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USPTO Head: Current Patent Litigation Is 'Reasonable'

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the patent-lawyers-everywhere-agree dept.

Patents 153

elashish14 writes "David Kappos, head of the USPTO, today provided a strong defense of the patent system, particularly in the mobile industry. In his address, he implored critics, 'Give the [America Invents Act] a chance to work.' He then went on to proclaim the 'absolutely breakneck pace' of innovation in the smartphone industry and that the U.S. patent system is 'the envy of the world,' though he was likely only referring to the envy of the world's lawyers. Perhaps the most laughable quote from his address: 'The explosion of litigation we are seeing is a reflection of how the patent system wires us for innovation.'"

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Hey, (4, Interesting)

Sez Zero (586611) | about 2 years ago | (#42045267)

David Kappos, you have a new enemy.

Re:Hey, (2, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | about 2 years ago | (#42046031)

Yes, he's been served.

I'm sure he'll keep an eye out for "Sez Zero"

DUH (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42045273)

of course the boss is gonna say everything is peachy...

Re:DUH (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#42045745)

Indeed.

This is no different than when the head of the TSA talks about how great a job he thinks the TSA is doing, or when a DEA agent talks about how horrible a drug marijuana is.

I believe the layman's term for this practice is 'not shitting where one eats.'

Re:DUH (0)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#42046669)

I believe the layman's term for this practice is 'not shitting where one eats.'

Which is funny when you realize that to fix this, in layman's terms, one needs to: Not eat your own shit.

Re:DUH (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | about 2 years ago | (#42046685)

It's probably where those "Everything that can be invented has been invented. Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. patent office, 1899" quotes are coming from. (Yes, I know it is a myth [quotationspage.com] ).

Re:DUH (4, Funny)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about 2 years ago | (#42047051)

He is preparing the ground so that, when charged with gross incompetence, he can plead "guilty but insane".

Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (4, Insightful)

dclozier (1002772) | about 2 years ago | (#42045313)

Only someone with a vested interest would think it's working great. Seriously.

Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (5, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#42045411)

This goes beyond 'regulatory capture', it's more like 'regulatory Stockholm Syndrome'

Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (3, Insightful)

ccguy (1116865) | about 2 years ago | (#42045515)

The thing is, the patent system is supposed to cover everything. Not just phones, where you needs a zillion things to get even the most basic (useful) device.

Maybe he's right and the patent system is excellent for a lot of other areas where a patent covers one specific thing and it's indeed possible to invent something really new that doesn't step on anyone else's work.

Here we tend to piss on anything that relates to USPTO, but then again we have a tendency to believe that if they let us we'd fix lots of broken things in a heartbeat because the problem here is just a lack of geeks in the relevant power areas.

Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (4, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#42045575)

But he specifically brought up smartphones as an example of where the system was working well. Maybe the system does work well in other areas, but if the head of the office is trying to use smartphones as an example of patents inspiring "innovation", he is... an idiot, quite frankly (or a liar, either way, not trustworthy).

Combine that with lots of other crap coming out of the office (like labeling any business that uses trademarks as an "IP-business" to defend IP laws, even if you're just working construction), and it doesn't paint a very pretty picture. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say it's outright corruption, but it's incompetence, at least.

Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (-1, Flamebait)

bws111 (1216812) | about 2 years ago | (#42046019)

Of course patents have not inspired any innovation in smart phones. That is why cell phones today still weigh several pounds, have an antenna you must pull out several inches, make analog voices calls, and do nothing else. Oh, let me guess, all the advances in batteries, processors, chip sizes, touch screens, displays, communications protocols, etc all was going to happen anyway, right?

Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42046133)

Oh, let me guess, all the advances in batteries, processors, chip sizes, touch screens, displays, communications protocols, etc all was going to happen anyway, right?

You're right. None of that would have happened without companies being able to patent round corners and page-turning animations.
Long live the USPTO!

Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42046155)

Have you ever considered that maybe a lot of innovations have occurred in spite of patents rather than because of patents? When people can patent rounded corners or other obvious things, the patent system is broken..

Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (0, Troll)

bws111 (1216812) | about 2 years ago | (#42046311)

No, I have not considered that, because nobody has shown any evidence of it. What innovations have been blocked due to patents?

Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42046573)

> What innovations have been blocked due to patents?

Now you're just embarrassing yourself.

Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (-1, Troll)

bws111 (1216812) | about 2 years ago | (#42046589)

So name them.

Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (4, Insightful)

gerddie (173963) | about 2 years ago | (#42046181)

Of course: people innovate, with or without patents. They did so for millennia without patent protection and it went just fine. Actually, without patents its easier to innovate, because you don't need to worry about other peoples "intellectual property", instead you have to worry about how to stay ahead.

Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42047005)

Exactly. Most actual artists and inventors would love to be free of intellectual property, because then they could all build off of each other's work without having to pay an arm and a leg for licenses. That would allow them to invent better things, more quickly and easily.

The ones who benefit from IP controls are not the artists and inventors, but the lawyers and CEOs. Because lawyers and CEOs are not in the business of inventing things, they are in the business of squeezing money out of the system. IP controls make inventing things harder and more dangerous, and squeezing money out of the system easier.

Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (3, Informative)

Tontoman (737489) | about 2 years ago | (#42046149)

. . . if the head of the office is trying to use smartphones as an example of patents inspiring "innovation", he is... an idiot, quite frankly (or a liar, either way, not trustworthy).

On the other hand, the Patent system works well when viewed in its historical context. They have been a net benefit for innovation. . For example, there are many fewer patents lawsuits regarding Smart Phones than there were in the time the original telephone was invented. Here is a god article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesleadershipforum/2012/02/09/no-the-patent-system-is-not-broken/2/ [forbes.com]
What we need is general legal reform so that disputes can be decided simply and inexpensively without Lawyers getting all the goodies.

Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (3, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#42046235)

I believe this, and I really am not entirely opposed to hardware patents, it's just that when a device needs to license literally thousands of patents in order to provide basic, often completely obvious (slide-to-unlock, for example), functionality, something is seriously broken.

Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (0)

bws111 (1216812) | about 2 years ago | (#42046475)

And here is the crux of the problem. What, exactly, makes slide-to-unlock 'obvious', other than the fact that someone else did it? 'Obviously it can work' is not a flaw in a patent, it is a requirement.

Before anyone ever did slide-to-unlock, how many different answers do you think you would get if you asked a roomful of phone designers 'how do you unlock a phone'? If the answer is more than one (slide), then it is NOT obvious. And I am betting you would get a whole bunch of answers (tap, press and hold, touch multiple spots at once, touch multiple spots in a sequence, etc).

Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42046599)

a whole bunch of answers (tap, press and hold, touch multiple spots at once, touch multiple spots in a sequence, etc)

And all of those are obvious. We've been opening things for thousands of years.

Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (1)

bws111 (1216812) | about 2 years ago | (#42046743)

All of them are obviously (having listed them) possible ways you could unlock a phone. NONE of them are obviously THE way to unlock a phone.

I am thinking of several other ways to unlock a phone right now. I bet you can't list them all. I also bet that if I told you what they were you would claim they were obvious.

Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 2 years ago | (#42046553)

On the other hand, the Patent system works well when viewed in its historical context. They have been a net benefit for innovation. . For example, there are many fewer patents lawsuits regarding Smart Phones than there were in the time the original telephone was invented.

That the patent system is putting less sand in the gears of industry now than it did in the past in no way implies that it's been a net benefit for innovation. Your example does not back your assertion.

Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (5, Interesting)

Halo1 (136547) | about 2 years ago | (#42046663)

On the other hand, the Patent system works well when viewed in its historical context. They have been a net benefit for innovation.

Actually, one of the most comprehensive studies on that topic [mises.org] (Fritz Machlup, An Economic Review of the Patent System) concluded more or less the opposite:


If one does not know whether a system "as a whole" (in contrast to certain features of it) is good or bad, the safest "policy conclusion" is to "muddle through" - either with it, if one has long lived with it, or without it, if one has lived without it. If we did not have a patent system, it would be irresponsible, on the basis of our present knowledge of its economic consequences, to recommend instituting one. But since we have had a patent system for a long time, it would be irresponsible, on the basis of our present knowledge, to recommend abolishing it. This last statement refers to a country such as the United States of America - not to a small country and not to a predominantly nonindustrial country, where a different weight of argument might well suggest another conclusion.

Similarly, the FTC Innovation report from 2003 [ftc.gov] was also far from unequivocally positive about patents, especially in the hardware/software fields. Or Jim Bessen's research, as presented [ffii.org] (twice [ffii.org] ) at an FFII conference in 2004.

For example, there are many fewer patents lawsuits regarding Smart Phones than there were in the time the original telephone was invented.

That does not exemplify how patents have supposedly been a net benefit for innovation. Additionally, you are wrongly paraphrasing the article you refer to below. It only says that nowadays, per filed patent there are fewer lawsuits than there were in the days of the fixed telephone. From that it concludes that there is no problem with the volume of patent lawsuits.

I would argue that the reason for this is that patents are used in a very different way today compared to how they were used back then (there were much less large companies back then amassing patent war chests just for defensive purposes). Arguably, the standards for patentability were also higher [ffii.org] back then, which means that actually going to court rather than only looking for the players you can convince to settle out of course was a much less risky business.

While I appreciate that shooting the messenger by itself is not a very strong argument, that's an opinion piece by "the vice president and head of strategic acquisitions at Intellectual Ventures". That's patent troll central. Suing companies, or threatening to sue them, based on all kinds of patents is their bread and butter.

Moving on to substance, he's most definitely wrong when he claims that "Every major technological and industrial breakthrough in U.S. history [..] has been accompanied by exactly the same surge in patenting, patent trading, and patent litigation that we see today in the smartphone business". Do you remember the massive patent wars from the eighties and nineties that came with the personal computer revolution? No? Me neither. There were a few lawsuits (e.g. Stac vs Microsoft), but there most definitely was no surge like what we see today.

What we need is general legal reform so that disputes can be decided simply and inexpensively without Lawyers getting all the goodies.

There is absolutely no indication that we need patents and the related dispute settlement overhead at all in the ICT industry. My favourite quote is still the one from Robert Barr [ftc.gov] before the FTC in 2003, as Vice President and Worldwide Patent Counsel of CISCO:


My observation is that patents have not been a positive force in stimulating innovation at Cisco. Competition has been the motivator; bringing new products to market in a timely manner is critical. Everything we have done to create new products would have been done even if we could not obtain patents on the innovations and inventions contained in these products. I know this because no one has ever asked me ‘can we patent this?’ before deciding whether to invest time and resources into product development.

Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (1)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#42046687)

Here we tend to piss on anything that relates to USPTO, but then again we have a tendency to believe that if they let us we'd fix lots of broken things in a heartbeat because the problem here is just a lack of geeks in the relevant power areas.

Yesss!!! Stupid people are solution to everything, don't touch them!

Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (4, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 2 years ago | (#42045527)

He does not have to own stock in any of the companies that profit from the current, broken patent system to have a vested interest in the current system. He is the head of the Patent Office. Most of the suggested reforms would reduce the significance of the Patent Office, which would reduce his significance.

Re:Wonder how much Apple stock he owns? (4, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#42045551)

He does have a vested interest in not changing things, changing things would require work and all he wants is a paycheck, and once he goes back to the private sector he is going to get some absolutely massive paychecks if the system he wants to game is not changed.

Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42045323)

Where do they find these people?

Re:Sigh (3, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#42045393)

I'm sure from one of the many fine firms that supply patent attorneys.

Re:Sigh (2)

Mechafishy (1249190) | about 2 years ago | (#42045989)

Yep, has quite a history with IBM I believe.

Re:Sigh (2)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#42046341)

He has a degree in law and a degree electrical and computer engineering.

He has worked with IBM both as an engineer and as a lawyer.

Re:Sigh (3, Informative)

Anon-Admin (443764) | about 2 years ago | (#42045567)

They get nominated by the people you vote into office.

Kappos was vice president and assistant general counsel of intellectual property law, for IBM Corporation. (wikipedia) So he is a patent lawyer. He was nominated by the Whitehouse for the position in 2009. So he is one of Obama's Nominations.

I am all for baring lawyers from holding public office. It is a conflict of interest to put a lawyer in charge of making laws or running a government agency that has regulatory authority over anything.

Re:Sigh (2, Funny)

Antipater (2053064) | about 2 years ago | (#42045875)

Nearly all the lawyers I know are quite unattractive. I am decidedly against baring them in public, office or no.

Re:Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42046227)

Bark at em and be unconditionally loyal to your master. Bite the mailman and jam yer snout in her crotch so I can play good cop. Don't reveal your politics here. It only reveals your inner idiot.

So Where Are the Other Countries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42045325)

That lack patent systems but have technology and innovation booms that have outpaced the United States? Surely they exist? Where are these booming economies that don't depend on the United States' patent system?

Re:So Where Are the Other Countries (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42045497)

That lack patent systems but have technology and innovation booms that have outpaced the United States? Surely they exist? Where are these booming economies that don't depend on the United States' patent system?

(coughs politely...) China. (shakes head ruefully...)

Re:So Where Are the Other Countries (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#42045507)

china makes US patented stuff mostly on contract by US companies

Re:So Where Are the Other Countries (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42045677)

china makes US patented stuff mostly on contract by US companies

Yet one could argue that China's current economic boom owes quite a bit to simply ignoring IP law. Much as the whole reason that New York City is today a major publishing center can be traced back to the 1800s and folks in the US simply ignoring IP law.

Emerging economies do best when they ignore the artificial barriers put in place by the current incumbents, not least as those barriers are often there solely to protect those incumbents. Comparing the patent-laden high-tech sector to the likely equally fast-paced yet patent-less fashion sector strongly suggests that patents and innovation are, at best, orthogonal.

Re:So Where Are the Other Countries (1)

bws111 (1216812) | about 2 years ago | (#42046577)

China does not ignore IP law. China just ignores everyone else's rights while enforcing their own (they file more patents than anyone else). Of course they owe quite a bit of their boom to that. It is damn easy to have boom when you eliminate all the pesky costs of actually developing something and get your competitors to pay for the development instead.

Re:So Where Are the Other Countries (2)

cbhacking (979169) | about 2 years ago | (#42045961)

I'm not aware of any major countries that *lack* patent systems - even China has one, though it's remarkably friendlier toward patents from internal companies - but there are definitely a lot of countries with more *sane* patent laws which are doing just fine.

To take the smartphone example, the majority of cellular phone technology patents appear to be owned by Motorola (now Google), Samsung, HTC, Nokia, Ericsson (who manufactures phones in cooperation with Sony), and a handful of companies that just make the radios, not complete devices. Of those, only Motorola is a US company.

Re:So Where Are the Other Countries (1)

bws111 (1216812) | about 2 years ago | (#42046111)

All of those companies, whether they are US companies or not, hold and benefit greatly from US patents.

He's right (2)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 years ago | (#42045331)

I mean, he gets paid either way, so it's fine, right?

Re:He's right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42046563)

Yeah, just like a stock broker or fund manager.

Of course they will argue agains reforms. Their paychecks demands it.

Denial is not just a river in Egypt (5, Funny)

Blue Stone (582566) | about 2 years ago | (#42045353)

David Kappos [fingers in ears], "Lalalalalalalala ... everything is fine ... lalalalalalalalala..."

Clearly determined to be part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.

In other news (4, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | about 2 years ago | (#42045361)

The head of the SEA agrees all current drug laws are spot on and he expects, with his multi billion dollar annual budget, to announce the complete cessation of all illegal drug taking any day now.

Re:In other news (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 years ago | (#42045383)

The head of the SEA agrees all current drug laws are spot on

To be fair, Aquaman has always been pretty conservative...

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42045423)

And just like the war on drugs.. useless

Re:In other news (1)

Threni (635302) | about 2 years ago | (#42046693)

I posted from my phone, with handy word completion and spell checking, and for some reason Slashdot persists in not allowing edits to posts. You know what I meant....

Surprise surprise... (5, Insightful)

jerpyro (926071) | about 2 years ago | (#42045365)

... another Bureaucrat defending his corporately lobbied position.

Remember folks: government officials have an interest in securing and maintaining their department's funding, not (unless they're exceptional) in making progress.

Re:Surprise surprise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42046255)

Actually, the USPTO is self funded. In fact, it takes in more in fees from applicant's than it's operating costs. This isn't your tax dollars at work. Instead, money is typically siphoned from the USPTO to fund other government services.

With that said, Kappos is clearly not a disinterested individual. His job requires the existence of the USPTO and the US patent system. He just isn't trying to lobby for funding.

Re:Surprise surprise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42046571)

The USPTO's funding is dependent upon the number of applications and on patent renewals. Less applications and less patents granted means less money for the USPTO.

br>
Also, it's a bit deceptive to say that the USPTO is self-funded. They bear only a portion of the costs of the patent system, so it's like saying that that the USPS stamps division is self-funding. It almost certainly pays its costs, but it's only part of the USPS as a whole, and the USPS isn't in the black.

Of course (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42045371)

The "value" of his job is directly related to how complex the system is. Why should anyone be surprised at this? The last thing he wants is to lessen or even streamline the impact of patent law on doing business -- in terms of either monetary cost or justice itself.

The more complex, ambiguous, and exploitable the law, the more money there is to be made in administration. This applies to the bottom of the pyramid all the way up to the top.

Can we have a little less bias in the summaries? (4, Insightful)

the computer guy nex (916959) | about 2 years ago | (#42045453)

Push your agenda in the comment section, where it belongs. The article summaries should be much more neutral.

Re:Can we have a little less bias in the summaries (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42045729)

Come on, the idiocy of some USPTO issued patents is not a matter of opinion. If you push neutrality over facts you're gonna have a bad time-

Re:Can we have a little less bias in the summaries (3, Interesting)

the computer guy nex (916959) | about 2 years ago | (#42045817)

Come on, the idiocy of some USPTO issued patents is not a matter of opinion. If you push neutrality over facts you're gonna have a bad time-

Personally I believe there are 2 sides to almost any story, including this one. Are there fundamental problems in the USPTO? Absolutely. Companies with no intention of bringing a product to market should *never* be allowed to litigate. The USPTO definitely lets too much through.

However I do believe there are many things the USPTO does right, and I do believe they are still needed.

Re:Can we have a little less bias in the summaries (5, Insightful)

LoyalOpposition (168041) | about 2 years ago | (#42046091)

Personally I believe there are 2 sides to almost any story, including this one.

There is some evidence to suggest that any monopoly privilege grant, such as patents, will be expanded with time. The benefits to owning monopoly privileges are concentrated amongst the few owners, while the costs of being excluded are diffuse amongst the population at large. Under those conditions, the political incentive will be to expand monopoly rights, regardless of the current state of those rights. The reason is that it pays the benefactors to lobby congress, whereas it's a net loss to individuals to do so, even when they win.

Although it's in a different area, copyrights instead of patents, no doubt this explains why the copyright expiration has been repeatedly extended.

~Loyal

Re:Can we have a little less bias in the summaries (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#42046811)

However I do believe there are many things the USPTO does right, and I do believe they are still needed.

I am a scientist. I use logic and reason to make up my mind. You clearly do not. You believe patents are still needed. I do not. Let us test your hypothesis, that they are still needed? If you are rational you will realize that the only thing to do now is run the experiment. Yes? So, let's abolish the patents and see if they're needed. You have no supporting evidence for your claim that they are needed otherwise. I mean, the Information Age happened, and is rocking the world's economies. Perhaps it's time to re-evaluate either way, no?

Let me put it to you this way: The fashion industry is very innovative. Automotive designs are very innovative too. However, did you know that neither the fashion industry or automotive industries are allowed design patents? I now have a very strong data point in my favor for the assertion that patents are not required at all. Now it's your turn... Oh, that's right, you're not a scientist. You don't want to run the experiment. You'd rather us continue running the world on via your hypotheses.

No rational being would agree to be ruled in such a way...

Incentivizing innovative litigation (4, Insightful)

Runesabre (732910) | about 2 years ago | (#42045461)

The current patent ecosystem, at least in regards to computer technology in general, has incentivized an environment of innovative litigation schemes rather than incentivizing true product innovation. Too many businesses and lawyers making money from schemes that do not produce (and never intended to produce) tangible results other than to sue for money on white paper ideas that never saw (and never expected to see) the light of day until some other entity actually (often unknowingly) puts in the effort of true innovation while tripping over hidden patent traps.

Re:Incentivizing innovative litigation (3, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | about 2 years ago | (#42045861)

The current patent ecosystem [...] has incentivized [...] product innovation. [...] many businesses [...] produce [...] true innovation [...]

See? Everyone agrees that David Kappos is right and our patent system is the envy of the world.

They told me (1)

AntiBasic (83586) | about 2 years ago | (#42045477)

They told me if I voted for Romney, we'd continue to see a patent office beholden to the interests of multi-national companies... and they were right!

Re:They told me (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#42045721)

This wasn't really an agenda item on the table in this election.

Both candidates, despite all the b.s. about "socialism," were clearly corporatists. There wasn't going to be any discussion about patents and "I.P.", lobbying, campaign finance, or anything that the biggest corporations have no disagreements one.

Wired, for sure (4, Funny)

ItsJustAPseudonym (1259172) | about 2 years ago | (#42045509)

...a reflection of how the patent system wires us for innovation.

Meaning electrical wires attached to the testicles.

Re:Wired, for sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42045693)

I'm sure some sex toy company owns a patent on that, you'd best be careful when using it with out permission.

Incomplete Story (5, Informative)

eddeye (85134) | about 2 years ago | (#42045549)

The Ars Technica piece is very slanted, pulling quotes our of context. Here's the full text of the speech itself: http://www.uspto.gov/news/speeches/2012/kappos_CAP.jsp [uspto.gov]

For instance, compare these quotes, which give a very different perspective:

"But it is equally important that patent protection be properly tailored in scope, so that programmers can write code and engineers can design devices without fear of unfounded accusations of infringement. And we know that inconsistency in software patent issuance causes uncertainty in the marketplace and can cause threats of litigation that in turn can stifle innovation and deter new market entrants."

"Software experts have long observed that programming is incremental in nature, with modest improvements not worthy of patent protection. KSR gave us the ability to recognize this valid observation and incorporate it in our examination process."

"Should we just accept the problems, given the importance of the innovation and the illogic of discriminating against great technology that happens to be implemented in software? Of course not. The right point of inquiry is quality. By getting that right, we grant patents only for great algorithmic ideas worthy of protection, and not for everything else. This administration and its innovation agency understand that low-quality patents do no good for anyone. Low quality patents lead to disputes, uncertainty, and lost opportunity. Quality is central to our mission. All of this especially for software."

"One such initiative has already begun crowdsourcing searches for software prior art. It's called Ask Patents and is an online network hosted by Stack Exchange, where software experts engage in robust discussions of possible prior art for given applications, then submit the best prior art along with helpful commentary."

"You know, the history of software patents is not a perfect one, although things are improving. Some of the most troublesome patents have expired; others can be challenged with new post-grant proceedings; and newer patents are quantifiably clearer, and aligned with current legal standards."

"For those who feel more needs to be done, we encourage you to keep reaching out to us at the USPTO, as well as to other actors who also have an important role to play. The USPTO administers the laws, while Congress and the courts write the laws and interpret them, respectively. Working together, we can find the right balance for software patents. We can find a balance that ensures market certainty, encourages investment and research and product development, and guarantees that patents issued going forward are appropriately tailored."

Re:Incomplete Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42045835)

Aaaand he says that after his precious USPTO gave Apple the "page turn" patent.

Re:Incomplete Story (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#42046125)

Aaaand he says that after his precious USPTO gave Apple the "page turn" patent.

Design patent. Don't think of it as a 'real' (utility) patent. Think of it more as a trademark. It's an unfortunate bit of history but not really central to the current discussion.

Re:Incomplete Story (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#42046157)

I keep suggesting this rule: A simulation of a real-world thing is not per se patentable, though a clever implementaion might be.

There is nothing inherently novel in deciding to simulate something.

God help us someone does a reasonable simulation of physics, then patents it not as a clever algorithm, but as a simulation of physics itself.

Re:Incomplete Story (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42045843)

The reality is the rest of the first world thinks and has laws stating software patents are bullshit. The USPTO represents the legal profession and will continue to rubber stamp the most trivial things so their industry can rake it in via the courts.

Re:Incomplete Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42046653)

As a software engineer, I fail to see the benefit of patenting any algorithm, mathematics or ideas "worthy of" restriction.

In fact, I see far more benefit getting rid of parasites.

More lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42045591)

The explosion of litigation we are seeing is a reflection of how the patent system wires us ...

Hmmm. If true, the department of war needs more lawyers. Obviously those generals could do with more innovation and other general-ly stuff. Ideally they won't need soldiers anymore, just lawyers with 'loaded' briefcases.

Please, please.... (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 2 years ago | (#42045641)

Somebody patent being a slimy weasel already...

Derp. (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#42045647)

There is no other comment possible here. This is derp.

Re:Derp. (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about 2 years ago | (#42045793)

You're being too kind, frankly.
My first reaction was, "this guy is clueless", but on second thought, he knows what's going on, he's just a derpbag. And now I've been too kind.

When You're A Hammer... (3, Informative)

NotSanguine (1917456) | about 2 years ago | (#42045715)

Everything looks like a nail.

This guy runs the USPTO. What's he going to say? "We've really cocked things up and need to rethink our IP framework." I think not. The real incentive here is for Kappos to give the impression that what his organization is doing makes a positive difference, whether it does or not.

I'm not against IP, I'm against the *insane* IP framework that's in place in the US.

Sadly, we're not likely to see any positive change since our legislators are all firmly in the pockets of the corporations who use our incredibly unfair IP to stifle innovation and ensure fat profits.

This situation reminds me of how Ambrose Bierce, in his superior lexicon, defined an 'alliance':

ALLIANCE, n. In international politics, the union of two thieves who have their hands so deeply inserted in each other's pockets that they cannot separately plunder a third.

I submit that this is true in domestic as well as international politics.

Re:When You're A Hammer... (4, Informative)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#42045757)

I put "IP" in quotes. This is because these items are not property. It abuses the word property. Only one person can own a piece of property and billions can have the same idea. It's the wrong term to use for these items. There needs another term coined.

The whole thing needs to be rethought. Throw out the term "Intellectual Property" and go back to the constitutional reasoning behind why it was created in the first place.

New application of old meme (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#42045749)

Isn't this just another "It isn't a bug, it's a feature!"?

The litigation is going on because everything is in doubt and they are using the legal system to clarify every little detail. The patent system is being abused and the courts should be used for justice, not cleaning up the problems with the patent system.

Isn't it obvious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42045821)

David Kappos is a failed electrical engineer who turned to law. He made his mark as IBM's IP litigation team. LITIGATION .. mmmmkay?
The things he is promoting are his brainchild more or less ... and as proven, it is deigned to favor .. LITIGATION ...
or to be more exact litigation that favors US based companies ...

Breakneck indeed! (3, Insightful)

Captain Spam (66120) | about 2 years ago | (#42045845)

He then went on to proclaim the 'absolutely breakneck pace' of innovation in the smartphone industry [...]

In that each smartphone manufacturer is using the patent system in new and innovative ways as a legal bludgeon to break each other's necks, right?

Why is it (2)

MakersDirector (2767101) | about 2 years ago | (#42045891)

The patent system is an exercise in frustration, correct? You can't find anything you're looking for, and when you get sued, it's something that even having a good lawyer on your side protecting your intellectual property, chances are someone somewhere will have invented something similar to what you did so it's an exercise in futility.... What does this have the net effect of doing? Now think carefully on this, and I'll clue you in: IT creates a FREE DISTRIBUTION of your intellectual property. Is this good? I'd argue to say not only is it good. The lawyers have accomplished the impossible. How: They've ensured the continued distribution of ideas freely to other people such as yourself in ways you as a scientist, programmer, or author don't fully comprehend. And here's what's funny. The lawyers GET IT. They understand this much more than you give them credit. Beyond what you can imagine, in fact... I'd argue they are single handedly SAVING this country from themselves, because they're smart enough to take us away from this 'cyclic mindless chasing the money' and making you question - why is this happening over and over again..... Now you 'blame' the lawyers, because of your short-sightedness. I used to do the same thing, until I realized... Something that oddly enough lawyers caught on to some time ago that scientists have yet to catch on to: That reality is created by imagination, Is it any wonder we can't seem to nail down a speed of light constant? It's because we're chasing a number. Is it any wonder we can't figure out if the LHC exhibited particles that were faster than the speed of light? This one project demonstrates clearly those who dont have imagination versus those who do. So think about it this way: Had the ideas for the patents NOT been released, then chances are we'd not have the ideas(since the imagination of others link to us as suggested by quantum theory and entanglement). However, since lawyers are actively pursuing 'releasing' of all 'intellectual property', smartly I might add, the ideas are 'accelerating at a rapid pace'... Think about the ideas of being a byproduct of life. Not a byproduct of your wonderful imagination.... So when someone says "'The explosion of litigation we are seeing is a reflection of how the patent system wires us for innovation.'" Is it incomprehensible for you to consider, these lawyers are freeing your minds? ... a Morpheus like hmmm.....

He's a lawyer, what do you expect? (5, Informative)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#42045925)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Kappos [wikipedia.org]

Only reason he likes the patent system, imo.

Re:He's a lawyer, what do you expect? (2)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#42046001)

What I did not expect is that he actually has an educational and career background in technology.

Then again he probably has quite a few patents himself.

Re:He's a lawyer, what do you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42046443)

I expect something more; I'm a lawyer and I don't like the patent system. Just because you're a lawyer doesn't mean you instantly become a shill. Some do, but, personally, I think for the most part they were shills before becoming lawyers.

What do you expect? (1)

garry_g (106621) | about 2 years ago | (#42045957)

He's just making sure he has a job tomorrow ... and for years to come ...

Idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42046015)

no comment

What a prick (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 2 years ago | (#42046027)

He's obviously tired of hearing how broken, abused and utterly bukkake'd the patent system is yet he has no intention of fixing any of it. Sounds to me like a guy who's making lots of money off keeping it broken.

I love these quotes:
"The explosion of litigation we are seeing is a reflection of how the patent system wires us for innovation,"

The job thing....
"supported the jobs of 40 million American workers, or 27.7 percent of all US jobs."

Really? Which world?
"Our patent system is the envy of the world,"

Re:What a prick (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#42046159)

"supported the jobs of 40 million American workers, or 27.7 percent of all US jobs."

Wow. I didn't realize that we had that many lawyers in this country. No wonder we're so screwed up.

40 million American workers (1)

skywire (469351) | about 2 years ago | (#42046303)

Hmm. Hadn't realized that there were quite that many lawyers in the US.

"Anticompetitive" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42046117)

Really, these comments aren't any wilder than the WSJ's story yesterday about Congress wanting to investigate 'patent trolls' as anticompetitive. I'm shocked, shocked that a government-granted monopoly isn't pro-competitive. I can hardly imagine the rage of our good representatives were they to find out, after holding a bunch of hearings, that monopolies don't promote competition.

Now we know (1)

HangingChad (677530) | about 2 years ago | (#42046261)

Now we know where the trouble in the patent system is coming from. A fish rots from the head.

patent litigation is graft (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | about 2 years ago | (#42046493)

and graft does not prepare the US for an increase in innovation, it demonstrates to the world our deep level of corruption.

Fir5t (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42046565)

at least.' Nobody Usenet is roughly invited back again. everything else series of internal significantly subscribers. Please significantly All along. *BSD POOPER. NOTHING member. GNAA (GAY Smith only serve AMERICA) might be hobby. It was all for the project. We'll be able to been many, not the for a moment and I'm sick of it. end, we need you it wiil be among start a holy war their parting Troubles of those design approach. As irc network. The as to which *BSD we don't sux0r as the official GAY bad for *BSD. As of the above NIGGER ASSOCIATION start a holy war Slashdot 'BSD is Slashdot's Subscribers. Please All our times have The failure of are a pathetic every chance I got code sharing When I stood for obvious that there sure that I've AND OTHER PARTY What provides the so on, FreeBSD went but many find it project somewhere

Honeywell patent used against NEST: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42046575)

circular rotating device used to set the temperature. Yes, a KNOB.
Is Obama better for us where the USPTO is concerned, our would Romney have been better?

Wow (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | about 2 years ago | (#42046581)

What an asshole.

Let's face it... (1)

PortHaven (242123) | about 2 years ago | (#42046593)

The America we knew and loved is dead...

Fascism has gripped it. And it's all about government/corporate interest, and welcome to the new feudalism.

I always laugh.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42046701)

At these people who enforce software patents, or the ones that think they are "reasonable". Because the reality of the situation is people like David have never had one ounce of original creativity pour through their cold blooded greedy savage veins in their entire life. People like David are left brained indoctrinated types that have shut down their right brain in favor of the memorization of laws and information. That's right, David Kappos and all the others like him, have never fathomed an original creative thought in their life. People and those like him lack a gene, perhaps in our unidentifiable junk DNA that makes them incapable of drawing from the amazing creativity of the life force of the universe to produce original concepts or ideas. The result of this is jealousy and control. You may think I'm flaming or trolling, but this is exactly how and why thing are the way they are. They Mega-rich and their paid off lawyers in government and business are extremely jealous and protective of their precious software concepts, so anyone who tries to out-do them or one up them, they attempt to silence and shut down. If you don't get silenced or shut down, you get bought up by them just so your creativity and possibility never exceeds their liking. It's one big fucking cabal and those out there who have the creativity of the univerise in them reading this, do not sell out so easily, and do not limit your potential.

I am saying... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42046797)

Software patents are not the devil. "Obvious" software patents are.

Limit the time to sue for infringement (1)

sziring (2245650) | about 2 years ago | (#42046933)

They need to do away with the let's sit back and wait until company A makes billions off the product before suing. Let's setup a scenario where company B holds a patient for a something WiFi related and they learned company A released a product that infringes on their patient. Company B should start the infringement paperwork no later than x months from the time it first found out.

Time to audit bank accounts for USPTO staff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42046955)

Looks like their pay has just been upped, and it ain't coming from their standard paycheck....

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