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How Patent Trolls Harm the Economy

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the indifference-aforethought dept.

Patents 123

WebMink writes "It used to just be speculation, but the numbers are now in — patent trolls are costing America jobs and economic growth. Newly-published research using data commissioned by Congress shows big rises in patent troll activity over the last five years — from 22% to 40% of all patent suits filed, with 4 out of five litigants being patent trolls. Other papers show that jobs are being lost and startups threatened, while VC money is just making things worse by making startups waste money filing more patents. Worst of all, it's clear this is just the tip of the iceberg; there's evidence that unseen pre-lawsuit settlements with patent trolls represent a much larger threat than anything the research can easily measure."

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Patent troll (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41723537)

It's the technical term.

First Post (-1, Troll)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#41723539)

The rest of you all owe me royalties. Or I'll see you in court!

Re:First Post (5, Funny)

russotto (537200) | about 2 years ago | (#41723543)

Sorry, a previous filing by Mr. A. Coward means you fail to get the patent, and you owe HIM royalties.

Re:First Post (2, Interesting)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#41723759)

Unfortunately, Mr. A. Coward is an employee of Mr. Big Corporation. In the fine print of his contract, all rights to patents are assigned to Mr. Big Corporation, his employer. If you think I am joking, take a gander through a patent database, and take note of the "Assigned to:" field.

He still gets to have his name on it, though.

Re:First Post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724065)

Has the current Slashdot readership really become so retarded than unfunny jokes like this, repeated for the n-millionth time, are still getting modded up to +5?

How the mighty are fallen.

Re:First Post (1, Informative)

N Monkey (313423) | about 2 years ago | (#41726739)

Has the current Slashdot readership really become so retarded than unfunny jokes like this, repeated for the n-millionth time, are still getting modded up to +5?

How the mighty are fallen.

Are you suggesting that many of the slashdot moderators use similar criteria to judging novelty and inventiveness as ....?

Indirect damage (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41723661)

This study only looks at the first order effects. What about the technologies that are going undeployed or never see commercial application because of patents and copyrights? They were originally supposed to inspire innovation, not inspire innovative people to flee our country to sell their work overseas. I have any number of ideas that could create jobs and help our economy that simply aren't possible in this country because of our stupid laws.

Take auto-updating software and system security. Right now, the only thing the end-user has is overpriced anti-virus and malware software, and they have to go to "Geek Squad" or some other place and pay an arm and a leg to do routine maintenance. If I could package and distribute software, and somehow integrate licensing and payment into a single deployment platform, I could help people keep their software current and establish my own "app store", but with finer-grained controls and the ability to not just download and install software, but actually integrate support for the product as well. No more searching for a phone number to call, or floundering with "how do I do X in this?" If you got infected with some malware, someone could remote in anytime and fix it, at a very low cost due to economy of scale.

But unless you're a multibillion dollar company like Apple, Google, or Microsoft, there's no way you can hire enough lawyers or have enough market clout to get something like that off the ground. The cost of entry into the market is so high that only mega corporations can afford it. Rather than lowering the barrier to innovation, it's created a massive wall to it, where only a select few can release anything new.

And then we get crap like the FCC -- they botched the digital TV transition so bad they should all be hung by their balls in the public square until they drop off. It was pure profit, and the consumer suffered in terms of price fixing, limited supplies of converter boxes, and the spectrum that was sold off hasn't really benefited them in any way -- they took public spectrum and made it private, while raking in billions. And then they cost us billions more in conversion costs, when they should have been using the money from those auctions to help out the people they forced to upgrade in the firstplace. This is the kind of shit copyright and patenting do -- force people into only a handful of solutions, all overpriced and not competitive, and deny anyone else the chance to come up with a better solution that would benefit someone other than the corporate overlords.

Re:Indirect damage (1)

houghi (78078) | about 2 years ago | (#41723883)

not inspire innovative people to flee our country to sell their work overseas.

This is not just a problem for the USofA. It is a problem for everybody in the world. Well, unless you are a CEO or a lawyer, that is.

Re:Indirect damage (5, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41724099)

This is not just a problem for the USofA. It is a problem for everybody in the world. Well, unless you are a CEO or a lawyer, that is.

I've been helping an ex-pat friend of mine in China set this exact thing up. You wanna know what the government and investors told him after he propped the idea: "Let's do it. We'll make sure you get the approval you need." And by approval, they meant bribes. They love ex-pats over there, and even the everyday joe here can, with a modicum of business sense, become a demigod over there. The only reason I don't move over there is... well, it's still China. I could be rich, but I like my freedoms more than money.

Re:Indirect damage (5, Interesting)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#41725859)

No, wrong. You don't need bribes to do business in China. Only fools conduct business that way.

"One of the things I have always found troubling about Westerners doing business in emerging market countries is that they sometimes take an almost perverse pride in discussing payoffs to government officials. It is as though their having paid a bribe is a symbol of their international sophistication and insider knowledge. Yet, countless times when I am told of the bribe, I know the very same thing could almost certainly have been accomplished without a bribe."
--Dan Harris, chinalawblog.com [chinalawblog.com]

Is there a will to change? (4, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 2 years ago | (#41726097)

We already know how bad the impact of patent/copyright trolling is, even before they came up with the numbers.

For years and years, - if not for more than a decade, - so many unwarranted lawsuits had been filed just to satisfy the insatiable appetites of the patent/copyright trolls.

I don't, not even for a femto-second, believe that the critters on the Congressional Hill do not know the damage done by patent/copyright trolls.

They already knew what happened, it's just that they had NO INTENTION TO CHANGE.

The more patent/copyright trolling lawsuits got filed, the more the lawyers' lobbyists will pay them congresscritters.

I can bet, with my bottom dollar, that no concrete change will be forthcoming from Washington D.C.

They may pay some lip services - after all, they _ARE_ politicians - they may even "Ooooms" and "Aaaahs", pretending that they are doing something, but the final outcome will be the same old, same old.

As long as the lawyers get paid, they will pay the congresscritters.

And as long as the congresscritters get paid, all of us get screwed.
 

Re:Indirect damage (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 2 years ago | (#41726495)

Yes, it could have just as easily been accomplished by having the person assassinated.

Probably right (4, Insightful)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | about 2 years ago | (#41728119)

I work for a Fortune 300 company who I don't want to name. We do most of our business in North America but are trying to grow in China and we do have a presence there. My company continually beats it into the heads of all employees that we do not pay bribes to anybody to get business and we'd rather lose the business than pay a bribe. So I suspect that what Dan Harris says is probably right. I've been to China and I have friends who live there and my impression from my trips is that the "loss of freedoms" is somewhat annoying and not much else. For example, you can't get into Facebook. But people who live there complain as much about their government as people in the west do, it's just that they are complaining about various injustices and corruption instead of stuff like "I don't like Obamacare".

Re:Indirect damage (1)

stymy (1223496) | about 2 years ago | (#41729167)

Keep in mind that just because something can be done without a bribe doesn't mean it was a waste of money. In third world countries it's common to pay bribes just to speed paperwork and inspections up, so you don't have to wait a year to get approval or something. I say this as someone from Argentina, where bribes are very common in business.

Re:Indirect damage (1)

Seeteufel (1736784) | about 2 years ago | (#41724209)

I think companies which did not support software patent reformists [ffii.org] and open standards deserve to suffer.

Re:Indirect damage (1)

mumblestheclown (569987) | about 2 years ago | (#41723953)

So, what you're saying is that nobody can built an appstore, right? I'm sorry, but that's utter bullshit. There are dozens of startup app stores out there for, say, android or PC that claim to do exactly as you propose. steam is one that seems to be more or less successful. there are few if any technological or patent barriers preventing you from making your own appstore - i noticed a new PC one the other day. the problem isn't that you can't make one, the problem is that you have neither a unique idea to differentiate your appstore from the all the others nor the billions that certain big companies have to MARKET it. if you did have a brilliant new idea, a suitable patent would help you monetize it and PREVENT the big companies from rolling over you.

Re:Indirect damage (4, Informative)

jopsen (885607) | about 2 years ago | (#41724115)

Sure, you are partly right, that building a new app-store isn't something you'll be sued over... Well, atleast untill you're reasonably successful, then you're sure to get sued. Just, look at what happened to Samsung.

That's said I really doubt that patenting an idea will help you.
In the software industry, patents are for troll and companies with money enough to waste it on self-defence. The industry is moving so fast that first-to-market with a new technology is enough. Beside if anybody violates you patent and manages to get more customers, the courts will never be able to compensate you sufficiently.

I recently heard from a medical software start-up that patents and by implication VC capital was necessary, in their niche area. But he bluntly admitted that he didn't think he had a chance at enforcing the patent anyway. It was just to lure investors on-board.

Out side the medical industry, patents have no value... Even if I had a patent for something Facebook did, by the time I won the case against Facebook, they would have grown so big that it wouldn't matter to them, and my compensation would be insignificant anyway. Which, is fair because FB probably didn't only succeed because of ideas they stole from others, but for a long reason of things, including luck.

The only place in the software industry where I think patents could be valid, is when the company has the option to keep it's competitive advantage as a trade secret, instead of filling a patent. But in most cases, device designs, user interface ideas and any algorithm that runs on the client this doesn't make sense.
For instance it might be worthwhile to award google a patent on their search algorithm, in exchange for having it publicly disclosed.
(I think these cases are rare, and ought to be the exception).
IMO, patents should serve to help disclosure instead of trade secrets, to serve society, not greedy individuals.

Patents are the least of your worries (3, Insightful)

Kergan (780543) | about 2 years ago | (#41724299)

Methinks you're seriously underestimating the difficulty of creating what you've in mind.

There's nothing unusual about doing so, btw. Typically, this stems from over-thinking about the success case, while neglecting to think about what can go wrong. In real systems, basically everything that can go wrong eventually will. And things need to scale. Potentially massively.

This stuff is so hard, that not a single company out there gets it right. Not a single one. Not even Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Salesforce, you name it. Also note that none of the various app stores even begin to try to touch support or custom-licensing with a 6-foot pole. Both are cesspools of problems in their right.

Anyway, regarding your worries about patent trolls: if you actually did pull it off, then IP and patent issues would be, IMHO, the least of your worries.

Re:Patents are the least of your worries (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41725653)

The point is, it would be useful, everyone would still get paid the market rate for the work they've created, and it is (thanks to stupid laws) totally illegal. When something that would benefit almost everyone is illegal, the law is broken.

Re:Patents are the least of your worries (4, Insightful)

devent (1627873) | about 2 years ago | (#41726109)

RedHat and Suse are doing that just fine for thousand of packages. So do Debian and Canonical. It's called package repository and with the main package repository that contains applications like Apache, Bind, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and many more, they offer support and security updates.

They can do that because they have no limitations of copyright, because every copyright holder of the applications in the main package repositories agreed to that a third party can modify and distribute their applications. Also known as Open Source.

I don't know, but I think girlintraining are thinking like that kind of repository but for proprietary applications.

Re:Indirect damage (-1, Redundant)

chrismcb (983081) | about 2 years ago | (#41724653)

What about the technologies that are going undeployed or never see commercial application because of patents and copyrights? They were originally supposed to inspire innovation, not inspire innovative people to flee our country to sell their work overseas. I have any number of ideas that could create jobs and help our economy that simply aren't possible in this country because of our stupid laws.

Are you saying that your idea won't work, because you failed to negotiate properly? This isn't a problem with the laws, but a problem with your negotiating abilities.
Patents are supposed to allow the original inventors to invent more, not to allow people to build on other's inventions.

Re:Indirect damage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41727337)

I agree, Patents and copyrights are now misused for purposes that was possibly not their original intention. Once politicians were mixed with Patents and Copyrights, the system was doomed to failure. They are now monopolies that serve as barriers to entry into marketplaces and there is no evidence they actually encourage innovation. There is much evidence that points the opposite direction. There have been many studies conducted into the effects of patents and copyrights on innovation and the economy, i encourage you to read this research document as it one of the most thorough and well written that i have read on this subject....

http://research.stlouisfed.org/wp/2012/2012-035.pdf

Re:Indirect damage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41727937)

And then we get crap like the FCC -- they botched the digital TV transition so bad they should all be hung by their balls in the public square until they drop off.

You sexist pig! Women can botch digital TV transition too!

"someone could remote in anytime and fix it" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728739)

Sure, you're going to "fix" it for me. And with the "someone could remote in anytime" door open, the next thousand malware developers, script kiddies, and DRM dealers will be happy to "fix" my computer, too.

I say that if you're a third party who wants to sell me some application, you sell it without DRM and without opening up any network back doors. You want to play Big Brother with someone's computer, do it with your own.

The headline lies (5, Interesting)

mumblestheclown (569987) | about 2 years ago | (#41723669)

First, I am no fan of patent trolls. However, both the article's headline and the slashdot headline are misleading.

The article claims "the numbers don't lie." The "numbers" it speaks of are basically the results of a survey in which one researchers polled a few startups and asked them if patent trolls were an issue. Quite a few said yes.

But the number is entirely without context. To use a slashdot favorite, the existence of cars also puts buggy whip manufacturers out of business and "costs them jobs." Just because something has an adverse effect on somebody's business.. or in this case somebody's potential business doesn't make it bad for the economy. in fact, taken as a whole you'd be hard pressed to find a legitimate study (not some boldrine and levine ass-pulled crapola) that suggests that patents taken as a whole are bad for an economy and for r&d - quite the opposite, taken as a whole, they're very very good. are there rough edges in patent regimes? of course. but i'd argue that patent trolls aren't really the problem. the real problem is the granting of patents unnecessarily for obvious bullshiat. if that goes away, then the sort of patent trolls that peopel complain about go away.

i have no problem with legitimate patent trolls, by which i mean some small company has made some innovation and then sues the hell out of some large company who simply ignores the small company's prior art. too many of you on slashdot are ironically too pro big business by proposing systems by which big companies could more easily do just that. legitimate holders of worthy ideas who lack the resources to turn those ideas into products have a financial incentive to license or transfer the ideas to those who can. and if they do get treated unfairly, like the guy who made the intermittent wiper blades was, then by all means, sue sue sue.

it could be that "patent trolls" really are a drain on the economy, but this article makes no such case. let's not forget that to somebody wanting the IP of somebody else, it's often convenient to "cry troll" and complain about all sorts of doom and gloom. i mean, darn that patent troll, oh, i dunno, porsche with their patent on some innovative brake mechanism who are keeping me from developing the next generation supercar and hiring tens of thousands of workers to develop it! if only they weren't such patent trolls hanging on to patents for the inventions that they developed!

more likely than not, this is only so much more verbage, planted here on slashdot where most anti-IP slanted stuff, no matter how specious, gets modded +5.

Re:The headline lies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41723697)

the existence of cars also puts buggy whip manufacturers out of business and "costs them jobs."

Yes, but at least the rest of us got cars out of the deal. Patent trolls better start making with the explanation of how they're making our lives better.

Re:The headline lies (2)

flyneye (84093) | about 2 years ago | (#41723813)

With a bit of tickling in this election year maybe we could get legislators who could see patent trolling as a TERRORIST ACTIVITY aimed to destroy the United States and ship the bastards to Guantanamo Bay Resort and Luxury Hotel where uniformed attendants can apply waterboard therapy in the spa till the patents run out their buttholes.

( I said that all in one breath, I did!)

Nice Daydream (5, Interesting)

GPierce (123599) | about 2 years ago | (#41724893)

"We" have been here before. Politics never seems to change. The following is a very loose description of a complex process over a few hundred years. It's hardly exact history, but it's reasonably true and close enough for government work.

Somewhere between 1750 and 1850 the Brits invented the Enclosure Acts as a way of throwing people off the "commons" (and off of their own property). It's not the only time when this occurred, but it was significant.

The dumbed-down version is that to keep the crappy little piece of land that had been in your family for a couple of centuries you had to build a fence or plant a hedge around it. Of course the cost of either of these was more than the value of the land.

A lot of people became dispossessed and their decedents wandered the roads of Great Brotain for two or three generations begging and starving. The smart guys sold out for the few pennies they could get and bought a boat ticket to the colonies.

When they arrived, many of them had one simple goal - to find a piece of ground, draw a circle around it, and make sure that no one ever gor to f%ck with them again.

The Native Americans never had a chance.

For those who need the still more dumbed-down version: The 16th and 17th Century British Aristocracy invented property and made sure that they got to keep most of it. Currently, Corporate America invented "Intellectual Property". In order to do this they corrupted the Patent Office and the Patent Court.

Prior to the Enclosure Acts, any peasant could raise a goat or a cow on the commons. It was part of their livelihood for a lot of years. Once they got thrown off their own land and the common land the got the "opportunity" of working for one of the pre-industrial revolution factories.

By the time of the American Revolution, British Manufacturing had become so sophisticated that no one in the colonies had a chance of setting up a competing factory. (Kind of like us and China btw).

And all this intellectual property crap does make a difference. When Lotus sued Borland, claiming that Borland's Quattro Pro spreadsheet emulated the "look and feel" of Lotus 1-2-3, it took ten years to get the judgment overthrown. During that period of time, one of the most creative companies in the US was unable to get financing. The couldn't even sell the company.

By the time they got out from under the judgment, the bean counters wound up in charge of Borland and Microsoft had moved on to the .Net platform. Borland's Delphi was a significantly better RAD development tool than Microsoft ever dreamed of, but by the time Borland was again able to compete, it was too late.
   

Re:The headline lies (4, Informative)

knotprawn (1935752) | about 2 years ago | (#41723757)

Not just the headline, the summary is rather unclear too. The summary states that

Newly-published research using data commissioned by Congress shows big rises in patent troll activity over the last five years — from 22% to 40% of all patent suits filed, with 4 out of five litigants being patent trolls

However, the actual article states that

Not only has the number of cases increased, but so has the proportion of these non-product-related litigants, from 22 percent to 40 percent of cases filed. They found that four of the top five patent litigants in America exist solely to file lawsuits.

The missing word, in the summary, of course, is TOP, without which the summary makes very little sense, statistics and common-sense wise.

Re:The headline lies (5, Interesting)

mikael (484) | about 2 years ago | (#41723785)

The current example I can think of is "floating-point textures" for GPU's. 15-20 years ago (1990's, 80287/80387, TMS34082), it was impossible to put all the transistor logic to handle floating-point calculations onto a single chip, let alone a cluster of them, so that concept was patented. Today, it's possible to get off-the-shelf logic cells that implement floating-point calculations, and the size of a GPU core is smaller than a NAND gate of a 6502. But the minute you combine graphics with floating-point, you suddenly become liable to pay-the-troll, even though CPU implementations (software rendering) won't be liable, nor will languages like OpenCL. It's only when you combine floating-point with graphics that the patent applies.

Re:The headline lies (2)

dimko (1166489) | about 2 years ago | (#41723879)

Imagine, Everyone steals everything. A lot of competition. 0 RND. The winner will be the one a) that has better prices/support/etc b) Someone wo does little things better, someone who innovates. Eitherway, customer wins.

Re:The headline lies (0)

chrismcb (983081) | about 2 years ago | (#41724743)

If everyone steals everything, there will be little incentive to innovate. And thus the customer loses.

Re:The headline lies (4, Informative)

Ironhandx (1762146) | about 2 years ago | (#41725105)

This is a false maxim. Innovation happened at a (relatively speaking) much faster pace before patents became the norm. The only thing protecting them were trade secrets. Which worked just fine. Patents came along to spur innovation because things like steam engines (probably a bad example, but you get the idea) were being kept as trade secrets and in order to compete you would have to develop your own from scratch. Nowadays with all of the advanced design tools we have? Minimal cost. You just need to have a clue as to what you're doing in the first place.

Back then you'd have had to prototype every single idea to see if it even had a chance of working.

Patents, as such, do nothing but stifle innovation now. The life span of most products is 5 years at best, meaning whoever is first to the gate gets a monopoly and rakes in billions. When the patent actually expires the product is, or should be, irrelevant.

Re:The headline lies (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 2 years ago | (#41728197)

This is a false maxim. Innovation happened at a (relatively speaking) much faster pace before patents became the norm. The only thing protecting them were trade secrets. Which worked just fine. Patents came along to spur innovation because things like steam engines (probably a bad example, but you get the idea) were being kept as trade secrets and in order to compete you would have to develop your own from scratch.

Patents have been around for 500 years and were one of the first acts enacted in this country after the Constitution, so I'm not sure exactly when you're referring to.

Re:The headline lies (2)

suutar (1860506) | about 2 years ago | (#41730083)

there is a difference between "existed" and "became the norm". Until 1988 there were under 75k submissions of US origin per year, usually under 70k. Now it's more like 200-250k per year. I believe this indicates a shift in mindset that places a lot more emphasis on patents as a business tool than existed previously.

Re:The headline lies (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724599)

it could be that "patent trolls" really are a drain on the economy, but this article makes no such case.

it could be that patents really are a net benefit to the economy, but nobody makes such case.

Why the hell should anti-patent people have to prove anything? The onus is on patent proponents to scientifically prove that the massive interference in the economy that is the "patent system" (really, just an unsystematic truthyness mess) is of net benefit in every single area of the economy where it is applied. Every patent blocks blocks billions of people from freeing doing stuff that might benefit them; the cost is definitely in the billions per year and is probably in the trillions.

more likely than not, this is only so much more verbage, planted here on slashdot where most anti-IP slanted stuff, no matter how specious, gets modded +5.

That's rich. The mainstream media basically never reports IP stories in balanced fashion due to moneyed interests and journalistic laziness. Places like /. are needed to balance that in some small way.

You are right to call the OP on poor science. Now, now about you now do the same for the much more anti-scientific pro-patent extremists?

Studies show patents are good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724685)

I have looked several times but I have been able to find a single study that shows patents actually help the economy? Every study I find seems to show that in the area studied patents are bad.

I understand the theory on why patents should be good but in practice the opposite seems true.

Can someone point to a positive study on patents?

This linked article was interesting in that it reported how patents help VCs hedge their investment risks and thus can encougage investment and innovation. With the non practicing entities playing an important role by buying patents of failed startups. Still the article does not show that in net patents are a benefit even there.

Re:The headline lies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724829)

Name one.

Re:The headline lies (1)

Sabriel (134364) | about 2 years ago | (#41724881)

Uh, "legitimate patent trolls"?

Seriously though, has anyone ever subjected the patent system to a proper, scientifically rigorous examination of its socioeconomic optimality?

Seems to me that it has last two fundamental flaws; it relies on "winner takes all" rewards and "obey us and suffer, or disobey us and suffer a lot more" penalties. It's about as democratic as a dictatorship, and it also seems to me that the system rapidly becomes inefficient once society's R&D resources grow beyond certain points. We have, in my opinion, hit those points some time ago.

Re:The headline lies (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 2 years ago | (#41728283)

Uh, "legitimate patent trolls"?

I believe he's using the original definition - "non-practicing entities" or companies that exist solely for research and licensing, rather than manufacturing - as opposed to the new Slashdottian definition of "any company that I don't like who uses patents".

Seriously though, has anyone ever subjected the patent system to a proper, scientifically rigorous examination of its socioeconomic optimality?

Seems to me that it has last two fundamental flaws; it relies on "winner takes all" rewards and "obey us and suffer, or disobey us and suffer a lot more" penalties.

Not really. The "winner takes all" reward only applies with regard to design patents. Otherwise, damages can be limited to reasonable royalties. It only seems like such a huge winner-takes-all when the background revenue numbers are mindbogglingly huge. For example, prior to this Apple-Samsung suit (which was 80% about design patents), the 'biggest patent suit evar' was Microsoft v. i4i, with damages of $300 million... over the course of 4-5 years of the suit, during which Microsoft made approximately $40-50 billion... on sales of Office alone. A roughly 1% royalty (which would have been more like .2% if they settled early) is not really a "winner takes all".

This is fine for a litigation based economy . . . (4, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#41723707)

. . . but can litigation really fuel a whole country . . . ?

The members of Congress might want to change this . . . except that most of them are professional lawyers.

Oh, well.

Solve the problem at the root: change the law (5, Insightful)

dingen (958134) | about 2 years ago | (#41723733)

Patent trolls will continue to be a problem as long as the patent laws aren't revised. The trolls are merely a symptom, the laws are the cause.

Re:Solve the problem at the root: change the law (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41723917)

There would be much fewer problems if the existing laws were actually enforced. The bulk of awarded patents don't meet the requirements demanded by the current laws. What makes you think new laws will be any different?

Re:Solve the problem at the root: change the law (1)

dingen (958134) | about 2 years ago | (#41724037)

I'm thinking of new laws like "patents are only valid for products you actually manufacture" and "only specific implementations of ideas are patentable, not the ideas themselves". You know, stuff that actually makes sense. There is none of that going on in the US right now.

Re:Solve the problem at the root: change the law (3, Interesting)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 years ago | (#41724173)

"only specific implementations of ideas are patentable, not the ideas themselves" - yep that's a good one... and it's already on the books if only it would be enforced.

As for "patents are only valid for things you manufacture" I can see two big problems with that: For one it kills "ivory tower" research patents, royalties on which often help fund further research by folks who don't care to be involved in the mundanities of bringing things to market, but are actually creating *real* innovation. For another it would create problems for those who invent something brilliant, but lack the business acumen to rapidly bring it to market - if you're talking about something that can't be readily produced in some Chinese factory it can take years or even decades to get the ball rolling - you're racing against the clock before your patent expires.

Personally I think reverting to the original method where each patent grant required the President's signature would solve most of the problems. The guy's got enough on his plate without signing hundreds of patents a day (an average 602/day were granted in 2010) - so it would force the patent office to massively restrict the number of patents it grants, limiting them to (hopefully) only the most truly innovative andmuseful.

Re:Solve the problem at the root: change the law (1)

dingen (958134) | about 2 years ago | (#41724289)

Perhaps the problems of the research centers and sole inventors could be solved with a license?

The main issue with patent trolls is that they're not actually part of the industry at all, they simply buy up other people's patents and sue companies who infringe. I think it would be great if getting a patent granted would make you manufacture your invention.

Re:Solve the problem at the root: change the law (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about 2 years ago | (#41724351)

A license to what? You are denying them the patent.

Re:Solve the problem at the root: change the law (2)

dingen (958134) | about 2 years ago | (#41724421)

No, I'm not denying the patent, I'm making the patent invalid if the owner doesn't manufacture the patented product. This means you can get a patent for an invention before actually producing it, but if you want to sue an infringer, you have to manufacture the product yourself in order to win in court.

Re:Solve the problem at the root: change the law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724525)

^^This

Re:Solve the problem at the root: change the law (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 2 years ago | (#41724681)

You still didn't solve the research institute problem. They would hold the patent, and never would be producing it, so they could never sue over infringement.

Re:Solve the problem at the root: change the law (1)

mdfst13 (664665) | about 2 years ago | (#41725055)

How about this process:

1. File the patent application. The application will not be publicly viewable, but it will hold your place in line. Also, this starts the patent period and determines the expiration date.

2. Develop a prototype or license the patent to someone who can develop a prototype.

3. Notify the patent office that you now have a prototype. The patent application now becomes publicly viewable and you can enforce it.

If someone invents a device that would be infringing after step 1 but before step 3, then the presumption should be that the application was obvious and you should lose your patent. Note that this is a presumption (like innocence) and can be challenged. For example, a potential licensee may develop a prototype from your patent without actually paying your license fee. Obviously in that case, you can enforce the patent on them.

If the patent period expires without you completing step 2, your patent is over and you can't enforce it.

This hits patent trolls (who never develop prototypes) while leaving a true research institution alone.

Re:Solve the problem at the root: change the law (1)

Darby (84953) | about 2 years ago | (#41725717)


You still didn't solve the research institute problem. They would hold the patent, and never would be producing it, so they could never sue over infringement.

There is no problem. If they make nothing what point would there be in them suing anybody as they have done nothing. Sell your patent to somebody who will make something out of it or lose the patent.
Patents to stop anyone from doing anything useful are the clear problem.

I have a patent (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#41723795)

on stories complaining about absurd patents

pay up slashdot

Re:I have a patent (3, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41723867)

on stories complaining about absurd patents pay up slashdot

4Chan called... they said it's invalid: they're prior art and patented online absurdity in its entirety.

Re:I have a patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724603)

But even that doesn't matter, because Al Gore invented the Internet.

OUTLAW GMOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41723799)

RIGHT NOW!

Grain of salt (5, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 2 years ago | (#41723825)

No matter how much I dislike patent trolls, I view this kind of report with the same skepticism as I view RIAA reporting how much they "lose" to piracy every year.

The economy matters now? (2, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | about 2 years ago | (#41723865)

Why should anyone suddenly care about what hurts the economy?

- Environmental trolls harm the economy by stopping commerce and development, often with zero benefit to the environment.
- Malpractice lawsuit trolls raise the cost of health care, which is bad for the economy.
- Government union trolls continually seek to provide fewer government services for a higher cost, which is bad for the economy.
- Education union trolls do the same for education, which is bad for future productivity and bad for the economy.
- Disability lawsuit trolls, who sue businesses for such evils as having signs a few inches too high or too low, cause harm to those businesses and the economy.
- Defense appropriation trolls, who spend government money in thinly-veiled giveaways to crony companies, take money from productive enterprise and funnel it to non-productive uses. This hurts the economy.
- The same goes for green energy grants to cronies, arts-related grants to cronies, and transportation appropriations to build vanity projects.
- Shareholder lawsuit trolls, who sue because their stock went up or down, cause harm to businesses and the economy.
- Race grievance trolls, who tell companies to spend their time meeting workforce racial quotas instead of producing goods and services, hurt the economy.
- Class action lawsuit trolls, who sue for millions and then settle the lawsuits for millions of dollars for the lawyers and a $1 off coupon for their clients, hurt the economy.
- Farm trolls, who have convinced the government to write them checks not to farm, hurt the economy.

Clearly the patent system needs some reform to rein in the patent trolls. But what about all the rest of the trolls that hurt the economy? Can we reform them too please? Or are we all just pretending to care about the economy this time as an insincere talking point?

Re:The economy matters now? (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about 2 years ago | (#41724121)

Malpractice lawsuit trolls raise the cost of health care, which is bad for the economy.

Keep repeating it, maybe it'll turn true someday. While you wait for that day to come, read about how the state with the harshest anti-tort rules still has expensive healthcare [newyorker.com] (in McAllen, TX, healthcare spending per capita was higher than income per capita at the time of the article).

tl;dr: When a doctor says "I have to run these tests or else I'll be sued if I miss something!" what they really mean is "I get $50 for each test I order. Ka-CHING!!" Yeah, Texas's doctors' malpractice insurance premiums went way down. What did they do with the savings? They bought X-Ray machines and other testing equipment so they could run MORE tests.

Re:The economy matters now? (1)

Kohath (38547) | about 2 years ago | (#41724149)

So your point is: someone is going to take the money, no matter what. (Because we're all victims who can't take care of ourselves.) Lawyers deserve the money more than doctors.

Re:The economy matters now? (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about 2 years ago | (#41724537)

Malpractice lawsuit trolls raise the cost of health care, which is bad for the economy.

Keep repeating it, maybe it'll turn true someday. While you wait for that day to come, read about how the state with the harshest anti-tort rules still has expensive healthcare [newyorker.com] (in McAllen, TX, healthcare spending per capita was higher than income per capita at the time of the article).

tl;dr: When a doctor says "I have to run these tests or else I'll be sued if I miss something!" what they really mean is "I get $50 for each test I order. Ka-CHING!!" Yeah, Texas's doctors' malpractice insurance premiums went way down. What did they do with the savings? They bought X-Ray machines and other testing equipment so they could run MORE tests.

Haven't read the article you linked to (relax, it's in another tab, and I'll get to it in a moment) but if that is the takeaway, it's hardly worth the effort. An internist ordering a $50 test doesn't get the money for the test. He also doesn't buy X-Ray machines. There's more, but I'll save the balance for after a read of the New Yorker article.

Re:The economy matters now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41727173)

You can't even read moron so how will you manage that?

Re:The economy matters now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41727753)

An internist ordering a $50 test doesn't get the money for the test. He also doesn't buy X-Ray machines

A) they DO buy x-ray machines. I know a pediatrician who bought one and now calls himself a "sports" pediatrician.
B) in Texas, doctors can collectively own hospitals, so if they don't own an x-ray machine themselves, they send them to their hospital to have it done, sure they don't get the full $50 then, but they get a dividend.

Re:The economy matters now? (2)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#41724223)

At first I was going to argue against your point, but then I realized I couldn't easily do that. What you say is generally true. That said:

- Someone should defent the environment and hold polluters accountable. There has been MUCH human suffering resulting from commercial pollution.
- Malpractice law... I don't have experience per se, but I think malpractice is kind of bullshit. I think every doctor wants to do a good job and certainly whatever is best for the patient. Doctors are human and don't know EVERYTHING.
- Government unions? Ugh... Government seeking to avoid them resort to expensive contractor services which usually waste a LOT of money.
- Education trolls? Sorry... I don't follow. I know what the educational systems are up against. I see no trolls there. Education has been and remains on the losing side of things. Want to fix the problems? Stop paying school administrators $300,000 a year and do something about the cost of books.
- Disability lawsuit trolls? Hold insurers responsible for honoring their agreements and hold employers responsible for their working conditions. Auto accidents? Sorry, but that's got to go. Driving on the public streets are an unpredictable hazzard. Short of criminal negligence and drunk driving, that's as far as it needs to go.
- Defense appro... what?! We know they waste money. But to call them trolls? No. They sleep with the government to get their favors. This practice goes by a different name. Not troll.
- Green energy research is simply required to make any sort of progress. There was no progress into space without "useless research" to get us there. Not every bit of research turns into viable results. Without it, we are stuck in a hopeless cycle spinning around until we die.
- Shareholders NEED to sue the companies who are not representing their interests. The capital raising jackasses who sell interest in their companies and then do not follow the interests of the shareholders are committing fraud. I just can't get behind that.
- Race grievance trolls? Hell yeah... get rid of them. In this world, you have to play the game by the rules. Sometimes you can change the rules to suit you, but mostly you just join in under the existing rules and maybe change the game from within. There was a time for race equality. But now? It is simply crap.
- Class action trolls. There needs to be a better way and there should be rules for that which do not include lawyers getting millions of dollars. They need to get their hourly rate and nothing more... and it needs to be reasonable. This definitely needs regulation.
- Farm trolls? I'm not sure that was their idea. At least initially, it was to keep farmers from over-producing and the product from being undervalued. Individual farmers will not do this without incentive. There has to be a better way, but it can't be by socializing agriculture.

But generally, I agree with you. There are a LOT of players out there sucking the life out of the economy. They should all be dealt with. The problem is that you view resembles the views of Adolf Hitler. I don't disagree with Hitler... except for, perhaps, his methods.

Re:The economy matters now? (1)

Ambassador Kosh (18352) | about 2 years ago | (#41725633)

With malpractice one problem is that many doctors are inept. They prescribe drugs based on handouts from drug companies and act like authorities when they have little understanding of the system.

I don't think they are purposefully inept I think we are just at the point where we have more medical knowledge then any human can learn. As we learn more we have drugs designed for specific conditions and if you assign it to a similar but different problem a lot of damage can be caused.

We need to accept that humans can no longer be doctors effectively and that they need to be backed up by a computer. We need computers to make the diagnosis and humans to carry it out until we can have computers to those parts also.

One thing I have even learned from classes is many of the doctors really don't care very much about learning at all. They just wanted to learn/cheat enough to graduate and after that their learning is done. Sure not all doctors are that way but enough are that we definitely need malpractice.

Re:The economy matters now? (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 2 years ago | (#41726563)

- Malpractice law... I don't have experience per se, but I think malpractice is kind of bullshit. I think every doctor wants to do a good job and certainly whatever is best for the patient. Doctors are human and don't know EVERYTHING.

I'll see you your inexperience and raise you one Jayant Patel [wikipedia.org] .

(It just so happens I know people in two countries whose lives have been ruined by this man.)

Re:The economy matters now? (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#41726783)

....h.o.l.y...c.r.a.p....

Re:The economy matters now? (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about 2 years ago | (#41724373)

Why should anyone suddenly care about what hurts the economy?

Because the objective of patents has an economical nature.

If you want the equivalent argument for, for example, environmental trolls, you'll have to show that they hurt the environment, not the economy.

Re:The economy matters now? (2)

Ambassador Kosh (18352) | about 2 years ago | (#41725599)

What about all the externalized costs of many corporations and their pollutants. They get to dump pollution into the air, land and sea and don't have to pay the costs. In the end the taxpayers have to pay the costs to deal with the damage.

Many businesses could not exist without taxpayer handouts. Those systems are also a drain on our economy. Any business that is costing us more to clean up their mess then they create in value for our economy are a loss for us.

Do you think that coal power is really cheaper when you consider the total cost to run the business and the cost to clean up the damage? So long as we make future generations pay for the damage we do we can have the illusion that many things are cheap.

I also think this has a massively slowing effect on technology. We are at our best as a species when faced with a challenge we need to work together to overcome and having the true cost of things charged would provide large incentives and funding for better systems.

Shakespeare's Dick (5, Interesting)

some old guy (674482) | about 2 years ago | (#41723909)

The character in Henry VI, not what you first thought (you insensitive clod!), was spot-on. "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

As long as 99% of all American politicians are lawyers, and lawyers can make money from patent law, there will never be meaningful patent reform. Until enough of a voting block decides that attorneys make poor statesmen as a class and throws the lot of them out of office in favor of truly populist, honest representatives, we're stuck with what we've got.

Patent law, civil torts, and personal injury are all areas where the Rule of Law has been perverted into the Rule of Lawyers.

Nothing short of an electoral or economic revolution can rectify the problem.

Any odds-making experts care to venture an estimate on that happening?

Re:Shakespeare's Dick (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 2 years ago | (#41725081)

Ok, so you have to find a god bigger than your god to smite your god, because they are unfair. The only result will be most everyone is dead. Choose you battles

Re:Shakespeare's Dick (2)

some old guy (674482) | about 2 years ago | (#41725933)

Aside from demonstrating a profound inability to construct a coherent sentence, you have also made the false presumption that I even have a god.

Put down the pipe before you type.

Goat (1)

syntheticmemory (1232092) | about 2 years ago | (#41723923)

Time to patent my troll fighting goat.....

Patent trolls? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724015)

Impossible, there's prior art on toll bridges.

Bad summary (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 2 years ago | (#41724181)

"It used to just be speculation, but the numbers are now in — patent trolls are costing America jobs and economic growth.

Really? Wow, let's see!

Newly-published research using data commissioned by Congress shows big rises in patent troll activity over the last five years — from 22% to 40% of all patent suits filed, with 4 out of five litigants being patent trolls.

Well, that's a start... it doesn't really show that trolls are "costing America jobs and economic growth," but it shows that there are a lot of trolls.

And then suddenly we get a bunch of weasel words:

Other papers show that jobs are being lost and startups threatened, while VC money is just making things worse by making startups waste money filing more patents. Worst of all, it's clear this is just the tip of the iceberg; there's evidence that unseen pre-lawsuit settlements with patent trolls represent a much larger threat than anything the research can easily measure."

... in other words, the numbers are not actually in and this is all just unsupported speculation and vague mention of uncited papers and alleged evidence.

Patent Standards, Not Trolls (3, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 2 years ago | (#41724247)

The problem with patent litigation is not whether the party doing the enforcement produces things, but whether the cost of the patent enforcement outweighs the value. The purpose of patents is to reward inventors, not manufacturers. If an inventor comes up with something novel that should be rewarded through the patent system, whether he builds a factory or licenses it to a manufacturer and continues to focus on invention does not change the worth of the patent. If he deserves to be rewarded but wishes to focus on continued invention instead of licensing, and a third party company is willing to pay him for the patent, it does not change the net value of the patent.

What makes patents harmful is that they are too long, too strong, too easily granted, and given the presumption of validity in court. As long as that is true, harmful patents will be harmful whether they are wielded by abusive licensing agencies or anticompetitive manufacturers. It could be even worse with manufacturers, since they are not merely maximizing direct revenue from the patent but also have a financial motive to harm their competitors. Surely the mobile device patent war has shown us that merely being a manufacturer does not prevent bad patents from harming our economy.

By focusing our disdain on those companies that specialize in patent licensing and enforcement, we are distracting ourselves from the real problems of the patents themselves. It will lead us to attempt legislation which will only prevent independent inventors from having an open market for their inventions and force them to work with incumbent manufacturers. If patents are to reward inventors, we should not narrow their markets and chain them to manufacturing. If patents are harmful, we should limit their power for everyone, including manufacturers.

Patent Troll is the wrong name... (3, Insightful)

cas2000 (148703) | about 2 years ago | (#41724295)

A troll, the modern internet variety at least, is something that is annoying but mostly harmless. Patent Trolls are anything but harmless.

They're more like Patent Privateers - except that instead of having letters of marque to attack foreign shipping, they have letters of marque to attack local companies and any foreign company trying to do business locally.

Worse, not satisfied with destroying their own economy, the US is repeatedly trying to extend their jurisdiction with ACTA, SOPA, so-called "Free Trade Agreements" and the like.

Marx was right, capitalism will eat itself...and patent privateers are just one of the more obvious carnivores. The capitalist ecosystem has evolved predators and, as is common with predators, both the young and the old & tired are the easy prey.

Re:Patent Troll is the wrong name... (3)

marcosdumay (620877) | about 2 years ago | (#41724393)

Marx was right, capitalism will eat itself...

No, it won't. Government coruption have already eaten Capitalism a long time ago, it's long dead and can't eat anything anymore.

Re:Patent Troll is the wrong name... (1)

Tough Love (215404) | about 2 years ago | (#41725849)

You're right, it should be "patent roach".

You have to sue before you can talk (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 2 years ago | (#41724395)

Due to a court decision about ten years ago, patent holders now have to sue before they can discuss patent licensing. If you accuse someone of infringement, they can sue to have the patent invalidated, and they have some tactical advantages if they sue first. So patent holders don't send infringement letters any more. They have to start with litigation. That's the reason for the boom in litigation.

It's a huge pain for everyone.

Re:You have to sue before you can talk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724589)

Not even close to being accurate. Yes, if you accuse someone of infringement, they can sue to get a court to declare they don't infringe (or the patent is invalid). But that didn't start 10 years ago, although about then the threshold for deciding the threat was serious enough to justify a declaratory judgement action was changed. Regardless, there is a *lot* of licensing activity going on out there without first filing suit. The cease and desist letters are still sent, they're just carefully less threatening.

Re:You have to sue before you can talk (2)

a_n_d_e_r_s (136412) | about 2 years ago | (#41726285)

Due to a court decision about ten years ago, patent holders now have to sue before they can discuss patent licensing.
       

Bullshit! There is no such rule.

Its perfectly normal to discuss licensing deals before suing someone. It happens all the time between civilized companies.

Then there are the rouge companies who refuse to even talk about licensing and sue directly - but they are hardly the norm.

Re:You have to sue before you can talk (1)

dkf (304284) | about 2 years ago | (#41727925)

Then there are the rouge companies who refuse to even talk about licensing and sue directly - but they are hardly the norm.

But they have fabulous facial cosmetics!

Nah ... (3, Funny)

golodh (893453) | about 2 years ago | (#41724411)

Just a load of Liberal propaganda if you ask me.

Everyone knows that patents allow one to monitize valuable intellectual property and that NPE's generate wealth by agressively monetizing valuable intellectual property.

What can possibly be wrong with that? Nothing really, so there you go.

So I don't need to see no leftie 'study' that tries to argue that right is wrong and left is right, ok? I have my own truth.

Interesting quote from the article (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724935)

"She also found that patent trolls were frequently used as a buyer for the patents of failed startups."

Hmmm ... this means that the owners of the startups actually received compensation for their technology. Without patents, they would have been left with a lobby full of foosball tables. Now, they actually reaped some return on their investment. Let me guess ... did they refuse to cash those checks out of principle? Did they donate their patents to the public?

No ... they sold their technology for $$$$$, which is the goal of most businesses ... to generate revenue.

Another quote -- this time the article reproduced this quote:
The truth is that the patents aren't a moat around the startup's product, but around the VC's investment. As every VC knows, a huge proportion of startups fail -- as many as 90 percent. Given this high failure rate, VCs don't see startups as investments in themselves, but as pieces of an investment portfolio; they've placed bets across the board, expecting most of them to lose.

And the author thinks this is a bad idea? Maybe the author didn't realize that "angle investors" are not actually angels that dole out miracles (i.e., $$$$) for free. Most business fails because they are started by people with great ideas but lousy business sense. They can make a great product/technology but they don't know how to make a profit. Most VCs didn't get the money they did by making dumb business moves.

"I've written before about the problems software patents pose, especially to open source projects."
Hence, the built in bias found throughout the article. Expecting a fair and balanced article out of this author is like expecting Fox News to air a 60 minute special on the triumphs of the Obama administration.

"the academics analyzing the Lex Machina data observed that many cases never reached court."
The same can be said about EVERY type of legal action – criminal or civil, murder case, slip and fall, negligence, or security fraud (to name just a few).

"The vast majority of defendants settle because patent litigation is risky, disruptive, and expensive, regardless of the merits."
FYI – that is a doubled edged sword. It is also risky, disruptive, and expensive for the patent holder to bring suit.

"When cases actually go to court, they are often unsuccessful"
What a meaningless statement. People go to court because there is a genuine disagreement over something. Given competent counsel, you would expect that each side wins about 50% of the time (i.e., a coin flip). Settlements happen because one side knows they have a loser case and are trying to mitigate the damages. The other side is willing to settle for less because it is very expensive to try a case and there is always a chance that something strange happens.

"Software patents are far too easy to obtain; they are poor quality, with prior art invalidating them if one is able to check."
This from somebody who has never attempted to obtain a software-related patent. If he did, he would have NEVER stated that software patents are easy to obtain. If he thinks that prior art invalidating that patent is easy to obtain, then invalidating an already issued patent (with good prior art) is much less expensive than most patent settlements. As such, to the extent that somebody settles, the odds are very great that they looked for prior art and couldn't find it.

This is a typical open-source anti-software patent rant that the average slashdotter eats up. It merely rehashes the same uninformed arguments that have been stated here ad infinitum.

Re:Interesting quote from the article (4, Insightful)

amoeba1911 (978485) | about 2 years ago | (#41726003)

Your statements are so retarded.

People go to court because there is a genuine disagreement over something

Yea... I doubt anyone would ever take someone to court just to drag them through a lengthy court battle to cause financial ruin... nah, surely that wouldn't happen.. right? wrong, happens all the time.

Given competent counsel, you would expect that each side wins about 50% of the time (i.e., a coin flip)

bullshit... in reality the side with more $$ to throw at the lawyers wins.

Settlements happen because one side knows they have a loser case and are trying to mitigate the damages

If you don't want to settle, have to keep paying the lawyers somehow to represent the case - lawyer firms don't run a charity. You have no choice but to settle most of the time, even if you've done nothing wrong. There is no way in hell you can pay your lawyers to defend your case if you have a small business to defend. Small business means even if you win the case, there's no way in hell you can recoup the money you wasted on lawyers. As for the patent trolls, they can keep suing the hell out of everyone and they have nothing to lose.

invalidating an already issued patent (with good prior art) is much less expensive than most patent settlements

bull shit. Apple. several dozens of prior art. Samsung still lost the case because idiot jury thinks "prior art runs on a different cpu hence must not apply". That's like saying you patented window hinge? ooh that must be completely valid brand new patent even though it's the same exact hinge used in a door, the door hinge doesn't count as prior art because it's attached to a door, and this is totally brand new because it's attached to a window. zomg, idiotic shit likes this makes it to court and despite being laughable, it is a crippling nightmare. It's a total waste.

In the end, frivolous patents and their trolls cost everyone billions, and the only people who make a profit are lawyers... and that's exactly why the patent system isn't going to change - because the lawyers profit from it. We have a country run by lawyers. They wouldn't dare change the law in a way that could hurt their college buddies. The whole thing is mind numbingly idiotic, yet there's nothing anyone can do about it. Then there's idiots like you who say patent abuse is somehow alright. Bull shit.

Re:Interesting quote from the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41726119)

"I doubt anyone would ever take someone to court just to drag them through a lengthy court battle to cause financial ruin. ... nah, surely that wouldn't happen.. right? wrong, happens all the time"

Retards like you might ... however, anybody represented by even halfway intelligent counsel doesn't bring unwarranted lawsuits. Most businesses are in it to make money. Dragging someone into court solely for the purpose of causing financial ruin is both extremely risky business and financially dumb. They could face antitrust claims as well as other claims against them for doing something like that. Of course, if it happens "all the time," you should be able to rattle off 20 or so patent lawsuits that financially ruined a company. I'll be waiting .... oh wait, you don't know of any?

"bullshit... in reality the side with more $$ to throw at the lawyers wins"
Hardly. The well-established companies don't like patents because (i) they are always taking other company's technologies and (ii) they lose patent lawsuits against them. For example, just Google uniloc + microsoft. That being said, don't let the facts get in the way your of your anti-patent rant.

"You have no choice but to settle most of the time, even if you've done nothing wrong."
Hardly. FYI – slashdot articles may be a great way to learn about new technology ... however, they are terrible at representing the law. There are 2 main ways of getting around a patent lawsuit: (i) their patent is not invalid and (ii) you are not infringing. If their patent is invalid, you can get the USPTO to invalidate for you (and have the lawsuit stayed) for a small fraction of a settlement. If you are clearly not infringing (and you win), you have a very good argument that the other side should pay your legal costs. Regardless, if "you've done nothing wrong," then there are mechanisms by which

"That's like saying you patented window hinge? ooh that must be completely valid brand new patent even though it's the same exact hinge used in a door, the door hinge doesn't count as prior art because it's attached to a door"
You really don't know what you are talking about. That rejection would be made 99% of the time at the USPTO. As for the Apple/Samsung thing, instead of going to the jury, Samsung could have filed a reexamination request with this alleged "prior art." The USPTO is all too happy to reject patents these days. There is an extremely high rate of getting patents overturned (or at least modified) on reexaminations at the USPTO. My guess is that the prior art wasn't as good as Samsung claimed it to be.

"in the end, frivolous patents and their trolls cost everyone billions"
In the end, you have NO F'N IDEA whether or not a patent is frivolous or a lawsuit is frivolous. It would take someone experienced days and days to independently verify any claim such as that.

You only know what interested parties tell you. If you listened to Fox News, Obama is the worst president . ever. If you listen to democrats, Mitt Romney will cause millions of elderly to lose access to healthcare. Reading slashdot about software patents (or patents in general) is like watching Fox News about Obama. Don't ever expect anything positive to be said and expect misrepresentations every second sentence.

Slashdot is feeding their readership the narrative they want to read (i.e., patents are bad). I would have hoped that slashdot would be a hotbed of critical thinkers boy was I wrong. You guys gulp down this BS faster than a tea bagger reading a story about Obama's fake birth certificate.

The whole thing is mind numbingly idiotic, yet there's nothing anyone can do about it. Then there's idiots like you who say patent abuse is somehow alright. Bull shit
QQ

Damage indeed.... (2)

BLKMGK (34057) | about 2 years ago | (#41725191)

Think of an idea, a software package, a new widget. Now, you willing to play roulette and try to build it without first making really sure that someone isn't going to sue you? Or will you first pay lawyers to research patents? And incorporate to cover your ass? How much will you spend before you even begin to do anything with your idea? Unless you REALLY love this thing are you even going to bother? Look at the huge mountain of hassle and money in front of the pursuit of any idea, is it any wonder that so few really seem to pursue their ideas? Most of us have lives we'd like to remain somewhat sane...

Re:Damage indeed.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41726139)

"Now, you willing to play roulette and try to build it without first making really sure that someone isn't going to sue you?"

People do it all the time. Land development projects face lawsuits all the time because of NIMBYs. They overcome. Sometimes they don't, but you don't get anywhere in life acting like a frightened turtle. You take a chance of getting into a car accident everytime you drive your car to work ... however, does that stop you?

If you have a software project ... nobody is going to bother you unless you start making money. You don't make money suing people with no money or a little money. Only after you are successful will people come looking to see if you are infringing. You may be, but odds are is that they may only take a very small percentage. Moreover, if you are smart and get patents on your technology, you will be much better placed to be bought out by one of the bigger players (isn't that the goal of most software developers? getting bought out by somebody else?)

its election time (1)

SaZZer (204004) | about 2 years ago | (#41726391)

I wonder if any of the candidates will take note of this and pledge to stop patent trolls in order to bring more jobs back...

If there are patent trolls,... (1)

Tanuki64 (989726) | about 2 years ago | (#41726535)

...are there copyright trolls, too? Strangely I never heard this term. Maybe because copyright does not harm big corporations like patents? Why should I care for one and not the other? 'Patent troll' is a propaganda concept of huge companies like Apple, Microsoft and others against small companies which throw a spanner in the works of their profit interests. For me as average consumer I could not care less. Or who really thinks that savings will reach the end user? The corporations just want to use inventions for free. Not much different from people who download stuff and are sued into oblivion by copyright trolls.

Re:If there are patent trolls,... (2)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#41727117)

...are there copyright trolls, too? Strangely I never heard this term. Maybe because copyright does not harm big corporations like patents? Why should I care for one and not the other?

You haven't heard of Righthaven and Andrew Crossley, just two examples?

Against Intellectual Monopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41726663)

This book (http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/papers/imbookfinalall.pdf) gives a quite thurough explanation of how patents and other intellectual property does much harm and little good by comparing the success of various fields before and after they got patent protection. According to them, there is no evidence that patents increase the rate of invention or the rate at which inventions are brought to market - rather the opposite.

Apple... (1)

wolverine2k (2620741) | about 2 years ago | (#41726807)

And isn't Apple the biggest patent troll of all...

You wouldn't build a gate across a public road! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41726911)

You wouldn't build a gate across a public road!

The police would remove it and throw you in prison.

Obstructionist patents and copyrights are gates across public roads.

Obstructionist patents and copyrights should be stripped via eminent domain laws and the abusers thrown in prison.

They are unfairly extracting value from society without contributing - just like counterfeiters and should be treated as such.

Correlation does NOT imply causation! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41727243)

How'd this "study" make it onto slashdot?! The sky was blue when my mom got cancer! I fear blue skies!!!!! This "Study" is roughly equivilant to the previous statement. I'm not a fan of what patents are doing, but get a real study...

The solution is so simple... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41727393)

...make it where, if you wish to enforce a patent, you MUST have developed AND RELEASED (e.g. actively selling) a product/whatever OR have licensed the patent to someone who is selling a product within say, 3 years of the patent being granted. If you do not, then the patent expires. If you do, then the patent remains valid for 4 more years (or some arbitrary amount of time), then the patent expires.

Problem solved.

Courts, congress, or patent office? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41729307)

The problem could be fixed in either the courts or congress if we had a strategy of what to do.

Possible directions:

There is a mismatch between how easy it is to get a patent and presumption of validity when you get to court.
    It would help a lot if the court was more skeptical and required the owner of the patent to prove it was unique, useful, non-obvious, and that the person who patented the gadget either had implemented it or at least had the ability to implement it at the time of issue. This should be required of the patent holder without incurring costs to the person they wish to sue. Kind of like doing job the patent office was supposed to have done but just in time, when it matters.

Requiring a working model at the patent office would be nice.

Changing the idea that a patent is not IP, but rather permission to sue to protect the inventor's ability to manufacture and sell his product. If there is no business to protect after 5 years, then the patent failed the usefullness test. (Wasn't useful to him.) Selling the patent is not permitted unless it transfers with a useful business supported by the patent. This would be a problem for the guy who invented the intermittent wipers, but today with the Internet if the guy can't figure out how to sell something on his own in 5 years, as an inventor, I think I'm ok with that. Strange sham business arrangements attempting to circumvent this need not apply.

Just because it's done on a computer does not make it new or unique. The idea being patented should be able to stand without the computer.

If we have known how to do it for a long time, but technology just became available then patenting it now that is is practical should not be permitted. The patent should be on the new technology that made it possible, not on the old application that is now practical. (Even if the money is in the old application.)

We need a better test for what is obvious. A problem with many folks openly working on a problem and only one succeeding is a good test. The McCormick reaper is a good example. These are the sorts of fields we need patents to encourage folks to solve problems. A patent that starts a whole new field is a rare, but very useful exception. (Perhaps the few of these a year should be signed by the President with a ceremony.)

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