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Patent System Not Broken, Argues IBM's Chief Patent Counsel

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the which-is-good-because-being-broken-is-patented dept.

Patents 152

New submitter TurinX writes "Unsurprisingly, IBM's Chief Patent Counsel, Manny Schecter, thinks the patent system isn't broken. He says, 'Patent disputes like [the Apple-Samsung case] are a natural characteristic of a vigorously competitive industry. And they're nothing new: Similar skirmishes have historically occurred in areas as diverse as sewing machines, winged flight, agriculture, and telegraph technology. Each marked the emergence of incredible technological advances, and each generated similar outcries about the patent system. We are actually witnessing fewer patent suits per patent issued today than the historical average.'" Regarding software patents, he argues, "If patent litigation caused by the U.S. patent system stifled innovation, U.S. software companies would not be the most successful in the world." His recommendation is that we should be patient and "let the system work." Schecter's editorial at Wired is one of a series of expert opinions on the patent system; we've already discussed Richard Stallman's contribution.

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Well.... really? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41936389)

The title is all you need to know...

Patent System Not Broken, Argues IBM's Chief Patent Counsel

Of course he will say that, his job depends on there being patents to work and litigate with.

Re:Well.... really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41936425)

It is not just him that benefits. IBM has heavily invested in patents for last decade or two. It benefits IBM to keep the status quo.

Re:Well.... really? (3, Interesting)

dmbasso (1052166) | about 2 years ago | (#41937175)

It benefits IBM to keep the status quo.

It benefits all of the big ones by keeping the small and fast innovators out of the game. They are quite happy (excuse the anthropomorphism) litigating one another. For them it is just part of the business, and we pay for all the costs anyway.

It would be awesome (and therefore will never happen) if patent protection would not apply for free/libre/open & not-for-profit endeavors. Anybody willing to implement or improve on something patent protected could do so freely, as long as the whole public could benefit from it.

Re:Well.... really? (1)

Tough Love (215404) | about 2 years ago | (#41938385)

It benefits all of the big ones by keeping the small and fast innovators out of the game.

Well, is it really benefitting Apple as it tears its reputation to shreds and bleeds karma like a stuck pig?

Re:Well.... really? (3, Informative)

simcop2387 (703011) | about 2 years ago | (#41937245)

Decade? I think you mean century. IBM for a long time has been one of the largest patent holders around. They've just been far less litigious (AFAIK) about it.

Re:Well.... really? (1)

jhoegl (638955) | about 2 years ago | (#41936429)

Agreed.
I mean I understand the reasoning behind the patent system and the arguments for it, but it in essence creates a sanctioned Monopoly, which actually stifles innovation instead of enhancing it.
It is a complex issue to be sure.

Re:Well.... really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41936787)

It is complex. The granting of the monopoly, however, could be argued to incent the creation of the patentable invention in the first place. Without the patent protection, knock-offs might immediately commoditize the invention, and make the invention effort uneconomic.

To be sure, I agree the system is effed up. Plenty of what seem to me to be trivial ideas getting patents, but the monopoly creation (for a period) is not necessarily the factor that stifles innovation. YMMV. Tim

Re:Well.... really? (3)

foniksonik (573572) | about 2 years ago | (#41938383)

The problem with this argument in the modern era is that few if any "inventions" are used in isolation for profit or as an end product.

Sure someone could see a widget part and reproduce it but without a supply chain, marketing campaign and sales force in place they would just sit there with a load of widget parts.

Additionally that widget part probably is useless on its own. More likely that widget part needs lots of other widget parts plus a lot of glue, design, integration engineering and circuitry that will in some way need to be customized. Now lets add in mass production tooling, software or embedded programming to make it all work and various compliance modifications.

The end result is that the invention is useless until someone includes it in a commercially viable product.

Currently if someone does all of the work to make a product they then have to also get favorable terms or negotiate cross licensing deals with someone else who doesn't have a product, hasn't put the time or money into it and never has to because they happened to be the first to file an idea.

The reality is that you can't just take someone's invention/idea and make millions the next day. Just having an idea and writing it down should not allow someone to control that idea for 20 years.

Companies and individuals can and will make new things because there is a profit to be had. Patents only get in the way of this.

Re:Well.... really? (1)

Tough Love (215404) | about 2 years ago | (#41938405)

It is a complex issue to be sure.

Not really. Software patents used to be illegal, then they were legal. That was a simple boner.

Re:Well.... really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41936525)

Exactly as much as opponents' relevance depends on the opposite conclusion. It's not really a helpful argument for or against something to say that people invested in one side or the other benefit from that investment if their view prevails.

This guy would not be unemployable even with massive patent reforms. In fact, his experience in the old system would be tremendously valuable during the transition to the new system. So it's not really all that meaningful. His points have merit independent of whether he benefits financially from them being true. He's not claiming to be a neutral party.

Re:Well.... really? (2, Insightful)

eparker05 (1738842) | about 2 years ago | (#41936561)

Of course he will say that, his job depends on there being patents to work and litigate with.

Yes, let's just ignore his decades of experience in patent law and years of studying patent history that comes with the territory because he has a vested interest. On the other hand, he makes some fairly good points. If we all but abolish the patent system for technology companies they would easily be overtaken by whomever has the largest manufacturing capacity. Ever wonder why Foxcon didn't just grab android and make an iPhone clone? Why be subject to Apple if there are no IP restrictions at all? People bemoan the quandary of the small innovator, and this is a legitimate concern, but it must also be weighed against the benefit patents (software and hardware) confer to large companies who must decide how much to spend on R&D.

Stallman is an activist against tightly controlled intellectual property, copyright and otherwise. That isn't a something to hold against him, it's just a fact that one must consider when listening to his opinions and analysis. Please try to keep that in mind when reading analysis from the other side.

Re:Well.... really? (5, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#41936637)

You're strawmanning the argument. Only the people on the far extreme want patents abolished. Even Stallman doesn't want that. There are a lot of us that want the system reformed and the rules on WHAT is pattentable scaled back.

Even if patents were totally elimnated on software the idea that all of a sudden that industries would disappear is hogwash. Software is still covered by copyright and that is how it should be. However the idea that you can patent rounded corners or little details of software programs (some of which are ideas that date back to the early days) needs to go.

Re:Well.... really? (1)

Carnildo (712617) | about 2 years ago | (#41937051)

However the idea that you can patent rounded corners...

Rounded corners are (or at least, should be) a design patent [wikipedia.org] , which protects the purely ornamental elements of a product's design. If those elements turn out to have practical utility, the design patent is invalidated. The classic example of a design patent is the one on the shape of the Coca-Cola bottle.

Re:Well.... really? (2)

Ichoran (106539) | about 2 years ago | (#41937199)

Rounded corners have practical utility: you don't hurt yourself on them, and they slide into pockets and covers more easily. It is obvious and there is prior art, but it is not merely aesthetic.

Re:Well.... really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41937589)

Even design patent need to be novel and not obvious. Roundered corners non-novel and obvious.

Re:Well.... really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41937973)

And I always thought that Coke maintained a trademark on their bottle shape. Good think they didn't get a patent on the 1.5, 2 and 3-liter bottle shapes.

Re:Well.... really? (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#41936655)

You are trying to create a false dichotomy. Of course that is bogus. We could simply reform the system. A lot of it would be nothing more than rolling back recent changes. It's like what you do when your production server starts to run amok.

You don't shoot it, you undo recent changes.

It's recent changes that have made our patent system mock worthy. It's not the concept in general. We just need a less permissive approach. We need to stop treating the toxic waste that is a 20 year long monopoly as if it were in fact candy.

20 year monopoly.

Contemplate what a 20 year technology rollback means to you personally. That's basically what you're advocating for our collective future.

A patent lawyer defending the current patent system is much like a wannabe patent troll fighting for Apple against Samsung.

Re:Well.... really? (2)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 2 years ago | (#41937261)

Indeed...

We are actually witnessing fewer patent suits per patent issued today than the historical average.

The main problem with the patent system today is not what can be patented, it's that it is *much* easier for some parties (like IBM) to file a huge volume of patents annually. As a result, even though patent examiners and the courts do not scale, due to the huge increase in patents applied for (and issued without full investigation), the load on the system is approaching unsustainable.

http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/issuyear.htm [uspto.gov]
http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/h_counts.htm [uspto.gov]

There were 1013094 utility patents issued up to 1912.
There were 3015103 utility patents issued up to 1962 -- roughly 2 million patents in 50 years.
There were 8087094 utility patents issued up to 2012 -- roughly 5.5 million patents in 50 years.

There were 42073 design patents issued up to 1912.
There were 192004 design patents issued up to 1962 -- roughly 150,000 patents in 50 years
There were 651376 design patents issued up to 2012 -- roughly 450,000 patents in 50 years

There were 0 plant patents issued up to 1912.
There were 2117 plant patents issued up to 1962.
There were 22428 plant patents issued up to 2012 -- roughly 22,000 patents in 50 years.

There were 0 statutory inventions up to 1912.
There were 0 statutory inventions up to 1962.
There were over 2251 statutory inventions up to 2011.

The trend, while not horrendous, is significant. This doesn't even take into consideration patents that were reissued and so are still in the patent pool.

The applications are even worse:
Utility Patent Applications (e) (inventions)
503,582 (2011)
490,226
456,106
456,321
456,154
425,967
390,733
356,943
342,441
334,445
326,508
295,926
270,187
243,062
215,257
195,187 (1996)

See any trends?

Something I'd be interested in is the number of distinct patent applicants per year -- I have a feeling that this number is stable or shrinking, but have nothing to back that up. A list of patent holders would also be interesting -- especially to see how it compares to the applicants.

Re:Well.... really? (2)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 2 years ago | (#41936693)

Yeah, the rounded corners patent is what prevented Foxconn from simply selling iPhone clones. The rounded corners also helped the smart phone market become better, as no one before or after thought of using rounded corner without Apple telling them the world about it using their patents. Yeah, the patent system is not broken at all.

Expert indeed. (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | about 2 years ago | (#41936989)

I once asked an IP & technology patent lawyer who was speaking at seminar what he though of software 'click through' agreements in light of all the problems that they have as a legitimate contract, and I go a half assed response about how they were legally sound because, 'everybody was using them'.

Just because someone is an expert in a field doesn't mean that they have any useful opinions or ideas about the field.

Re:Well.... really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41937019)

So a hitman with decades of experience would be the right person to ask about murder laws?

Re:Well.... really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41937107)

Actually, yes. He would probably be a lot more versed in them than me.

Re:Well.... really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41937033)

Yes, let's just ignore his decades of experience in patent law and years of studying patent history that comes with the territory because he has a vested interest

Of course I won't listen to him. I won't listen to some professor who has devoted his life to copyright research when he tells me how great it is either.

Re:Well.... really? (2)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 2 years ago | (#41937583)

I believe the overarching goal should be to serve the consumer through continuous, rapid innovation in both technology and affordability. Patents provide benefit to established businesses, not start-ups, and definitely not consumers. It has been demonstrated time, and again that businesses favor competition in the court room over competition in product offerings. There is little incentive to invest in R&D. Why innovate when you can block your competition from entering the market through legal maneuvers? Businesses exist now who's sole product are licenses to cheaply conceived ideas so vaguely defined as to ensnare the blood, sweat and tears of real innovators in their net. Products are being implemented sub-optimally to avoid infringement. Good products are being blocked from entering the market. This is what's broken, this is what's flawed with the patent system. This is why its present incarnation must come to an end.

Re:Well.... really? (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about 2 years ago | (#41938465)

Foxconn has no marketing expertise and no software expertise and no customer support.

Re:Well.... really? (1)

farble1670 (803356) | about 2 years ago | (#41938475)

Ever wonder why Foxcon didn't just grab android and make an iPhone clone?

because they're not idiots and they know there's more to creating a successful product than doing a superficial copy of the iphone? because they know they'll make more money as apple's manufacturing partner than producing one more crappy iphone knockoff?

Why be subject to Apple if there are no IP restrictions at all?

i think you are confused about the issue. there's a difference between developing a product from scratch that has similarities to another product, and stealing IP. i think folks are upset with patents largely because of things like Apple vs. Samsung. samsung didn't steal any IP. they produced a similar product from scratch. if samsung had taken code from apple, or stolen their product design documents, etc, that'd be a different issue. but that's not what happened.

it's like if i developed a pill to give erections from scratch in my garage, and phizer sued me saying they patented pills that give erections. while i agree phizer's formulation should be patentable, they shouldn't be able to patent the idea of a pill that gives erections (and they can't either).

Re:Well.... really? (4, Insightful)

dcollins117 (1267462) | about 2 years ago | (#41936867)

Well, it's not broken for IBM.

In other news, The financial system is not broken for the 1%.

Re:Well.... really? (1)

fufufang (2603203) | about 2 years ago | (#41936919)

The title is all you need to know...

Patent System Not Broken, Argues IBM's Chief Patent Counsel

Of course he will say that, his job depends on there being patents to work and litigate with.

When other companies start biting back at IBM, this guy will probably have something different to say. His butt will seriously hurt by then.

Re:Well.... really? (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 2 years ago | (#41937391)

If another company started biting back at IBM, IBM would just countersue with a few thousand of their own patents.
No matter the merits of such a case, the legal costs alone would more than bankrupt any startup company. After half a decade, when the small startup has finally won, they might be able to get part of their expenses back and try to revive their long-since ruined company again.
That's pretty much how the patent system works for big companies; if you have enough patents, being right or wrong doesn't really matter.

Re:Well.... really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41936939)

The title is all you need to know...

Patent System Not Broken, Argues IBM's Chief Patent Counsel

Of course he will say that, his job depends on there being patents to work and litigate with.

Self serving arguments are not necessarily wrong.

Re:Well.... really? (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 2 years ago | (#41937425)

So, IBM is bad this year? I thought they were a good guy because of the whole SCO fiasco. Geeez.

Re:Well.... really? (2)

Tough Love (215404) | about 2 years ago | (#41938439)

IBM is a big stupid grizzly bear. Sometimes friendly, sometimes even dances. But still has big teeth and claws and may still bite your head off, even if it does like Linux.

Fixed that for you (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41936421)

"[Big] U.S. software companies would not be the most successful in the world."

Not logical reasoning (4, Insightful)

Laxori666 (748529) | about 2 years ago | (#41936443)

"If patent litigation caused by the U.S. patent system stifled innovation, U.S. software companies would not be the most successful in the world."

This is not an argument at all. It's possible they stifle innovation as it is now, so they would be even better off without the patent system.

Or, another possibility: Perhaps the patent system is not stifling software companies as much as other businesses as of yet. Do you want it to become as difficult to create a new software company as it currently is to create a new company in any other industry?

Re:Not logical reasoning (1)

YodasEvilTwin (2014446) | about 2 years ago | (#41936503)

Yep. It's not like other countries are much better with their patents, and patents in the US hold no force outside unless other countries decide to recognize them. There's no comparison.

Re:Not logical reasoning (5, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 2 years ago | (#41936805)

This is not an argument at all.

I agree with this wholeheartedly.
Remember when Google went on a patent buying spree? They bought Motorola to help them support Android.
/. covered the news that Google was buying IBM patents for Android's protection from Apple & Microsoft [slashdot.org]

It's not because Google needed the IP, it was to create a patent army to be use in future battles with tech giants.
That sounds awfully broken to me.

Re:Not logical reasoning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41937041)

I believe Google bought Motorola Mobility because they were concerned MM would start using their patents against other Android manufacturers.

Re:Not logical reasoning (1)

tsotha (720379) | about 2 years ago | (#41936955)

This is not an argument at all. It's possible they stifle innovation as it is now, so they would be even better off without the patent system.

Not only that, with a few exceptions large, successful software companies in the US became large and successful in the period before the patent system started collectively taking drugs.

Re:Not logical reasoning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41937117)

If the One Child policy stifled population growth, China would not be among the most populous countries in the world.

FTFY.

Re:Not logical reasoning (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#41937269)

"If patent litigation caused by the U.S. patent system stifled innovation, U.S. software companies would not be the most successful in the world."

"If patent litigation caused by the U.S. patent system stifled innovation, U.S. software companies would not be the most successful in the world, in the field of patent litigation."

Sounds right, to me.

Re:Not logical reasoning (1)

devent (1627873) | about 2 years ago | (#41938507)

Do you want it to become as difficult to create a new software company as it currently is to create a new company in any other industry?

Short answer: Yes. Google, Amazon, Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, etc. are holding on on patents for only this reason: to make sure they hold a big chunk of the market and rise the bar to entry as high as possible.

Why does anybody listen to "Company XXX's Chief Patent Counsel"? He or she will only say in public what benefits his or her company. The government should not listen to any company to implement politics.

In related news ... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41936475)

Hen house "perfectly secure", proclaims fox.

Fluff patents (5, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#41936521)

I'm sorry, but when you can patent swinging side to side (US6368227) or teasing your cat with a laser pointer (US5443036), and the infamous rounded corners; it just proves that the system is broken. Whether it is broken beyond repair, needs a serious overhaul, or just needs a bit of tweaking, is up in the air.

Re:Fluff patents (1)

freeze128 (544774) | about 2 years ago | (#41936601)

yeah, I don't think rounded corners on the icons counts as an "incredible technological advance".

Re:Fluff patents (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41936809)

US6368227 [google.com]

What.
The.
Fuck.

Re:Fluff patents (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | about 2 years ago | (#41936945)

Hey, it's a patent on swinging in a ROUNDED motion. Your kids didn't figure that one out yet, did they? So it's clearly non-obvious to anyone skilled in the art, and innovative. Not to mention useful to society.

You should all know by now that something being rounded or not, matters.

Re:Fluff patents (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41937097)

Hey, it's a patent on swinging in a ROUNDED motion. Your kids didn't figure that one out yet, did they? So it's clearly non-obvious to anyone skilled in the art, and innovative. Not to mention useful to society.

...

I hate you sooooooo much right now...

You should all know by now that something being rounded or not, matters.

Channeling Morbo...

UTILITY PATENTS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY!
GOOD NIGHT!

Re:Fluff patents (4, Interesting)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 2 years ago | (#41937793)

I remember this one. There's actually a bit of an interesting story to it. Steve Olsen (the inventor) was actually a 5 year old at the time. His father Peter Olsen, a patent attorney, wanted to teach his son about the patent system. I can't find the original (local) article but the NYT [nytimes.com] had a short write up as well.

Re:Fluff patents (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 2 years ago | (#41936971)

I think a reasonable counterpoint is that you'll have abuses both ways no matter what. A few ridiculous abuses don't prove the whole system is broken. You have counterexamples that would suggest it's not strong enough: look at the iphone clones from china, or any app store being full of ripoffs of popular games.

Looking at the shitty minecraft clones cashing on on the app store, I almost would cheer Notch on if he had patented "a program where blocks can be moved around to build structures" or something similar.

Either way, you'll get greedy people doing things as they shouldn't no matter what you do.

Re:Fluff patents (1)

Tough Love (215404) | about 2 years ago | (#41938537)

A few ridiculous abuses don't prove the whole system is broken.

No, the whole system being broken and acting as a brake on technogical evolution proves the whole system is broken.

"Fewer suites per patent", but 5x the patents (4, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#41936523)

Of course there are fewer suits per patent, because there are literally 5 times the number of patent applications as there were 30 years ago. That means nothing. Deceitful bastard of a lawyer... but I repeat myself.

And of course I don't need to address the "if it wasn't a good idea, we wouldn't be succeeding", around here, do I? So damned fallacious. It's like saying being fat isn't bad for you because people now live longer than they did 100 years ago. A does not follow from B.

It's official: IBM is part of the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41937081)

Although it's no surprise to hear a large company's Chief Patent Counsel making such statements, it is surprising to hear it coming from IBM. I wonder if that guy isn't a loose canon that's going to get strongly told off behind closed doors.

This isn't because IBM is non-evil on patents or anything like that, but only because they've tried to keep their image clean in recent years and to look relatively friendly. Lest youngsters don't remember, IBM used to be the Big Blue Evil some decades ago, and it took them a long time to cure that tarnished reputation.

I doubt that the board is very happy when a clueless company lawyer, no matter how senior, spouts off and makes the company look bad again. Particularly when he uses logic so faulty that only a lawyer could say it with a straight face.

Re:"Fewer suites per patent", but 5x the patents (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 2 years ago | (#41937383)

Of course there are fewer suits per patent, because there are literally 5 times the number of patent applications as there were 30 years ago. That means nothing. Deceitful bastard of a lawyer... but I repeat myself.

Don't forget that we have 5x the patents but almost no increase in patent examiners.

You can pick almost any regulatory body in the US Government and make a strong argument that they do not have the resources to fulfill their mandate.

funny (1)

CHRONOSS2008 (1226498) | about 2 years ago | (#41936541)

he doesn't get all the so called us companies that have left the usa to go elsewhere
even warner brothers moved to canada.....

patent suits (2)

crakbone (860662) | about 2 years ago | (#41936595)

"We are actually witnessing fewer patent suits per patent issued today than the historical average." And we have more people settling out of court so they don't have the expense because is actually cheaper to "license" the patent that to try to fight it for 8 years against a patent troll. Or the fact we now have tens of million patents each year for stuff as inane as a square with rounded corners. And that if we actually tried to fight in court would have the courts stuffed for the next 300 years for just this years patents.

Re:patent suits (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41936839)

And that if we actually tried to fight in court would have the courts stuffed for the next 300 years for just this years patents.

Exactly why it should be fought. Every. Single. Time.

Same goes for traffic tickets, bullshit criminal charges, et. al. Fill the courts with so many people fighting stupid laws they can't get anything else done, and reform will have to happen.

Re:patent suits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41936943)

And that if we actually tried to fight in court would have the courts stuffed for the next 300 years for just this years patents. Exactly why it should be fought. Every. Single. Time. Same goes for traffic tickets, bullshit criminal charges, et. al. Fill the courts with so many people fighting stupid laws they can't get anything else done, and reform will have to happen.

I'm right behind ya - 100%! By which I mean you go first, I'll do it if you succeed.

No way! (3, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#41936607)

Next you'll be telling that accountants don't think the tax system needs simplifying.

Re:No way! (1)

3seas (184403) | about 2 years ago | (#41936721)

There was a reason why the Hindu-Arabic Decimal System With its Islamic zero place holder took 300 years to overcome the Roman Numeral system accountants.

Re:No way! (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 2 years ago | (#41937003)

Such people are crazy if they think that legislation will actually make accountants or lawyers obsolete.

Re:No way! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41937887)

Actually most accountants DO think the tax system needs simplifying. The problem is that the tax system has gotten so arcane and subjective (should we consider the time you spent posting on Slashdot a 'business expense' for IT professionals?) that the mere SUGGESTION of simplifying the tax code simply gets ridiculed as either impractical or nothing more than a political scheme.

Patent system not broken... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41936619)

... says the ass-troll laughing all the way to the bank.

Winged flight? (4, Insightful)

Carnildo (712617) | about 2 years ago | (#41936625)

...a natural characteristic of a vigorously competitive industry. And they're nothing new: Similar skirmishes have historically occurred in areas as diverse as...winged flight,

You mean the skirmishes that left Europe doing all the innovating in winged flight for 20 years [wikipedia.org] ? The ones that resulted in the US entering World War I with airplanes that weren't much better than the Flyer III?

Re:Winged flight? (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#41937415)

And we still have patent pools for almost everything that is made today

In most cases a patent pool is created before the product

Cigarette companies argue cigarettes aren't bad (1)

hsmith (818216) | about 2 years ago | (#41936635)

for your health. More at 11.

What a crock of shit. Of couse a man who gets paid $1000/hr doesn't think the system is flawed.

Seems a bit hypocritical coming from IBM... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41936671)

The navigation on IBM.com violates US patent #7353460 "Web site navigation under a hierarchical menu structure" as well as US patent # 5251294 "Accessing, assembling, and using bodies of information"

Yes it is broken (4, Insightful)

SuperCharlie (1068072) | about 2 years ago | (#41936673)

When patent trolls lay in wait for a successful business and then litigate them into submission, the system is broken. When companies amass patents simply for use as leverage and profit from other companies, the system is broken. When it is necessary to pay thousands of dollars to lawyers, researchers and fees thereby removing the system from the average garage inventor, the system is broken. And finally, when patents become so universal to every breath, every step, every device, and every thought we may have now or in the future, the freaking system is broken. In fact, it is hard to think of ways the system is actually not broken, come to think of it.

Yes, unsurprisingly (1)

Empiric (675968) | about 2 years ago | (#41936681)

"Patent disputes like [the Apple-Samsung case] are a natural characteristic of a vigorously competitive industry."

And that only companies on a scale like Apple, Samsung, and... IBM can be competitive in any patent-portfolio showdown, is not.

Though, he seems to like using terms that can't actually fail to be the case, given how he uses them. Yes, there is "industry". Yes, it is "competitive"--increasingly within an oligopoly.

The next one is better, though.

"If patent litigation caused by the U.S. patent system stifled innovation, U.S. software companies would not be the most successful in the world."

a) The broad software industry did not reach the point it is at with such patent battles being mainstream, and...

b) If we had a single software company in the U.S., that is "most successful" compared to its equivalent in each other country, is that satisfactory, in reality, as opposed to per how his sentence is phrased?

Unfortunately, per usual, the worst enemy of free-market capitalism, is capitalists, as it's almost always to a large company's net advantage to have a general impediment applied to everyone--which will cost them, but also eliminate the smaller competition via those costs. The cost of lawyers, handily, being among such general impediments.

So crazy litigation is "healthy competition"? (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#41936689)

I'm sorry. But no. All of these "on a computer" and "over the internet" patents have got to go. And making a product design so simple that its design is completely utilitarian does not a design patent make.

Companies suing each other into oblivion is no way for competition to reign. It's supposed to be about marketing, customer service and product quality... isn't it?

Broken (3, Insightful)

robmv (855035) | about 2 years ago | (#41936717)

US patent system is broken because only big companies can afford that kind of litigation. Small companies only have the option to be bought by someone big enough before they are attacked by patent trolls or competitors that don't want a new actor in their area. But it is understandable that Big IBM want the current state because it is in favor of them, that doesn't means the system is right

"Patent system not broken" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41936729)

...says corporation with the most patents ever.

Red hering (2)

iive (721743) | about 2 years ago | (#41936737)

"If patent litigation caused by the U.S. patent system stifled innovation, U.S. software companies would not be the most successful in the world."

He is right. Patent litigation doesn't stifle innovation, it stifles competition.
And IBM know that because they've stomped enough businesses back in the days when they were the big evil monopoly.

Innovation happens as byproduct on working on a given problem. It will happen despite somebody having patented portion or the whole of it. However the patent may prevent the innovative company from selling its product or increase the cost. The innovation then could be bought or outright stolen. Then the big and successful patent holders would become bigger and even more successful.

Re:Red hering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41936853)

He is right. Patent litigation doesn't stifle innovation, it stifles competition.

With patent trolls, it stifles both.

Maybe not the best criteria. . . (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 2 years ago | (#41936755)

We are actually witnessing fewer patent suits per patent issued today than the historical average.

Yeah, you may want to go ahead check the totals on that one instead of the marginal rate, since that's where the costs come from.

Broken For A Long Time (2)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#41936763)

Each marked the emergence of incredible technological advances, and each generated similar outcries about the patent system.

So he is arguing that because the system has been around a long time it must good? Why can't the same statement be used to claim that the patent system as been broken for a long time and we just haven't gotten around to fixing it?

Re:Broken For A Long Time (3, Informative)

oxdas (2447598) | about 2 years ago | (#41937235)

Except that the system hasn't been around for a long time. The USPTO only began widely issuing "software patents" since 1993 and the appointment of Bruce Lehman (an IP lobbyist) to head the USPTO. Before that, the stance of the USPTO was that software was not patentable and fought very hard against such patents in the courts. The change in leadership and direction at the USPTO, along with the Supremes taking a 20 year hiatus from hearing software patent cases, allowed the Federal Circuit to make software patents legal and the concept of what is patentable has expanded greatly ever since.

SqHIT!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41936781)

I agree with the logic of the base argument here. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41936815)

Patents aren't broken or even a bad thing. Patents are a fantastic way to make things profitable for those that invent and produce them.

Software patents are a broken and intellectually dishonest legal maneuver.

Software is a mathematical proof of an electro-mechanical system. Repeat that until it sinks in. The underlying electro-mechanical system is the patentable device. The proof of functionality is not. Period. Intel needs to start suing companies that attempt to patent things that they already have patents on.

moMd down (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41936855)

What? (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 2 years ago | (#41936869)

"If patent litigation caused by the U.S. patent system stifled innovation, U.S. software companies would not be the most successful in the world."

That doesn't make any sense to me. It doesn't consider that many other factors may be involved. It doesn't even consider the fact that a 'better' patent system may allow for more innovation. The fact that U.S. software companies are supposedly the most successful in the world doesn't mean that there isn't room for improvement.

Put Up or Shut Up (3, Interesting)

tgeek (941867) | about 2 years ago | (#41936871)

If Mr. Schechter really wants us to believe the patent system isn't broken, then why doesn't he step aside from IBM and maybe handle a few pro bono cases for small inventors. Then he can come back here and tell us all what a wonderful patent system we enjoy!

A Joke (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41936877)

As someone actively attempting to game the system, having spent over a month working on something that would be called a patent troll, I can guarantee you the patent system is ridiculous and should be abolished entirely. The things I've seen just in research alone for my own attempt. Pages of the purest garbage language you've ever seen, descriptions of things take one sentence strung out by lawyers into PHD like thesis on how to do everything from give someone a gift via the internet to how the internet itself works.

Questions like, how do I read a QR code if the camera can't get a good picture? With patented answers that are literally along the lines of "move the damned camera". And for those arguing against the entire abolishment of patents, I doubt you have more qualification of informed and important opinion than the entire St. Louis Federal Bank: http://bit.ly/S6aNCp

There's no real question that the entire US patent system is in desperate need of major changes. The only thing remaining is to expose it as such to the right people. Probably to the US public in general, enough that the general average corruptness, laziness, and ignorance of Congress can be overcome.

Working As Designed (2)

BeanThere (28381) | about 2 years ago | (#41936887)

He wouldn't see it as 'broken' because from his perspective it's 'working as designed' - to make sociopathic scumbag lawyers like him rich and to allow big companies to use patent cross-licensing and ring-fencing to destroy potential upstart competitors. A more important question would be if the patent system was immoral, and it is. It's effectively the initiation of violence against, and theft of property of, 'second inventors', for merely using their minds to create something. Those of who aren't lacking a conscience find the software patent system morally repugnant, and all software developers with a moral conscience should reject the software patent system as a matter of principle.

Fish argues water is good (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | about 2 years ago | (#41936891)

Lawyer argues court is better.

apex predator (1)

epine (68316) | about 2 years ago | (#41936893)

Did someone tell this guy that an asshat was the cure for baldness?

We are actually witnessing fewer patent suits per patent issued today than the historical average.

With the number of patents issues and the escalating cost of justice, for this to not be true would pretty much double-down on the trillion dollar a year fiscal cliff.

Sorry dude, we invaded Iraq. There just aren't enough litigation dollars free for the taking, so either the ALP (average litigation price) or the ALR (average litigation rate) has to go down. Teach a lawyer to fish, he buys himself a drift net. If the net is to heavy with fish to pull into the boat, he doesn't fish with a smaller net, he makes the holes bigger. Whales, we call them. The whales eat the small fish, and we eat the whales.

The World Is Full Of Morons (1)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | about 2 years ago | (#41936897)

"The Rich Are Getting Richer" argument is not semantically equivalent to "The System Is Working".

Although it may be equivalent to "The System Is Working AS DESIGNED".

Spoken Like A Real Lawyer (2)

some old guy (674482) | about 2 years ago | (#41936907)

In other words, "Software businesses should continue to pay people like me princely salaries year after year to litigate absurd claims, instead of being able to invest that money in research."

It's not just the patent system that's broken. Software patent law is nothing more than binary ambulance chasing.

Upton Sinclair commented on this some 80 years ago (1)

LostMonk (1839248) | about 2 years ago | (#41936961)

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" -- quote from "I, Candidate for Governor" by Upton Sinclair (1935)

Closed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41936999)

Works for me.

That's shocking (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 2 years ago | (#41937127)

It's like a pedo saying sex with minors isn't a bad thing. Of course he'd say that.

With all due respect... (4, Informative)

hugg (22953) | about 2 years ago | (#41937149)

"Economists also tell us that 75 percent of a company’s value is attributable to its intellectual property (IP) — and that IP-intensive industries contribute $5 trillion per year to the U.S. economy. These industries account for about 35 percent of gross domestic product and 40 million jobs, including 28 percent of the jobs in the United States."

The report linked in the article discusses copyright, trademark, and patent-intensive industries. Patent-intensive industries are the *lowest* employer of the three, around 4 million as opposed to the 40 million jobs cited. It's misleading to lump all three industries together.

The same report lists another interesting metric, which is percentage of self-employed workers for each industry. Patent-intensive industries have the lowest number of self-employed workers, at 2.2% (vs 16% for copyright-intensive industries). This indicates to me that patent-intensive industries do not support capital-poor startups very well.

Of course I would expect counsel for the top patent recipient in the U.S. for two decades running to have differing opinions from my own.

Source: http://www.uspto.gov/news/publications/IP_Report_March_2012.pdf

Re:With all due respect... (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 2 years ago | (#41937869)

+1 Informative

Re:With all due respect... (1)

elashish14 (1302231) | about 2 years ago | (#41938361)

With numbers like that, he could be an accountant for the MAFIAA!

Ratio (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41937283)

There are fewer lawsuits per patent because there are so many invalid patents issued. Also, this doesn't take into consideration all the extortion that goes on without lawsuits being filed. This article is a self-interested load of crap.

"A patent is a license to enrich one's lawyer." kp (2)

xtronics (259660) | about 2 years ago | (#41937541)

Patents server large crony cartels like IBM and the lawyer class quite well - just the rest of us get screwed.

The Patent System Is Most Certainly Broken... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41937553)

Case in point [uspto.gov] .

Time for a template? (3, Funny)

sootman (158191) | about 2 years ago | (#41937641)

"Patent System Not Broken, Argues IBM's Chief Patent Counsel"

"Moore's Law Is Becoming Irrelevant, Says ARM's Boss"

Can we have a checkbox to hide "Corporate head makes self-serving statement" stories? They're depressing as hell.

The real issues ... (1)

Turminder Xuss (2726733) | about 2 years ago | (#41938279)

are the balance between ease of registration and objection/challenge and the length of the term. Do you like em light and fluffy or dark and charred ?
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