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Why Juries Have No Place In the Patent System

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the if-only-we-had-robots-to-evaluate-patents dept.

Patents 387

New submitter Isara writes "GigaOm's Jeff John Roberts has a compelling writeup about patent trials and how juries are detrimental to justice in such cases. Roberts uses the recent Apple-Samsung trial as the backdrop for his article; although the trial lasted three weeks, during which hundreds of documents were presented and the finer points of U.S. patent law were discussed, the jury only took 2-3 days to deliberate. 'Patents are as complex as other industrial policies like subsidies or regulatory regimes. When disputes arise, they should be put before an expert tribunal rather than a jury that is easily swayed by schoolyard "copycat" narratives.'"

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387 comments

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flamebait? (1, Insightful)

noh8rz8 (2716593) | about 2 years ago | (#41154939)

umm, is the entire article -1 flamebait? or -1 troll? I never can tell the difference

Re:flamebait? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155051)

Well said!

Re:flamebait? (1, Insightful)

DJRumpy (1345787) | about 2 years ago | (#41155387)

Well for starters, the patent systems wasn't on Trial. Samsung and Apple were on trial. The Jury didn't have to fully understand the entire patent system. They had to answer 700 questions. In every jury case, the jurors are presented with the necessary information to come to a consensus. It is the responsibility of the prosecution and defense to make sure they can come to an informed opinion given the necessary information as presented by both sides.

Any adult, given enough facts as presented by both sides, should be able to come to a conclusion as to guilty or innocent. It doesn't require an in-depth knowledge of law, but rather a simple way to judge to arguments and giving merit to one over the other. If it required an in-depth knowledge of the law, we would only have lawyers for jurors, and I think we can all agree that's not a great idea ;)

Last but no least, a very basic yet easily understandable reason. Jurors represent the common man. Just imagine if every person in the jury was technically 'in the know'. Look at similar discussions here on /. and you'll find hundreds of answers to the same question all with different viewpoints. Even the most basic questions can result in flame wars due to the depth of knowledge represented here. The more in-depth knowledge one has on a topic, the less likely you are to get a consensus and the less likely you are to be able to look at a case objectively.

Re:flamebait? (5, Insightful)

NEDHead (1651195) | about 2 years ago | (#41155443)

Aha, so ignorance breeds just conclusions. I guess creationism must be true after all.

Re:flamebait? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155521)

Just conclusions ( about morality, origin (notEA) and afterlife) breed ignorance...
Origin (EA) breeds hatred and vomit inducing nausea.

Re:flamebait? (1, Interesting)

DJRumpy (1345787) | about 2 years ago | (#41155565)

Not ignorance. Reason.

My hands are wet with blue paint. The person next to me has his hands painted red. You are color blind. The evidence has red paint on it. You have no idea if the paint on the paper is red or blue. You are presented with evidence stating the paper has red paint which is accepted into evidence. You can only judge by the evidence provided. That is a key concept of law.

"The law is reason, free from passion" - Aristotle

Re:flamebait? (1)

mcfatboy93 (1363705) | about 2 years ago | (#41155569)

My concern is how they can judge apple, the creators of the iPhone "cough" "cough" over samsung... If the jury is supposed to be unbiased... how will you find people who have not heard of the iPhone in the US.

Re:flamebait? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155659)

It doesn't require that they have no knowledge. It requires that they be unbiased. Simply having heard of Apple or Samsung isn't likely to bias one's opinion.

Re:flamebait? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155745)

You have to wonder how carefully the jurors were vetted for the trial. Suppose every juror was an Apple fanboy who owned an iphone or ipad?

Re:flamebait? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155751)

They need to understand something about patent law and something about the subject matter. The Jury foreman actually said this in an interview:

"...wether or not the prior really did invalidate that patent, and so with that moment that I had, I relealized that the software on the Apple side could not be placed into the processor on the prior art and vise versa and that means that they're not interchagable, and that just that just changed everything right there"

Would you trust this guy to be on a jury for a case you were involved with? Obviously he was in over his head and just pulling stuff out of his nether regions. The rest of the jury followed him. And this is a guy who holds a patent and should, ostensibly, have some simple understanding of prior art.

Re:flamebait? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155203)

umm, is the entire article -1 flamebait? or -1 troll? I never can tell the difference

That's because it copied Apple. You can never tell the difference.

Or you know... (5, Insightful)

Glarimore (1795666) | about 2 years ago | (#41154947)

we could start debating the patent system instead of patents themselves. There is a lot of talk about the validity of these patent lawsuits and not enough about the validity of the system itself.

Re:Or you know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155185)

Or we could be debating copyright law along side this... or should I move this post to another politicaly charged spot on /.

Re:Or you know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155217)

I agree. Anyway a regular jury is not a jury of peers since non of those people have apple or samsung as peers. Just on that through the case out and get a proper set of peers.

Re:Or you know... (4, Informative)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#41155347)

The problem is the agenda of the debate is constantly controlled. Plus, you would need to discuss it in the mass media, which takes the corporate side in each and every debate.

The first time I have EVER heard patents brought up in the MSM was on CNN last weekend, and the spokemodel (oh sorry, anchor woman) talked like patents were God's gift to the earth.

Re:Or you know... (1)

flibbidyfloo (451053) | about 2 years ago | (#41155669)

Oh yeah gosh I *never* hear anyone talking about problems with the patent system. More talk isn't what's needed.

Ugh... (5, Insightful)

denmarkw00t (892627) | about 2 years ago | (#41154999)

We should either

1) Gut the patent system, releasing all patents into the public space or
2) Move patents to a 5-10 year maximum life before they are turned over to the public

Innovation is key, but innovation doesn't necessarily mean figuring it out on your own. Too many companies have strangleholds on great technology and methods, and the not being able to access that information only hurts those trying to compete and become viable. The idea that you can patent things as silly as a lot of what comes through in the IT world (rounded corners, click to buy, slide to unlock, etc) is stifling not only competition, but entrepreneurs, students, and people who could take it and do something better.

If your company has to bank on a patent to remain profitable, then you probably don't deserve to continue to be a company - part of being the leader is being able to continue and innovate in a space without worrying that your competitor might know how you're doing X because you're already focusing your efforts and resources on developing Y instead.

Re:Ugh... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155145)

I really like the idea I have seen on /. previously. Make patents renewable with a growing charge associated for each additional renewal. If done correctly, getting a patent would still be cheap and easy enough for everyone but it would become prohibitively expensive.

Re:Ugh... (4, Interesting)

Tony (765) | about 2 years ago | (#41155361)

This would put patent renewal in the hands of the wealthiest, further tipping the balance in the favor of the rich.

Re:Ugh... (2)

mooingyak (720677) | about 2 years ago | (#41155723)

This would put patent renewal in the hands of the wealthiest, further tipping the balance in the favor of the rich.

I think the idea (I've actually heard it applied to copyrights rather than patents, but for this particular argument they're very similar) is to produce the following effects:

1. Dormant patent portfolios become unprofitable very rapidly which would make a dent in submarine patents
2. Costs increase exponentially so that only the most profitable patents get renewed

Even for the wealthy, this isn't a question of what you can afford, it's a question of how much you can profit from it. The rich won't hold on to a patent if it will cost them more money than they can gain to do so.

Re:Ugh... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155245)

I would like to see some actual evidence that the American patent system is stifling innovation rather than simple claims. For example, is there less innovation in the US compared to other countries with more lax patent laws? Are there fewer software start-ups today than before software patents became common. It is easy to make emotional claims, it is much harder to find evidence to support these claims.

Re:Ugh... (1)

Aryden (1872756) | about 2 years ago | (#41155335)

It is when you have people different people writing software that does something very similar and the smaller guy gets sued out of business even though his product may have been better than his competitors just because an icon on one of the screens looked too close to the icon on the plaintiff's.

ID10T (1)

glrotate (300695) | about 2 years ago | (#41155693)

AC: I would like to see some actual evidence that the American patent system is stifling innovation rather than simple claims.

Aryden: It is when you have people different people writing software that does something very similar and the smaller guy gets sued out of business even though his product may have been better than his competitors just because an icon on one of the screens looked too close to the icon on the plaintiff's.

A perfect example of the pointless arguments AC was trying to avoid. Moreover, you did it with a barely intelligible run-on sentence. Bravo!

Re:Ugh... (5, Informative)

HapSlappy_2222 (1089149) | about 2 years ago | (#41155641)

Challenge accepted.

http://www.researchoninnovation.org/WordPress/?p=9 [researchoninnovation.org]
http://archive.mises.org/7880/patents-and-innovation/ [mises.org]
http://archive.mises.org/10217/yet-another-study-finds-patents-do-not-encourage-innovation/ [mises.org]
http://keithsawyer.wordpress.com/2008/10/31/do-patents-increase-innovation/ [wordpress.com]
I didn't really even cherry pick; I just did a Google search for "innovation in countries without patent laws" and a whole slew of studies came up.

It appears that many of the studies have shown that heavy patents don't necessarily increase innovation, but rather direct the types of innovations that are made within an industry (perhaps: innovate for a long term lock-in, not for shorter term or wide-spread improvements).

/shrug I think patents have their place, but I can't fathom a reason why a company would need more than a decade of locked-in profits after a product is released to market. I can maybe see the case for the very, very expensive and time consuming process of drug manufacturing, but in those types of special cases, shouldn't the patent be proportionate to the time invested, and not a broad "You just won the cancer game for the next 63 years!" certificate?

Re:Ugh... (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 2 years ago | (#41155657)

It's about as obvious as the patents that were involved.

Re:Ugh... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155337)

Move patents to a 5-10 year maximum life before they are turned over to the public

Depends on the patent. There are things patented that should never have been patented in first place, or have very short patent lifespan. For example, most software patents (ie. just algorithmic patents) or design patents or business method patents.

On the other hand, there are patents are more worthy of the 20 years timeframe. For example, drug patents or novel internal combustion engine design.

If your company has to bank on a patent to remain profitable, then you probably don't deserve to continue to be a company

Not quite. Again, there are innovations that require longer ROI time period simply because of significant competition and small margins. It is much easier for someone else to simply copy the patents than to invest in their own. Again, take example of some widget in a ICE that makes engines 5% more efficient. The widget costs $5 to mass produce. It cost 5 years for research and another 5 years to incorporate into current designs. The purpose of the patent is to reward innovation.

On the other hand, take the "innovation" of "rounded corners". The patent of eraser on top of the pencil is more noteworthy!

Re:Ugh... (1)

denmarkw00t (892627) | about 2 years ago | (#41155687)

Yeah, I struggled with that one - I considered the idea that time spent developing something would correlate to time allotted to the patent's life, but then companies would work on something for a year and then sit on it for 20 years to keep the patent alive once it goes out into the public.

There may be a good method, but I think we just need to do away with the current system at least, and maybe create something that treats patents as a serious thing to protect legitimate, costly innovation. Rounding a corner doesn't cost a dime. Developing a cure to Big Disease does. Currently, both can be defended as legitimate patents.

Re:Ugh... (2)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#41155399)

Patents are basically a protection racket. Companies (like Apple, Samsung, etc.) shovel money at attorneys, into the patent office, into litigation, into licensing rights etc. in order to maintain an air of exclusivity over what is really a kind of pathetic "innovation" (rounded corners? wtf?) The narrowness threshold needs to be raised a LOT if the current system is to be kept tenable. If not, the precedent we see here (where a jury can be swayed on a pro-patent line with flimsy evidence) will cause a firestorm across the industry as every company sues every other company that hasn't bought enough protection through licensing rights. Innovation will cease to be important since every company will profit when someone buys any given smartphone (or other smartgadget).

just start licensing the damn things (1)

swschrad (312009) | about 2 years ago | (#41155615)

the endless copyright screen on Unix may be instructional. last change I had to view one, back before endless IT mergers, 14 companies from ATT through DEC to HP had copyrights on that screen.

if these cutthroat outfits today would hold their exclusivity for a year max, then license the patents to a common use pool, everybody except the lawyers would make out nicely, thanks.

Re:Ugh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155759)

I think another reform that could be worthwhile would be to go to an exponential fee for patents. Basically, the first year you pay $10 in maintenance for the patent. The next you pay $20, and so on until after 20 years you have to pay a yearly fee of $10485760.

This way, only companies/individuals who have created really really useful innovations will pollute the patent namespace. (Or some variation of this, where the exponential payments don't start until the fifth year or os.)

Personally, I think the copyright system could work like this as well (perhaps with a lower exponent though). That way, Disney could keep the copyright on Mickey Mouse for as long as they deem it profitable to pay ridicously high copyright fees. And the public also gains something in that case (as the country will get those ridicously high copyright fees) in exchange for the expiration of valuable copyrights into the public domain.

At the end of the day (-1, Flamebait)

Space cowboy (13680) | about 2 years ago | (#41155059)

Samsung copied Apple flagrantly, not *just* copied, but *flagrantly* copied. The jury saw that, and decided that that was wrong. The result was that Apple won its case.

We're supposed to reward effort, and not reward those who cheat. Despite the clamour from the android community, pretty much everyone I've spoken to who aren't emotionally invested in the result are "pro" the jury and think it was a fair result. Samsung- (and by extension Android-) fans, deal, and move on in life. Or hate. Your call.

Simon.

Re:At the end of the day (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155157)

And according to Steve Jobs Apple 'unashamedly' copies others, but will get in a hissy fit if anyone else does it to them.

Re:At the end of the day (5, Insightful)

oxdas (2447598) | about 2 years ago | (#41155175)

Courts in the Netherlands, the UK, and Korea found that Samsung devices were not in violation of Apple's designs. So, whether or not Samsung copied appears to depend on where you live.

Re:At the end of the day (5, Informative)

sir_eccles (1235902) | about 2 years ago | (#41155737)

The advantage in the UK of course is a specialized Patent Court with Judges and no juries. These Judges are patent specialists spending their time only looking at Patent cases. They are a very sharp bunch. I recall one incident in which the Judge suspended a complex case so he could go and learn some pretty high level biochemistry from the head of biochemistry at Cambridge.

You sir are an idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155181)

do you not see what the premise of the story is does not have to do with this case but shown that it was deliberated inaccurate. And will the real slim shade please stand up. Moron

Re:At the end of the day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155229)

Samsung copied Apple flagrantly, not *just* copied, but *flagrantly* copied. The jury saw that, and decided that that was wrong. The result was that Apple won its case.

We're supposed to reward effort, and not reward those who cheat. Despite the clamour from the android community, pretty much everyone I've spoken to who aren't emotionally invested in the result are "pro" the jury and think it was a fair result. Samsung- (and by extension Android-) fans, deal, and move on in life. Or hate. Your call.

Simon.

$12 billion in market capitalization loss says Samsung shareholders and the market agree with you and the jury.

Re:At the end of the day (2, Funny)

vux984 (928602) | about 2 years ago | (#41155409)

$12 billion in market capitalization loss says Samsung shareholders and the market agree with you and the jury.

Is that how you think the market works?

Re:At the end of the day (5, Informative)

baldrad (1882464) | about 2 years ago | (#41155251)

The problem is, that the jury admitted to skipping entire parts of the case and just awarding apple money. Not just that, but some features that apple has patented were not even apple innovations. So whether Samsung did copy or not, Apple was awarded money for things it copied. It isn't the fact that people are pro Samsung or pro Apple, it is that Apple was awarded a giant sum of money due to a broken system and an uneducated jury when it comes to patents.

Re:At the end of the day (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155681)

Mod down, -1, Counterfactual.

Re:At the end of the day (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155259)

At least read the summary. The points raised in the article aren't so much concerned with the outcome, rather the means by which the outcome was arrived upon. At no point was there any debate on whether Samsung copied Apple, it was on whether Apple had any exclusive rights that were infringed by Samsung. The jury disregarded the documents that addressed that question. Blah blah blah, juries are inadequate for this type of thing.

Re:At the end of the day (1)

Drethon (1445051) | about 2 years ago | (#41155277)

And my thesis was flagrantly built on top of existing algorithms to improve what was there. I didn't create a whole theory from scratch...

Re:At the end of the day - sorry Simon, wrong!! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155283)

Samsung copied the same capabilities that Apple copied and put into their products.
There's a difference.

Apple copied the rectangle with rounded corners from 3000+ year old clay styluses.
Apple copied the finger swipe, pinch resize and other touch screen capabilities from other manufacturers.

Sure they put them together in a way many hadn't seen, but that doesn't make them original, that just makes them smart.
Problem is, there are a lot of smart people in the world that can put them together as well.

There's nothing original in any of Apple's products - just different packaging that can be lied about on patent applications using words like "on a tablet" or "on a phone" - these are shams, false patents - using others IP to try and bolster an otherwise failing company. (yes Apple is failing - it wouldn't be suing like it is if it wasn't).

Re:At the end of the day (0, Troll)

AdamWill (604569) | about 2 years ago | (#41155285)

I kind of agree, really. I think you can actually oppose software patents but still support the decision in this case.

A lot of the evidence was pretty damning and indicates that in this case, the systems happens to have achieved what it was actually supposed to achieve. That doesn't mean the damaging side-effects which are why lots of us believe the current patent system is problematic don't exist; it just means that *in this case* the system actually happens to have probably given the right result. It seems pretty clear from a lot of the evidence that was entered into the case that Samsung really did set about intentionally, directly copying a lot of Apple's design and function - not looking at it as a basis for possible improvements, but just going 'hey, let's do exactly what they did'. Samsung also conducted its case appallingly badly; I don't know where they got their lawyers, but they pulled some really ridiculous stunts which probably did more to harm Samsung's case than to help it.

If you just step back a bit and dispassionately look at a lot of the highlights of the case, Samsung comes off looking like crap, frankly.

So then why...? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155333)

Why is it that every other country where this case was brought to court denied apple's claims?

Re:So then why...? (1)

glrotate (300695) | about 2 years ago | (#41155763)

Why would anyone care about other countries?

Re:At the end of the day (1)

shurdeek (571257) | about 2 years ago | (#41155353)

Whether they copied (i.e. if there was a causal link between Apple's and Samsung's products) is irrelevant from the point of view of patent law. Patent law does not provide the defense of "independent discovery". No matter how much evidence of Samsung's knowing about the features of iphone/ipad was provided, the patent law provides no reason to consider it in the trial.

Your reaction is yet another demonstration how patent law is misunderstood.

Really? (1)

Comboman (895500) | about 2 years ago | (#41155439)

Despite the clamour from the android community, pretty much everyone I've spoken to who aren't emotionally invested in the result are "pro" the jury and think it was a fair result.

That's just not true. I've heard from many neutral parties and even Apple fans who believe that Apple went too far with these lawsuits and patents. Apple is a great company with great products that should be able to compete in the marketplace without resorting to legal trickery. No one should be able to own the idea of a rectangle with rounded corners or a touch screen with rows of icons. Was Samsung inspired by Apple? Sure. Was Apple inspired by others that came before it? Of course. That's how technology progress (at least how it used to before this ruling).

Re:Really? (1)

Space cowboy (13680) | about 2 years ago | (#41155789)

That's just not true

Excuse me ? Are you telling me you know better than I how *my* conversations went ?

I can assure you it absolutely is true.

Simon.

Re:At the end of the day (2)

foradoxium (2446368) | about 2 years ago | (#41155465)

I would respectfully disagree and say that no, the jury didn't "see it." They blindly rubber-stamped the samsung line in efforts to expedite the amount of time they'd have to dedicate to the trial.

Have you seen a Samsung Epic 4g? Look at it..the only thing that you might be able to say is similar is the grid of icons, and there is significant amount of prior art of a grid of icons, to start with, palm. There is no way anyone could truthfully claim that phone flagrantly copies the iphone, even some 90 year old grandma.

http://reviews.cnet.com/smartphones/samsung-epic-4g-review/ [cnet.com]

After the verdict, I think everyone was thinking "wow..what did the jury see that I don't?" But after the jurors and foreman started talking, its apparent they did not do their duty. I'm not talking about the final verdict. I'm talking about how they decided they could just rubber-stamp every device.

  It's like a student blindly answering multiple choice questions..it's apparent they weren't even reading the question when the same question is answered differently on separate occasions. In this case, they award damages for a device that they previously answer "does not infringe", and find some obviously non-infringing device to be infringing.

Re:At the end of the day (5, Insightful)

Anon E. Muss (808473) | about 2 years ago | (#41155499)

The jury saw that, and decided that that was wrong.

And therein lies the problem. The point of a trial is to decide what is LEGAL. It's great when Right and Wrong correspond to Legal and Illegal, but it doesn't always work out that way. One reason it doesn't is because right vs. wrong can be very subjective, but legal vs. illegal is supposed to be very objective.

I'm concerned that this jury simply got offended that "Samsung copied Apple", and didn't fully consider the prior art that would make such copying perfectly legal. The foreman saying they wanted to "send a message", in clear violation of the judge's instructions, calls the result into question.

Re:At the end of the day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155591)

I've always wondered what necrophilia would look like. And now since poor Mr Jobs is dead, your comment lets me know. Thank you Space cowboy!

Re:At the end of the day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155733)

I've always wondered what necrophilia would look like.

I think that says more about you than about him.

Re:At the end of the day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155785)

I think that says more about you than about him.

That he's human?

Re:At the end of the day (1)

DShard (159067) | about 2 years ago | (#41155675)

I like apple products. I have an iPad and iPod touch. Nothing about these products is particularly innovative. There were brick smartphones before iPhone. There were app stores before iPhone. Multitouch existed in the 70's. Icon in grid layout is ANCIENT. What, exactly, is innovative and non-obvious about it? Nothing. It is the natural extension of what was _already_ coming on to the phone market. Heck, their notification center is pretty much a copy of android. Why did they copy it? because it makes sense as a UI. I am all for protecting innovators, but I fail to see any legitimate innovation.

Re:At the end of the day (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 2 years ago | (#41155695)

I don't care if samsung copied or not. Nailing them for infringing patents that never should have been issued in the first place is still the wrong way to punish them.

This is nothing more than using samsung to get precedential leverage when apple goes after others.

overhauling the USPTO is a better solution imo (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#41155073)

I don't really like the idea of replacing trial-by-jury as the ultimate arbiter, and in any case it would be difficult to get such a thing passed. A more incremental reform, easily doable within current constitutional law, would be to give the USPTO approval process more teeth so fewer bad patents get issued in the first place, and therefore trial never becomes a possibility. It shouldn't approve any old stuff that comes its way, but should really take the non-obviousness and novelty tests seriously.

Re:overhauling the USPTO is a better solution imo (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | about 2 years ago | (#41155477)

This to a trillion degrees. The USPTO and the guys challenging a patent application are much better suited to knocking out bad patents before they are even born. Even more fundamentally, however, patents on genes and software should not be patentable subject matter.

Re:overhauling the USPTO is a better solution imo (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#41155673)

That only works if they have some incentive to knocking out those bad patents. The USPTO is basically a rubber-stamping factory, depending upon the courts to fix the messes it creates.

P2P (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41155075)

It's supposed to be jury of your peers...

Re:P2P (2)

SailorSpork (1080153) | about 2 years ago | (#41155199)

So you're saying the jury should have been full of multi-billion dollar corporations? I suppose that would make sense if corporations were legally people too...

Re:P2P (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41155299)

It's a corporate, in particular about patents, issue. People who understand fully patent law should decide the matter, not Walmart checkout people.

Exactly. (0)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 2 years ago | (#41155095)

Laura, enlightened people like you, me and some of the other members of the Slashdort community (not counting the trolles and flaymers who are like totally lameoids) are so advanced beyonde the "hoy polo" dunderheaded dumbfucks who populate this sorry country that we should scren jurors with intellijince and proparty tests so that only succesful tecnology gurus, jenyuses and entripprinores can make these important decisions for our nation and our economy. If you agree with me you are correct, but if not, you are wrong, and probably you are an idiot too who doesn't no how to use compotores with Linux.

Unless it's in the United States (3, Informative)

davidwr (791652) | about 2 years ago | (#41155119)

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

- Amendment VII, The Constitution of the United States of America

Re:Unless it's in the United States (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155189)

They need to adjust 20$ for inflation though.

I can't believe those n00b founding fathers hard-coded that value...

Re:Unless it's in the United States (1)

kenj0418 (230916) | about 2 years ago | (#41155459)

They need to adjust 20$ for inflation though.

I can't believe those n00b founding fathers hard-coded that value...

Even with inflation, I'm pretty sure $20 in 1789 is still less than $1,000,000,000+ in 2012. (Agree with you on the hard-coding - unless their intent was to have it effectively approach zero over time.)

Re:Unless it's in the United States (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41155691)

They need to adjust 20$ for inflation though.

I can't believe those n00b founding fathers hard-coded that value...

Before "they" had the brilliant idea of removing the dollar from the gold standard, there was no inflation. If you've got an axe to grind about returning to the gold standard, that's one of the stereotypical constitutional arguments. Don't kid yourself that its a new argument.

Re:Unless it's in the United States (1)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about 2 years ago | (#41155247)

Yes, we all know what the Constitution says, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is good policy. We've amended it before.

Re:Unless it's in the United States (4, Insightful)

Above (100351) | about 2 years ago | (#41155279)

Trial by Jury does not mean "trial by 12 random people off the street".

Cases like this could have jury pools drawn from experts, not laymen. That would still be a trial by jury.

Re:Unless it's in the United States (1)

GodInHell (258915) | about 2 years ago | (#41155637)

Expert juries are an interesting concept that pops up in law reviews from time to time. However, to the best of my knowledge, they're not allowed under the common understanding of the right to a jury of your peers.

Re:Unless it's in the United States (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about 2 years ago | (#41155375)

Congress just has to define what you are allowed to sue over. If you can't sue, you can't have a Jury. ('cept in criminal cases)

Re:Unless it's in the United States (1)

sl149q (1537343) | about 2 years ago | (#41155621)

There is no reason to believe that patents are somehow such a sacred and / or arcane subject that juries should not be allowed. The exact same arguement can and has been made for many parts of tort law and tax law.

These arguments are typically trotted out by the losers after the fact to justify why they lost. Or by people who think that the laws (patent, tort, tax, etc) should be simplified or reformed.

There IS some validity to their claims. But not to limiting it to patent law.

But to paraphrase Churchill - Trial by jury is the worst of all systems but better than all the others that have been tried from time to time.

Uhhh... the Constitution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155159)

'cept the Constitution guarantees a JURY trial in all matters over $20 in federal court.

This was not incorporated against the states by the Civil War amendments, so a state court can do differently... but patent suits are exclusively heard in federal court.

Solution to Patent Problem (4, Insightful)

PortHaven (242123) | about 2 years ago | (#41155165)

"Allow any patent that is submitted into public domain, to be filed free of charge."

***

Let's be honest, most ideas are not conceived of in some big corporate lab. Most are conceived in the minds of individuals long before. Often the best ideas are conceived when an idea person is unemployed - a time when they're even harder pressed to find the $1K-$5K to file a patent.

Those individuals, usually do not have the resources to get their ideas off the ground very quickly. They might start, but then they find by the time they're working toward their goal. A big corp with lots of $$$ for lots of developers releases something similar. Worse, now they own the patent on it. The individual now can't even continue their own idea.

Happens all the time.

Re:Solution to Patent Problem (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about 2 years ago | (#41155421)

You're not supposed to patent ideas, but machines and processes. AFAIK, the filing fee isn't that large, it's the patent search that costs so much.

Re:Solution to Patent Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155689)

"Allow any patent that is submitted into public domain, to be filed free of charge."

Also: Any patent released into the Public Domain will receive back 80% of the filing fee, minus 5% for every year the patent has lived.
This also automatically makes the patent office, representing the public domain, the buyer of last resort on all bankrupcy proceedings, etc.

Where do you get an Expert Tribunal? (2)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about 2 years ago | (#41155191)

All the experts for a given technology already work for industry. Finding independent experts that are affordable and want to work on a tribunal would be a challenge.

Re:Where do you get an Expert Tribunal? (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#41155713)

Given the millions upon millions spent by both Apple and Samsung in this up to this point, and the millions more to be spent on appeals, I suspect a reasonable compromise could be had whereby each side pledges a stipend for the expert pool. There might even be a "loser pays" clause in there somewhere to add a little extra incentive to not be overly litigious.

When will the whining stop? (-1, Troll)

jmcbain (1233044) | about 2 years ago | (#41155195)

The last several days the whining from the pro-Android fanboys has been incessant. When will it stop? I haven't observed this much whining since elementary school. Waaaa. I broke a rule and got punished for it. The rules aren't fair. Waaaaahhh. PROTIP: Go grow up and learn to live in an adult's world.

Re:When will the whining stop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155467)

Samsung *had* nothing like an iPhone.
They copied, knowing a fine would come later.

Now they *have* market share and phones more original than their first rush to market.

It worked. They remain a player.

Point By Point (1, Flamebait)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#41155211)

"Reason 1: Jurors can be influenced by brand loyalty."

Duh. But the more relevant issue is: would a "tribunal" not be swayed by brand loyalty? Is there any reason to believe that would be the case?

"Reason 2: Juries are too easily swayed by âoeheâ(TM)s a copycatâ"

Quote Posner: "patent plaintiffs tend to request trial by jury because they believe that jurors tend to favor patentees, believing that they must be worthy inventors defending the fruits of their invention against copycats."

Posner may have reason to believe that, but it's still nothing more than his opinion about what someone else is thinking. It isn't actual evidence that this point is valid. Once again, I have no reason to believe a "tribunal" would be much different.

"Reason 3: Jury trials over patents are a waste of money"

Quote article: "While the companies would have blown a bundle no matter what, the jury presence added millions to the tab."

Huh? Um... excuse me, but the trial was a month long, and jurors don't get paid squat, nor are their accommodations expensive. A juror I know not long ago got locked into a 9-day trial, he got paid less than minimum wage for it, and the lunch he got EVERY DAY was a peanut butter sandwich and an apple.

Even if Posner's court is more generous than that, there is no way in hell the jury cost "millions".

In summary: While some juries might be more responsible than others, I don't have any reason to believe that "a tribunal" would be any better at judging patents than the patent office itself. After all, the patent office is full of professionals, too.

Re:Point By Point (0)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about 2 years ago | (#41155609)

... Huh? Um... excuse me, but the trial was a month long, and jurors don't get paid squat, nor are their accommodations expensive. A juror I know not long ago got locked into a 9-day trial, he got paid less than minimum wage for it, and the lunch he got EVERY DAY was a peanut butter sandwich and an apple. Even if Posner's court is more generous than that, there is no way in hell the jury cost "millions".

I assume the Judge and Lawyers got the other $1,990,000.

Typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155213)

Nerd snobbery. Don't like a verdict/decision/legislation? Construct increasingly tortured arguments and bleet them to the choir that someone/some group/some organization was simply too simple/inexperienced/stupid to understand, and that the solution is to exclude the unwashed from having any say.

This is why I left tech 10+ years ago. It is the one segment of the economy (other than perhaps finance/investing) where arrogance and rudeness is often confused with intellectual prowess and celebrated openly.

Re:Typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155633)

So what you're saying is you'd rather have someone agree with you on a superficial level while secretly thinking that you're actually wrong and planning to put your head under the chopping block as soon as something goes wrong instead of telling you that you're wrong flat-out?

More Important Issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155249)

While I know many on Slashdot are outraged by the outcome of the trial, if we're going to request certain trials no longer be tried by a jury, there are more important subjects before the courts than patent trials. I realize that's our passion and thus what we discuss and I realize many here would love to see Samsung victorious and Apple outcast in shame but, let's be real, it was a trial. It was tried the way it was supposed to be tried. One side one. One side lost. Sorry you don't like the results. Sorry you don't like the process. Sorry you don't like that certain things can be patented. Sorry. But if we're going to ask for juries to be done away with, let's do away with them in cases that really matter.

Jury trials are a right... (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | about 2 years ago | (#41155257)

but not a requirement. If you don't think a jury can handle it, don't use one.

Better still, the likes of Apple and Samsung could agree to arbitration. After all, if it's good enough to force upon consumers...

No more patents... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155267)

Seems like they had it right back in 1830 when the patent office was planning on closing it's doors for good, claiming that there was nothing left to invent. Feels like this now. No one has invented anything, we are all just stealing other peoples patents, or at least according to Apple...

Re:No more patents... (1)

tgibbs (83782) | about 2 years ago | (#41155389)

I suggest that you try going a month without using any product patented subsequent to 1830, then reconsider your comment.

The Jury system has no place anywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155289)

Think about it. You are confronted with an important decision. Do you attempt to solve it by finding 12 random people, screening them to ensure they have no specific knowledge the question at hand, and then have two people who have no common ground argue in front of them? Would you go to a hospital that used 12 random people with no medical knowledge to determine your course of treatment? When your car is not working, do you take it to a garage where there is trained mechanic or ask 12 random people with no knowledge of cars to tell you how to fix it?

Then why does anyone pick 12 random people who are screened to ensure they have no legal knowledge and no knowledge of your specific issue as a means of resolving a legal question? And then people wonder why juries arrive at so many whacky conclusions...

Legal questions need to be answered by people with the proper training and experience. Juries should be comprised of professionals who have the training and experience to answer the sorts of questions that come up in legal trials, otherwise your answers are little better than flipping a coin.

Re:The Jury system has no place anywhere (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41155551)

otherwise your answers are little better than flipping a coin.

Isn't that the ideal result? Any blatantly obvious situation is settled outta court. Probably you could replace 90% of jury trials with a coin flip and the remaining 10% could actually go to a jury just to keep things honest.

Then why does anyone pick 12 random people who are screened to ensure they have no legal knowledge and no knowledge of your specific issue

Anti-corruption. Its "cheap and easy" to purchase the vote of a couple people working in your field. Really expensive to purchase every moron out there (at least in advance). If the special jury pool was selected solely of patent lawyers then every decision would be decided based on what would make patent lawyers as a whole more money, etc.

I would like to see the "jury" solution tried on the legislative and executive sides. Obviously we've had a string of morons (on both sides) in the executive so its not like you really need the prez to be a superman, just your average idiot off the street would probably do less damage. On the legislative side you'd probably have serious issues with vote buying UNLESS they legislators were anonymous, very much like some juries.

tech cases may need special juries as well (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41155311)

As a court room is a poor place to learn about deep issues covering tech cases.

I bet with you (2)

M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) | about 2 years ago | (#41155313)

If the parts were switched in this trial, Apple would leave not paying a dime, it is an American court defending an American company with American juries versus an Asian company !

My fear is the expert tribunals would be packed (2)

Radical Moderate (563286) | about 2 years ago | (#41155489)

by patent-troll-industry-friendly political appointees, a la the SEC, FCC, etc. Although the current system of relying on lay people seems seriously flawed.

Limitations statute. (1)

negativeduck (2510256) | about 2 years ago | (#41155497)

Like the one person mentioned about renewing. There should be a limitation based on how long you have to file a case of infringement and that time should be relatively short. To often are we seeing patents dated from 5 years ago and people begin going after deployments that are common space 6 years later. Look the suits filed against voip providers for various things. Referencing materials thought of a long time ago been deployed now for 6 years but someone picked it up in a acquisition and decided to go after it.

Likewise you shouldn't be able to go after a company for using something that you didn't even own at the time you purchased it. For a sadly stupid example if I memory a corpse I shouldn't be able to then sue for wrongful death.

Juries in civil cases are a bad idea in general (3, Insightful)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about 2 years ago | (#41155515)

The problems with trial by jury in civil cases go far beyond the specifics of patent law. Patent cases aren't the only ones that rely upon complicated technical and/or legal issues. With criminal trials, we accept that even if juries might not always be as competent as judges, we want them as a safeguard so that the government can't throw people in jail without a representative part of the community saying so. But in civil trials, it's not about the state versus the individual; the issue is whether private party A has to pay money to private party B. Why not have these cases handled by judges, preferably trained in the specific fields at issue? Let's also consider the plight of the jurors: not everyone can easily miss work for long periods of time, and many companies don't pay for jury duty. Again, civic duty might be a plausible justification for doing this for criminal trials, but is it really right to pull private citizens out of their normal lives for months on end to hear a random business dispute between 2 companies?

It's worth pointing out that the jury's role has already been significantly weakened in civil cases. It is not uncommon for judges to order the jury to return a verdict for one particular side in a civil case. (In criminal trials, the judge can order a directed verdict for the defense, but not for the prosecution.) It's also not uncommon for a jury's decision to simply be overridden on the spot by the judge. And even if it survives that, almost all big judgments are modified on appeal. The jury isn't sovereign in deciding civil cases, so what purpose does it serve other than as another stumbling block where things can go wrong?

The US is about the only First World country that has trial by jury in civil cases. There's a reason for this. No one would come up with a system like this today; why should we stick with it just because the Founding Fathers thought it was a good idea 220 years ago?

even more revolutionary idea (1)

mapkinase (958129) | about 2 years ago | (#41155523)

I have a more revolutionary idea that just sparkled blindingly bright in my mind:

What if I say that any case that a person from the street cannot comprehend should not be a matter of litigation at all?

If the intricacies of alleged Samsung's patent infringement on Apple-owned patents are so complicated that a street person like me need hundreds of volumes of documents to look through, may be there should not be such case at all?

Justice is decided by the people (1)

dimeglio (456244) | about 2 years ago | (#41155535)

To me, it's the job of the lawyers to educate and present in layman's terms what the case at hand is all about. If we can have jury trials for murder, where expert witnesses present complex evidence, I don't see why we can't have them for patent cases.

Solution is staring us in the face (2, Funny)

quacking duck (607555) | about 2 years ago | (#41155555)

the jury only took 2-3 days to deliberate

"they should be put before an expert tribunal rather than a jury that is easily swayed by schoolyard 'copycat' narratives."

Clearly, the solution is to have juries working at the patent office, scrutinizing each patent for 2-3 days, and patent examiners in the courtroom to accept/reject patent cases using the half-day or less they use now when granting patents in the first place.

The good with the bad (1)

DarthVain (724186) | about 2 years ago | (#41155573)

That's what you get when you give "personhood" to a corporation, they can be judged by their peers.

This is utterly wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41155705)

The jury system is the ONLY place these trials should be held. Individual Judges can be bought.
Justice is decided by the people.

Have you heard the foreman from the Apple case speak? I was shocked at the level of understanding and sophistication that jury had.

This article is just trying to take advantage of controversy.

No one is going to take away your android device. This ruling won't stifle competition. In fact it will increase it. It's giving actual innovators a chance in the big game.

What it does do is take the "most corrupt company in Asia" and slow them down.
Read "Think Samsung" if you think Samsung is a innocent company who is getting trampled on by the evil Apple.

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