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The "Defensive Patent License" an Open Defensive Patent Pool

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the debian-project-leader-kidnapped dept.

Patents 98

capedgirardeau writes "Via Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing:: 'Ars Technica's Jon Brodkin has an in-depth look at the "Defensive Patent License," a kind of judo for the patent system created by ... EFF's Jason Schultz (who started EFF's Patent Busting Project) and ... Jen Urban (who co-created the ChillingEffects clearinghouse). As you'd expect from two such killer legal freedom fighters, the DPL is audacious, exciting, and wicked cool. It's a license pool that companies opt into, and members of the pool pledge not to sue one another for infringement. If you're ever being sued for patent infringement, you can get an automatic license to a conflicting patent just by throwing your patents into the pool. The more patent trolls threaten people, the more incentive there is to join the league of Internet patent freedom fighters."

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First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Sav1or (2600417) | more than 2 years ago | (#40309959)

Bitch? Is that how I do it?

patent holders only? (4, Interesting)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310017)

can anyone join this, or is it only for patent holders who "throw their patents into the pool"?

It would be wicked cool if anyone, including independent software developers, could join and gain the protection offered from the trolls too.

Re:patent holders only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310147)

Just file a patent for your version of implementing a hash-sort for arbitrary classes that inherit from 'integer' using Java on an Android phone with a touchscreen. Then you're in the club.

Re:patent holders only? (1)

tattood (855883) | more than 2 years ago | (#40313721)

Just file a patent for your version of implementing a hash-sort for arbitrary classes that inherit from 'integer' using Java on an Android phone with a touchscreen and wait 5-7 years for your patent to be granted. Then you're in the club.

Fixed that for you.

Re:patent holders only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310207)

Yup -- anyone can join! you just have to promise that if you DO get any patents in the future, you will put them under the DPL.

Re:patent holders only? (4, Funny)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310267)

Just add "on the internet" to a rather mundane daily task like "taking a shit" and you'll get yourself a patent that will allow you to join.

Re:patent holders only? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310461)

I think Twitter already has a patent on that.

Nathan

Re:patent holders only? (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310647)

Although you could implement taking a shit on the internet via twitter you would want the patent vague enough that you could still sue anyone who implemented the idea of taking a shit on the internet, no matter which way it was implemented.

Re:patent holders only? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310787)

In the 70s you just had to add a digital clock to something

Re:patent holders only? (2, Funny)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310919)

In the 70s you just had to add a digital clock to something

I don't think adding a clock to a pile of shit was ever patented considering how often it happened.

Re:patent holders only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310863)

PLEASE Patent a method for doing this! I would pay CASH MONEY to be able to PHYSICALLY shit on Apple and Microsoft over the internet! There are MILLIONS to be made here, man! MILLIONS!

Re:patent holders only? (5, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310963)

PLEASE Patent a method for doing this! I would pay CASH MONEY to be able to PHYSICALLY shit on Apple and Microsoft over the internet! There are MILLIONS to be made here, man! MILLIONS!

Woah, hold up there. I'm not coming up with the method, I'm talking about patenting the idea. Let someone else figure out a method and then sue them.

That is how these things work right?

Don't take one of mine! (1)

JoshDM (741866) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311189)

I prefer to leave shit on the internet.

Re:patent holders only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40311553)

Bad example. "Taking a shit on the internet" is actually pretty novel. On second thought, it's actually the same thing as posting on /b/ so nevermind.

Re:patent holders only? (3, Interesting)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310927)

can anyone join this, or is it only for patent holders who "throw their patents into the pool"?

It would be wicked cool if anyone, including independent software developers, could join and gain the protection offered from the trolls too.

Pretty much patent holders only. It's really a formalized gentleman's agreement that you will not sue anyone in the group over any of your patents, and in return, they won't sue you.

The problems with it are numerous. First, you have to throw in your entire patent pool, so the big guys with lots of patents will probably not join (IBM, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung,, etc). Second, patent trolls won't join (they don't have any benefit because there's little they can be sued for).

The requirement for all patents is obvious - to prevent cherry-picking lame ones to be included in the group.

The biggest benefit comes to open-source companies like Red Hat who own patents for defense purposes, in which case it's really a put-up-or-shut-up type agreement.

Re:patent holders only? (1)

ormico (1226940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311499)

I also fail to see how this would protect you from a patent troll. There is no deterent for a troll to not sue you, if the troll doesn't make or sell anything that is vulnerable to a counter suit from you or your patent group. This would only be protection from other members of the group or from someone outside the group and only if the patents in the group are of sufficient quality as to be a deterent.

Re:patent holders only? (2)

Roujo (2577771) | more than 2 years ago | (#40312579)

It's not Patent Holders Only. The current text of the license, as found on Github [github.com] , states that:

3. 'DPL User' means an entity or individual that:

(a) has committed to offer a license to each of its Patents under the DPL, or, if such entity or individual has no Patents, has committed to offer a license to any Patents it may obtain in the future under the DPL; and

(b) has declared such commitment by means of an Offering Announcement;

(c) and, if the entity or individual has made a Discontinuation Announcement, the Discontinuation Date has not yet occurred.

So you can take part if you don't have any patents as long as you promise to license any patents you get later under the DPL.

Shell Corp It (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40313649)

I foresee... Foohbahz, a wholly owned subsidiary of microsoft-redmond, a wholly owned subsidiary of microsoft pacific-northwest, a wholly owned subsidiary of microsoft-usa, a wholly owned subsidiary of microsoft inc

(Or whatever it all is in practice)

Joins and contributes their singularly owned patent on electronic-ass-scratcher controlled over the internet.

Who happens to get worldwide licenses to all megacorp products (sold at a loss of course), and themself relicenses them with a 5-9's profit-sharing agreement.

Just saying -- I hope these people are fully and wholly prepared for the lawyers that will try to hack this.

But I wish them all luck.

Re:patent holders only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40315843)

A way around that problem might be scoping patents by business area. Telecom and IT, for example, have very different patent domains and business models.

There are problems with this idea too, but some way of partitioning the patent space seems like a necessity to make this work.

Re:patent holders only? (1)

Herve5 (879674) | more than 2 years ago | (#40320755)

It could interest other people than the small companies you mention. Me, for instance.

Some 10 years ago, I imagined a way to offer an internet connection freely in exchange of mandatory ads that appeared so ugly to me (I hate ads), and at the same time so easy to deploy, that what I found to try preventing it was to patent the process.

I'm no patent maniac, I didn't extend that patent outside my country, but at least here it is now unfeasible (I'll never grant a license), and elsewhere, due to the publication of that patent at least it's not patentable anymore.

It costed me money, I do know it won't bring me any cent --this is just the kind of stuff I'd *offer* to an organisation such as DPL...
I'm going to check this carefully.

Re:patent holders only? (2)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#40312105)

can anyone join this, or is it only for patent holders who "throw their patents into the pool"?

Of course, even Microsoft can join with just one patent.

And then, they can give the rest of their patents to a proxy shell corporation, like they have done in the past [arstechnica.com] , and continue to sue everybody that way.

Re:patent holders only? (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 2 years ago | (#40320601)

They have to do in in the other order. And they can only pull that trick once.

HTC vs Apple (2)

Infernal Device (865066) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310045)

Given the developments in the HTC vs. Apple case (http://www.techradar.com/news/phone-and-communications/mobile-phones/htc-denied-use-of-google-patents-in-apple-case-1084691), will the Defensive Patent License actually work, since the defendant won't actually *own* the patent?

Re:HTC vs Apple (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310231)

The point is not that the members become immune to patent litigation, only that they get automatic licenses to the patents in the pool. It doesn't protect you from litigation over patents outside the pool. It is conceivable that members of the pool could start defending each other, but it couldn't be by proxy. Company A sues Company B, Company C themselves sue Company A and only settles when the suit against Company B is dropped. That would be harder to negotiate.

Re:HTC vs Apple (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310247)

Apples and Oranges -- having a license to use a patent vs owning a patent and asserting the rights to it. (Something HTC and Right Haven discovered in an inconvenient manner).

This patent pool only helps if both the pool and the patent troll have patents covering the same idea -- if you license the pool's patent, maybe you'll be protected from the patent troll.

Re:HTC vs Apple (-1, Redundant)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310791)

This is the least of it. This license seems to me quite dangerous. Actual patent infringment is unlikely to take place in patent creating entities in future. Imagine Microsoft split into "Microsoft Enforcers" (hoards patents, makes patent trolls) "Microsoft Developers" (sells people to Microsoft Development; sells patents to Microsoft Develpment) "Microsoft Software" (sells software ordered from Microsoft Developers, buy's "covenant's not to sue" from Microsoft Development) "Microsoft Troll(n)" (loans patents from Microsoft Development, makes lawsuits - one troll per patent;).

N.B. I have probably got some of the details wrong, and you may have to use a company registration for Microsoft in a non-software patents jurisdiction to transfer the software from Microsoft Developers to Microsoft Software but you get the idea.

Microsoft Software does all the infringement; it could even potentially join the DPL. It never sues anyone so the DPL causes it no problems.

Microsoft Enforcers never does any software; both it and the Microsoft Trolls that it spins off cannot be sued for infringement since they never do.

The only defence against this is that, if Microsoft Development sues you, you have to sue Microsoft Software back. The DPL and other similar patent pools can endanger that.

Basically, if you don't reserve the right to sue any apparently "innocent" entity which has taken a patent license or even taken advantage of a "covenant not to sue" then you may not be able to use patents defensively. It's probably an absolute requirement that you be able to sue Microsoft's customers for things that Microsoft related entities do. Anything else will leave you vulnerable to a troll suit that, even if you manage to settle, allows your competitor to force you out of the market by charging you per system you deliver.

Re:HTC vs Apple (-1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310877)

Please mod down. Pressed submit by accident in the middle of a re-edit.

Re:HTC vs Apple (5, Interesting)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310861)

This is the least of it. This license seems to me quite dangerous. Actual patent infringment is unlikely to take place in patent creating entities in future. Imagine Microsoft split into "Microsoft Enforcers" (hoards patents, makes patent trolls) "Microsoft Software" (sells software ordered from Microsoft Developers, buy's "covenant's not to sue" from Microsoft Enforcers) "Microsoft Developers" (sells software/people to Microsoft Software; sells patents to Microsoft Enforcers) "Microsoft Troll(n)" (loans patents from Microsoft Enforcers, makes lawsuits - one troll per patent;).

N.B. I have probably got some of the details wrong, and you may have to use a company registration for Microsoft in a non-software patents jurisdiction to transfer the software from Microsoft Developers to Microsoft Software but you get the idea.

  • Microsoft Software does all the infringement; it could even potentially join the DPL. It never sues anyone so the DPL causes it no problems.
  • Microsoft Enforcers never does any software; both it and the Microsoft Trolls that it spins off cannot be sued for infringement since they never do.

The only defence against this is that, if Microsoft Troll(527) sues you, you have to sue Microsoft Software back. The DPL and other similar patent pools can endanger that.

Basically, if you don't reserve the right to sue any apparently "innocent" entity which has taken a patent license or even taken advantage of a "covenant not to sue" then you may not be able to use patents defensively. It's probably an absolute requirement that you be able to sue Microsoft's customers for things that Microsoft related entities do. Anything else will leave you vulnerable to a troll suit that, even if you manage to settle, allows your competitor to force you out of the market by charging you per system you deliver.

worthless against trolls (5, Insightful)

sribe (304414) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310119)

This would provide, potentially, fine defense against being sued by an actual company with actual products, because with a large patent pool you'd be likely to find one that your attacker is potentially infringing.

But patent trolls do not infringe, because they do not have products.

Re:worthless against trolls (2)

reemul (1554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310509)

That was my immediate thought, too. Against pure trolls, IP only companies that don't actually make anything, this would be worthless. Companies would just spin off their portfolios to new "independent" IP entities who produced nothing but lawsuits to avoid the defensive response.

Re:worthless against trolls (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310629)

I believe the thinking on that matter is that someone in the pool is likely to have an identical or nearly-identical patent. For instance, if a troll sues you for their patent on transmitting movies over the internet, hopefully someone in the defense pool has a patent on, say, transmitting video over the internet.

If it gets enough people in it, they will eventually have a patent on pretty much everything, simply because of how many duplicate patents there are.

Re:worthless against trolls (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311125)

You can be infringing two patents at the same time. The fact you have another patent won't do you any good. This is especially true for "Standards Essential" patents, which are needed in order to implement a standard which specifies one particular implementation matching the patent and which are quite common (look at H.264). The patent troll doesn't care that someone else has a patent on the same device, they just sue you over your use of their patent.

Re:worthless against trolls (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311793)

That's not what I said. I said there were two patents on the same patentable idea - by definition, at least one of them has to be invalid. If you have a legal license to one of them, you can fight a troll on the grounds that *their* patent is invalid. Trolls will tend to shy away, simply because they would risk losing their patent - and all they have are patents.

This is, of course, assuming that a) there are enough people in the patent pool, and b) there are enough duplicate patents.

Re:worthless against trolls (1)

slew (2918) | more than 2 years ago | (#40312541)

The idea isn't patented, the claims are patented. A patent is a description of several claims (dependent and independent). Since the claims of two patents were written by different lawyers, although it's possible that a few claims in the claim tree might be fairly similar to another patent, they are unlikely to be exactly the same. However, even if two claims are essentially the same, two patent claims aren't like matter and anti-matter and annilate each other. Whoever has the superior filing date will survive (and on average it's probably just 50-50 the troll has the superior filing date). Even if you survive filing date challenge, it doesn't mean all the claims of the troll's patent are automatically invalidated, just the ones that happen to be the same as yours (which as I mentioned before is highly unlikely in the first place).

Patents are mostly designed to be enforced not examined. After a patent gets filed it is pretty much rubberstamped after a cursory investigation by the patent office (the patent office is in the patent granting business, not the patent validation business since they don't get money for the later). Later, when a patent holder claims infringment by a product, only then does the court look at the patent (the so called markman hearing [wikipedia.org] ) to decide what the law says about the patent(s) in question. Only after this hearing, does a jury look at the potentially infringing product, to see if it reads on the validated claims in the patent. Nowhere other than a markman hearing does any authority really look at any patents (either the one in question or other potentially similar patents or prior art). If parties want to settle, it is usually during or right after that hearing.

Patent trolls are just like terrorists. When you go to war against another country (company), you are implicitly risking your country/people (company/business) and they theirs. When you go to war against terrorists (patent trolls), they have nothing for you to strike at. You can't play defense (witness the TSA).

Even if you "take-out" one claim of one of their patents, that doesn't often keep them from using other claims from that same patent against you. It's like the hydra. You make take out one head, but that doesn't mean the other ones won't still be there to bite the next person that comes along.

Re:worthless against trolls (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#40313247)

What slew said;

But more; If someone completely different has a patent; someone you don't know whatsoever; you can still use that patent to invalidate the patent troll's patent. It makes no difference whatsoever whether you are in the patent pool that permits you to use that patent or not. If that's all you are going to use patents for then you might just as well publish the ideas you have in well known journals or even just on the internet (make sure archive.org picks them up). Once you've done that anyone can use them to destroy patents.

The only use for patents is suing people. If you don't plan to sue people then forget patents. Just publish.

Re:worthless against trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40311253)

I agree on trolls, this doesn't seem to protect against that. As for companies spinning off that makes no sense. The idea of countersuing with your own patents is not neccesarily related to the precise company that is suing you as much as it is related to putting the screws on the entity pulling the strings. So it's irrelevant whether the company that is suing you is different because you can still apply pressure to the company pulling the strings.

Re:worthless against trolls (5, Informative)

reebmmm (939463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310561)

I'm a patent attorney and I agree.

Unless I'm fundamentally misunderstanding the purpose, there's no legal judo here. It can't protect you against non-participants. It certainly can't protect you against trolls. It only seems to protect you against people/entities already inclined not to use their patents aggressively.

What would be more useful is if it worked this way (it doesn't):

Non-participating entity A sues participating entity B.
Entity B has no useful patents with which to sue Entity A.
Some other participating Entity C does have a useful patent to sue Entity A.
Entity B can use Entity C's patents against Entity A.

But, this scheme doesn't make that happen. In fact, there's basically no way to make Entity C actually use its patents against Entity A on behalf of Entity B. Neither the patent law nor this license could make Entity C's patents a weapon against A.

Even if there were a way, no one with any patents of value would sign up for the DPL since: (1) the cost of enforcing the patent is going to be expensive; (2) turning over the right to enforce the patent to Entity B would be like handing the keys to your car to someone you don't know and assuming responsibility for any damage to your car (e.g., patent is held invalid, found not infringed, etc.); and (3) a priori knowledge of the value of the patent might mean that you'd be in a better defensive position not having granted "free" licenses to every participant (something that inevitably will come up in a damage calculation).

  The DPL is a solution searching for a problem. And a foolish solution at that.

A company called RPX has created a much "better" solution for those that can afford to be part of the membership. Of course, in that case, RPX is the point person and has an ability to make things happen and has their own patents that they've acquired.

Re:worthless against trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310875)

I'm a patent attorney and I agree.

Unless I'm fundamentally misunderstanding the purpose, there's no legal judo here. It can't protect you against non-participants. It certainly can't protect you against trolls. It only seems to protect you against people/entities already inclined not to use their patents aggressively.

What would be more useful is if it worked this way (it doesn't):

Non-participating entity A sues participating entity B.
Entity B has no useful patents with which to sue Entity A.
Some other participating Entity C does have a useful patent to sue Entity A.
Entity B can use Entity C's patents against Entity A.

But, this scheme doesn't make that happen. In fact, there's basically no way to make Entity C actually use its patents against Entity A on behalf of Entity B. Neither the patent law nor this license could make Entity C's patents a weapon against A.

Even if there were a way, no one with any patents of value would sign up for the DPL since: (1) the cost of enforcing the patent is going to be expensive; (2) turning over the right to enforce the patent to Entity B would be like handing the keys to your car to someone you don't know and assuming responsibility for any damage to your car (e.g., patent is held invalid, found not infringed, etc.); and (3) a priori knowledge of the value of the patent might mean that you'd be in a better defensive position not having granted "free" licenses to every participant (something that inevitably will come up in a damage calculation).

  The DPL is a solution searching for a problem. And a foolish solution at that.

A company called RPX has created a much "better" solution for those that can afford to be part of the membership. Of course, in that case, RPX is the point person and has an ability to make things happen and has their own patents that they've acquired.

RPX starts at $65k per year. Hmm. Let me think... That's about 25% of most small consultancies gross annual revenues. Hmm. Let me think... They might not be a "protection racket", but they're priced like one.

Re:worthless against trolls (3, Interesting)

reebmmm (939463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310961)

I did put "better" in scare quotes. RPX has a great many flaws. Nevertheless, the idea isn't that much different than this one, but has the advantages of being able to act and make decisions that affect the collective. On the latter, it might mean "acquiring" troll's patents which in effect might be like a massive, joint settlement.

Now of course, there's no promise from RPX that the patents in its arsenal will never be used. They are quite clear that part of their strategy is to eventually sell patents from their portfolio to others. Those others are only going to buy if there's some way to license/enforce them.

I also qualified that it costs money to participate. Of course, it also costs RPX money to operate and to acquire patents.

Re:worthless against trolls (0)

tobiah (308208) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311023)

Why do you have to counter-sue? Why would I want to waste my time and money on that? If you have license to patents that cover the same thing you are being sued for, you have a much stronger defense. Joining a pool sounds better than not having that defense, and costs less than having to get my own patents. I just want to make cool shit, and welcome competition, because that will help me improve my products. You are thinking from the point-of-view of a litigating patent lawyer, who doesn't make money unless companies are suing and counter-suing each other.

Re:worthless against trolls (1)

mounthood (993037) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311335)

If you have license to patents that cover the same thing you are being sued for, you have a much stronger defense.

First, drop-in replacements for patents don't always exist (think gif). Second, it wouldn't matter to a patent troll if they did, because they're gambling on extortion anyway.

Re:worthless against trolls (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311467)

If you have license to patents that cover the same thing you are being sued for, you have a much stronger defense.

a) By definitiion patents can't be for exactly the same thing. If they were, the first one filed would be "prior art" for the second one. b) a product can infringe multiple patents. The fact you have a license for one patent doesn't have any influence over whether you need a license for a different patent.

Counter suing is the only weapon currently available to reduce the incentive for software developing entities to their patents involved in lawsuits. It's very important to note that you may have to counter sue a quite different company from the company which sues you.

E.g. Microsoft gives it's patents to "Intellectual Ventures"; intellectual ventures settles for $10 per software package you sell. You approach Microsoft who demonstrates that their software development doesn't infringe your patent so they don't pay up. You sue Microsoft's customers which then claim indemnity from Microsoft. Microsoft then settle for the equivalent amount of mone to the amount "Intellectual Ventures" settled for + legal expenses. Microsoft now learns that the patent wars cost them money and don't sell future patents to "Intellectual Ventures".

Please be clear; this is a patent war. It is not some pleasant countryside hunting trip.

Re:worthless against trolls (1)

reebmmm (939463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311637)

If you have license to patents that cover the same thing you are being sued for, you have a much stronger defense.

What defense is that? I'll note that even "practicing the prior art" is not a defense to patent infringement. Cordance Corp. v. Amazon.com, Inc., Case No. 10-1502 (Fed. Cir., Sept. 23, 2011) (Linn, J.).

Joining a pool sounds better than not having that defense, and costs less than having to get my own patents

Which is great if the patent owners don't mind free-riders. However, if all you have is a bunch of people without patents or a shallow patent pool, that's not much of a license (or defense?).

You are thinking from the point-of-view of a litigating patent lawyer, who doesn't make money unless companies are suing and counter-suing each other.

I'm actually an in-house lawyer at a software company. My whole job is about making sure we're not spending resources on "litigating patent lawyers".

Re:I'm actually an in-house lawyer (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#40315683)

Heh - if you'll permit the puns.

You are not Our Attorney yet we really appreciate you being "our attorney". This is great "legal advice" without being Legal Advice.

So you basically busted the entire concept behind the story, which then opens up the real can of worms, which is, "why did it take you to bust it when the EFF has a few lawyers of their own on speed dial?"

The best I can think of is this is the "first feeble step in the defense of patent madness". Clearly we're coming to the agreement that there are big flaws in this proposal to solve.

I look at all news from a Gaming Combo perspective. So what is the *other* piece of this combo that really can quiet the patent madness down?

reverse-troll, join or we troll you (1)

mounthood (993037) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311403)

What if we did a reverse-troll, so either companies join DPL or DPL files troll lawsuits until they join. It's like MPEG LA but not just for video.

Re:reverse-troll, join or we troll you (1)

reebmmm (939463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311703)

What if we did a reverse-troll, so either companies join DPL or DPL files troll lawsuits until they join. It's like MPEG LA but not just for video.

That's basically RPX Corporation [wikipedia.org] , which I mentioned and replied to an AC.

But the DPL doesn't have the mechanisms to do that. It will be afflicted by collective action problems. It doesn't have "resources" to enforce such behavior. And on and on...

There are plenty of other style of patent pools -- like standards-based patent pools -- in which members all contribute their "essential patents [or claims]" and then make them available on a "reasonable and non-discriminatory basis" to everyone wanting to use the technology embodied by those patents. Of course, the problem with that is that the pool has to be able to license and enforce the patents and do so aggressively.

Re:reverse-troll, join or we troll you (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#40313761)

RPX "will never use [their] patents offensively" [rpxcorp.com] with patents "available for members to use in a counterclaim against any non-member who initiates litigation". Seems to me that makes it essentialy useless for defence against patent trolls which are essentially invulnterable to counter claims.

Re:reverse-troll, join or we troll you (1)

reebmmm (939463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40316679)

essentialy useless for defence against patent trolls which are essentially invulnterable to counter claims.

True, in a sense. Their acquisition model is the "defense". Under their model, let's say they have all the major players in a targeted market (cell phones) in as their clients and they're all the same people also targeted by a patent troll. It might be cheaper/easier to simply sell out to RPX than to sue them all.

RPX also can act to acquire, prospectively, patents that are also likely targets of patent trolls: patent assets being sold at fire sale prices in bankruptcy.

So, to my earlier posts, the "RPX pooling" model brings one more club to the game rather than merely getting like-minded, defensive patent owners to agree not to sue each other [again, something they weren't, by definition going to do].

Re:worthless against trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40319399)

Apparently, you never heard of MPEG-LA,
which does exactly the same in the video software/hardware patents for MPEG/MP4/MP3/H263/H264 formats

What about trolls? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310127)

This isn't useful if you're sued by a patent troll. You can't counter-sue a company that makes no products for infringement, because they're not actually producing anything that would infringe on a "conflicting patent".

Re:What about trolls? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310489)

Unless you patented patent trolling... on the internet?

Didn't we already do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310169)

I seem to remember quite a few stories about Google, MS, Adobe and others building patent pools. Is the major difference of this patent pool that it's run by the EFF instead of a board of corporations?

Re:Didn't we already do this? (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310497)

Is the major difference of this patent pool that it's run by the EFF instead of a board of corporations?

No. The major difference is that the membership is open to anyone who wants to join. It is not a closed club.

Re:Didn't we already do this? (1)

tobiah (308208) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311097)

bingo.

Re:Didn't we already do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310955)

Is there a major difference between a gun in the hand of a Sheriff and another in the hand of a gangster? Both guns can even be of the same make and caliber.

Incidentally, your question enables one the simplest definition of why purely technical views are stupid.

A few days ago some simpleton mentioned he never mixed code and Ethics. Well, Mr. Simpleton, that's your answer: the same code which helps countrys through famine can be used to vacuum all the money for some legally-challenged but highly-technical programming dude.

Do you see the relation now?

(tl;dr) View the whole picture, don't focus just one aspect.

Great idea (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310173)

It sounds great but ultimately useless. A pledge not to sue is nice and all, but what happens if/when one company breaks that pledge? Does their contract terminate rights to the other patents in the pool? Good luck getting that past the corporate lawyers. Is there some financial benefit to playing nice? Is it more than the profit to be made by backstabbing your competitors?

While the thought of "in this sandbox we're playing nicely together" is joyously innocent, I can't see it working too well in practice. Good luck, guys.

Re:Great idea (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310215)

For 20 years everyone in, for example, the cell phone industry knew that stabbing your competitor in the back was a losing proposition. Perhaps if the pool gets large enough we can get everyone back to that state and have certain companies who shall remain nameless stop trying to beat the competition with bogus patents and idiot judges.

Re:Great idea (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310273)

The hope would be that if one member broke their pledge, the free automatic license they got of everyone else's patents would be revoked and the entire pool would immediately sue them. The threat of that would be enough to keep them in line, if there are enough members.

Re:Great idea (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310543)

So it's best to just stay out of the pool entirely, and handle your own legal battles.Then when you're big enough, you can sue a weak member of the pool, and hope some allies don't come to its rescue.

This is the opposite of the mutually-assured-destruction game we have now. Rather than everyone in one group being able to destroy each other, the group members are the only ones they can't attack, and if they're attacked by an outside threat (including patent trolls, who have no vulnerability to being attacked themselves), they're dependent on the good will of others. This is mediocre for companies already dependent on good will (startups) and those who want to show themselves as being full of good will (Google), but a pretty crappy deal for any other big players.

Interesting idea (1)

rokstar (865523) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310343)

If we extend the Mutually Assured Destruction metaphor, would this be the equivalent of the Warsaw Pact or NATO? And if so how long before this actually leads to an escalation of patent pooling by a group of patent trolls? Its a neat idea, but sometimes I do worry about the unintended consequences of attempting to game an already severely broken system.

I have many, many software patents coming (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310347)

Some of these patents, just individual ones, could easily make me a billionaire. I am not kidding.

I've been in the business a long time, hunting the whole time for inventions such as these. Consider that the hugely popular game Angry Birds was anything but an overnight success, in that that particular game was the developers fifty-second attempt at publishing a successful product.

While I did toy with the idea of crushing Bill Gates and Steve Jobs like bugs, getting rich has never been the reason I've been a coder. I do it to contribute something of lasting benefit to society.

So here is my plan for my software patents: folks like Apple don't get licenses to them until they stop suing other companies for infringing on patens that should never have been granted. Patents like the one one the slider one uses to unlock the lock screen on iOS devices.

The patent law specifically says that patentable inventions must be "Novel and Unobvious". When I worked for Apple in the mid-90s, I visited the corporate library from time to time, which had on file every single patent that the company owned. At the time there were maybe thirty or forty of them, each one being for something really cool, useful, novel and unobvious.

Somewhere somehow the US Patent Office lots its way, and started granting patents for obvious things that are not in the least bit novel. It seems to me that one ought to be able to bust a patent for which no prior art exist, simply by demonstrating to a jury that experts in the field - such as us coders - would consider the claimed inventions to be either obvious, or not novel.

Every single one of my upcoming patents are for things that are quite novel, and not at all obvious. The economic benefit to humanity from my publishing these patents will be in the trillions of dollars. Countless human lives will be saved, and endless suffering relieved.

My only purpose in patenting these inventions, rather than just openly publishing them without any claims at all, is to stop the patent wars, by preventing companies such as Apple and Microsoft from using my inventions until they themselves stop abusing the patent system.

I once agreed with Richard Stallman about software patents, but I no longer do. Without patents we would have trade secrets. Consider that even today we do not know how Damascus Steel was manufactured.

need ownership for use as judical tool. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310369)

that you have a _license_ to a patent from the patent pool doesn't enable you to start suing people for infringing on those patents.

the pool itself with it's donated(the pool would have to have ownership of them) patents would have to sue whoever is suing the guy needing protection.

so the pool would need to transfer patents back and forth quite a lot.

And the selling point is...? (4, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310473)

How does this actually benefit anyone? Companies with deep patent portfolios stand to lose both their competitive advantage and lost opportunity for licensing fees by making those patents freely available to everyone in the group (at least, it sounds like they're freely available if they're pledging not to sue one another), so you won't be seeing Microsofts, Googles, or Apples joining anytime soon. The only sorts of companies joining this are the ones who are afraid of being sued, and they're not about to be suing anyone else anyway.

So, basically, the companies with oodles of patents (i.e. patent trolls and large corporations) won't be joining the group anytime soon, which means that they'll continue to be able to sue everyone in the group, and most of those aren't scared of conflicting patents since they can afford to simply bankrupt the smaller companies via legal fees. Meanwhile, the companies in the group have essentially commoditized themselves by allowing everyone else in the group to use their patents freely.

IANAL, but how is this a good thing? What's the obvious thing that I'm missing?

Re:And the selling point is...? (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 2 years ago | (#40312355)

IANAL, but how is this a good thing? What's the obvious thing that I'm missing?

You are making the assumption that patents are registered either to cash out on licenses or to protect an invention. The sad truth is that a lot of companies file patents only as a defensive weapon. I wouldn't be surprised if Google joined such an alliance. They have stated their opposition to the patent game, their licenses on the WebM standard is very interesting in that respect ("If you sue us, you can't use any of the patents we freely offer to anyone")

Patent trolls will be unaffected (and really, either judges or legislators need to make these disappear) but big companies will be.

The idea is that if you are a member of the DPL, make a video player for windows, and Microsoft decides it violates a patent, the DPL will find a patent it owns that Microsoft violates and will counter-sue. So even if Microsoft is not a part of the DPL this could be an effective deterrent, if done well.

Re:And the selling point is...? (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#40312791)

The defensive patent idea is a fair point, and one that I neglected to consider. That said, I don't see it as a long-term solution. Contrary to some here, I believe that the idea of the patent system has merit and that it, or something else, is necessary to protect and encourage innovation. If everyone gets patents purely for defensive purposes and makes them available to others who do so as well, the incentives for innovation decrease while the incentives for copying/ripping off increase. That works for a short-term boost in the economy, innovation, and productivity, but in the long-term in stifles all of those.

Related to this, I saw an interesting mathematical model a few weeks ago (maybe linked from here?) regarding app store economics and how apps copying others would eventually starve themselves out if they represented more than a certain percentage of new apps coming out since there wouldn't be enough original material to copy. I see the patent system being similar. Without protections, or if people work together to form groups like what you're suggesting, we'll eventually be left with copycats who stifle innovation. Which isn't to say that there won't be some innovation. There will simply be less.

So, basically, I have issues with that approach as well, since I feel that it's a short-sighted solution that sacrifices the future for the sake of the present.

Re:And the selling point is...? (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 2 years ago | (#40332821)

Different fields need different protections. Drugs research, for instance, need protection between the discovery for the drug and its production/commercialization. Software, on the other hand, do not need such protection. Patents usually cover trivial solutions to common problems. I think that software patents could be forbidden altogether, like they are already in Europe, and it wouldn't prevent innovations from appearing.

Re:And the selling point is...? (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334731)

I haven't thought through it enough to entirely agree, but at least tentatively I would be in support of forbidding software patents. That said, this DPL appears to deal with patents in general, not just software patents, hence my cause for concern.

Re:And the selling point is...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40319847)

Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer or intimately know DPL.

Do you think software patents are a net benefit? At a company level or at the society level? Have you paid any attention to the patent wars raging at the moment globally? And yes, the pool will certainly start with the small fishes but it will grow. Compare the idea of this pool to the rapidly increasing corpus of GPL licensed software with a fairly similar idea. The GPL is the most widely used free software license at the moment.

I don't see patent trolls joining but large companies might eventually see it very useful. I don't know if the (current) rules allow it but perhaps in the future the pool could be used in non-defensive manner against a non-member.

Also, some companies like to stick to what they do best and not engage in the blackjack of courtrooms.

I think software patents are insane and if DPL helps to deconstruct the current system, more power to it.

Sorry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310477)

But if I have a great idea, I want to profit from it!! I don't want someone who DID NOT have that idea to profit from it instead. Plain and simple - in today's knowledge based economy, patent is the only currency an innovator has - lose it and you'd end up poor. So this is not a patent pool for good - it is like a thieves market!

Re:Sorry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40310641)

Just be sure then that you are not infringing on any of a zillion frivolous patents (and imagine how difficult it could be to even know if you are since they are entirely frivolous patents and there are zillions of them) your competitors might hold lest ye be stomped into the ground before you can even whip the paperwork for yours out of your pocket.

The whole point is that the patent system is so broken that nobody can do anything without violating a patent, making inventing and trying to profit from your (novel) idea next to impossible without a war-chest of either patents or money.

So good luck in profiting from your "great idea".

won't help against patent trolls (1)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310525)

Like most such schemes (and this is not the first), this won't help against patent trolls, as they don't use patents, and are thus immune to the threat of countersuits. A patent troll is sort of the equivalent of what the SCO Group has become: a company which makes nothing, and whose entire purpose is litigation.

Re:won't help against patent trolls (1)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311063)

Like most such schemes (and this is not the first), this won't help against patent trolls, as they don't use patents, and are thus immune to the threat of countersuits. A patent troll is sort of the equivalent of what the SCO Group has become: a company which makes nothing, and whose entire purpose is litigation.

Well... it just needs IBM to join because they have a business methods patent on being a patent troll.

what if... (1)

fluffythedestroyer (2586259) | more than 2 years ago | (#40310849)

my dick can be patented ? File a case against a woman who's using your "patent" illegally for any reasons lol. The stories and case on this one could be so funny. Every century got a type of theme attached to them. 20th century shall be patent century. It's getting ridiculous the more I hear it.

sounds great (1)

tobiah (308208) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311139)

I was investigating how to start something like this, glad to see I already have some options or at least examples.

Meh (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 2 years ago | (#40311409)

The result won't be much different than what all the Silicon Valley companies already did regarding hiring practices: 'I won't poach your employees, you won't poach mine; we'll just poach (and underpay) the employees that aren't in the good-ole-boy club'. Just search and replace patents for worker bees.

I'm still shocked the Feds went after the Si V folks for collusion, but the end result will only be a wrist-slapping cost of doing business fine. It's a cute ivory tower idea, but the result would only be the rich staying filthy.

Auxiliary Patent Office? (1)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 2 years ago | (#40312107)

The problem with patents is that they cost a lot of money to obtain. It would make sense, that for defensive purposes, we establish an auxiliary office (or organization) where ideas can be publishes and searched as "prior art" without having to have the $10ks of dollars it takes to get a patent. Such a warehouse would accept contributions of ideas from everyone, at minimal (or no cost).

I've been following and considering the idea of patents as "defensive" for some years and my verdict is it is a rubbish. Publication and being first is all it takes, and anyone shelling out money to obtain a patent intends to make money off of it. It was a challenge for me to finally identify it as spin, but seeing the industry melt down lately, there is no such thing in practice as a "defensive patent".

Re:Auxiliary Patent Office? (2)

slew (2918) | more than 2 years ago | (#40312777)

The problem with patents is that they cost a lot of money to obtain. It would make sense, that for defensive purposes, we establish an auxiliary office (or organization) where ideas can be publishes and searched as "prior art" without having to have the $10ks of dollars it takes to get a patent. Such a warehouse would accept contributions of ideas from everyone, at minimal (or no cost).

I don't think this would work. First of all, the patent office doesn't spend much time doing searches for prior art. The $10K fee is basically enough to keep the "rif-raf" out which is the problem you would have if you didn't have any barrier to submission or resources validate to your proposed data base(e.g., how do you get people to not submit ideas covered by other people's existing patents which would pollute the data base?)

there is no such thing in practice as a "defensive patent".

Quite true, patents are first strike and counter-strike weapons, not defensive weapons. Counterstrike is only for deterence, not defense.

Re:Auxiliary Patent Office? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40313605)

> there is no such thing in practice as a "defensive patent

Here are some counter-examples to your bold statement:

1. http://www.researchdisclosure.com/ [researchdisclosure.com]

2. Provisional patents which cost $100 to file.

Re:Auxiliary Patent Office? (1)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 2 years ago | (#40317937)

1. Proves it
2. Provisional patents are not patents. And you can get one with no details filed. you just pay the fee and give it a title. It only offers protection if yo u get a patent, and the patent will use the provisional file date. That's all it does. It gets you a date. It does nothing for disclosure.

Re:Auxiliary Patent Office? (1)

Herve5 (879674) | more than 2 years ago | (#40320837)

What you describe is 'publishing rather than patenting'.
There already are many ways to do it; the trouble is, when you really have found something original and brilliant, and you start developing it alone, it may really be easier to a large company to just copy what you disclosed, with more efficiency than you or your small team.
This is why, to real inventors, 'just publishing' won't do.

Other than this, you say that 'anyone shelling out money to obtain a patent intends to make money off of it'.
I don't know for 'anyone', but I personally, definitely patented years ago an idea that I DIDN'T want to see developed (see earlier comment in the thread): I know it'll never bring me a cent, because the purpose I'm 'shelling out money' is simply I don't want this to happen.

Joining doesn't add immunity, just uncertainty (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40312191)

A lot of posts and the summary seem to be reading this as an attempt to provide absolute protection to a company, at which it would fail in the case of a clear cut patent, since a patent troll would never join.

However, and please correct me if I'm wrong, I thought the purpose of such organizations was to muddy the waters such that you become too large of a cost for a patent troll.

The logic goes something like this. If I'm a lone company with few patents in the field of my product, I have little to stand on in court, and correspondingly the cost of lawyers to the troll is fairly small. By joining a consortium that has a bunch of similar patents to the one I'm claimed to be infringing, it requires a hell of a lot more lawyer time to figure it out, and increases the risk of losing for the troll to the point where the risk vs. return ratio isn't nearly as compelling.

For instance, the purchase of patent portfolios by Google was usually explained to me as a way to make the legal situation so complicated that suing was just unappealing.

Re:Joining doesn't add immunity, just uncertainty (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#40313865)

By joining a consortium that has a bunch of similar patents to the one I'm claimed to be infringing, it requires a hell of a lot more lawyer time to figure it out....

How so? The patent troll doing the suing has only to examine the claims of their patent, examine the device and show that there is a match. The other patents are completely irrelevant.

For instance, the purchase of patent portfolios by Google was usually explained to me as a way to make the legal situation so complicated that suing was just unappealing.

this is for a very specific case where a huge company with lots of software business (Microsoft) has been stupid enough to start a patent war. Google's is a winning move becuase Microsoft lives in fear of having a year or two during which they are not allowed to sell MS Windows and/or MS Office. Whilst Google's business could probably something simlar, Microsoft's would have no hope.

Why posting AC? Why not friendable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40320847)

all's in the title... ;-)

Possible Antitrust Implications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40313107)

After reading this, it seems to me like this might be a replay of the DOJ's problem either last year or 2 years ago, with the big tech companies agreed not to poach programmers from each other. Legally, I don't see a difference between voluntarily giving up the legal right to sue an infringer in return for a complementary agreement, from voluntarily giving up the legal right to hire an employee in return for a complementary agreement.

This seems like an antitrust violation in the making.

Re:Possible Antitrust Implications (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#40313913)

This seems like an antitrust violation in the making.

The key thing is that it's open to everyone and it's likely to benefit the consumer. Even if the companies could just claim the believed it would help the consumer that would be enough. Anti-trust law does not apply here. Think of, for example, open standards like GSM or Ethernet. A big bunch of "competitor" companies agree to work together. However, that's okay because it's for everyone's benefit and anybody can join.

Opt out entirely (1)

Richard_J_N (631241) | more than 2 years ago | (#40313237)

What we need is a way for individuals and companies to opt out of the intellectual monopolies system altogether. Something like "I promise never to asset an intellectual monopoly against anyone (except defensively); in return, I obtain the right to never be sued". It really needs a whole country to be brave enough to unilaterally scrap the patent system: and whichever one does this first will make a fortune from investment. Think "tax-haven" but where's it's really a "freedom to innovate haven".

Re:Opt out entirely (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40313469)

Why would this make a fortune from investment?

Suppose I am an investor, say with 10 million in capital to invest. I like this company's product.

So now I have two choices:

1. Invest in this company.
2. Copy their product and start my own company.

In case 2 I own 100% of the equity in the company plus full control of the company's personnel.

Seems to me a good case for 2 being the preferred course of action can be made.

Re:Opt out entirely (1)

Richard_J_N (631241) | more than 2 years ago | (#40313737)

You have it backwards. The fallacy with patents is to always see oneself as the person with the patent using it so no one "steals" your idea.
Actually, the risk is that if you have a company with a product, you will be destroyed by a "troll" who sues you.
[Also, the concept of owning ideas is itself wrong: think "standing on the shoulders of giants"]

I accept that if we scrap the patent system, we would have no way to protect small companies against cloners (though they'd still have first-to-market advantage). But we already can't protect small companies: a predator can already crush them by finding something they infringe.

Re:Opt out entirely (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40314391)

No, I don't have it backwards. The original statement was that without the current IP system these companies would suddenly be awash with investment financing.

That's clearly not true. There is no reason to invest in something that you can get for free.

And of course this also neglects the issue of exit strategy - for many small companies the end game is selling out to a large company. Without IP I think that's much less likely to occur. Which of course will reduce the attractiveness of the whole process to investors.

Yes there is a huge problem with the current system and trolls, frivolous patents etc. but just throwing up your hands and saying scrap the whole thing neglects the positive side of what is happening.

Re:Opt out entirely (1)

Richard_J_N (631241) | more than 2 years ago | (#40314625)

Seriously...there is no positive side to patents excepting the sense of mutually assured destruction. Patents are good for lawyers, but hurt innovators, consumers, and the development of technology. (It's true that the current system is badly broken, but I'm not advocating scrapping it because it's too hard to fix; I'm advocating scrapping it because it's wrong in principle and in practice).

Yes, it's true that investors like to see patents - but if nobody had them, that wouldn't matter.

Also, remember that most investors invest in companies that build things, not that innovate. As Edison said, the 1% inspiration may be necessary, but it's nowhere near sufficient for success. What a new company needs isn't a phantom of the potential to sue; what it needs is certainty that it will be protected from predatory IP enforcement.

Incidentally, the patent system doesn't just hurt the economy and slow progress; it kills people. Take a look at this technical history of the aircraft, or the failure to cross-license for some of the combined anti-retroviral pills.

Re:Opt out entirely (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40316527)

>I'm advocating scrapping it because it's wrong in principle and in practice).

Remember what a patent is - a contract between the inventor and the government where in exchange for a full disclosure of the invention the government grants a limited time license allowing the inventor to prevent others from practicing the invention.

Prior to patents inventors did everything possible to keep their inventions and the principles behind them secret through contracts, trade secrets and obfuscation. Imagine the modern equivalent - a license on everything you buy, even a loaf of bread. This situation was so obnoxious that the concept of the patent arose. And this is what you advocating we return to.

Economic studies show that the patent system is clearly a positive for the pharmaceutical and chemical industries. For other industries the current US system is not working well because of exploding litigation costs outweighing the direct economic value to patent holders through licensing. So fixes are needed.

But throwing patents out altogether will be a real problem for R&D in cases where large investments are needed, which is typical in industries like the chemical and pharmaceutical.

Since litigation costs are the primary problem one clear fix would be to raise the bar for granting of patents, and make examination a more meaningful process. This would clearly dramatically reduce litigation and benefit many industries.

The historical fact is that the industrial revolution in England immediately followed the institution of patent laws. While correlation does not imply causation it's important to note that the greatest technological gains in human history have occurred in concert with a working patent system.

Because of this fact I think it is extremely foolish to discard the idea of patents altogether without extreme care.

Re:Opt out entirely (1)

Richard_J_N (631241) | more than 2 years ago | (#40317215)

Well, that's true excepting that the patent system is used to prevent independent invention. The idea (originating from techniques for making stained glass iirc), is that in return for a long monopoly, the inventor of a technique gives away the secret so that his competitors can also use it 25 years later. But the problem is really that we aren't preventing reverse engineering; we're banning independent thoughts. I'd accept raising the bar, but we'd have to really really strengthen the "obvious to one skilled in the art" test. For A to obtain a patent, it should be the case that, when faced with the same situation, same technical requirements, and same background knowledge, an expert practitioner B would almost never be able to reach the same invention.

Incidentally, I think you have your causation backwards: as technologies became important, there was a desire to monopolise inventions (so as to keep newcomers out of the field), and so "lobbying" pressure arose to create patent laws. Note that, for example, most chemical companies are in Switzerland: they were founded there because, at the time, Switzerland had no patent protection for chemicals, and so companies could grow there after escaping litigation elsewhere.

Pharma is the one industry where patents might be tolerated, as a pragmatic exception, not a correct one.

Re:Opt out entirely (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#40313961)

Look at China until the last few years. Unsurprisingly, the recent push in China for patents (even internal ones - they tend to ignore foreign patents) corresponds with a collapse in the Chinese growth rate.

missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40313851)

patents are valuable because you can sue over them; that's why companies spend money on them. besides, which lawyers would advise taking action that reduces lawsuits?

A story about a blog entry about a story on ... (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#40316857)

Ars?

What The Fuck.

How many slashvertisments for other sites can you put in the first line of a slashdot submission?

Could you seriously not just link us to the one with the actual story in the first fucking place?

Wicked Cool or Anti-Trust? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40318873)

So, if this had been something that, say, Microsoft, started and a few other large patent owners were allowed into, wouldn't everyone be screaming anti-trust, rather than "audacious, exciting, and wicked cool"? Obviously the open opt-in makes this seem warmer and fuzzier, but since that will only deter larger patent-holders from joining and since most patent-trolls wouldn't give away their rights to sue to anyone, how is this less evil?

hands down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40357215)

There are many reasons why the NPE (“patent troll [youtube.com] ”) business model has fast become dominant in the world of IP. Thomas Edison held over 1,000 patents, but practiced none of them. He invented, which is what he did best, and let others manufacture products from his inventions. If an inventor cannot sue for patent infringement and recover damages, they why should anyone invent anything? Only vigorous patent enforcement rewards inventors for their inventions and incentivizes others to invent.

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