Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Google and Apple Spent More On Patents Than R&D Last Year

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the cutting-up-the-pie dept.

Businesses 119

parallel_prankster writes "NYTimes has an interesting article about how patents are really stifling innovation in the tech industry. Today, almost every major technology company is involved in ongoing patent battles. Of course, the most significant player is Apple, industry executives say, because of its influence and the size of its claims: in August in California, the company won a $1 billion patent infringement judgment against Samsung. Former Apple employees say senior executives made a deliberate decision over the last decade, after Apple was a victim of patent attacks, to use patents as leverage against competitors to the iPhone, the company's biggest source of profits. At a technology conference this year, Apple's chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, said patent battles had not slowed innovation at the company, but acknowledged that some aspects of the battles had 'kind of gotten crazy.' It is a complaint heard throughout the industry. The increasing push to assert ownership of broad technologies has led to a destructive arms race, engineers say. Some point to so-called patent trolls, companies that exist solely to sue over patent violations. Others say big technology companies have also exploited the system's weaknesses. 'There are hundreds of ways to write the same computer program,' said James Bessen, a legal expert at Harvard. And so patent applications often try to encompass every potential aspect of a new technology. When such applications are approved, Mr. Bessen said, 'the borders are fuzzy, so it's really easy to accuse others of trespassing on your ideas.'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

The Source of This Headline? (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#41588783)

Google and Apple Spent More On Patents Than R&D Last Year

I was going to submit this story this morning but I didn't because I couldn't find the source of this Stanford analysis that is mentioned (though not cited) in the article. Could someone please give me a link to a news release or PDF or anything? I thought I had pretty good Google skills but found nothing. The thing that worries me is that this headline lead me to believe that all the court fees and lawsuits are costing more than R&D. However the article itself says:

In the smartphone industry alone, according to a Stanford University analysis, as much as $20 billion was spent on patent litigation and patent purchases in the last two years — an amount equal to eight Mars rover missions. Last year, for the first time, spending by Apple and Google on patent lawsuits and unusually big-dollar patent purchases exceeded spending on research and development of new products, according to public filings.

So my first concern is that this is also about patent purchases so this could also be including that "per phone or per license" cost that you pay when you actually do license someone's patent legally and use the system as it was intended to work. Does anyone know if they're including this or just acquisitions of smaller companies that have patent portfolios as defense/attack mechanisms? Secondly, I'm concerned that we're only seeing public filings and these sums cannot reflect undisclosed terms for settling out of court and/or licenses that are not publicized.

Again, before people explode over this headline, I'd just like to get my hands on the data and verify that there is indeed a reason to explode over this. This isn't an apology for patents, this is just the most basic journalistic caution before I fly off the handle.

history question. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41588893)

I recall that there were long and nasty patent disputes over rubber tires, motion picture film, airplanes, etc. Does anyone know how these old battles compare to today's situation?

Re:history question. (2)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#41588911)

same thing except kids will always be dumb and think that whatever is happening today is totally new and has never happened before

Re:history question. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41588961)

In other words, the US patent system has been shit for a long time but for some stupid reason we have yet to get around to fixing it.

Re:history question. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41589097)

Why fix it? Its obviously working... look at all that money thats going to lawyers pockets?!?! who cares that is is totally annihilating anything like innovation.

Re:history question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41589195)

Yet technology continues to march forward despite this terribly broken system! Indeed we not only rubber tires but pneumatic ones. Pneumatic ones that can function without any air pressure even. And motion picture films that give the impression of being 3 dimensional. In your home even. And not only airplanes but airplanes that nearly never crash, with TVs inside, where people walk the aisles and hand out drinks. Insane I tell you.

What we should really fix is the English instruction in our schools. Talk about shit for a long time...

Re:history question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41589263)

hahaha, nice example pal, rubber tyres 1897. 3d TV essentially based on an idea from 1838 and we have had autopilot in its current incarnation since the 70's.

Re:history question. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41590583)

Indeed we not only rubber tires but pneumatic ones.

Um...

Pneumatic ones that can function without any air pressure even.

I'm seriously starting to doubt that you know what the word "pneumatic" means.

Re:history question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41591393)

Yes... Pneumatic,

1
: of, relating to, or using gas (as air or wind): such as an inflated rubber tyre.
a : moved or worked by air pressure
b (1) : adapted for holding or inflated with compressed air (2) : having air-filled cavities
2
: of or relating to the pneuma : spiritual
3
: having a well-proportioned feminine figure; especially : having a full bust
— pneumatically adverb
— pneumaticity noun

3 is quite apt because your making rather a well proportioned tit of yourself.

Re:history question. (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#41589275)

Not annihilating, sharing the wealth, especially sharing it to the industry from whence our lawmakers spring. And who do we look to to reform the laws and stem the flow of money to lawyers?

Re:history question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41589365)

How is demanding money from someone who has an idea slightly similar, yet independent from your own because you own a patent (and a lot of money), which you don't actually use sharing the wealth?

Re:history question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41591205)

I think this little fact speaks volumes about the incentive for politicians to use the guns of the state to support the lawmaker spawning pool:

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Which_us_senators_are_lawyers

That is 57 lawyers, just to be emphatic. The law profession is completely propped up by rulers who have connections to law firms. Small wonder things are so completely fucked.

Re:history question. (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 2 years ago | (#41590117)

And the depressing take-away is that "innovation by litagation" itself isn't particularly innovative.

It's amazing anything gets done.

Re:history question. (1)

alexandre_ganso (1227152) | about 2 years ago | (#41591509)

'The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers'

Henry VI, Shakespeare

It was old before you were young.

Re:history question. (4, Interesting)

FrangoAssado (561740) | about 2 years ago | (#41589233)

Patent disputes over motion picture films were a major influence on the development of Hollywood. From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

The film patents wars of the early 20th century led to the spread of film companies across the U.S. Many worked with equipment for which they did not own the rights, and thus filming in New York could be dangerous; it was close to Edison's Company headquarters, and to agents the company set out to seize cameras. By 1912, most major film companies had set up production facilities in Southern California near or in Los Angeles because of the location's proximity to Mexico, as well as the region's favorable year-round weather.

So, at least for the movie industry, it was possible to avoid or minimize patent harassment by moving elsewhere. In today's world that's obviously impossible.

Jacksonville, Fla. (2)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 2 years ago | (#41589597)

So, at least for the movie industry, it was possible to avoid or minimize patent harassment by moving elsewhere. In today's world that's obviously impossible.

Actually, the movie makers moved to Jacksonville, FL [wikipedia.org] in the early 20th century, before they moved to Hollywood.

Re:Jacksonville, Fla. (4, Informative)

FrangoAssado (561740) | about 2 years ago | (#41589767)

That's interesting. Apparently, another important factor for the early movie industry was how the local community received the movie makers. Compare Hollywood [wikipedia.org] :

While [in Los Angeles], the company decided to explore new territories, traveling several miles north to Hollywood, a little village that was friendly and enjoyed the movie company filming there.

With Jacksonville [wikipedia.org] :

Jacksonville's mostly conservative residents, however, objected to the hallmarks of the early movie industry, such as car chases in the streets, simulated bank robberies and fire alarms in public places, and even the occasional riot. In 1917, conservative Democrat John W. Martin was elected mayor on the platform of taming the city's movie industry.

Still, it's clear that they were avoiding New York, which already had a movie industry.

Re:history question. (1)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#41589355)

Pretty similar. It is a natural artifact of our patent system. Companies that do not play this game find themselves hurting more then the ones that are trying to mutually annihilate each other... either from patent suits or from investors that pressure them to start suing. Old problem....

Re:The Source of This Headline? (0)

PieDude (2745317) | about 2 years ago | (#41588903)

Sources blahblahblah cites blobloblo journalistic integrity blablabla. Serious who talks like that?

Re:The Source of This Headline? (1)

chronokitsune3233 (2170390) | about 2 years ago | (#41589217)

I love your point. Seriously, who cares about sources? It isn't like anybody cares whether or not the US financial deficit is getting better. Just omit that minus sign in the result of calculations, and it's suddenly wonderful. Then when it gets reported to the press, there's no need for any sources for that "overnight" fix.

Re:The Source of This Headline? (4, Insightful)

WGFCrafty (1062506) | about 2 years ago | (#41588977)

Are they including Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility?

Re:The Source of This Headline? (1)

FriendlyStatistician (2652203) | about 2 years ago | (#41591399)

At least a portion of that purchase would be included (according to one source, Google has said that $5.5 billion of the purchase price was for the patents).

Re:The Source of This Headline? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41589087)

Do you spend all day spamming slashdot or something?

Re:The Source of This Headline? (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#41589493)

Sources? We don't need no steenkin' sources!

This is Slashdot, where the hivemind rules... Patents are bad! Corporations are bad! Sensationalism is good!

Re:The Source of This Headline? (5, Informative)

FriendlyStatistician (2652203) | about 2 years ago | (#41589639)

The nearest I can find is this, to appear in the Houston Law Review: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2125515 [ssrn.com]

Particularly these sentences on pp. 3-4:

"In 2012, Google spent $12.5B to buy Motorola Mobility and its patents, and $5.2B in 2011 on R&D. In 2011, Apple spent $2.4B on R&D but contributed more, approximately $2.6B, to a single transaction to buy patents from Nortel."

There are citations on all four figures, including a note that Google says $5.5 billion of the price for Motorola Mobility was for their patents.

The author, Colleen Chien, is actually a law professor at Santa Clara, not at Stanford. According to her CV she did her undergrad at Stanford and had a fellowship at the Stanford law school for eight months in 2006, but she doesn't list any more recent affiliation with Stanford. There is a draft of her article under Stanford's domain: http://www.stanford.edu/dept/law/ipsc/Paper%20PDF/Chien,%20Colleen%20-%20Paper.pdf [stanford.edu]

Regardless of whether this is actually the NYT's source, and why--if it is--they affiliated it with Stanford, the numbers seem good (you can find the citations on the draft linked above).

[I tracked this down by googling "site:stanford.edu apple google research and development patent" which brought up the draft I linked as the third result. After verifying that it contained the relevant information it was easy to find the listing on SSRN and to track down Colleen Chien's page at Santa Clara. Now that you know my tricks, you, too, can become a master of google-fu, and not have to rely on me to find sources for you!]

Re:The Source of This Headline? (2)

parallel_prankster (1455313) | about 2 years ago | (#41589701)

Maybe this one, not sure though - http://digitalcommons.law.scu.edu/facpubs/473/ [scu.edu] The author is from Santa Clara and not Stanford

Re:The Source of This Headline? (2)

parallel_prankster (1455313) | about 2 years ago | (#41589897)

Well, the author did work at Stanford before so maybe that's why Stanford is getting credit for this study?

Re:The Source of This Headline? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41591193)

Don't be deliberately obtuse. There are two sentences in the quote from the article. One refers to the Stanford U analysis which gives the $20 billion number.
The other sentence compares R&D with expenditure on patent related matter and was based on public filings (the obvious guess is SEC filings).
It does NOT refer to the Stanford analysis (the analysis would be a publication or report, not a "public filing").

So even if you can't find the Stanford analysis, it is irrelevant to the veracity w.r.t. the headline.

Also in all my readings, it seems commonly understood that "patent purchases" refer to things like buying off patent portfolios either through acquistion or sale.
What you are confusing with the "patent licensing".

 

News Flash:Lawyers make laws that benefit lawyers! (2)

trout007 (975317) | about 2 years ago | (#41588787)

At the expense of everyone else.

Re:News Flash:Lawyers make laws that benefit lawye (3, Informative)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 years ago | (#41588985)

At the expense of everyone else.

I think it's more accurate to say that lawmakers enact legislation which benefits their campaign-financiers. This happens even when neither is a lawyer. However, one thing that's for sure: the campaign financiers are multi-national corporations.

We need a patent system based on freedom (3, Interesting)

qbitslayer (2567421) | about 2 years ago | (#41589567)

The current patent system is harmful to society because it tramples on freedom. The purpose of patents is to provide an incentive for innovation and compensate inventors for their hard work. However, it should not infringe on the freedom of others. That would be counter to its purpose. Above all, the system must never serve as a carte blanche for a few to bully all others out of the market. What we need is something like this:

1. A special independent fund must be set aside to compensate inventors for their inventions and reward innovation.
2. A retroactive formula must be adopted to calculate the amount of the compensation.
3. The formula must be adjustable so as to establish the best return for society at large in terms of innovations.
4. Last but not least, whatever the formula chosen, it must never infringe on the right of the individual to copy and use any invention for whatever purpose.

Inventors should register and publish their findings as soon as they can because their compensation will depend on how much society like and use their ideas. Of course, we still need a Patent bureau and a system to manage claims and the proper registrations of inventions. The system should be as automated as possible.

No. We just need a patent system where... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41590849)

...there's a max cap on any jury award for infringement limited to $100K total per lawsuit.

The only real innovation happening these days.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41588817)

happens in the respective legal departments. Apple is the standout example. Piss poor iphone upgrade but lawyers on steroids.

Apple and Google are NOT the same (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41588829)

Apple spend money on patenting what everybody else does, Google spends money on patenting real innovations that companies like Apple steal.

Re:Apple and Google are NOT the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41589061)

Nuh uh. My team is doing good... YOUR team is super bad and probably mean to old ladies, too.

Re:Apple and Google are NOT the same (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 2 years ago | (#41589273)

So what exactly did Google invent? Considering they are late comer to everything.....

Re:Apple and Google are NOT the same (2)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about 2 years ago | (#41589415)

When they buy a company that did invent something, they create an incentive for the next inventor to form a company and sell out to Google.

Most inventors want to invent, not create companies. Inventing doesn't pay very well, but if you can hold out long enough, you can make it big. At least that's the mythology.

Re:Apple and Google are NOT the same (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 2 years ago | (#41590389)

apple is teh best, goog is teh worst

Remove the profit incentive (5, Interesting)

concealment (2447304) | about 2 years ago | (#41588837)

Right now, there's a huge profit incentive for patent trolls because of the huge payouts in damages when these lawsuits are won.

Either cap damages, or limit compensation to injunctions, to remove the huge incentive that companies have to make profit from patent battles.

Having these companies bickering over patents and billion-dollar payouts is bad for everyone, since they should be inventing new technology or at least fixing those iPhone purple flare cameras.

got subpoenaed by Google (5, Informative)

bcrowell (177657) | about 2 years ago | (#41590105)

Right now, there's a huge profit incentive for patent trolls because of the huge payouts in damages when these lawsuits are won.

The slashdot headline, and, to some extent, the slashdot summary, make it sound like Google and Apple are the only ones compiling bogus patents, but it works both ways, of course. They sue other people for patent infringement, but they also get sued. The big difference is that Google and Apple really do have R&D, and really do come up with at least some things that deserve to be patented, whereas the typical patent troll has never made any positive contributions, and is simply hoping to take advantage of the fact that the patent office doesn't really care whether applications are nontrivial.

I got subpoenaed last week by a lawyer from Google, because Google is getting sued by a patent troll (I don't know the name of the company), and Google wants to use the web site in my sig, which dates back to 2001, to prove prior art and invalidate the patent. It's apparently a business methods patent. You might ask, "How do you know that they're a patent troll when you don't even know the company's name, and don't know anything about the patent other than the fact that it's a methods patent?" Well, the way I know that is that I built that site, and it required absolutely zero innovation or creativity on my part. If you take a look a the code [theassayer.org] , you'll see that it's embarrassingly amateurish -- I think it was the very first Perl code I ever wrote. I simply bought the O'Reilly book on the Perl DBI interface, and built a bog-standard web-based front end for a SQL database. The database is nothing but a digital library catalog, the sole difference being that most such catalogs keep track of a physical collection of books, whereas mine is a catalog of books that are free on the web. It also has a feature where users can write reviews.

Responding to the subpoena (as I'm legally required to do) has been and continues to be a minor pain in the ass. But it's just absurd that any patent examiner allowed anyone to patent anything that went into my web site, because it required zero originality. For that reason, I feel like I'm doing something somewhat positive for society by helping Google deliver a smackdown to this troll.

Google and Apple are probably both companies that would benefit greatly from patent reform, including the elimination of software and business method patents. The big losers would be the patent trolls.

Re:Remove the profit incentive (1)

gander666 (723553) | about 2 years ago | (#41590879)

Actually, patent trolls don't want to go to court. They are used to companies rolling over and paying a nominal sum to "license" it and go away. Then they use this pot of "winnings" to go buy some other patent to then exploit. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

Of course, when a company fights, it gets ugly, and takes years to conclude. And the only real winners are the lawyers.

After you have been slimed by a patent troll, the next time one hits you, you roll over and pay.

I got the unlucky task of being the 30(b)(6) deponent in a suit against my last employer (that was a large factor why I left). I wouldn't wish that experience on my worst enemy. http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/rule_30 [cornell.edu] It is an awesome responsibility, and it sucked major league to be on that hot seat for a totally bullshit court case.

Not likely to change (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41588857)

Patent law (and IP law in general) rakes billions of dollars through the business of government each year. Regardless of how obvious it is that IP law destroys fair competition, you are up against billions of dollars. Take a wild guess what drives and motivates the business of government: fair competition, or money?

If only... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41588867)

If only Google and collaborators hadn't copied the iPhone, this wouldn't have happened.

Re:If only... (1)

bhagwad (1426855) | about 2 years ago | (#41589357)

If only Google didn't have the temerity to create a competing OS and decimate iOS's market share, this wouldn't have happened.

Re:If only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41589963)

If only Google didn't have the temerity to create a competing OS and decimate iOS's market share, this wouldn't have happened.

Um... Pretty sure Android has more than 1/10th the market share of iOS.

Re:If only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41590365)

ROFLBBQ!!!! The moderators here are definitely pro-Google/Android. Sorry, n00bs, but Android didn't look anything like iOS until Google copied it. Rather than innovate, Google stole Apple's IP.

Because stupid people haven't realized (1, Interesting)

na1led (1030470) | about 2 years ago | (#41588869)

that you can never truly own an IDEA forever, but they will fight like hell trying.

Re:Because stupid people haven't realized (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41589175)

Yeah but if I had a truly great idea, I would like to think I would be able to get some kind of benefit from it. Lets be honest, this benefit is most likely to be financial and for that I need to protect my idea for a short period - hence the idea of a patient.

In reality though, how many people are sat on brilliant ideas because they know that they can't protect it from big companies if they publicised it. Its just completely wrong.

Re:Because stupid people haven't realized (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41589223)

Sure! Use the idea and do something with it! Like, build something?

Re:Because stupid people haven't realized (1)

houghi (78078) | about 2 years ago | (#41589327)

The only way this could work is if companies were people and if they owned the government, but that is silly as companies are clearly not people and the government is there for the people. There is no way this will ever change.
Amazing that you all do not know that.

Now for something more serious. I am from 1985 and my time machine is broken. How can I get back?

Business is War (2)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 2 years ago | (#41588871)

To avoid war, have the most & best weapons so you don't invite the weaker country to invade. Same with businesses both large and small.

"'There are hundreds of ways to write the same computer program,' ... And so patent applications often try to encompass every potential aspect of a new technology." Nothing new here. You need to be able to use some patent points to "cross license".

Lots of Apple's patents are the traditional pure mechanical features, though, which don't relate in the same way to programming.

Capitalism is War (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41588927)

There, fixed it for you, comrade.

Apple was schooled by Creative (5, Interesting)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 2 years ago | (#41588919)

Remember Creative, the maker of Soundblaster cards? They were also one of the first makers of MP3 players. ("Less space than an Nomad, lame")

[in 2001] Creative applied for a broad software patent for a "portable music playback device" that bore minor similarities to the iPod, an Apple product that had gone on sale the same year. Once the patent was granted to Creative, it became a license to sue.

When Apple came out with its own MP3 player called the iPod, Creative sued... because it infringed on Creative's patent for a "portable device that plays MP3 files". Apple settled three months later for $100 million.

Afterwards, Steve jobs vowed never to get caught with his pants down again. When developing the new iPhone, he declared "we're going to patent it all". Basically, Creative took Apple to school on patents, and Apple learned real fast.

Re:Apple was schooled by Creative (5, Informative)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 2 years ago | (#41589705)

Remember Creative, the maker of Soundblaster cards? They were also one of the first makers of MP3 players. ("Less space than an Nomad, lame")

When Apple came out with its own MP3 player called the iPod, Creative sued... because it infringed on Creative's patent for a "portable device that plays MP3 files". Apple settled three months later for $100 million.

Afterwards, Steve jobs vowed never to get caught with his pants down again. When developing the new iPhone, he declared "we're going to patent it all". Basically, Creative took Apple to school on patents, and Apple learned real fast.

I'm not sure of your version of history. The patent fight was not over creating a portable device that plays mp3 files it was over menu navigation on a media player[and 5 other patents] "The patent in question was Creative self-titles Zen Patent"

FYI
"A method of selecting at least one track from a plurality of tracks stored in a computer-readable medium of a portable media player configured to present sequentially a first, second, and third display screen on the display of the media player, the plurality of tracks accessed according to a hierarchy, the hierarchy having a plurality of categories, subcategories, and items respectively in a first, second, and third level of the hierarchy "

A good article that gives a better description is here http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/08/technology/patent-wars-among-tech-giants-can-stifle-competition.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 [nytimes.com] but the problem was more that creative had patented something "on a portable media player" not that they patented "a media player".

Re:Apple was schooled by Creative (1)

xaxa (988988) | about 2 years ago | (#41590993)

A good article that gives a better description is here http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/08/technology/patent-wars-among-tech-giants-can-stifle-competition.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 [nytimes.com] but the problem was more that creative had patented something "on a portable media player" not that they patented "a media player".

Interesting article, thanks, I think I'll submit it to /.

Re:Apple was schooled by Creative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41590007)

Alternate subject line: Apple COPIED/STOLE from Creative.

Just stop giving out math patents (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#41588925)

If math is not patentable, then stop giving patents on it. No, saying that you are doing the math "BUT ON A COMPUTER" does not mean that your patent is on anything other than math. So how about we stop this nonsense and get back to promoting the progress of the software industry?

Re:Just stop giving out math patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41589031)

>No, saying that you are doing the math "BUT ON A COMPUTER" does not mean that your patent is on anything other than math

The patent system already prohibits this. There is a line of case law including a pending case where the justices argue about how much machine integration is required. So far, things that can be done by humans and even include the postal system in place of networks and computers have been tossed out.

Glad you are thinking about these issues, but they have been discussed for years in the patent community and have established precedent. Just saying "on a computer" is NOT enough under current law, there must be some aspect that can only be done by computers.

Re:Just stop giving out math patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41589229)

So how about we stop this nonsense and get back to promoting the progress of the software industry?

Until you (collectively) become conscious how you vote and get rid of the incumbent parties, nothing will change. It will take a global epiphany. There is no other way Good Luck!

Re:Just stop giving out math patents (3, Insightful)

hovelander (250785) | about 2 years ago | (#41589361)

Looks like the only thing that will come close to fixing it will be from having gone over the buggering edge of ridiculousness.

http://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/x/156824/Patent/First+To+Invent+First+To+File+Or+First+To+Disclose+Patent+Reforms+Real+Incentive [mondaq.com]

First to file will bring on the Patent Armageddon, most likely. That change is such a BLATANT swing to the rich I still have a hard time fathoming how the decision was even made. "Hmmmmmm, how can we make sure that no one has a business outside of serving my elite buddy Chad some low wage service commodity? Oh, I know! Let's tip the scales completely towards the armies of lawyers who sit around all day spamming the patent office."

Hate to mention the movie Brazil again, but Gilliam had prophecy there...

Re:Just stop giving out math patents (1)

hovelander (250785) | about 2 years ago | (#41589529)

Come to think of it, this will be good for the current rut that OSS is in right now. RMS being proven true, despite his cranky rabid nature.

The dude who spent 3 decades of his lifeblood in speech recognition, only to be harpooned from the entire industry, may turn back and dump his ideas as OSS, and should. Yes, I know the walled gardens revolution right now makes that hard...

So, if you get patented out, go guerrilla. You will have no choice but to set your info free. Most likely be labelled a terrorist too, but the tech will be let free to spite the Nuances of the world. Drive your stuff into the developing markets if you get sued out of making money from your efforts. The other guy has stopped your cash flow options, so put a serious damper into his if you can. (We just have to find a better method of packaging OSS is all, to get it to the flock.) So there is something for Adam Smith to chew on in his grave. Creative destruction of the information wants to be free, type.

So patent madness may drive everything into OSS after all. The burned, broken, and brilliant will have no other recourse in the patent apocalypse unless they have an army of lawyers. Sad and interesting days, just like they ever were.

Re:Just stop giving out math patents (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 2 years ago | (#41589871)

The "First to file" thing doesn't mean what people think it means at first glance, FWIW. Prior art still invalidates new patents.

The concept is that two parties working in secret on the same thing get a patent decided upon the basis of which files first, not which can prove through... however... that it came up with the idea first. In practice, I doubt it'll make any difference whatsoever.

Re:Just stop giving out math patents (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 2 years ago | (#41590455)

You don't think it would make any difference whatsoever [wikipedia.org] ?

Inventing is hard, buying is easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41588937)

If you're a hundred-billion-dollar company, it's a lot easier to pay $billions for an idea that exists than to pay $millions in the hope that someone will come up with an idea.

If you're not a hundred-billion-dollar company, the reverse is true.

This is what happens... (4, Insightful)

WGFCrafty (1062506) | about 2 years ago | (#41588959)

This is what haappens when we let attorneys build the system. It's almost written for them. No matter who gets screwed, an attorney wins, somewhere.

Re:This is what happens... (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 2 years ago | (#41589309)

Yeah it's the attorney's fault not the business that demanded it in the first place.

Re:This is what happens... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41590103)

Demand is created for each frivolous case lawyers can win.

Keyword: dominate

Insidious (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 2 years ago | (#41590481)

It doesn't matter how the case is decided, the lawyers always win...

Re:This is what happens... (1)

steelfood (895457) | about 2 years ago | (#41591103)

No, that's the result of a nation that's more interested in the letter of the law over the spirit of the law.

It begins with lawmakers putting loopholes into everything, because the very idea of a loophole is to take advantage of wording that's doesn't cover every situation conceivable (and some not). That sets the lawyers up to spend years arguing over every dotted i and crossed t. And then bill for it.

Pew pew pew (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41588995)

'merica.

Re:Pew pew pew (1)

hovelander (250785) | about 2 years ago | (#41589555)

My hairy, crispy Buddha I love you for this small post!

I've got no problem with this. The world is diff.. (0)

SensitiveMale (155605) | about 2 years ago | (#41589011)

I am always stunned how fast a chinese company can tool a factory to push out cheap copies of electronics seemingly within days of a rumor or announcement. While I think some ideas and implementations are unpatentable (?), the fact that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of companies that are willing to spend zero amount on R&D and simply copy what other companies spend billions to develop shows that such patents are necessary .

Re:I've got no problem with this. The world is dif (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41589277)

Really? So if china would set up its patent system in a way that forced US companies to spend ten times as much money to patent stuff in China to be able to do business there, that would be a good thing?

Lets just shorten the life of patents (0)

Tangential (266113) | about 2 years ago | (#41589025)

It seems like we could mitigate a lot of the problems around IP patents (including Pharma and genetics) if we limited them to a life of 5 years from filing (software and processes) and 5 years from first commercial approval (Pharma and genetics) Once we fix that, we should look seriously at restoring some sanity to copyright law as well.

Re:Lets just shorten the life of patents (1)

David_Hart (1184661) | about 2 years ago | (#41589491)

In case you didn't know, a lot of Pharma products, with the exception of "Orphan Drugs" have a relatively short patent life. What they do is come out with a drug, sell it until the patent is about to expire, tweak the formula, then come out with a new-and-improved version with a new patent life. Lather, rinse, repeat. So, while this is an example of a patent with a short life, the current system is susceptible to gaming. A short patent life by itself does not solve the problem.

Re:Lets just shorten the life of patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41590895)

So a short lifespan system is broken because it forces the patent owners to improve their product?

Also a lot of the previous formulas go on to be generics with much reduced costs, the reason you won't see the reduced costs is the dr will write you a prescription for the new kind so he gets a kickback, but that has nothing to do with the patent system itself.

3 Stories, 25 Comments Each (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 2 years ago | (#41589053)

3 Stories, 25 Comments Each. So at least we know what a slow news day looks like on SlashDot.

Re:3 Stories, 25 Comments Each (2)

rbrausse (1319883) | about 2 years ago | (#41589521)

it's the current logo. animated GIFs without cats are a pain.

Re:3 Stories, 25 Comments Each (1)

hovelander (250785) | about 2 years ago | (#41589585)

Sad, ain't it? Only the diehards, the crusty, and the bored 12 year old are left here.

Apple == patent troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41589083)

“His attitude was that if someone at Apple can dream it up, then we should apply for a patent, because even if we never build it, it’s a defensive tool,” said Nancy R. Heinen, Apple’s general counsel until 2006.

"EVEN IF WE NEVER BUILD IT" ... is this not the definition of a patent troll? Someone who has the patent but without a working product or even the intention of making the product?

Re:Apple == patent troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41589505)

Seems Apple is good at patenting dreams and ideas.

Re:Apple == patent troll (1)

hovelander (250785) | about 2 years ago | (#41589599)

They'll find a way to sue your dreams, have no fear.

Re:Apple == patent troll (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 2 years ago | (#41589771)

"EVEN IF WE NEVER BUILD IT" ... is this not the definition of a patent troll? Someone who has the patent but without a working product or even the intention of making the product?

I think the idea is, not if its used defensively :). Although Apple is not using its patents defensively.

Indirect R&D (4, Insightful)

Grond (15515) | about 2 years ago | (#41589119)

Most of Apple and Google's patent-related spending was not on litigation but rather patent purchases, such as Google buying Motorola primarily for its patent portfolio. But the value of those patents is part of what enabled Motorola to invest in the R&D that produced those inventions in the first place. Effectively, Apple and Google financed R&D done at other companies. I don't think it's meaningful to draw such a bright line between "spending on patents" and "spending on R&D."

Re:Indirect R&D (1)

steelfood (895457) | about 2 years ago | (#41591225)

But the value of those patents is part of what enabled Motorola to invest in the R&D that produced those inventions in the first place.

Uh, no... R&D is not supposed to have short-term returns, which is the purpose of patents (think about how long it took for the silicon transistor to really show its worth--not until the Internet boom 40-50 years later). Patents don't pay for R&D. Patents only pay for product development. Research is paid for by preventing companies from going extinct when the next big thing rolls around.

Only, since the economy has moved to a success quantifier based primarily on short-term gains, R&D is seen as a useless money sink. Which is why many R&D departments are no longer in operation. And that which comes out of R&D gets buried, and R&D itself is shunned. It is done out of the fear of jeopardizing the status of existing products. Patents are for when that next revolution comes, it can get litigated out of existence.

The US (and to a lesser extent, European) auto industry has been doing this exact thing for decades. See where they are now.

Simple math (4, Insightful)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#41589243)

Good engineer: $60-80/hr

Crappy lawyer: $300/hr

Good lawyer: OMG$/hr

If you're going to bring in the suits, you'd better have the wheelbarrows of cash ready - which Google and Apple both do.

Re:Simple math (1)

hovelander (250785) | about 2 years ago | (#41589613)

Exactly.

Perhaps small ideas that grow big will just have to rely on luck to get there.

Re:Simple math (1)

hovelander (250785) | about 2 years ago | (#41589633)

Same as it ever was...

Re:Simple math (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41590507)

Try $30/hr for a crappy lawyer.

Seriously I'm an engineer and I make more than most of the lawyers I know.

Please C&D (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41589485)

Please C&D this thread... I have a patents that cover complaining about the patent system on a computer message board, blog, bbs, echo mail, in print and other non-verbal forms of communication. Even thinking about complaining about the patent system means you owe me money. Yes you did... gesturing counts too.. yes even that one.

Hasn't slowed innovation at Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41589525)

How could it? You can't slow down something that doesn't exist.

Apple doesn't do R&D to begin with. (5, Interesting)

Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) | about 2 years ago | (#41589533)

Apple only does development. As far as I can tell they have zero published research.

Re:Apple doesn't do R&D to begin with. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41590771)

What do you call patent applications--unpublished research? Patent applications describe technology and are in the public domain, for everyone to benefit from forever. Patent holders only have the benefit of the government-granted monopoly associated with the award of a patent for a limited time. For example, TiVo time shifting is now free for everyone to use.
What do you call Apple products--undeveloped ideas?

Spork Patent (4, Funny)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about 2 years ago | (#41589591)

The word "Spork" made it into the dictionary in 1909, but people had to wait 61 years before it was patented and trademarked. http://www.salon.com/2012/10/06/consider_the_spork/ [salon.com] How horrible it was for people to know what something was, but be totally unable to use it because there wasn't a company to own the idea. (:-)

Software patents do the opposite of their design (4, Insightful)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 2 years ago | (#41589747)

The idea that the patent system was founded on was protecting an idea so it can get to market without being stolen.

I think we've found with software patents, the opposite holds true. Software patents protect the big guys so little guys can't make any product.

Lets face it: Programming software is illegal. If you make any non trivial software, you trip over dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of patents you're not even aware even exist! This is because people are awarded patents on trivial things that everyone else already knows how to do. So programming is illegal, we just try and make aps with the hopes that no one is going to sue us. But at any time, someone could sue if they wanted to.

Because the big guys patents so many trivial things, non-trivial software trips over many patents. Patents do not protect the little guy. Patents protect the big guy from the little guy having a chance to compete.

Does anybody else.... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#41589979)

... get the impression that a really major storm is brewing?

Don't bother (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41590819)

Don't bother posting on /. unless you agree with a philosophy of "to gang-bang Apple is good."
What fraction of /. revenue comes by way of Google, by the way?

Keep up the good work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41590829)

It is amusing to watch the slow disintegration of the US.

Patent war - executive summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41590943)

Litigants A and B speaking simultaneously: We bought this patent from our source before you bought the same patent from your source

Lawyers C-Z rub hands vigorously.

Litigation not Innovation (1)

gelfling (6534) | about 2 years ago | (#41590975)

Is the buzzword for the new millennium.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?