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Appeals Court: You Can Infringe a Patent Even If You Didn't Do All the Steps

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the but-my-cousin-did-the-actual-assaultin'-yer-honor dept.

Patents 126

reebmmm writes "In a much anticipated patent law case, an en banc panel of the Federal Circuit overturned existing law and came out in favor a new rule for indirect infringement: you can still be liable for infringing even if no single person does all the infringement. This case consolidated two different cases involving internet patents. In McKesson v. Epic, a lower court found that Epic did not infringe a patent about a patient portal because one of the steps was performed by the patient accessing the portal. In Akamai v. Limelight, the lower court found that Limelight did not infringe because its customers, not the company itself, tagged content. This is likely headed for the Supreme Court."

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Infringe all the patents! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41200947)

Doesn't this mean that any software system with an API could be potentially infringing on every software patent ever filed?

Cory Doctorow FTW! (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41200967)

Cory Doctorow's speeches and essays about the coming war on general purpose computing come to mind. Any Turing-complete computer is infringing. Destroy *all* the computers!

Re:Cory Doctorow FTW! (2)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201101)

Someone should write up an Apocalypse story about how the word and it's technology was ended though over zealous lawyers and patents.

Re:Cory Doctorow FTW! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201225)

Someone should write up an Apocalypse story about how the word and it's technology was ended though over zealous lawyers and patents.

Word UP! Done. See Revelations... Stand in line... Take a number... Once everyone gets a number a name will be revealed and He will demonstrate "Prior Art!"

Watch out for 7 lawyers on horseback,,,

Re:Cory Doctorow FTW! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41202945)

You reminded me that I wanted to read Year Zero - aliens consider destroying earth after racking up crippling fines for copyright infringement.

Re:Cory Doctorow FTW! (0)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#41203829)

I'm curious how a plausible version of that story would explain how all the countries of the world would let it get past the stalled economy phase and let it reach all the way to apocalypse because that's somehow a better choice than just dropping or overhauling the patent process.

Re:Infringe all the patents! (4, Interesting)

docmordin (2654319) | more than 2 years ago | (#41200979)

Although not entirely pertinent, a cursory reading of the the dissenting opinion by Circuit Judge Newman, a brief excerpt of which is given below, sheds some light on this:

According to the court’s new ruling, it appears that the patentee cannot sue the direct infringers of the patent, when more than one entity participates in the infringement. The only remedial path is by way of “inducement.” We are not told how compensation is measured. The only thing that is clear, is that remedy is subject to new uncertainties. Since the direct infringers cannot be liable for infringement, they do not appear to be subject to the court’s jurisdiction. Perhaps the inducer can be enjoined—but will that affect the direct infringers? Since the inducer is liable when he breaches the “duty” not to induce, is the inducer subject to multiplication of damages? This return to the “duty to exercise due care to determine whether or not he is infringing” of Underwater Devices Inc. v. Morrison–Knudsen Co., Inc., 717 F.2d 1380, 1389 (Fed. Cir. 1983) raises tension with the ruling of the en banc court in In re Seagate Technology LLC, 497 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2007) that overruled the standard of Underwater Devices.

Re:Infringe all the patents! (5, Interesting)

BSAtHome (455370) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201067)

Basically, if you work around a patent's claim by ommiting step(s), but the user(s) are able to perform these ommitted steps, then you are liable.

This means that a whole new area of induced infringement opens and I'm sure some companies are taking note how to extract more protection money from this.

The bar is now lowered to a level where a chain of events can make you liable whether intended or not. It monopelizes not only the patented claims but the whole field of operation.

Just wow...

Re:Infringe all the patents! (3, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201281)

"Basically, if you work around a patent's claim by ommiting step(s), but the user(s) are able to perform these ommitted steps, then you are liable."

Right. By analogy: now I can be liable for murder because I sold someone a gun legally, and he used it to kill somebody. He's not liable, but I am!

That's just loony.

Re:Infringe all the patents! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201395)

hmmm - judging from the two cases linked in the summary, it would be more like you choosing the gun, buying it, asking the seller to load it, and then killing someone with it - and claiming that you can't be done for murder because someone else performed one of the 'steps' (loading the gun)

Re:Infringe all the patents! (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201517)

"hmmm - judging from the two cases linked in the summary, it would be more like you choosing the gun, buying it, asking the seller to load it, and then killing someone with it - and claiming that you can't be done for murder because someone else performed one of the 'steps' (loading the gun)"

No, if you want to get particular: in the Akamai case, it is as though you sold someone a loaded gun, with the knowledge that he was going to kill someone with it, and then he did. That might in fact be actionable... you might be considered an accessory or even an accomplice.

In the other case, it is as though you talked Joe into loading the gun, and selling it to Sam, then talked Sam into going to meet Bob and kill him. It that case, you did not actually perform any of the actions. And if you did not hold some kind of unusual persuasive power over them (e.g., they were "brainwashed" in some sort of highly unlikely manner) or hold some kind of coercive power over them (you kidnapped their children), then you probably did not break the law. You simply made suggestions, and the other guys should have known better.

Re:Infringe all the patents! (1)

rohan972 (880586) | more than 2 years ago | (#41202381)

In the other case, it is as though you talked Joe into loading the gun, and selling it to Sam, then talked Sam into going to meet Bob and kill him. It that case, you did not actually perform any of the actions. And if you did not hold some kind of unusual persuasive power over them (e.g., they were "brainwashed" in some sort of highly unlikely manner) or hold some kind of coercive power over them (you kidnapped their children), then you probably did not break the law. You simply made suggestions, and the other guys should have known better.

That could probably still result in conspiracy charges. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conspiracy_(crime) [wikipedia.org]

Re:Infringe all the patents! (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#41203193)

"That could probably still result in conspiracy charges."

That's true. It could be considered conspiracy. But only under certain circumstances. In this case, you aren't making agreements with the other parties, you are only suggesting to them what to do. So it probably isn't conspiracy, but IANAL.

Re:Infringe all the patents! (2)

twocows (1216842) | more than 2 years ago | (#41203983)

I'm still lost. Can you give me a car analogy?

Re:Infringe all the patents! (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#41202153)

Several lawsuits of this exact type have been filed.

Re:Infringe all the patents! (2)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 2 years ago | (#41203117)

"Basically, if you work around a patent's claim by ommiting step(s), but the user(s) are able to perform these ommitted steps, then you are liable."

Right. By analogy: now I can be liable for murder because I sold someone a gun legally, and he used it to kill somebody. He's not liable, but I am! That's just loony.

It's not the crime you are deemed guilty, it's the intent. "Cognito ergo terrorist"

Re:Infringe all the patents! (2)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201715)

That sounds strange. Does it mean that an author of a C++ compiler can be held liable of any patent that his compiler allows to infringe? That the ability to add codecs to a video player makes the authors of the player liable for any infringing codec?

Re:Infringe all the patents! (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#41202249)

You are only held liable if the elite don't like you.

Companies in bed with each other are going to give each other a pass, as always.

Re:Infringe all the patents! (2)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#41204071)

You are only held liable if the elite don't like you.

In other words, *everybody* is now liable. Look at how the RIAA makes these blanket accusations and random lawsuits against everybody and their pet hamster. If unrelated individuals can now be considered infringers due to performing a single step of some bullshit patent, this means that any patent troll like Nathan Myrvold's company has now grounds to potentially sue everyone (and extort a settlement fee).

Re:Infringe all the patents! (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#41202873)

"Induce infringement" and "Incite a riot" Two phrases that completely ignore the concept of free will. Apparently, under the law, we really don't have a free will. Maybe we're not as sentient as we make ourselves out to be. Under the law, we are talking chimps.

Re:Infringe all the patents! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201163)

Forget the API. See this here!

i

Now you may not think that's much, but I could have written int main(void) and we all know where that leads us.

Patent infringement (2)

IamGarageGuy 2 (687655) | more than 2 years ago | (#41200981)

What are the exact steps it would take to reform the copyright act in America? Everybody will probably agree that this issue is front and centre for anybody in the tech industry. So the big question is how does the ball start rolling in the first place and I for one would be more than eager to start pushing.

Re:Patent infringement (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201011)

Maybe you should look into the difference between copyright and patents before you start pushing too hard.
They don't have much in common except that they both go under the dubious umbrella of "intellectual property".

Re:Patent infringement (5, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201337)

They don't have much in common except that they both go under the dubious umbrella of "intellectual property".

"Intellectual property" is a term that was entirely made up for use as propaganda by rights-holders. It is actually a contradiction in terms, because there is no "property" at all involved in copyrights and patents, just time-limited privileges granted by government. But they have wanted you to THINK in terms of it being their "property". That makes you more amenable to distortions of the policies and laws.

It's the same basic idea as calling downloading "piracy", when it isn't. (Copyright piracy actually has a legal definition that hasn't really changed in about 100 years.) Downloading is not a crime. Piracy is. But Big Media wants you to think of them as the same. They can get away with more that way.

Re:Patent infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201541)

" there is no "property" at all involved in copyrights and patents, just time-limited privileges granted by government."

Um, that's exactly what property means. You don't actually think that you have exclusive, unfettered control over your house or your car, do you?

Re:Patent infringement (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201585)

"Um, that's exactly what property means."

No, it isn't.

"You don't actually think that you have exclusive, unfettered control over your house or your car, do you?"

If they're paid off, essentially yes. There might be some minor exceptions in the way of environmental laws or taxes, but yes it is my property and I wasn't granted the rights to it by government, as patents and copyrights are. I have property rights via common law and the Constitution, and even the Supreme Court says those can't be taken away. But Congress could nearly (not entirely, but nearly) wipe out patents and copyrights in any session, if they really wanted to.

Re:Patent infringement (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201713)

I have property rights via common law and the Constitution, and even the Supreme Court says those can't be taken away.

Well, on the "can't be taken away" part, the SCOTUS has ruled "Not so much", if the government believes it can make more in revenue by taking your property away from you and giving your property to someone else.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelo_v._City_of_New_London [wikipedia.org]

"Sorry, but you're not using your property in such a way that results in us making as much in revenues than if we gave your property to this other person/entity. We're going to take that property away from you and give it to them. Sorry about your home/farm/shop that's been in your family for generations."

"You don't own that!"

Strat

Re:Patent infringement (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#41202209)

"Well, on the "can't be taken away" part, the SCOTUS has ruled "Not so much", if the government believes it can make more in revenue by taking your property away from you and giving your property to someone else."

True, that is one of the many questionable rulings that have come out of the recent Court. But the ruling that they can't take your property without fair compensation still holds. Theoretically, you should be able to get a comparable piece of property with that compensation.

Re:Patent infringement (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 2 years ago | (#41202571)

"Well, on the "can't be taken away" part, the SCOTUS has ruled "Not so much", if the government believes it can make more in revenue by taking your property away from you and giving your property to someone else."

True, that is one of the many questionable rulings that have come out of the recent Court. But the ruling that they can't take your property without fair compensation still holds. Theoretically, you should be able to get a comparable piece of property with that compensation.

Precisely, however, "fair compensation" is a matter of opinion, and may vary widely depending on the individual case, location, particular individuals in government performing the action, etc.

If one is "well-connected", your chances of the compensation being "fair" are much better (or even used as a windfall political payoff to private-sector cronies in some instances).

If you're not so well-connected, or a member of political opposition, your chances of "fair compensation" actually being fair are...slimmer.

Strat

Re:Patent infringement (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#41202877)

"If one is "well-connected", your chances of the compensation being "fair" are much better (or even used as a windfall political payoff to private-sector cronies in some instances)."

I don't dispute this. Our revolving-door, cronyist government needs fixing. I would argue that it is the reason for that SCOTUS ruling in the first place. As James Madison (among others) warned us -- see his Report of 1800 -- even the Supreme Court is not immune from outside influence and corruption.

Re:Patent infringement (1)

onemorechip (816444) | more than 2 years ago | (#41202917)

If one is "well-connected", your chances of the compensation being "fair" are much better (or even used as a windfall political payoff to private-sector cronies in some instances).

If you're not so well-connected, or a member of political opposition, your chances of "fair compensation" actually being fair are...slimmer.

Strat

Ah, a progressive suggestion if ever I've heard one!

Re:Patent infringement (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 2 years ago | (#41204233)

If one is "well-connected", your chances of the compensation being "fair" are much better (or even used as a windfall political payoff to private-sector cronies in some instances).

If you're not so well-connected, or a member of political opposition, your chances of "fair compensation" actually being fair are...slimmer.

Strat

Ah, a progressive suggestion if ever I've heard one!

Yes, quite progressive. Because some ani^H^H^H^Hpeople are more equal than others...

Right?

Strat

Re:Patent infringement (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#41202683)

Patents and copyrights expire.

Actual property rights do not.

Copyrights and Patents exist only because that power is granted to the Government under a limited set of circumstances. It is not a right granted to individuals like those listed in the Bill of Rights. It does not exist for the benefit of the "owner". It exists for a limited time for the benefit of society in general.

The unbound nature of a thought makes the abiltiy to exclude others from it as a natural right rather absurd.

Re:Patent infringement (1)

onemorechip (816444) | more than 2 years ago | (#41202903)

Patents and copyrights are privileges. Ownership of tangible goods is also a privilege (you can't just claim ownership of that sack of rice in the grocery store, you
know). The major difference is that one privilege emanates from the government. The other is the result of a private transaction.

Re:Patent infringement (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41204203)

copyrights expire.

Only theoretically...

I don't see anything created in my lifetime expiring before my death, so for anything currently under copyright, it's effectively unlimited (and I fully expect further exiensions as Mickey nudges up towards the current limit).

Re:Patent infringement (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201961)

It's intellectual property because someone thought of it and copyrighted or patented it, period.

Downloading is pirating if paid content is obtained without payment, see also theft.

Re:Patent infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41202693)

It's intellectual property because someone thought of it and copyrighted or patented it, period.

Well, no. That's circular reasoning. It's "property" because it's something you can own and has value, and it's "intellectual" because it's primarily a work of thought, expressed into terms that can be passed on to others, such as a painting or recipe.

Downloading is pirating if paid content is obtained without payment, see also theft.

Not even a little bit. Yes, pirating, as in the act of performing as a pirate, is theft, but theft requires taking away the owner's access to their personal property, which downloading does not do. Downloading is cloning. You 3-D print their car and drive off in the print-job; the owner still has their car, and you have a new ride (and don't pretend like the 3-D printing didn't require the printer to use your own resources to create).

Re:Patent infringement (1)

Travelsonic (870859) | more than 2 years ago | (#41204043)

Um... first point is irrelevant, 2nd point is flat wrong, mr. Anon. Coward.

Re:Patent infringement (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201023)

Start by learning about the things you hate so much. Namely, the fact that patents and copyrights are unrelated.

Re:Patent infringement (1, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201051)

Namely, the fact that patents and copyrights are unrelated.

Copyrights and patents are not "unrelated", they both deal with "intellectual property".

Re:Patent infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201055)

Yeah and they're both words. Still irrelevant.

Your nick suits you well.

Re:Patent infringement (0)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201273)

Your nick suits you well.

As does yours.

Grow up and sign in. Either you are embarrassed about your trolls / opinions, or you are a Karma Whore. Which is it?

Re:Patent infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201433)

I mod'ed the bastard down under my login.

Re:Patent infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201521)

Nice false dichotomy, Frosty Piss. Maybe it's exactly because I'm NOT a Karma Whore that I don't log in on here. If you can't take what I write at face value, call me an asshole and move on. You'll probably get a +5 Funny while you're at it, since you seem to care so fucking much.

Re:Patent infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201123)

My usual example:
Happy Birthday song is copyrighted, so restaurants can still have their own versions. If singing a song for someone's birthday is patented, then no one else can do it even if they wrote their own music.

Patents are a lot broader than copyright as they cover the idea, not the particular instant of implement. Thankfully patents have much shorter life spans than copyrights (so far).

Re:Patent infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201139)

The lyrics are still under copyright, the tune is now public domain, so they can sing the familiar tune but have to change the words.

Re:Patent infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201129)

Namely, the fact that patents and copyrights are unrelated.

Copyrights and patents are not "unrelated", they both deal with "intellectual property".

They also each have their own fundamental flaws at this point, that cripple freedom of speech, innovation, and commerce in their own special ways.

To answer the poster's original question...

There's this lawsuit, but I'm not sure this really helps the fundamental problem:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/27/technology/mark-stadnyk-challenges-sweeping-revision-in-patent-law.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1

The problem is that ideas aren't property, and there is often no single "inventor."

I'm afraid this is going to get much, much, much worse until it gets better. My guess is one of two things will happen: (1) big corporations will start moving elsewhere, in a very public way, to places where IP laws don't violate fundamental human rights, and/or (2) there will be some huge lawsuit involving obvious freedom of speech conflicts, so obvious no one can actually deny what's happening. I suppose the third option (3) is that a bunch of huge corporations will sort of cause enormous amounts of mutual damage to one another (imagine Apple-Samsung, but with like four players, everyone losing) and be like "hey, this is bad."

My guess it will be the first thing, though. Probably Google or IBM or someone like that will pick up and move to China and cite patent law as the reason. I know all the reasons why this seems ridiculous now, but in the long term it seems like something that will happen. Either that or (3).

Re:Patent infringement (2)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#41202253)

I predict option 4: Established corporations build themselves a gentleman's cartel and only let each other in on the action.

Re:Patent infringement (1)

kaws (2589929) | more than 2 years ago | (#41203695)

I doubt that Google would move behind "The Great Firewall" btw, just a little side thing not to discount the point your making.

Re:Patent infringement (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201397)

Copyrights and patents are not "unrelated", they both deal with "intellectual property"."\

Since "intellectual property" is nothing but catch-all propaganda phrase created by rights-holders, has no real meaning, and is actually a contradiction (patents and copyrights are NOT "property" at all, in any sense of the term, morally, ethically, or legally), I would have to say you are wrong and he was right.

Copyright and patent law are not terribly similar. They have very little in common, except that in the beginning, after this country was founded, they had similar time limits (depending on exact when you are talking about, it was between 15 and 20 years). Other than that, they have almost nothing to do with each other.

Re:Patent infringement (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201519)

Since "intellectual property" is nothing but catch-all propaganda phrase created by rights-holders, has no real meaning

Nonsense.

Read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual_property [wikipedia.org]

You may not like the laws both in the USA and indeed around the world with respect to "intellectual property", but that doesn't nullify the concept.

Re:Patent infringement (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201581)

What in that article makes the concept of patents valid, moral, ethical, and socially beneficial? Hmmm? I would say Jane Q. Public is spot on and you have adduced nothing to counter argue the point.

Re:Patent infringement (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201677)

What in that article makes the concept of patents valid, moral, ethical, and socially beneficial?

Nothing at all. The original post suggested that "intellectual property" did not exist. Clearly hog-wash.

The existence of what makes up the definition of "intellectual property" is a separate thing from the debate about if - or not - such things should be copyrightable / patentable.

Re:Patent infringement (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201653)

"Read about it here:"

I did. But I think I read it a bit more thoroughly than you did.

The first sentence of paragraph 2 says:

"Although laws and concepts behind copyright and patents are not new, the term intellectual property is relatively recent, dating from the 19th century."

Which is pretty much what I stated earlier, in another post. Further, the reference [2] given at the end of that sentence is this paper [ssrn.com] , which discusses why "intellectual property" is not actually property.

Re:Patent infringement (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201667)

They are distinct areas of law with distinct histories and substantial differences in operation and the underlying philosophies that support them are very different. They are only a few reasons to support the usage of that term: you are pushing propaganda and possibly drawing a benefit from confusion and conflation of different areas of law, you are an idiot, you are going along with the popular trend established by the first two groups.

Re:Patent infringement (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#41202935)

Islam and Christianity aren't very closely related, but would you accept that they fall under the 'catch-all propaganda phrase' of religion?

Re:Patent infringement (1)

dryeo (100693) | more than 2 years ago | (#41204127)

Bad example considering they're both branches of the same religion with different interpretations of the same God.
You should have said something like "Christianity and Hinduism aren't very closely related ..."

Re:Patent infringement (1)

qeveren (318805) | more than 2 years ago | (#41203771)

"Intellectual Property", however, is a complete fiction. It's a nicely-distorting term, as other posters have pointed out.

Re:Patent infringement (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201165)

They are distinct and have distinct histories, but I wouldn't say they are unrelated. They are both legal monopolies, and the Constitutional purpose of both systems are to promote progress.

Re:Patent infringement (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201421)

"They are both legal monopolies, and the Constitutional purpose of both systems are to promote progress."

In those senses, yes. But in the other sense given by someone else above, no.

Re:Patent infringement (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#41202973)

In those senses, yes

It is only in those senses I've ever used the the phrase. The pedants who argue otherwise are just trying to divert the debate into offtopic gibberish. Yes, 'intellectual property' is an absurd idea. But the phrase is a convenient catch-all to point out the absurdity of the law.

Re:Patent infringement (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#41203177)

Except that trade secrets aren't legal monopolies, and trade secrets, trademarks, and trade dress are not covered under Article 1, Section 8, clause 8. Trademarks are actually a useful system, so long as they are limited to identification of the source of a product or endorsement by a particular agency.

Re:Patent infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201533)

(can't log in because I used mod points)

There is direct linkage: they are both made possible (in the US) by a single clause: the heinous Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Constitution.

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

In a single day, September 17, 1787, the Constitutional Convention unanimously agreed to the above clause proposed by a Committee of Detail, without any debate whatsoever. It is pretty disillusioning to see that the national founding process was thus bought and paid for to serve its masters right from the beginning. Yeah, I can't point to filthy lucre being pressed into grubby hands. These things don't happen that blatantly.

Re:Patent infringement (2)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201033)

That process has been patented, as well as the process to reform the patent act in America.

You sir, are clearly inducing others to infringe on these patents, and possibly others, and the only known method to ensure you stop doing so [and it also will act as a warning to others] is for you to be executed.

Report for execution at your local police station on Tuesday, Sept. 4, at 10:00am local time, bringing a printout of this post, for summary execution.

Re:Patent infringement (2)

docmordin (2654319) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201087)

What you're asking, as with most difficult topics, is something that's not easy to answer: for every good intention there will be someone waiting to exploit it, for every forced concession on the part of large companies there will be major resistance, and so on.

Personally, though, I'd prefer to see some sort of short-duration patent infringement immunity clause for new small business start-ups.

To elaborate, I've come up some pieces of hardware that I'm both publishing about and having patented. Ideally, it'd be nice to spin the design and manufacturing elements of this hardware into a small company, as it not only would bring in a handful of high-paying engineering and development jobs to the state right away, but would also, hopefully, generate enough revenue to allow the pursuit of other endeavors, thus leading to more positions down the road. Unfortunately, however, to actually sell this device, I'll be forced to license an array of patents, which has the potential to eat up a lot of money that could be used for better purposes, e.g., bringing on more talented workers or for handling unforeseen situations. As a result, it would be nice to have a guaranteed, one or two year reprieve from having to negotiate the use of intellectual property from any other source, which would be ample time to get a product out to market and save up enough to license everything after that period, provided everything goes well and the company is still solvent.

Re:Patent infringement (1)

Leuf (918654) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201115)

A patent will have to interfere with political fundraising in some significant manner. Patent reform will follow in about a week.

Re:Patent infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201299)

A patent will have to interfere with political fundraising in some significant manner. Patent reform will follow in about a week.

But the only outcome would be to exclude political organizations from patent rules.

Do Not Call: Exceptions [wikipedia.org]

Nothing would happen unless you ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201147)

What are the exact steps it would take to reform the copyright act in America? Everybody will probably agree that this issue is front and centre for anybody in the tech industry.

A.k.a. 0.01% of the General Public. The General Public would respond with a huge "so what?". Nothing would happen.

Put that into the context of the General Public's dollars pi**ed away making the rich richer and 99.99% of the general public would respond with a huge "say what?" Then something might happen.

Re:Patent infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201177)

Money has to move away from the US. When the money dries up, companies will leave, and enforcement of IP laws will fade away, like some current countries with little money. Good times ahead!

Re:Patent infringement (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201355)

Oh, it will, but unfortunately, to the Middle East, it seems, which will cause an entirely different set of problems.

Re:Patent infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201217)

What are the exact steps it would take to reform the copyright act in America? Everybody will probably agree that this issue is front and centre for anybody in the tech industry. So the big question is how does the ball start rolling in the first place and I for one would be more than eager to start pushing.

Nuke it, nuke the US of A. It's the only way to be sure this cancer doesn't infect the rest of the civilized world.
Alternatively start clamping down on the lawyer cast. Impose a drastic quota that no more than 200 lawyers per year can graduate and less than 10 can enter the IP field.

Re:Patent infringement (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201593)

Dude, you missed you chance. It has already spread very widely through the world. Neither patents nor copyright even originated in the U.S.

Re:Patent infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201773)

Dude, you missed you chance. It has already spread very widely through the world. Neither patents nor copyright even originated in the U.S.

Sure, but the situation in the US is by far the worst.

Re:Patent infringement (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#41202997)

Copyright/patent law, along with various other prohibitions we suffer, is a good example of the failure of majority rule. However, the alternative method of abolishing* it is not exactly palatable to most people.

* I don't believe you can 'reform' something that is functioning perfectly as designed. See sig?

Squares (1)

jonfr (888673) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201073)

Oh, good. Now everyone can sue Apple for infringe there patents. Even if they did not take all the steps. This goes both ways for Apple.

What if a mouse deigns to die in a new mousetrap? (0)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201085)

Regardless of how you feel about patents, this behavior makes me laugh.

They do all steps except the last one, which a customer does?

"We're not infringing on building a Wright biplane because it is our customers who fly it off the lot."

Thanks, you gave me a laugh on his black, black day for City of Heroes.

Re:What if a mouse deigns to die in a new mousetra (0)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201353)

Wow, downmodded already!

I had no idea Slashdotters hated City of Heroes so much!

Re:What if a mouse deigns to die in a new mousetra (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201701)

If you hold someone responsible for only infringing on part of a patent's steps, then we've got a serious problem. For example, Intel can be sued for every single software patent that they don't own. Patents are supposed to be very precise for a damn good reason.

$tfu... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201159)

U$A.

OMG, I'm gong to patent jail (1, Funny)

swschrad (312009) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201237)

I accidentally saw a Samsung phone when I went to buy my iPhone. I'm in violation!

Re:OMG, I'm gong to patent jail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201575)

Being an iMoron is punishment enough. ALL HAIL TO THE STEVE!

Re:OMG, I'm gong to patent jail (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#41204103)

Don't worry, you're not. It's Samsung that's on hook for another $1B for inducement.

Not really new (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201321)

This has come up before, usually in connection with outsourcing. You can't avoid infringement of a process patent by outsourcing part of the process. It gets complicated, but if one party set up a situation so that multi-party infringement was going to happen, they're called the "mastermind".

Re:Not really new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201989)

It's even mentioned in Wikipedia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contributory_patent_infringement#United_States [wikipedia.org]

A typical scenario is when a patent exists for something containing elements A + B in a device. So someone tries to get cute and sell A (not covered) and B (also not covered) and tell customers to just stick the two together (which would be covered).

That doesn't go over very well with the courts. And not just in the US (for all of you commenting on how the US is screwed up compared to everyone else).

As you noted, just having more than one person do part of the process doesn't get you off the hook. Here or anywhere.

Re:Not really new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41202247)

This here is a software patent. "Element A" and "Element B" there are actions. By asking customer to do something, they're not asking them to stick A and B together, they're asking them to _become_ A or B.

If the point of the patent is automating all steps in a process, but you don't automate parts of it, how is it the same?

Hypothetical example: let's say you patent a build system, that a) identifies changed dependencies, b) sends instructions for a compiler to perform build, this would mean that writing a dependency identifying tool and telling people how to use it to construct compiler command line would be infringement.

Anyone care to summarize? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201375)

Anyone care to summarize this case for those of us who are not lawyers and don't care to read a long court ruling?

Re:Anyone care to summarize? (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201599)

Yeah, the summary is "you're screwed". Bow before your masters.

Re:Anyone care to summarize? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41202629)

Akamai holds a patent for something like MMOs, where some of the data is on the owner's website server and other data is on Akamai's server, so that delivering the web-pages is more efficient. They are suing Limelight for running something like Google Docs, where you store your data on their server and can modify it as you please.

Limelight won because they don't modify the files themselves.

McKesson has a patent on chat rooms, but for medical patients and their doctors. Epic Systems (not the video-game company) provides a chat room for patients and their doctors, but they don't run the program. Instead, the patients call the doctors, and the doctors talk to them.

Epic won because they just provided the program and don't run the networking systems.

Re:Anyone care to summarize? (2)

toriver (11308) | more than 2 years ago | (#41204179)

Here's a summary: "Silly country allows software patents. Lawsuits galore."

Stepping Back (1)

Luveno (575425) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201551)

All this word-wrangling about who-thought-of-what-first and who-made-who-do-what seems pretty infantile. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is going to go about making shit that people want to buy while the US and the companies that are part of it sit here and argue in court with themselves. Such a waste of financial resources and productivity.

Re:Stepping Back (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41202021)

Agreed,

  I've always wondered how America can afford to police all these rules.. many of which seem unnecessary and exist seemingly only to make the lawyers and politicians rich.

  Worse yet is the ever-increasing pressure by the U.S.A. to push people of other nations to adopt these rules and their costs.

Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41201673)

...if McKesson and Epic stopped suing each other all the time, they could get their developers' asses in gear and bring their solutions up to spec to satisfy Meaningful Use phase 2. The industry's getting tired of their empty promises, and one big competitor is already lightyears ahead of them in that regard.

Just a thought.

Re:Maybe... (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201977)

Life's so much easier in a country with no McKesson presence. We're happily inventing the fuck out of solutions to all our EHR problems.

Method and Apparatus now only Methods? (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#41201971)

All the software patents I've read use a loophole: Method and Apparatus. They try to say the Methods must be used on a Device, because you can't just patent the method itself. Software by itself would not infringe. The blank device by itself would not infringe, but when the two come together and the end user executes that software on the device, then an infringement is made. Now, I can execute any software on graph paper using my mind as the Apparatus, but minds aren't considered general purpose computers for some reason (despite the first "computers" actually being teams of humans)...

For a while I thought it would be cool to have one company were to sell only the software, and another company were to sell the device. The user would be the infringer when they stuck the sim card in the phone and booted / installed the OS -- Combined Method with Apparatus. However, contributory infringement or inducement to infringe would still be an issue in this instance. The issue is less clear though, since no one company did both acts. Unexecuted software can't infringe by itself, nor can a general purpose computer make the infringement. Now that we have case law suggesting that even though no company did all the steps themselves there was an infringement, who do we sue? Which one?

I think the real question we should be asking is: Where is the Proof that Patents are Beneficial to Society as a Whole? The law assumes such is true, but we haven't tested that hypothesis. We should perform the experiment and collect data, and THEN decide whether or not to keep patent laws on the books; That experiment being: Abolish Patents.

Only the uneducated minds would ever agree to be ruled in such a careless way. No Engineer or Scientist would agree to be ruled as you are! "We think this law is good, let us roll it out to the entire populous at once without any testing!" The flaws in the system run deeper than just whether or not Artificial Scarcity is ethical -- The flaws go all the way to the top: Let's Run The Land With Untested Hypotheses!

Fools. All of you!

Re:Method and Apparatus now only Methods? (1)

onemorechip (816444) | more than 2 years ago | (#41202839)

"We think this law is good, let us roll it out to the entire populous at once without any testing!"

The entire populous what?

Re:Method and Apparatus now only Methods? (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#41202885)

The hypothesis is in fact tested.

We just aren't the ones designed to benefit.

woot (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#41202621)

so now you can sue people into oblivion for not infringing on the patent you did jack all nothing to get in the first fucking place

America, hotbed of innovation ... as long as your a multibillion dollar company with a warchest

2012 (4, Insightful)

onemorechip (816444) | more than 2 years ago | (#41202825)

So, will 2012 be remembered in history as the year we finally kissed innovation goodbye? Or at least, the year that the USA abandoned innovation to foreign countries?

The entire future will be patented (1)

MindPrison (864299) | more than 2 years ago | (#41204239)

Sorry kid, your DNA is already patented, your life is a patent infringement.

What is the 1st amendment? What is freedom and how do we define it?
I realize you can't just go out there and make a CLEAN direct copy of a product, that would just be stealing, I would even agree to that, but the patent madness has gone too far when it allows to patent basic formulas, words and names, basic functionality and things that are considered - basic.

Thanks to this patent madness, people in 3rd world countries never receive cheap medicines to ail their illnesses, will never be able to make their own equipment to make it on their own, because someone owns a patent somewhere - on a single BASIC part that makes that machine possible.

To me this is MASS suppression of freedom, how long will we stand before this has gone far enough? There was a time when we laughed at the very idea of selling bottled water, now we laugh at the idea of selling bottled air... things change - slowly - in the direction we decide, but it could happen so slowly that you hardly notice that something somewhere changed.

You just said...Meh... who cares about one little patent...and then another one...and then another one, eventually everything will be corporate, corporate owned by a very few privileged families, and WE made it happen - don't blame them later on!

Misleading headline (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#41204259)

First, it's already been the law that you can infringe a patent even if you didn't do all the steps, provided you either (1) partnered with someone else and split the steps between you, performing all of them as a team; or (2) induced or encouraged someone else to perform all the steps.

Second, this is just refining inducement, no. 2 above: if you encourage someone to perform one or more of the steps, and you perform the rest, you're infringing the patent, even if you're not explicitly acting as partners. This makes sense for many reasons, not the least of which being that it closes the above loophole in which you induce someone else to infringe and perform the first step for them, suddenly making it non-infringing under the old law.

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