

But "blueprints"? No.

I can make a patent for anything and just say "Used in a tablet/computer .." otherwise and get away with patenting math or any other law of nature.

First, no, you can't. Find me a patent that includes a mathematical algorithm, the phrase "used in a computer", and nothing else. I'll wait.

Second, even if you could, then you wouldn't be patenting the math. It could still be freely used outside of a computer.

I doubt a process is considered an arts in design at all.

I have no idea what that sentence was trying to say.

You can't own something that is not real or already exists. A blueprint on the otherhand is a design to an invention in contrast and yes that is man made and real.

Expressions and laws of nature/math, or anything else like a series of steps are not real and therefore not patentable.

And they aren't. However, an industrial process, such as cold forging, is patentable. Even if it's not a blueprint.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (3, Interesting)

neoshroom (324937) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100579)

The second issue is math should not be patentable because they are laws of nature and not manmade. Computer algorithms are just this and a process is simply math.

You're right, and that's why computer algorithms are not patentable by themselves. Instead, they must be explicitly tied to a machine or performed by a machine, because machines are not laws of nature, nor are they man-made.

Ah, I see you are one of those religious fundamentalists. Machines are far too complex to be man made! All those intricacies and complexities. They must be made by God. Amen brother!

On the 1st day God created computers. On the 0th day he rested. Then there was a recursive loop, a segfault and a buffer overflow, and that explains how things came to be. Hallelujah!

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (3)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101011)

The term "useful art," as it was known at the time, meant an industrial process.

Exactly—and an industrial process is a specific way of making a physical product. This is completely separate from the abstract processes under discussion, which are aspects of mathematics—natural laws—waiting to be discovered, not applications of those laws invented to further the production of a specific material good, which is the essence of a "useful art".

The critical term, of course, isn't "useful arts" (which only occurs in the justification, not the actual power) but "Inventors". Algorithms aren't invented. Like other natural laws, they're discovered. Invention requires the application of the laws thus discovered toward a specific, concrete end.

The second issue is math should not be patentable because they are laws of nature and not manmade. Computer algorithms are just this and a process is simply math.

You're right, and that's why computer algorithms are not patentable by themselves. Instead, they must be explicitly tied to a machine or performed by a machine, because machines are not laws of nature, nor are they man-made.

While this is a very common argument, making it requires one to be (deliberately?) obtuse. A patent on an algorithm[1] running on a general-purpose computer is indistinguishable from a patent on the algorithm itself. The algorithm, as a universal natural law, is not eligible. The general-purpose computer was not invented by the applicant, and the use of one to evaluate any algorithm is obvious, as this is the purpose and nature of any general-purpose computer. What is left to patent?

If Google is to be believed, we'll have wearable heads-up displays by the end of the year. I mean, come on - that's freakin' science fiction right there.

Only if they can navigate the patent minefield, and manage to get it to market without anyone blocking it with an injunction. The way the mobile market is looking right now (approaching a complete all-vs.-all digraph of lawsuits), that's not looking very likely.

Moreover, it's not like the primary roadblock preventing use from having these sorts of wearable HUDs was ever in the software to begin with. It's just taken this long to develop the miniaturized logic circuits, displays, and batteries necessary to make it practical. Are you really trying to argue that no one would develop the (rather trivial) algorithms needed for HUDs without software patents?

[1] There are no "computer" algorithms, just universal mathematical algorithms which computers happen to be able to evaluate.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101229)

Mod parent up!

That is the point. I can't patent respiration as an example because it is a nature and not man-made. Can I then patent respiration while typing on a laptop computer. The patent trolls say yes!

I say BS. It is still nature and is abstract and not applicable if you did not invent the computer. Its just another way to patent something when used X. Displaying an AD is abstract and not a process of manufacturing and has been done before. Just not on a computer screen.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101259)

Exactly—and an industrial process is a specific way of making a physical product. This is completely separate from the abstract processes under discussion, which are aspects of mathematics—natural laws—waiting to be discovered, not applications of those laws invented to further the production of a specific material good, which is the essence of a "useful art".

Yes, and? The original discussion was whether "process" is not included in the patent act as a patent-eligible category. As you agree, it is. And I agree, abstract processes - a subset of "processes" - are not patentable.

The critical term, of course, isn't "useful arts" (which only occurs in the justification, not the actual power) but "Inventors". Algorithms aren't invented. Like other natural laws, they're discovered. Invention requires the application of the laws thus discovered toward a specific, concrete end.

Agreed. Fortunately, patents claim applications of those laws, and not the laws themselves.

While this is a very common argument, making it requires one to be (deliberately?) obtuse. A patent on an algorithm[1] running on a general-purpose computer is indistinguishable from a patent on the algorithm itself.

Says you. A patent on a computer running an algorithm explicitly does not cover performing the algorithm in your head, on a pad of paper, inherently when you do some other function, etc. It is quite distinguishable.

The algorithm, as a universal natural law, is not eligible. The general-purpose computer was not invented by the applicant, and the use of one to evaluate any algorithm is obvious, as this is the purpose and nature of any general-purpose computer. What is left to patent?

That's not a requirement. I can invent a new automobile transmission, and the fact that I wasn't the one who invented the automobile is irrelevant. You've created a new rule whereby each industry gets one patent by the founder of that industry, and any improvements in that industry are forever unpatentable because they incorporate something not invented by the applicant.

If Google is to be believed, we'll have wearable heads-up displays by the end of the year. I mean, come on - that's freakin' science fiction right there.

Only if they can navigate the patent minefield, and manage to get it to market without anyone blocking it with an injunction. The way the mobile market is looking right now (approaching a complete all-vs.-all digraph of lawsuits), that's not looking very likely.

Let's remember this post and come back in a year. If Google Glasses makes it to market, then you can publicly post a retraction statement that patents don't stifle innovation. Sounds good?

Of course you won't agree to that, though, because there will always be some future product that you can pessimistically say will be vaporware due to patents. It's a very goalpost-moving based argument.

How about this - we have multitouch tablets. Lots of them. In spite of the fact that there are patent disputes, they're selling like hotcakes. And furthermore, we didn't have them 10 years ago. We can look at the past, during which there has been both software patents and patent litigation, and say "look, innovation." Can you do the same and show that the software industry has stagnated because of patent disputes?

Moreover, it's not like the primary roadblock preventing use from having these sorts of wearable HUDs was ever in the software to begin with. It's just taken this long to develop the miniaturized logic circuits, displays, and batteries necessary to make it practical. Are you really trying to argue that no one would develop the (rather trivial) algorithms needed for HUDs without software patents?

I'm saying that software patents require hardware, and as such, innovations in software-using hardware indicate that software patents are not stifling innovation, as many claim. You seem to be arguing that patents on pure software (which, I may add, don't exist) stifle innovation somewhere, but haven't yet pointed out any such area.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101355)

So I can patent something on a device I have no rights too? The patent law and constitutional clause states for the inventor.

I can't patent an abstract idea because it is in a car that I performed respiration, or it was a LCD laptop screen that displayed the Ad and not a TV. Yet the patent trolls are saying just this.

Useful Arts have to do with the manufacture process. Not an abstract idea just on another device made from natural laws not invented by applicant. Otherwise I could patent every idea known to man such as typing on a keyboard with a machine with more than 4 gigs of ram. Then patent again with a machine with more than 8 gigs of ram etc.

Its not a real invention anymore since it's an abstract idea that has nothing to do with the useful art of manufacturing or a real product.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101601)

So I can patent something on a device I have no rights too? The patent law and constitutional clause states for the inventor.

I'm not sure what this is in reference to. Can you quote the previous post or provide more details?

I can't patent an abstract idea because it is in a car that I performed respiration, or it was a LCD laptop screen that displayed the Ad and not a TV. Yet the patent trolls are saying just this.

Do you have a citation of a patent with "[known process for displaying an add on a television] on an LCD laptop display"? Remember, you have to find that in the claims, not just the abstract.

Useful Arts have to do with the manufacture process.

Or other industrial process, but yes.

Not an abstract idea just on another device made from natural laws not invented by applicant. Otherwise I could patent every idea known to man such as typing on a keyboard with a machine with more than 4 gigs of ram. Then patent again with a machine with more than 8 gigs of ram etc.

You're confusing two different statutes: 35 USC 101 is about patent-eligible subject matter. A known or obvious process is directed to patent-eligible subject matter, but is known or obvious and therefore unpatentable under 35 USC 102 or 35 USC 103, respectively. For example, under 35 USC 103 (obviousness), you could not patent that combination. Typing is known, yes? Keyboards are known, too. 8 GB of RAM is also known. Therefore, one can combine typing + keyboards + 8GB of RAM and the result is obvious under 35 USC 103. However, it still may be directed to a patent-eligible subject matter.

Let's make it easier. Say I wanted to patent a basic internal combustion engine. Nothing fancy, same type as Ford used a hundred years ago. It's a machine, right? Therefore, it's directed to patent-eligible subject matter under 35 USC 101, which says that machines may be patented. However, it's not new, so while it's okay under 35 USC 101, it's not under 35 USC 102.

Complaining that some software patents are trivial and should not have been granted for obviousness is a reasonable complaint... but it's simply unrelated to say that because some software patents are obvious, then no software patents are directed to patent-eligible subject matter.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101755)

The reference is in the story that a patent troll sued Wild Tangent claiming they had the right to display an ad on a computer screen and needed to pay up.

Putting an ad on a screen is an abstract process already done in television so why is it magically different if its on a computer?

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (3, Interesting)

oxdas (2447598) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101119)

Wow, where should I begin; false dilemma, straw man, coincidental correlation? False dilemma: Just because there are significant innovations now, does not mean that there would not be more significant innovations without software patents. Straw man: Stifling innovation is not the same as making "it so unprofitable to innovate that no one does it", which is the point you go on to attack. Coincidental correlation: Just because we have patents and then innovation does not prove that patents cause innovation.

Considering that innovation predates patents (so there cannot be an exclusive causal effect), where is your evidence that patents further innovation?

(Personally, I believe patents can encourage innovation, but I also believe in the proverb "too much of a good thing, is a bad thing.")

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (0)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101333)

Wow, where should I begin; false dilemma, straw man, coincidental correlation?

Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.

In particular, quote the previous post so that I know what you're referring to in your arguments.

Considering that innovation predates patents (so there cannot be an exclusive causal effect), where is your evidence that patents further innovation?

Patents have been around for over 500 years, and in that time, the pace of technological innovation has greatly outstripped the pace of innovation prior to the 1500s. On a smaller and more recent scale, I would note that the pace of innovation in software alone has increased tremendously from the pace in the pre-software patent 1960s-1970s to the current pace. Here, we have an industry that spans a patent-eligible era and a non-patent-eligible era within recent memory. Clearly, the existence of patents did not stifle innovation in that time, which is what others claim. Can we prove that patents are responsible for any of that increase in pace? Only circumstantially. However, the evidence for it is a lot stronger than the claims that software would have progressed even farther, had it not been for these gosh-darned patents stifling innovation.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (2)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100277)

The original constitution states "physical inventions".

What original constitution are you referring to?

Certainly the U.S. Constitution itself doesn't say "physical inventions": "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."

The 1790 Patent Act says: "any useful art, manufacture, engine, machine, or device, or any improvement thereon not before known or used".

In 1793, it was amended to say: "any new and useful art, machine, manufacture or composition of matter and any new and useful improvement on any art, machine, manufacture or composition of matter".

That language seems to carry to the modern-day implementation.

The second issue is math should not be patentable because they are laws of nature and not manmade.

Whether or not mathematics exists as a real thing independent of its conception by man is a matter of philosophy. Mathematical realists would agree with you, but others might not.

Regardless, not all mathematics is a "law of nature". Mathematics may be naturally-existing ("discovered" rather than "invented"), but in order to be a law of nature, some natural physical system's behavior must be described by the mathematical relationship. The RSA algorithm, for example, which is strictly mathematics (though patented) does not describe any natural system.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101115)

The real problem lies in what's getting patented in the software space.

IF you accept that much of the software space is a process description (I have a few issues with this...), then the bulk of the stuff out there is NOT novel. In many cases, you just call it being implemented in software, on the internet, on a smart phone and it's magically novel enough to merit a patent.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100649)

Like hell it is new law. The very first US patent issued in 1790 is for an improved process for the manufacture of potash.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:FirstUSpatent.jpg [wikipedia.org]

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101277)

How is a patent for showing an ad on a computer screen part of an improved manufacturing process?

Weren't ads invented centuries ago? Weren't they shown on TV screens back in the 1950s?

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40100107)

I doubt that Congress had in mind that marketing or merchandising ideas could be patented, for example, the idea of a chain of superstores located mostly in the distant suburbs like Wal-Mart. I think what they meant was, businessmen scratching their heads thinking what a killing they could make if they could only do X. Then some bright person comes along and invents a non-obvious process Y for doing X. Y is patentable, X is not. There should opportunity for other inventors to come along and invent Z and Q for accomplishing X, that do not infringe on the Y patent.

What we see are a lot of patents for X.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101147)

Processes aren't necessarily abstract ideas either. Although you're right that patents can apply to things other than physical inventions, they are *NOT* supposed to apply to abstract ideas.

Re:As opposed to patents that cover algorithms? (1)

chad_r (79875) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101263)

How is the concept of computing something substantially different from an algorithm that computes something? Patents are supposed to be on physical inventions, not abstract ideas. The formal, "When run on a computer," clause does not mean a math^H^H^H^Hsoftware patent is somehow not a patent on an abstract idea.

The concept is different from an algorithm when your patent is on the end result and not the process. That's the problem; there is no way to work at a different solution because the patent covers EVERY solution. What patent abusers really want to patent is the idea -- an auction, meeting scheduling, one-click ordering, etc. (on the INTERNET!, to boot) - but those aren't allowed. So they describe what are obvious (to anyone learned in the art of software design) steps to perform their idea. This is where I see the problem. It's an evil fusion between unpatentable ideas and obvious implentations that falsely appears to be a novel process.

As an example, Shazam paid a settlement to Tune Hunter over the idea of music identification. If you read Tune Hunter's actual patent [uspto.gov] , they only described in detail a method where you hear an interesting song on the radio, press a key fob usb, which can be used to look up the song based on the time and the station's playlist (this sounds like something NPR had given as a promotional item a few years ago, but I'm not sure). Obviously, what Shazam does is nothing like that. Their patent does also include a claim for identification based on sound samples, but they offer no actual process to accomplish this, other than "uses a central processing unit and search stored information as known in the art to analyze the music segment" (emphasis mine). Thus, they flat out admit in the patent that what Shazam is doing is not something they invented. But still Shazam felt threatened by a patent on the idea of "music identification".

Re:Patents that cover concepts? (4, Insightful)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 2 years ago | (#40099859)

Someone already has won [thenextweb.com] a patent [uspto.gov] on the concept of online auctions. All you have to do is take anything people do anyway, add "but do it online!" and you have your new patent. It's pretty awful.

Re:Patents that cover concepts? (3, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101719)

It is simple, all empires must fall. looking at history i believe there is a pattern there that simply can't be altered, which is first grow and innovate, then the ultra rich use their power to consolidate, then they try to stifle and crush those that could compete, which thanks to the stagnation allows others in other places to rise and the empire falls.

Look at how the USA got to where it is, by "stealing" the ideas of Europe which had become buried under patents, innovating, and coming with new and fresh ideas and ways of doing things. And now the east is doing the same exact thing to us because our rich have consolidated as much as they can and now are using patents and copyrights to lock up as much for themselves. Again with this comes stagnation until it finally all just falls to crap. Hell we went from a manufacturing powerhouse to "lawsuit land" in less than 50 years.

It seems we are forever doomed to repeat history, because the rich and powerful simply don't see we ALL stand on the shoulders of giants, that is how new ways of doing are born. No idea is truly just born of the ether, all are influenced by those around them and their betters in their field. You mark my words, what you will see now is ever deeper stagnation as more and more toll booths and roadblocks are put up by those that wish to own a market and would rather crush an enemy than compete while the east will learn from our ideas and make them better.

Look at the Chinese gov owned loongson chip company, they are mixing hardware x86 emulation into a MIPS chip, that is new and different but of course since that's all patented and copyrighted up the ass here you could never do that on American soil. Now imagine say doing that with ARM, having a specialized emulation chip that would allow some X86 to run while turning itself off when X86 was not required. or hell build some more simplistic X86 chips like Atom and bobcat that could be switched on and off on the fly with a quad ARM and a decent GPU...all on one die and able to communicate VERY fast with each other because they were all part of the same silicon. wouldn't that be awesome? Can't build that here though. in the future i bet you'll hear that more and more, "couldn't build THAT in the USA!" and that is why we will lose to the east. the IP laws here encourage not innovation but stagnation.

A step in the right direction ... (3, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#40099843)

Saying "let's think about this a little more" is a step in the right direction.

Re:A step in the right direction ... (2)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100527)

Eliminating software patents completely then re-instating any provisions that are still required after some thought would more quickly get to a working solution. Taking a small step towards a goal that you are very far from is not much on an improvement, and I think most people (who are not lawyers) know that the goal is much closer to "no software patents" than it is to "you can patent the idea for any software".

DVD trailers (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 2 years ago | (#40099905)

If Ultramercial has a patent covering forced-viewing advertising, doesn't that cover virtually every DVD made?

Re:DVD trailers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40100001)

No. It's not forced viewing. It's an option to watch either a relatively long commercial prior to an episode or get interrupted to watch a commercial a few times during the show.

Re:DVD trailers (3, Interesting)

FirstOne (193462) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100041)

More like every DVD player that's been manufactured(1995 onward). It's the programming for user operation prohibition flag [wikipedia.org] , inside the player, (rom/pc software), that prevents the skipping of the FBI warning/commercial previews prior to viewing the content.

Re:DVD trailers (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100129)

Only if you're watching them on a computer, apparently.

Re:DVD trailers (1)

dyingtolive (1393037) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100181)

I just heard the sound of a million trolls trying to patent "...but on a phone" at once.

Re:DVD trailers (2)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101131)

Can we hear them equally suddenly silenced? >:-D

Isn't sponsored advertising prior art? (4, Insightful)

avgjoe62 (558860) | more than 2 years ago | (#40099945)

Isn't the concept of an advertisement running before you see content as old as radio and TV? Didn't I have to watch Timex commercials to see the TV shows they sponsored?

I think this is just another example of "Same old stuff, but now on the Interwebs!"

Unless there is an actual physical product. patents are inappropriate. Copyright a presentation of an idea, but patenting a thought is a path to policing thought... and wasting time having the courts arbitrate such.

Re:Isn't sponsored advertising prior art? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100607)

That's horse manure. Patents have always covered non-physical inventions, such as improved chemical processes. In fact the very first US Patent issued was a improved process for the manufacture of potash. Which comes from horse manure.

What has to be gotten rid of is software and business process patents. That's what is gumming up the works.

Re:Isn't sponsored advertising prior art? (1)

avgjoe62 (558860) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101245)

There is a product there -chemicals or potash. You improved a method for creating a physical thing, not expressed an idea on how to put a thought in someone's head. An expression of an idea can be copyrighted - a process that leads to a product can be patented.

Re:Isn't sponsored advertising prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40100937)

The patent isn't about advertising - it is about *enforced* advertising.

You could get up during the Timex commercial and go get a beer. This is about a large guy in your living room forcing you to watch.

Re:Isn't sponsored advertising prior art? (1)

avgjoe62 (558860) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101201)

I could check my email in another tab for fifteen or thirty seconds while the advertising plays. Maybe I should patent this - "A Method for Avoiding Advertisements Placed at the Start of Internet Videos"

You can sue the government, right? (2, Interesting)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100021)

Then we need people to sue the USPTO. I mean big, honking, megabucks style, at a bare minimum to get back their fees for defending against utter abominations like this ludicrous "invention".

Yes, I know that will come out of the public purse and into the pockets of - FSM help me - lawyers, but what other option is there?

Re:You can sue the government, right? (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100119)

To lobby of course.

America Invents changed the patent law to include abstract ideas and not just physical inventions. They can copyright them too and that will make your idea last 170 years which Disney needed to protect Mickey Mouse.

Or just outsource to India where you do not have this problem. The engineers in the States can flip burgers and serve coffee instead.

Re:You can sue the government, right? (5, Interesting)

medv4380 (1604309) | more than 2 years ago | (#40100177)

The USPTO is the victim here. If it doesn't approve a patent it goes into appeal until it does. So they are left with approve a patent, and clog up the legal system and themselves, or reject a patent and clog up the legal system and themselves. The system needs an overhaul.

Re:You can sue the government, right? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40100197)

I know that will come out of the public purse

Make the employees responsible along with every manager above them. They should have to pay the costs. Bankrupt them, I don't care.

We need some new rules stating that a person can't hide behind "I was told to". If it's found to be immoral/unethical, then the person doing it should be held responsible. If said person can point a finger at a superior, then the superior takes more of the fault, but not all of it.

We need people to start taking responsibility for their actions.

If you think you're being told to do something "not nice", they should have a form that can be submitted to your superiors of you stating that you not believe what you're doing is "right". Everyone signs off, you get a copy, they keep a copy. If shit hits the fan, then you're "safe".

This would make "being a jerk" expensive to corps as it would cause a crap ton of paper-work.

Never in a million years... (1)

flibbidyfloo (451053) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101221)

I never thought I'd agree with WildTangent on something. They have been the bane of freelance PC support techs for a long time and I wish they would just shrivel up and die. But I guess self-interest and politics can make strange bedfellows.

might be reading too much into it (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#40101641)

This is a fairly common procedural follow-up to a Supreme Court ruling that might have implications for other cases. The situation is roughly like this:

1. Cases A, B, and C, on related but not identical subjects, file for Supreme Court review of a lower-court decision.

2. The Supreme Court hears A, and issues a significant new ruling. This ruling might have implications for B and C, but they weren't considered by the Court, because the Court only heard A.

3. Now the question is, what should the Supreme Court do with B and C, whose appeals are still pending? They could accept the cases for hearing and decide them, too. If they were on exactly the same issue as A, the Court could've consolidated A/B/C and issued one ruling. But in the more common case where they have potential but not 100% overlap, the Supreme Court doesn't usually want to hear all three cases. Instead they pick a representative one, in this case A, and issue a ruling. But if A overlaps with B/C, it could lead to an injustice if they just reject the B/C appeals.

4. There is basically a new question: in light of the Supreme Court's recent decision in A, are the lower-court decisions in B and C still correct, or should they be modified?

5. The principle is that the lower courts are supposed to look at such questions first, so the Supreme Court orders that lower courts reconsider cases B and C in light of the recent opinion in A. It's up to the lower courts then to look into whether their original decisions should now be modified. Then once they issue a new ruling, this can be appealed to the Supreme Court again.

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