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US Patent Office Seeks Aid To Spot Bogus Patent Claims

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the more-eyes dept.

Patents 167

First time accepted submitter startling writes "Members of the public are being asked by the US Patent Office to help weed out bogus patent applications. It wants the public to contribute to a website that will spot applications for patents on technologies that have already been invented. The website, called Ask Patents, will be run by US firm Stack Exchange that has a track record of operating Q&A websites."

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167 comments

First of the many bogus patents by Google (3, Interesting)

O422 (2737869) | about 2 years ago | (#41435531)

Here's first such patent registered by Google: Patent #8,271,894 [uspto.gov]

As noted on Slashdot, it's a patent for using anonymity online [slashdot.org] much like you can already. The problem here is that since Google has been awarded this patent, then other companies like Facebook or any other website CANNOT offer anonymity! This is a perfect example of a very dangerous patent and who else patented it than Google, the champion for losing anonymity on the internet.

just look for the words... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41435607)

...software or "computer program"

Software patents are a sign of government gone mad.

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41435611)

Personally, I think nearly all patents issued in the last 20 years are bogus. The entire system is abusive, protects great corporatiins and harms individuals, and should be abolished.

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41435627)

Mod up +5 Informative. Google is the root of evil.

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (4, Funny)

bhagwad (1426855) | about 2 years ago | (#41435873)

The root eh? If Google didn't exist...oh we'd be living in paradise! :D

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436425)

Google is the root of evil.

Nonsense. The root of evil is approximately 25.8 while Google is 10 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000. It is obvious that Google is much bigger than the root of evil.

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (1)

madmayr (1969930) | about 2 years ago | (#41436619)

i'd say the root of 'evil' is approximately 'kq'

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (0)

tangent3 (449222) | about 2 years ago | (#41435711)

Are you stupid or what?
Google does NOT have a patent for using anonymity online.
What Google has is a patent for one method of providing anonymity online.

There are plenty of ways to offer anonymity online, other companies are welcomed to use their own methods. If they want to use Google's methods, they will have to license it from Google.

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (3, Insightful)

O422 (2737869) | about 2 years ago | (#41435741)

That method is clearly obvious. All it does it give the option to use pseudonym instead of your real name, for example with a dropdown list before you submit post. This means Facebook is not allowed to offer same kind of anonymity for users, nor is any other social network.

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (2)

GPLHost-Thomas (1330431) | about 2 years ago | (#41435999)

Why proposing stupid alternatives to the words "anonymous coward" an innovation? I'd like to understand...

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (2)

andydread (758754) | about 2 years ago | (#41437089)

Pinch to zoom is clearly obvious
spring-back animation is clearly obvious
rendering text before background images is clearly obvious
swipe to unlock is clearly obvious
stacking pictures in software like you would stack them on a table is clearly obvious
I could go on and on and on. The difference here is Google didn't declare "thermonuclear war" on anyone, nor is Google running a patent extortion scheme using obvious software patents.

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41437937)

Good didn't even really patent anonymity. Rather they patented internally traceable aliases. Google still knows exactly who you are. As such, there is nothing anonymous about it. That's entirely the point. Google wants to know who you are while providing the illusion of anonymity.

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (5, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#41435721)

Congratulations on your fourth-grade reading level. You've demonstrated the ability to read a headline, but not an actual patent.

The Google patent in question covers a particular method of managing multiple personas. I, for example, could have a persona of "Sarten-X", which I could use for my programming and other online dealings, and "John Smith", which I use for my professional and audio work. When someone interacts with me on a social network, they can pick which profile they're interacting with.

The patent does not broadly cover "anonymity" in general, so other companies can allow anonymous access.

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (5, Funny)

O422 (2737869) | about 2 years ago | (#41435783)

The Google patent in question covers a particular method of managing multiple personas. I, for example, could have a persona of "Sarten-X", which I could use for my programming and other online dealings, and "John Smith", which I use for my professional and audio work. When someone interacts with me on a social network, they can pick which profile they're interacting with.

Yeah, multiple usernames. Now that's not obvious at all! Hell, even schizophrenia predates it!

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#41435883)

No, not just multiple usernames. Multiple personas, each with their own configuration and visibility, linked to a single master account but can appear to others as though they're separate. Multiple usernames would involve logging out of one and into another to use the alternate personas, but this method removes that inconvenience.

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | about 2 years ago | (#41435933)

So less schizophrenia, more like multiple personality disorder

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#41436055)

Convenient multiple personality disorder, where the person can pick which personality to use for everything.

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41437909)

I take offense from the numerous Schizophrenia jokes on Slashdot. Schizophrenia is a serious disease !

Me too !

Well, I don't !

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (2)

pauljlucas (529435) | about 2 years ago | (#41436231)

The Google patent in question covers a particular method of managing multiple personas.

Yahoo Messenger has allowed users to have multiple chat nicknames with different profiles for years.

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#41436565)

But do you pick which profile to use with each message, and are they all linked together under one account?

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (2)

pauljlucas (529435) | about 2 years ago | (#41436705)

... and are they all linked together under one account?

Yes. There is the "primary" username you log in with, but you can set up any number of "alias" profiles.

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | about 2 years ago | (#41437431)

Hotmail/Live/Outlook offers it for your mail, as well.

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41435797)

Well that didn't take long!

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436029)

Guess he got bored with his old name. Unlike me!

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 2 years ago | (#41435859)

Google's new motto: "Be less evil".
They'll accomplish this by forcing their competitors to be more evil.

You Misunderstand Patents (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#41435965)

The problem here is that since Google has been awarded this patent, then other companies like Facebook or any other website CANNOT offer anonymity!

That's absolutely false. One of the primary purposes of the patent systems is to identify areas of "innovation" very precisely so that people can license these ideas. There is the 'carrot' way of doing this whereby you would approach Google and ask them how much they want for you to license a patent and, since there's nothing forcing Google to license those ideas, the alternative is "stick licensing [wikipedia.org] ." So if Facebook wanted to use anonymity in this specific way, the courts would need to determine how much damage this did to Google. I really can't see anyone in their right mind claiming much in damages in that situation. At that point both companies should agree on some form of licensing based on what damages the court found.

Anonymity itself cannot be patented since the concept is very very old. So Facebook would be free to invent an alternative way to offer its users anonymity than the very specific way presented by Google. Your jump from Google's patent to generic anonymity shows that you do not understand then intense and rigorous legalese that patents must follow. That demonstration is another issue entirely (and the biggest blocker to Stack Exchange's proposal).

If you read the above as a defense of patents, you're wrong. I'm trying to help you understand that patents are bad but hyperbole doesn't help anyone when they're trying to make the system better. I don't want a world where we have no intellectual property laws and ideas are stolen wholesale ... however I also don't like what software patents are doing today and I feel like we need to find a better approach to this complicated problem.

Re:You Misunderstand Patents (1)

GPLHost-Thomas (1330431) | about 2 years ago | (#41436019)

Why proposing stupid alternatives to the words "anonymous coward" an innovation?

Re:You Misunderstand Patents (4, Funny)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#41436023)

I don't want a world where we have no intellectual property laws and ideas are stolen wholesale ... however I also don't like what software patents are doing today and I feel like we need to find a better approach to this complicated problem.

Look... I know you're fairly well-known around here, so I hate to question you, but I really don't think you're quite irrational or extreme enough for Slashdot.

Re:You Misunderstand Patents (1)

Rob Y. (110975) | about 2 years ago | (#41436519)

Required licensing might help. Part of the problem is that companies like Apple are using patents on minor features to lock out competitors' entire systems. Somehow, the patent office or the courts are going to have to figure out a way to put an actual dollar value on these innovations. Because the actual dollar values wouldn't be worth actually attempting to collect. As it is, these patents are being used to attempt to grab a monopoly on an entire category of device, simply because the holder 'owns' the most natural way to accomplish simple tasks on that category of device. That monopoly is not earned, and is causing real economic harm to competitors and users.

Microsoft, while not trying to sue competitors out of the market (yet) is still charging unreasonable amounts for patents on minor features, and extracting God knows what other concessions from OEM's.

50 cents per phone for all the Apple UI patents. 10 cents for FAT32. There. Problem solved.

Re:You Misunderstand Patents (2)

shentino (1139071) | about 2 years ago | (#41436533)

For ideas to be stolen they must first have owners.

I challenge this premise.

Re:You Misunderstand Patents (1)

thedonger (1317951) | about 2 years ago | (#41436699)

I'm still foggy on why a patent can be issues for a user interface, some middleware and a relational database. I just don't see that the same level of protection is needed without the same kind of initial effort as, say, developing a machine to implement a ball bearing polishing technique. I can sit down and in a day bang out the code to do what Google patented.

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436173)

C'mon, you're not even trying..
Article posted at @08:53AM, you replied at @08:53AM, ready with two links attacking Google, when your other comment on /. is "Android is a patent minefield".

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 2 years ago | (#41436305)

New account, post at the same minute as the story. You could try to be a little less obvious.

Re:First of the many bogus patents by Google (1)

andydread (758754) | about 2 years ago | (#41436901)

Obvious troll is obvious troll.

Rats fear the light (5, Insightful)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#41435585)

Alert! Alert! Alert! Warning! Danger! Launch all lobbyists!

Re:Rats fear the light (2)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41435829)

Here's how it'll play out, as a long time SE watcher.

If there's no answer that is "acceptable" then it'll be closed as "off topic".

If there's only one "acceptable" answer then the lurkers / astroturfers will pounce, post the single "acceptable" answer, and the question will get "protected question" status which was originally invented to stop idiot noobs to the site from posting "Me toooo" but is more commonly used to prevent alternative viewpoints from being discussed.

Being SE that means no discussion allowed. In theory this is good, in practice its a descent into authoritarianism. "Al Gore invented the internet and here's some cites" is an acceptable answer. Its wrong, but its acceptable because its not a discussion. A reply of "No, al gore did not invent the internet and here are some cites" will be down modded / deleted because discussion is not allowed on SE.

So the lobby action will all be in the moderation and meta-moderation, probably not in the posts.

The biggest problem I see is most of the SE sites I watch are more or less psuedo-homework helpers... If not literal homework, they're "help the noobs" in general. The patent office probably needs more "trivia hounds" than the usual SE kindergarten teacher / noob helpers. To give you a real world example, there must be 5000 SE electronics board questions that are equivalent to "how do I calculate the resistor to current limit a LED?" and the SE crew is pretty good at pattern matching and answering in noob-ish language, something like supply voltage minus device voltage drop, take that "resistor voltage" and divide the current in amps (not mA). But for 5000 more or less LED-resistor-questions there probably are only 5 or so "what solid state semiconductor physics is the pre-room temperature (aka subzero) blue LED based upon?" for the trivia hounds, and unfortunately that tiny minority of trivia hounds are who the patent office needs, and frankly I don't think the kind of people who can answer the really weird stuff hang out on SE anyway (so I'm a tolerable practical RF engineer, why would I wanna answer "I wanna light a LED" all day? Much rather talk about trying to make a SMA connector do the job of a 2.92K connector or whatever... hey if you can force an old fashioned "uhf connector" to work at 70cm, why not force a SMA to work (lower) K band? but the rep is SE is not for "higher end" problems)

Re:Rats fear the light (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#41435977)

It would be great if they all set astroturfers on the site to destroy each other's patents...hey, I can dream right?

JUST LOOK FOR APPLE !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41435591)

And you are almost done !!

patent it! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41435621)

so that the USPO has to pay you to find bogus claims!

Re:patent it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41435925)

Why would the people who bring my snail-mail have to pay?

Back on topic, a better idea would be to look for the Legitimate patents and just assume the rest are bogus to start with.

Re:patent it! (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | about 2 years ago | (#41437483)

USPO - United States Patent Office
USPS - United States Postal Service

Dear Public, (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41435631)

Please do our work for us.

Love,
The patent office.

Re:Dear Public, (2)

sargon666777 (555498) | about 2 years ago | (#41435857)

Dear Patent Office, I am happy to help you figure out which patents are valid.. I assure you that all of the patents of my competitors are not, and will mark them accordingly. Love, Business taking advantage of the stupidity of the patent office.

Re:Dear Public, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436277)

I don't think (or hope) that it would work that way. I would assume that flagging a patent would invite some sort of investigation before any action is taken.

Re:Dear Public, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436041)

Patent threads in this cesspool are full of weenies pontificating on patents. This gives them a place to do it where it may actually help.

Re:Dear Public, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436045)

Indeed. One wonders what other taxpayer-funded government functions will soon be crowdsourced as well...

Yes, let's tax the potential patent victims (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41435635)

"Come spend your time and money to help us now, or you may have to spend even more time and money later!"

The proper approach would be a system whereby the polluters (applicants of invalid patents) are required to compensate the people that find the prior art (and the broader the patent application, they more they have to pay). At least in that case the potential victims are compensated for their time, instead of doing the homework of the applicant and patent office for free.

(captcha: unevenly)

Rectangular with rounded corners... (3, Insightful)

ukemike (956477) | about 2 years ago | (#41435639)

Rectangular with rounded corners is pretty bogus. How about all design patents and all software patents.

Re:Rectangular with rounded corners... (0)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 2 years ago | (#41435715)

In the crazed world of the anti-Apple freak, all articles lead to Apple.

Representation of elliptic curves (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#41435735)

Representation of elliptic curves seem pretty bogus to me. How about all software and design patents?

Happy now?

Law suite filed against patent office in East Texa (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#41435641)

Some patent troll claims to have invented a process to crowd source finding invalid patents. They want patent office to agree to license this technology from them for a hefty fee. Though prior art exists for using a large number of people searching documents to find examples of prior art and invalid claims, the troll claims innovative new original work in using the "internet" to do the search. As everyone knows, even if people have been doing something for ages, if you stick in the phrase, "using internet" it suddenly becomes new, original and innovative.

Re:Law suite filed against patent office in East T (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | about 2 years ago | (#41437519)

The patent office can just click the little "invalidate" button on that patent......problem solved and the patent troll has one less bullet in its gun.

Hm... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#41435649)

(if (patent-on-software p) 'reject 'accept)

Re:Hm... (1)

splutty (43475) | about 2 years ago | (#41436621)

I think you meant:

(Iff (pathent-on-ssoftware p) 'reject 'affept)

(Yes yes, I didn't know exactly how I'd do that with a lisp..)

My humble suggestion (0)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about 2 years ago | (#41435655)

Invalidate all existing patents and start over. This is just getting ridiculous.

Re:My humble suggestion (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | about 2 years ago | (#41436033)

Invalidate all existing patents. This is just getting ridiculous.

FTFY. I think mankind has proved at this point that, with whatever system you come up, it can and will be exploited.

Re:My humble suggestion (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | about 2 years ago | (#41436121)

And watch as giant corporations like Google "re-invent" all the things the smaller companies had previously patented because they can afford the lawyers to work night and day to capture everything that had previously invented. Worse - they have this nice big catalogue of patents to work from.

A few bad apples is *not* the problem! (4, Interesting)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | about 2 years ago | (#41435667)

MPEG LA claims to manage 346 patents (in the USA alone) which are necessary for anyone who wants to write a video player that can play this very widely used format.

Eliminating 5%, or even 95% of these patents will change nothing. Software developers will still have to ask MPEG LA for permission, and MPEG LA will continue to prohibit free software implementations.

Why bother with these complicated, time-consuming ideas? The way to fix the problem (and unblock the patent office), is to make software simply non-eligible.

* http://en.swpat.org/wiki/MPEG_LA [swpat.org]

* http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Raising_examination_standards_wouldn't_fix_much [swpat.org]

Re:A few bad apples is *not* the problem! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41435891)

This is a problem with the standards, not the patents. The real solution is to stop creating standards that rely on patented technology. That's far easier than getting rid of software patents.

Who do you think creates the standards? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436021)

The committee members are for the most part the companies holding all the patents in the area. They work hard to incorporate their own patented technologies in the standard and when a new idea gets discussed in a meeting they call their patent attorneys to patent it. MPEG-LA patents are often on using a particular constant for some age old algorithm. Such patents are very defensible in court because there is no real reason a person skilled in the arts would pick that particular constant if working in a vacuum. In order to defend against such a patent you would for example need to prove not only that someone ran quicksort with 20 items in the list before the patent was issued, but that this was also published that in a form acceptable to every patent office in the world (note posting it on a mailing list or on your blog doesn't count in most places.)

If you want patent free standards then you need to get governments involved; they need to invalidate all patent claims against those implementing the standard and they need to compensate the patent holders. There would still be incentive to stuff the standard with as many of your patented technologies as possible which is a real problem. Standards tend to contain a lot of unused and unusable cruft in addition to any good stuff they contain.

Re:A few bad apples is *not* the problem! (2)

Zimluura (2543412) | about 2 years ago | (#41435901)

Raising examination standards won't fix much?? I think i just figured out why they're doing this!

Re:A few bad apples is *not* the problem! (1)

godrik (1287354) | about 2 years ago | (#41436375)

You are correct and I aggree with you. However, this is not a power that the US Patent Office has. But I think this is a good step toward reducing the number of ridiculous patents.

Ooh An Aid? (3, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | about 2 years ago | (#41435733)

Do you mean, like, READING them? You know, BEFORE they break out that rubber stamp?

Too late (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about 2 years ago | (#41435743)

Not a bad idea, but the horses are already out of the barn. Trying to close the doors now will just make things worse, without a major reversal of not just bogus patents, but patentable items (like software and business processes).

Re:Too late (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#41436039)

Well at least now there's the option to try to round up the loose horses...

Bayesian Spam Filter (5, Funny)

retroworks (652802) | about 2 years ago | (#41435751)

I found a virus on my computer which was taking random terms and filing USPTO claims, debiting $ filing fees from my bank account. Oddly, USPTO granted more patent claims than people clicked on the links selling viagra ten years ago.

Grant them all, let the players sort it out (1)

flaming error (1041742) | about 2 years ago | (#41435781)

Wouldn't it be easier to simply grant anybody any patent they want, and then revoke it if another party produces evidence of obviousness or prior art?

We already have its worst-case scenario - ridiculous patents, virtually the same one granted to several different parties, and the parties suing each other over their "portfolios".

Might as well skip the years of up-front research that do nobody any good, and cut straight to the lawsuits.

Re:Grant them all, let the players sort it out (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41435907)

Sooo... you're saying that we should keep the same f'd-up system we have today, and let the trolls sue the little guys out of existence when they try to enter the market?

Re:Grant them all, let the players sort it out (1)

flaming error (1041742) | about 2 years ago | (#41438019)

No, I was suggesting that skipping the years of whatever they do before granting patents would be an improvement in efficiency.

Trolls can always sue little guys. But this way, at least little guys could patent their work without making patent pursuit their full time job.

Grant none of them, let the market sort it out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436913)

Or better still, grant no patents, let the market sort it out.

Competition is good, if you have an invention, keep it secret till your ready to go to market, sell as many as you can while you have the exclusive. Quit whining about others making 'your' invention and come up with something new.

If they're causing so much damage, then the best solution is removing patents altogether,

Let me give a hint... (3, Insightful)

3seas (184403) | about 2 years ago | (#41435785)

Software is not of patent-able subject matter.

Of the things that universally agreed cannot be patented:
Abstract ideas,
Physical Phenomenon.
Natural Law.
Because they cannot be enforced
and out of these comes mathematical algorithms as a forth.

All these together describe software and there is more
see http://abstractionphysics.net/ [abstractionphysics.net]

Re:Let me give a hint... (2)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#41435913)

Someone said somewhere (I forget where) that DNA, as a natural process, cannot be patented.

A year later, Big Pharma had patents on 98% of the Human genome, for what was then widely considered "junk DNA".

Why would a pharmaceutical company find the need to patent "junk DNA"?

For something claimed to have no discernible purpose?

For something which was publicly touted as being of no benefit to the betterment of the Human Race?

And now all of a sudden, once the patents are solidified, it's suddenly "discovered" that it's not junk DNA at all. In fact, it's all useful. Of course it is, otherwise it wouldn't be there.

Re:Let me give a hint... (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 2 years ago | (#41436983)

Of course it is, otherwise it wouldn't be there.

Why? What makes that process perfect?

Wow, was somebody waiting for this? (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#41437547)

From this [ldsmag.com] :

"...the opinion of many scientists was that some 90% of the three billion DNA letters in our cells has no function at all--calling it “junk DNA.” Now, a ten year follow-on research project is beginning to publish discoveries centered within this so called junk DNA code. Like the complex rule base of an expert system on a computer, it is now estimated that 80% of our DNA contains a “complex network of regulatory switches that control how cells interpret the genetic instructions contained in DNA.”"

-and-

US Patent #4,318,184 [google.com] :
1982 patent that relates to generative process planning derived from design and material specifications.

"This interlocking network of regulatory switches that control gene activity certainly seems to me to be similar to an expert system. An expert system is carefully designed, with complex interactions between the rules of the system, often based on man-centuries of research and experience. As a programmer, it would be ludicrous to think that complicated programming logic similar to the production expert systems we worked on in industry could “write itself,” without intelligence or design."

Yet, that's exactly what's happened with DNA, over millions of years, from a pool of primordial sludge of amino acids and RNA to where we are now, a veritable feast of complex organisms. As a technological culture we're about to the point where growing earlobes on the backs of laboratory mice is done for giggles these days. All we're doing is rewriting some code, albeit using a soup of chemicals and an electric charge in lieu of a keyboard. And by applying the language of the engineer to the biological process, chemical engineers are able to con us all by demanding royalty with menaces on the use of something we were all born with.

Re:Wow, was somebody waiting for this? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 2 years ago | (#41437875)

From this:

That only says that there's junk DNA than claimed, not that there's no junk DNA at all.

Yet, that's exactly what's happened with DNA, over millions of years, from a pool of primordial sludge of amino acids and RNA to where we are now, a veritable feast of complex organisms. As a technological culture we're about to the point where growing earlobes on the backs of laboratory mice is done for giggles these days. All we're doing is rewriting some code, albeit using a soup of chemicals and an electric charge in lieu of a keyboard. And by applying the language of the engineer to the biological process, chemical engineers are able to con us all by demanding royalty with menaces on the use of something we were all born with.

For sure, I agree with that completely. Patents on DNA - "junk" or not - make me sick. And clearly the claims that most DNA was "junk" were clearly bogus crap.

But that doesn't mean that the DNA generation process is infallible and perfect. There can still be obsolete or ineffective parts of the sequence.
Of course, I'm far too ignorant about biology to know if that's actually true, which is why I asked: how do we know there's no such thing as junk DNA?

How long until (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41435809)

Corporations start flooding this thing to try and manipulate it to their interests?

Re:How long until (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#41436051)

That's what I'm hoping for, I want them all to assault each other's patents until it's very hard (vs. how it is now) to get one filed and have it stick.

Ob. Open Letter (4, Insightful)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#41435815)

Dear United States Patents and Trademarks Office,

It has come to my attention that your organisation has resorted to begging for free work from the Public in finding and reporting on prior art to already-issued patents. I have an issue with this action, since as an inventor myself I have invested thousands of Dollars in patenting actual technology that has no discovered prior art and in fact has potential to change the lives of everyone who uses it. The issue boils down to the amount of money I have paid to your organisation in fees with my patent applications, on the understanding that you yourselves employ staff to perform patent searches and research into prior art on patent applications; indeed, a small proportion of my applications have been rejected due to prior art that I either did not consider relevant or I missed and you informed me that it did in fact exist. That is a system which works.

And now you're asking the public to carry out this work for nothing? Is this overflow for the sheer number of patents that are disputed in courts up and down the country? Or are you laying off staff and diverting that workload that you should be paying staff to do in order for your executive board to pocket the fees in massive bonuses and now granting every application that hits your inbox? Frankly I think you should be watching patent cases and automatically invalidating those which are found to be without merit in such disputes.

Sincerely,

Disgruntled inventors everywhere.

Re:Ob. Open Letter (2)

Bill Dimm (463823) | about 2 years ago | (#41437893)

Or are you laying off staff and diverting that workload that you should be paying staff to do in order for your executive board to pocket the fees in massive bonuses and now granting every application that hits your inbox?

From this article [businessweek.com] :

Unlike most government agencies, the USPTO isn’t allocated funds by Congress. It gets all of its money from the fees paid by those seeking patents and trademarks. Congress hasn’t allowed the USPTO to keep all of those fees. Over the past two decades, Congress has siphoned off more than $800 million, according to the agency.

So, unless things have changed since that article was written a year ago, the fees you are paying are being swallowed by Congress rather than being spent on reviewing patents.

Simple (2)

StormReaver (59959) | about 2 years ago | (#41435825)

If it contains the words, "using a computer," or some such derivative, it is almost certainly a bogus patent application.

Re:Simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41437063)

What about my patent for using a computer as a door stop?

Re:Simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41437355)

That one is bogus aswell.

People were using computers as doorsteps long before we figured out about electricity. What else were they supposed to do with computers without any power to turn them on.

Too little, too late (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41435833)

Patents should be for actual physical devices. Not concepts, procedures (software), words, ideas, or geometric shapes. Trademarks and copyrights will still be available for abuse on those but lets take patents back to what they were originally intended for. Oh, and automatically invalidating patents held by non-practicing entities would also be another good idea (pipe dream I know, patent trolls are usually run by lawyers and they won't allow their gravy-train to end and have plenty of ill gotten gains for lobbyists).

Capcha = quagmire

Re:Too little, too late (2)

dtmos (447842) | about 2 years ago | (#41436691)

Patents should be for actual physical devices.

I hear this a lot, and I'm not against it at all, but I'd like to understand more about how you'd like that to work.

Suppose, for example, we take something like the FM demodulator in a radio. When Edwin Armstrong invented it [wikipedia.org] , back in the stone age of the 1930s, I think we can all agree that (a) it was an "actual physical device," and (b) that it met all the other criteria (novelty, non-obviousness, etc.) needed for a patent. It was implemented with the technology available at the time -- stone knives, bear skins, and vacuum tubes (valves).

Skipping over details like the invention of ratio detectors, etc., the next change in implementation of FM detectors came when the tubes were replaced with discrete transistors. This required some change in bias methods, impedance levels, etc., but no major redesign. It did save cost, size, and power, though.

The next change was integration. At first, the transformer was still needed for the demodulator, and so it was pinned out of the ICs, which were still analog. This saved cost, size, and power still further.

Later, schemes were found to integrate the function of the transformer, fully integrating the (still analog) demodulator. This saved cost and size still further.

Still later, improvements in integration processes enabled the function of the FM demodulator to be performed digitally, using an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) and a bunch of hard-wired logic gates, emulating the mathematical function performed by the analog demodulator. This saved cost, size, and power still further.

After that, demodulator designs were moved into hardware register-transfer languages, like Verilog, providing portability from chip to chip, and enabling one to program the hardware in a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) to become, when preceded by the ADC, an FM demodulator. This saved cost.

Demodulator designs were next ported into programmable hardware dedicated to signal-processing applications (digital signal processors); this required the ADC, plus the Verilog algorithm to be converted to the DSP's assembly language. This saved cost and size.

Finally, technology improved to the point that the FM demodulator could be made by an ADC followed by a microcomputer, programmed with software in a high-level language as part of a much larger system. This saved cost.

At what point in this development do we draw the line and say, "Below this, it's not patentable?"

Office Needs New Structure (3, Interesting)

RichMan (8097) | about 2 years ago | (#41435871)

a) any patent extending or similar to existing patents, application price is x2 for research
b) any patent where similar work is easily found by the patent office but was not referred, costs x5 to continue application once the similar work is found
c) any patent where terms are obfuscated by not using the most common industry standard terminology and reference terms x2 for research
d) any patent where once obfuscated terms are cleared up similar work is easily found, costs x10 to continue application
e) idea registery separate from patent. not subject to exploding fees as above. the idea is open and can be used by anyone. Is a sort of defensive patent. Means anyone can use the idea and it cannot be patented and held proprietary by anyone.
f) different costs for patents in different areas due to research needed .....
lots of ways to provide support

Re:Office Needs New Structure (2)

DougInNavarre (2736877) | about 2 years ago | (#41436781)

g) 50% of any lawsuit winnings goes to the patent office to be used to prevent similar issues in the future.

Re:Office Needs New Structure (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436849)

a) exists, since such patent applications generally require more prosecution effort and legal costs to get them to grant, and ultimately issue with narrowed claims;
b) why? One pays a search fee to the patent office to do a search and to tell you what else relevant is out there so that you can define your invention more clearly against both that which is known to you and that which was (before the search) unknown.
c) exists, see (a). Also, one wants to avoid industry jargon in patents since the meaning of such terms changes over time, making the scope of claim unclear. Better to write exactly what you mean, at the exact level of generality you want to claim.
d) why? See (a) and (b).
e) It's called a Journal of Technical Disclosure, and it exists. Or you could simply file a patent application, wait for it to publish, and then discontinue the application. The effect is the same.
f) There's a recipe for government lobbying! And given that the really exciting stuff happens at the borders between fields, how would you classify patents for the purposes of fees?

Let the market decide (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41435919)

USPTO is paid to do a job, if it's incapable or unwilling to do that job, then it should be opened up to other companies.

Here's a very simple proposal:

* Anyone can create a patent office,
* it is like insurance, you take it out to protect your invention,
* it costs proper money, you don't pay, you don't have cover
* insurance company needs to have financial coverage to cover the insurance it issues.
* if the invention is invalid due to prior art or lack of eligibility, The troll compensates for the damage it did.
* The troll company can reclaim the damages from the insurance company it got the patent from
* If the troll company goes out of business, the insurance company is fully liable
* If the insurance company goes out of business, tough luck. They didn't do their patent checking well enough.

Over time bad patent issuer will price themselves out of the market, with too many bad choices, and disappear.
Good patent issuers will survive, the ones that focus on true inventions.

At the moment we have the USPTO which had management that decided it would interpret it's mandate to rubber stamp patents, even today it still only pays lip-service to prior art, and pushed for the date of filing to be the date of invention, even when the inventor doesn't have a working invention, only a speculative document.

Let the market decide.

Why is "obvious" so hard? (2)

Bill Dimm (463823) | about 2 years ago | (#41435949)

"Our hope is that Ask Patents will reduce the number of patents mistakenly granted for obvious, unoriginal non-inventions, especially around software," said Stack Exchange boss Joel Spolsky in a blogpost about the site ... Mr Spolsky said that although US patent clerks worked hard they typically had less than 22.5 hours so spend on each application.

I can understand the USPTO having difficulty finding all prior art with limited resources, but why do they need help determining that something is obvious? It seems they could save a lot of time hunting for prior art if they just took the "non-obvious" part of the patent requirement seriously and dismissed all of the "do X obvious thing with a computer" patents right off the bat.

Because default is to GRANT (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41436635)

Because patent maximalists made the patent GRANTED by default, not the patent REFUSED by default.

So they put the patent examiner in the position of proving why the patent SHOULDN'T be granted, with limited access to the inventions, the best ones of which are trade secrets, or exist in some lab somewhere waiting to be turned in commercial products.

The "with a computer" is an example of this, the interpretation of the patent office is that "on a phone" makes it a new invention. Yet for some patents Apple is claiming the iPhone is covered by a patent that says "on a computer". If an iPhone is a computer for one patent claim, why is it something unique and special for another??? It makes no sense, yet that's the way it is.

crow-sourced patent research (1)

Jawnn (445279) | about 2 years ago | (#41436017)

What could possibly go wrong? It's not like anyone would astroturf their patents. Right?

Stack Exchange to weed out bogus claims? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#41436201)

Sounds too good to be true.

A Constructive Observation (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 2 years ago | (#41436315)

Why not hire some folks to do such a thing? i would love to apply for this job. The requirements are that these people be Reasonable, and Prudnet.

Re:A Constructive Observation (1)

Anarchduke (1551707) | about 2 years ago | (#41436943)

Im reasonable. I will quite reasonably deny everything. Unless its a viable patent for a hoverboard. That gets approval.

Patents should be for the public good (1)

aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) | about 2 years ago | (#41436441)

Maybe it's time to restrict patents to fields that need real innovation. In many fields, patents have simply added unnecessary overhead to the cost of production. Patents for a fusion reactor or a better rocket engine might be necessary to protect the huge investments necessary to engineer and build prototypes. But are patents necessary for product design elements that anyone with a little knowhow can produce with off-the-shell CAD software?

Two things (2)

liquiddark (719647) | about 2 years ago | (#41436467)

1. If it was good enough for Einstein, it's good enough for you. Spend a little time reading patents. Maybe you'll change the world

2. Congratulations to Spolsky and Atwood, because damn

How to spot bogus patents. (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | about 2 years ago | (#41436769)

grep "plurality" *

review suggestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41437569)

I suggest the USPTO reviews the following patents:
Patent #1 to Patent #..(whatever number it is at)

It's an improvement. (1)

JayRott (1524587) | about 2 years ago | (#41437725)

A baby step in the right direction is still better than what we have now. It opens up the possibility of further positive changes in the future. I just wonder how serious they will take this.

IS this just pre-existing patents? (1)

arekin (2605525) | about 2 years ago | (#41437813)

Does this help fight patents that are obvious? Does this help fight patents where prior art exists? Does this help fight things that are unable to be patented because they are to general? Can I at least through out the dozen or so trolls that are looking to patent the word "patent".
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