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The Mark Cuban Chair To Eliminate Stupid Patents

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the he-should-literally-hit-patent-trolls-with-a-chair dept.

Electronic Frontier Foundation 121

l2718 writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation announced today a large donation by Mark Cuban and Markus 'Notch' Persson to the EFF Patent Project. Notably, part of Cuban's donation is for the creation of the 'Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents' (the first holder is current staff attorney Julie Samuels). Time will tell if the new title will help her advocacy work. Cuban said, 'The current state of patents and patent litigation in this country is shameful," said Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. "Silly patent lawsuits force prices to go up while competition and innovation suffer. That's bad for consumers and bad for business. It's time to fix our broken system, and EFF can help.' Notch added, 'New games and other technological tools come from improving on old things and making them better – an iterative process that the current patent environment could shut down entirely. '"

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Ahh, "Patents" (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42342801)

...I totally read "Parents" at first, and was confused as to why the EFF cared.

Re:Ahh, "Patents" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42342821)

I read the bit about 'chair' and wondered what good a simple, inanimate object is going to be against a bunch of overpaid lawyers. But then I realised a baseball bat would probably be pretty effective too.

Re:Ahh, "Patents" (3, Funny)

neminem (561346) | about 2 years ago | (#42343161)

My first thought was that they would put people who ask for and/or approve stupid patents in the Comfy Chair.

Re:Ahh, "Patents" (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 2 years ago | (#42343531)

I read the bit about 'chair' and wondered what good a simple, inanimate object is going to be against a bunch of overpaid lawyers.

Ask Mark Lukovsky

Re:Ahh, "Patents" (3, Funny)

mirix (1649853) | about 2 years ago | (#42343555)

You'd be surprised. A chair was pretty effective against Clint Eastwood.

Re:Ahh, "Patents" (3, Funny)

jd2112 (1535857) | about 2 years ago | (#42343997)

You'd be surprised. A chair was pretty effective against Clint Eastwood.

And is the weapon of choice of Steve Ballmer.

Re:Ahh, "Patents" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42344539)

He'll need a funny looking chair to be comfy, with his ass as a hat 'n all...just sayin'. 'Sumpthing to do with the door not hitting him in the ass if the Surface bombs too.

Re:Ahh, "Patents" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42343701)

Steve Ballmer is going to fucking kill the USPTO! Right after he dispatches Google.

Re:Ahh, "Patents" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42343725)

I read the bit about 'chair' and wondered what good a simple, inanimate object is going to be against a bunch of overpaid lawyers.

It's not commonly known, but there was once an incident where Steve Balmer (I think it was him, it's so hard to remember these things) may have had some kind of negative interaction with a chair.

But, What will Apple do Now?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42344477)

I'm pretty sure what round red fruit they'll be inevitably swingin' at. The cure for inanimate objects, like stupid patents.

Re:But, What will Apple do Now?! (1)

Trilkin (2042026) | about a year ago | (#42346037)

Dell's Cherries? [dellscherry.com]

Re:Ahh, "Patents" (1)

motorhead (82353) | about a year ago | (#42346629)

I thought the EFF might really be on to something.

Fuck you (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42342813)

fuck you

election year donations (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42342875)

that half million would have gone farther last year as political donations

Misread Headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42342895)

I read the headline to say "The Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid People" and began to worry about my future.

Re:Misread Headline (1)

TheTerseOne (2447418) | about 2 years ago | (#42342911)

I read "Cuban said, 'The current state of patents and patent litigation in this country is shameful," said Cuban" read I.

Good luck... (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#42342915)

$500,000? Doesn't IBM spend more on patent applications in a single month than that?

Guy is no dummy (1, Interesting)

ArchieBunker (132337) | about 2 years ago | (#42343001)

Mark Cuban is a self made billionaire.

Re: Guy is no dummy (1)

skitchen8 (1832190) | about 2 years ago | (#42343705)

And the outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks, says Shark Tank

Re:Guy is no dummy (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#42343841)

Those two statements may both be true, but they aren't strongly related. He's a billionaire because he sold a shitty website to Yahoo!, at the height of the dot-com bubble, for $6 billion. Yes, Yahoo paid him six billion dollars for a website. Not even a website that was making much money, either. They subsequently, unsurprisingly, took a huge write-down on broadcast.com's value, which collapsed to near nothing. So, Cuban got lucky in riding the bubble and cashing out before it burst.

Re:Guy is no dummy (3, Insightful)

l0kl1n (1670272) | about 2 years ago | (#42344513)

Yeah, fair enough, but he was one of the very few people who sold his shitty company at the peak of the dot.com bubble who was able to think ahead enough to actually keep his fortune.

Re:Guy is no dummy (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#42348103)

Is it better to be lucky than good? Do smart people make their own luck? Or are they just smart enough to open the door when opportunity knocks? Tangling out smarts and luck is hard.

I think Cuban is smarter than he is lucky. I also think smarts and luck form a positive feedback loop. The more smart risks you take the more big wins you make – allowing you to take more smart risks.

Re:Guy is no dummy (4, Insightful)

oursland (1898514) | about 2 years ago | (#42345373)

Actually, that sounds pretty smart to me.

Re:Guy is no dummy (1)

Bigby (659157) | about a year ago | (#42347333)

luck? or he was smart enough to know the bubble was going to burst?

Re:Guy is no dummy (4, Interesting)

lipanitech (2620815) | about a year ago | (#42346371)

He hates stupid patents there was a guy on Shark Tank who had the patent for running Apple product speaker wires threw clothing. Mark flipped and said I will run blue tooth with pairing just so you don't get any money. lol He was been open as well that patents stand in the way of innovation.

Now a fan (5, Interesting)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 2 years ago | (#42343009)

Never was a fan of Mr. Cuban; now I am a huge fan. Thanks.

One of the qualifications of a patent is that it is non-obvious to a professional in that industry. That is pretty well ignored when most patents that I see litigated are 100% obvious to people well outside that area. Keyboards on a cell phone for texting. Wow that must have take a room full of geniuses working since Edison to work out that combo. Sweeping gestures on a touch surface; I bet only one person in history would have ever come up with that one. Backup sensors, never would have thought about people wondering if they would crash into something while backing up; that one is nearly as ingenious as putting rear view mirrors into cars.

Then you get the best ones where everybody on both sides agree the patent is total shit, but do you want to risk a jury not agreeing, so let's settle. RIM settled for a zillion dollars on a patent that then got thrown out.

So if I were to modify the patent system I would suggest, No software patents, you build software or you don't, only two people can hold a patent, the inventor or a company that actually builds significant quantities of the patented product. No patent holding companies. Change the patent lawsuit process. First is you name a company in a claim. Then the company has 1 year to to get your patent tossed. The patent people must complete a full review within that year and if they don't the patent is tossed. An appeal of the patent itself can be brought before a jury but in this case a jury of peers must be at least half people in that industry. Patent awards must be severely tempered by actual gains. And lastly patents need to have way shorter lives. This life must be partially based upon active product sales. So a patent would give you say 5 years to get to market. But once sales start you have another 5 years of protection. Then its out. So if apple comes up with a cool new antenna and immediately puts it into their phones they can't deny the consumer that innovation in other products until 2032 just 2017.

But if I could have any two rule changes it would be that only inventors and genuine producers can hold patents and no software patents.

Re:Now a fan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42343183)

I'm going the opposite way: I've been a fan of patent reform for a long time, but I'm reconsidering that position now that Mark Cuban is in favor of it. Patents for everyone!

Re:Now a fan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42343913)

Patents for some; miniature American flags for others!

Re:Now a fan (4, Interesting)

steelfood (895457) | about 2 years ago | (#42343925)

Patents should be granted based (in addition to the current prior art and novel conditions) on having a working device originating from the applicant exhibiting the behavior to be patented, and some ability to purchase a product that exhibits this behavior (they don't necessarily have to be the same). The patent then covers products (which can be a component) that exhibits this behavior.

This way, software running on a general purpose CPU cannot be patented, because the behavior runs on somebody else's product (i.e. fails prior art test). Likewise, genetic modifications cannot be patented, as the organism would be a product of its parent(s), and not of the applicant. However, a novel way to insert genes is patentable (the product being the device actually performing the gene insertion). If, however, the method is actually some kind of natural process, again, it fails the prior art test.

The patent pending process would be used for patent applications that have passed all other tests but does not have a working device and/or a method of sale for said device. There would be a window between these, which could be as you suggested, five years. In fact, applications that are in this state can be transferred from entity to entity, so that the inventor has the ability to sell the patent within this window without needing to incur the cost of making a product and selling it.

Then, patents should be up for renewal after some time, at which time the only condition for granting the renewal is again, having a product exhibiting the patented behavior for sale.

Re:Now a fan (2)

chrismcb (983081) | about 2 years ago | (#42345293)

and some ability to purchase a product that exhibits this behavior (they don't necessarily have to be the same).

No, no, no, no, no.
You should NOT need a working product to get a patent, and most definitely should not need one that you can sale. This would pretty much eliminate any "little guy" from ever getting a patent.
While I think software patents are nonsense, I'm not sure how your "runs on someone else's product" should eliminate it. Basically you are saying, you shouldn't try to improve someone else's invention.

Prototypes should be a requirement (3, Interesting)

sjbe (173966) | about a year ago | (#42346455)

You should NOT need a working product to get a patent, and most definitely should not need one that you can sale. This would pretty much eliminate any "little guy" from ever getting a patent.

If you cannot get the invention to work then there is no way to know if the idea works in the real world. If it can't be proven then it isn't real and is not worthy of a patent. Just having an idea first is not a sufficient standard. Building a prototype will not keep "the little guy" out any more than it does already. A prototype or early model doesn't have to be a final perfected version - just something that works. Someone with the resources to create something useful isn't going to have a hard time getting funding to build a working model. I don't think the sale requirement adds anything to the argument but I definitely think the requirement to build a tangible working model is a useful idea. Patents worthy of the a government sponsored monopoly have to be more than just someones random idea's written down.

While I think software patents are nonsense, I'm not sure how your "runs on someone else's product" should eliminate it.

I think he is saying that you have to provide a tangible product that YOU created. If your product is merely operating instructions to someone else's invention then you haven't invented a tangible product. Problem with his logic is that it doesn't work for vertically integrated companies like IBM or HP which are capable of manufacturing entire computers (or purchasing the suppliers who do) and thus circumventing his plan. Much easier to just say that machine instructions, mathematics, language, meta-data, business methods and intangible products and ideas can not be patented.

Re:Now a fan (2)

TheLink (130905) | about 2 years ago | (#42344017)

The problem with patents is the people approving a patent have little incentive to disapprove it and it's not always easy for them to know whether one broad vague claim made in legalese is an obvious patent or not.

I personally would be happy if utility patents were abolished (not drug)- broad ideas are easy, it's the hundreds or even thousands of teensy weensy details that are hard. So is getting the buy-in and marketing right. Most modern patents are so broad they don't actually significantly reduce the work required by competitors - what's written in the patent won't help them that much.

How then to encourage innovation? Create Prizes for Innovation. It is easier in hindsight to figure out whether something is innovative, and you can reward inventors who are far ahead of their time, whose work helps bring "the future" earlier to the masses, but is so advanced that by the time it hits the masses the patents would have expired. In contrast our current system rewards "inventors" who come up with stupid obvious "one-click" crap.

The Prizes can come in two classes with many categories in each class. One class of prizes are awarded by "Experts in the Field" and another class of prizes are awarded by "Members of the Public".

As for design patents, yes Apple got the "rounded rectangle" one but perhaps design patents can still provide more benefit than harm.

Re:Now a fan (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 2 years ago | (#42344143)

Awarding inovative ideas and patents won't do anything to reduce the sheer montains of simple broad patents that are screwing up the industries.

Re:Now a fan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42344291)

Read the first half. Abolishing utility patents will.

Re:Now a fan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42344063)

Although I have to add a huge caveat to recommending the show, one thing I enjoy about Shark Tank is that Cuban has ripped in to people who he sees abusing patents. It really is amazing when you consider how in business, it's ingrained in the culture that whatever makes you money is good. For someone who works in corporate capacities as much as he does, it takes active resistance not to fall for it. (Silly analogy: When I worked with a group of other software engineers, going out to eat was the norm there. It was only my upbringing that kept me bringing my own meals most of the time.)

Patents suck. Patent laywers suck. (5, Insightful)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | about 2 years ago | (#42344883)

> One of the qualifications of a patent is that it is non-obvious to a professional in that industry. That is pretty well ignored when most patents that I see litigated are 100% obvious to people well outside that area. Keyboards on a cell phone for texting. Wow that must have take a room full of geniuses working since Edison to work out that combo.

The law is an ass, especially the Adversarial system of law practiced in the US where lawyers dispute everything, no matter how obvious. They say "In my opinion, my client's patent is most certainly not obvious and my client has a strong case." Rules forbid lawyers from bringing weak cases "without merit", but the lawyer simply insist they believe their case is strong and the judge (also a lawyer) will agree the only way to sort it out is in court, at great expense. You can't rely on "truth" winning in the end. Court room proceedings aren't debates like you have in highschool: All you have to do is convince an ignorant jury to go with your side. Look at the Koh Samsung debacle. It's very hard to get a wrong decision reversed since Judges don't like looking stupid or making other judge's look stupid. There are some very dirty and entirely legal tactics that lawyers use to bring the juries over to their side. I can't list them here because I would be howled down. This is why it's in your interests to settle with a troll, no matter how crazy their claim. Don't expect the judge to save you: There are some very one-eyed judges out there in patent troll county.

Litigating a patent, whether you are the plaintiff or defendant costs $3M-$5M. Lawyers get paid no matter what. Even if you win, it's very unlikely the other side will be ordered to pay your full costs. You have to treat that money as a write off. You won't see it again. Some lawyers work on contingency for patent trolls, but this makes it worse for the victim because neither the plaintiff or their lawyers need to give a s*** about costs and refuse to settle. If they can fool a stupid jury they can end up owning your business, so why settle for a modest and mutually agreeable fee?

The system is so bad that the smartest thing a software developer can do is take the money and run at the first chance before someone sues you, because you can't write a program these days without infringing a hundred 'obvious' patents. As soon as you get the whiff of money around you, the trolls will come. Expect submarine patents and out right bogus ones too. Writing software is like being an OB-GYN... too risky. Find something safer.

Lawyers are opportunists, and I blame the USPTO and Congress for giving them the opportunity. Instead of looking at stupid patents, they need to go after the root cause.

Re:Patents suck. Patent laywers suck. (1)

HanktheTankCDN (1865222) | about a year ago | (#42346787)

Well F'n said, Amen to that!!!

Re:Patents suck. Patent laywers suck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42347659)

So, we should kill all the lawyers?

Re:Now a fan (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42345783)

I can assure you Apple won't come up with a cool new antenna. Apples innovations are more in the "rounded corners" "more bling bling" category. Note that those aren't important selling points. They seem to be more important than working antennas, for example. So Apple is doing it right financially.

Re:Now a fan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42347583)

One of the qualifications of a patent is that it is non-obvious to a professional in that industry.

No. One of the qualifications of a patent is that it is non-obvious to one having ordinary skill in the art of that industry. Not an expert, not a project leader, but an entry-level code monkey.

Patents = Usury (3, Interesting)

jtnix (173853) | about 2 years ago | (#42343029)

There was a time, long ago, when usury was punishable by death.

In layman's terms usury = making profit by charging interest on a loan of property, including land, tools, money, etc. while the owner sits on their Fat Ass.

Sometime in the 13th or 14th century, European 'business men' convinced a Pope to remove that punishment from the religious 'judicial system' so they could 'legitimately' start the banking system we have today.

And here we are, 21st century, with the 1% owning or restricting practically every aspect of the 99%'s lives through interest and patents.

Re:Patents = Usury (3, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#42343075)

Because wealth wasn't concentrated into a small segment of the population during the medieval times. No, that didn't happen at all...

Re:Patents = Usury (1)

scarboni888 (1122993) | about 2 years ago | (#42343153)

Doesn't mean we have to go on handing even more tools over to them.

Re:Patents = Usury (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 2 years ago | (#42343199)

The Bible prohibits consolidating land as well as charging interest. I guess the Pope felt that since they were already doing one, they may as well do the other.

Re:Patents = Usury (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 2 years ago | (#42343665)

No it wasn't. To say otherwise is treason.

Re:Patents = Usury (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42343287)

Strange, change is happening faster than ever before. Facts is 99.9% of the time and more patents work, I doubt that there is any product you own which doesn't involve at least 2-100 patents either in the products themselves or in the manufacturing processes, you just never hear about them.Some products incorporate hundreds of patents, your computer being one of them, from chip design , fabrication, testing , assembly, etc etc etc.

Patents have not made things more expensive, my first DVD player cost me 50x more than my current one, yet it is full of even more patents than my first one.
My first computer, a TRS-80 clone had 16K RAM with only a cassette deck cost me 3 months pay, my 15" MacbookPro costs me 3 week pay.

So much innovation is happening inside common household appliances that you don't know about, nor care about simply because those items have simply been there all of the time and outwardly you don't see much difference.

Reality is, there are some people who see an opportunity to self profit from breaking the system at everyones expense. Who is going to invest millions into R&D time and time again knowing others will simply take the fruits of your labours for free and profit from it. I am sure Cuban would be upset if we said copyright was broken too and why should I not be allowed to rebroadcast the football match to all my friends over the internet for free......

Re:Patents = Usury (2)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about 2 years ago | (#42343507)

But how many of those patents have anything to do with innovation? My guess is that 90% of patents are nothing more then 'do X, but on a computer', while another 9% are of the 'we add the number 5 to each transmission so you can make compatible devices' variety. So only about 1% are the type of patents that contain actual innovations, but I doubt that even those contain enough information to recreate those innovations - the reason patents were created in the first place. The rest are just fluff useful for extorting/excluding competition through lawsuits.
The whole patent system needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. Invalidate all current patents and allow owners to re-apply for them for a fee. Then refund the fee for those patents that get granted (those that contain both new ideas and how to implement them). And for goodness sake stop granting patents for problems - it's solutions that patents are supposed to cover.

Re:Patents = Usury (2, Insightful)

maeglin (23145) | about 2 years ago | (#42343533)

Facts is 99.9% of the time and more patents work, I doubt that there is any product you own which doesn't involve at least 2-100 patents either in the products themselves or in the manufacturing processes, you just never hear about them.

Isn't what you just said proof that patents don't work? Who other than the entrenched have the resources to identify the 2-100 arbitrary patents that apply to any given product? How is this environment supposed to move innovation forward when it is set up in favor of those who are already sitting in the innovation-limiting "cash cow" stage of their respective businesses?

Who is going to invest millions into R&D time and time again knowing others will simply take the fruits of your labours for free and profit from it.

I dunno.. Maybe people who understand the concepts of first to market, trade secrets, quality of implementation and brand value and don't just hide behind naive assumptions about the need for legal protection of basic ideas?

Re: Patents = Usury (1)

skitchen8 (1832190) | about 2 years ago | (#42343971)

This is all about perspective then; you say innovation I say stagnation. Really how many *useful* features does your new DVD player have that your old one didn't? It plays DVDs, has been innovated enough to play CDs, MP3s, JPEGs, etc but you bought it to play the same shiny circle it did 10 years ago. Something becoming cheaper and gaining incremental features isn't innovation, it is stagnation. The thing is that to me, our patent laws are perfectly reasonable. Maybe the terms could be a bit shorter, but if someone invents something they should be able to own that invention for awhile. The problem is the patent office. The inspectors are simply overworked, if you take too long (which they already do) the system is broken. If you let bad patents through (which face it, given their insurmountable task, you would fuck up a lot too) the system is broken. If you hire a million new patent inspectors the country complains you are spending too much money, so the system gets broken. Then you ask how to change it and find it isn't fixable. If you do away with patents then many people see no reason to innovate. If you make the practice harder or more expensive you alienate the little guy. We can put a limit on how many patents an entity can file but besides being unenforceable it also screws the big guy, and the big guy doesn't deserve to be screwed either. I agree we live in an amazing world, I am typing this reply on the computer that resides in my pocket. It will, momentarily beam this message through the air, then fiber, then copper to a few hard drives somewhere so that everyone in the world can read it. This phone also connects to satellites in freaking space in order to find me when I get lost. Oh yeah, and the internet gives me Wikipedia, IMDB, various dictionaries, and all the naked women I can shake a stick at; you know, pretty much the whole of human knowledge (and perversions) sitting in my pocket. I cannot argue innovation still happens, but of this $600 computer (in my pocket, seriously, how cool is that?) how much pays for ridiculous patents on obvious ideas because sometimes buying a license is cheaper than lawyers and bad press? Of my $100 a month cell phone bill how much goes to the guy that determined if we take a receiver and put it up higher using a metal, plastic, wooden, or other solid substrate for the purposes of better reception while also, in it's design, using triangular geometry in order to maximize strength? We need to give credit, somehow, to the guy that invented the touchscreen, not the guy who's idea it was that if I spread my fingers apart I am signaling to make something bigger, and pulling them closer means make something smaller.

Yeah, back when one guy owned everything. (1)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about 2 years ago | (#42343855)

That was a MUCH better time. And he could order you killed for no reason. Good times! What was the King back then - the 0.000001%??

You fail It!? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42343097)

aal along. *BSD

How (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42343113)

How does the chair eliminate stupid patents?

Also, a chair that eliminates stupid patents might actually be worthy of a patent.

Re:How (2)

Leuf (918654) | about 2 years ago | (#42343559)

I believe it involves Steve Ballmer and hunting down every patent attorney in the world, but I'm a little fuzzy on the details.

Like this (1)

Frankie70 (803801) | about a year ago | (#42347883)

How does the chair eliminate stupid patents?

You throw the chair on people who file stupid patents.

Misread the title (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42343117)

Thought it said "The Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Parents".
I'm disappointed.

We're all doomed (1)

scarboni888 (1122993) | about 2 years ago | (#42343129)

It really doesn't matter what system you put in place people are always going to game it and therefore abuse it.

You can get the best and the brightest to create it but they'll always be unable to think of the myriad of ways others will come up with to game it.

In short we're all doomed and there's nothing to be done about it.

However I do understand we have to do something with our oversized brains so go ahead - knock yourselves out bantering about how to fix these unfixable problems.

Enjoy!

Re:We're all doomed (3, Insightful)

AaronLS (1804210) | about 2 years ago | (#42343509)

If you have the same attitude, you tell all of your repair men and doctors to give up so easily. Sounds like the only thing doomed is you dooming yourself.

Re:We're all doomed (2)

scarboni888 (1122993) | about 2 years ago | (#42343653)

My doctor won't be able to save my life if his life depended on it and I am not the cause of entropy which means yes - no matter what I think we're all doomed.

But you're free to continue pretending otherwise.

Re:We're all doomed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42343765)

Be a little more cynical, why don't you?

Stupid Parents (1, Insightful)

ThePeices (635180) | about 2 years ago | (#42343137)

OK, How many of you misread the title as Stupid Parents?

It wasn't until I read the line "...patent litigation..." that I clicked.

Strangely, it seemed a fantastic idea when read both ways.

Re:Stupid Parents (2)

WindowsWasher (849166) | about 2 years ago | (#42343617)

OK, How many of you misread the title as Stupid Parents?

Bows head in shame... Seriously though, it sounded plausible enough at the moment.

Well as Notch knows... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42343167)

Who better the Notch, the man who tried to get complete and total control of the word Scrolls in nearly every field of work, to know how the patent / trademark system can be abused.

Re:Well as Notch knows... (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#42347665)

That and he made his millions ripping off Infiniminer. [youtube.com]

Parents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42343195)

I read this as "The Mark Cuban Chair To Eliminate Stupid Parents" and was all for it, but now . . .

No no no. Wrong target. Again. (4, Insightful)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | about 2 years ago | (#42343431)

Why does EFF never oppose software patents as a concept?

They always want to eliminate the 10 worst software patents, but they have enough educated/informed people to know that the world isn't plagued by 10 lousy software patents. It's thickets like the 346 US patents exploited by MPEG LA.

Or the thousands of patents held by Intellectual Ventures, Apple, and Microsoft.

C'mon EFF. You have the cash and the lawyers. Give us a hand [endsoftpatents.org] fixing the problem (legislation, court briefs) and stop trying to wipe out malaria by swatting mosquitoes [gnu.org] ! You know that doesn't work.

Re:No no no. Wrong target. Again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42343691)

"Why does EFF never oppose software patents as a concept?"

Probably because patents aren't necessarily bad, as a concept. If regulated properly, and granted properly, they can in fact, promote business and industry. Unfortunately, such a playing field doesn't exist in the US, and likely won't for the foreseeable future, if ever.

It's nice to think that every competitive market can in fact cooperate and survive without patents, and let true competition dominate, but your dreaming if you think we can get to there from here. We can't, not because of market restriction, but because grassroots underdogs will eventually make the larger markets obsolete. If you don't think it's possible, you have not been paying attention to the open hardware technology movement.

Re:No no no. Wrong target. Again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42343805)

> It's thickets like the 346 US patents exploited by MPEG LA

I can't comment on the MPEG LA portfolio, but I believe that sufficiently complex algorithms deserve to be protected. Having said that, almost all software patents should be thrown out. Most of Apple's patents are a joke and make anyone who is NOT a fanboy think that Apple are a pack of asshats. I've specifically listed Apple because of the fanboy zealousy and Apple's "holier than thou" marketing tripe ... not because I believe that Apple is the only offender.

Re:No no no. Wrong target. Again. (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about 2 years ago | (#42343931)

most? or most of the ones you hear about incessantly on slashdot?

Re:No no no. Wrong target. Again. (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about 2 years ago | (#42343957)

maybe it's because they want to actually have some measurable return on their money.

Re:No no no. Wrong target. Again. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42344085)

Jpeg and mpeg compression are non obvious, involved base research and experimentation and have and/or had fully legitmate patents, and their invention and subsequent take up drove the internet forward, and drove the subsequent development of patent skirting formats.

The problem I think is finding a method of assessing patents for their obviousness that is both fair and not subject to regulatory capture.

Re:No no no. Wrong target. Again. (4, Interesting)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | about 2 years ago | (#42344615)

> Jpeg and mpeg

Nonsense. Patents might have funded R&D in one building, but those patents blocked R&D in every other building.

In the 90s, everyone was after image and video compression, there were piles of people working on it, or wanting to work on it. Studies show that software patents caused money to be diverted *away* from R&D (toward patent defence, defensive acquisition etc.).

http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Studies_on_economics_and_innovation [swpat.org]
http://en.swpat.org/wiki/An_Empirical_Look_at_Software_Patents [swpat.org]

And if you want to fund researchers, just abolish software patents and suddenly you free up a few billion in application fees, maintenance fees, freedom to operate search fees, defence costs, out of court settlements, licensing fees...

Re:No no no. Wrong target. Again. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42344109)

EFF sold out to corporate interests when Mitch Kapor lost interest (he was hoping for a Cabinet spot in the Clinton administration), and when Jerry Berman took over and moved them to Washington DC, where he promptly sold all their credibility for whatever money and resume fodder he could scrounge and got them to sign off on the "TeleCommunications (utter lack of ) Privacy Act".

They've never completely recovered from that.

EFF sold out in 1992 and never recovered? (1)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | about 2 years ago | (#42344685)

That would be around 1992, right?

So EFF was good for two years and then sold out? If that's correct, how have they managed to maintain a high profile and good reputation?

There patent work always disappoints me, but I assumed they were valuable in some other area, but I know very little about their work.

Could shut down ? Have shut down more like it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42343459)

If half the country was on welfare and required charity in order to support itself, we would all agreed this is bad. Why when software development has become sustainable in large part only due to the donations of individuals to open source projects, do we not scorn ?

I use Linux as my desktop machine and in my servers. It doesn't mean I don't understand that while it is the only good os available, it's also decades behind the times. I know this is also true regarding my CPU. That mid evil monstrosity X86. Not even an Intel spokesman can deny an ARM is beating at it's heart.

Hacks. That what we have come to admire in this industry. The ability to circumvent antiquated technology instead of inventing new tech. And that what we have become. The peddlers of Java \ C++ \ C# as innovative. Abstractions hiding the horror are computers have become. Entire OSs dedicated to make the mess that the patents have allowed to be somehow usable and their associated languages of choice.

And now we're surprised the third world has caught up. Maybe if we would have put some effort into making sure not to stand still this wouldn't have happened. Maybe if patents wouldn't have been there to allow this... Mea Culpa as part of the system.

Re:Could shut down ? Have shut down more like it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42344067)

Not even an Intel spokesman can deny an ARM is beating at it's heart.

Are you claiming that Intel's X86 chips have ARM chips inside them, or that ARM is going to beat X86 in the long term?

Hmm I wonder if this is a patentable idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42343565)

I wonder if someone thought of this as a good patent, I can see the title now"

Process to keep Mark Cuban busy by putting him on a panel to root out silly patents.

Step 1.... (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#42343603)

Invalidate and reject ALL software patents.

ALL of them. Computers are math, you cant patent math, therefore you cant freaking patent anything that is software.

Until they do that, they are just spinning their wheels.

Re:Step 1.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42344265)

And since all software can be burned/patterned/implemented/designed in fixed hardware, all hardware patents involving circuits should be invalidated and rejected too! (otherwise people will just move the algorithms into hardware)

Until they do that, they are just spinning their wheels. Preach on brother! No hardware OR software patents! Ban them all!

Re:Step 1.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42346527)

You know nothing at all about electronics or computers...Why dontcha' you go on over to Reddit. There's more clueless idiots like you over there.

Re:Step 1.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42345575)

Is that you, Dr Chase?

Re:Step 1.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42345859)

All software is logic executed via math...sort of. OK, so you should not be able to patent logic either...
But that's not the point - patents in software protect the innovative idea that just happens to be implemented in software.
There's a big difference between bullshit patents used for cynical marketing purposes, and the real need for companies, and individuals, to obtain a reasonable return on their often substantial R&D investment.

It's the current patent system which is broken, not the idea of patents themselves.

Patents just change the nature of advances (4, Interesting)

trout007 (975317) | about 2 years ago | (#42343615)

I think that patents do not increase technological advance but only change how they are released. If patents did not exist there would always be pressure to make a better product. This would happen in smaller but quicker steps. Patents don't increase the rate of innovation. What people do is hold back releasing products until the advances are enough to get a patent. This results in larger but less frequent advances. In the modern world there is no reason for any patents. If your technological advance is sufficiently large you will gain a natural monopoly as the competition tries to catch up.

Re:Patents just change the nature of advances (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42345881)

I think that patents do not increase technological advance but only change how they are released. If patents did not exist there would always be pressure to make a better product. This would happen in smaller but quicker steps. Patents don't increase the rate of innovation. What people do is hold back releasing products until the advances are enough to get a patent. This results in larger but less frequent advances. In the modern world there is no reason for any patents. If your technological advance is sufficiently large you will gain a natural monopoly as the competition tries to catch up.

That's not always the case. If the patent holder proves the economic feasibility of their idea, people will quickly innovate in order to achieve the same result, but with violating the original patent. This has been going on for a long time...the most classic example:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_and_planet_gear

It's not bad for all business. (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 2 years ago | (#42343619)

I hear law firms are doing great out of the current situation

Truly rich coming from the man who conned AT&T (1)

tyrione (134248) | about 2 years ago | (#42344115)

Mark Cuban is wealthy because he conned a sell out of a business that was all smoke and mirrors. He now has billions to throw around into already well-established industries and people are calling him prescient? Please.

Re:Truly rich coming from the man who conned AT&am (1)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about 2 years ago | (#42345483)

Hey, Mark Cuban doesn't do what Mark Cuban does for Mark Cuban. Mark Cuban does what Mark Cuban does because he IS Mark Cuban.

Reform is straight forward. (3, Insightful)

dweller_below (136040) | about 2 years ago | (#42344131)

The process of reforming the US Patent Office appears to be fairly straight forward. Unfortunately, it requires political commitment.

The heart of the US Patent problems are both conceptual and economic. But the problems are easy to understand.

First, we have adopted the idea that more patents are better than fewer patents. This idea has been proven false. We believed that US Patents were a license to create. But, this is not true. US Patents are nothing more than a license to hire lawyers and sue a competitor. They don't guarantee creation or progress. They only guarantee legal action. A little legal action is necessary, but a lot destroys economies.

Since we believed that more Patents were better, in the last couple decades we have 'reformed' the US patent process to maximize the creation of patents.

We need to a admit we are wrong. Once we have managed to do that, reform is fairly easy. Reform should address:

  • 1) Running the US Patent Office as a cost-recovery operation is a mistake.

    Currently most of the revenue of the US Patent Office comes from GRANTING patents. See the USPTO FY 2013 President's Budget page 37: www.uspto.gov/about/stratplan/budget/fy13pbr.pdf "..More than half of all patent fee collections are from issue and maintenance fees, which essentially subsidize examination activities."

    Also, if you examine the fee structure in Public Law 112 - 29 - Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, you see that patent application fees are 1/3 or less that the Issue fee. See: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-112publ29/content-detail.html [gpo.gov]

    This means that, regardless of merit, about 1/3 of all patent applications must be granted in order to fund the US Patent Office. This economy creates unavoidable pressure to grant many patents that should not otherwise be considered. It also creates economic pressure that greatly decreases the time that can be devoted to examination.

    Reform could come in many forms, but the simplest and most reliable would be to eliminate and unify the Patent office fees into a single filing fee. This fee would provide no guarantee of receiving a patent, only a guarantee that your patent would be considered. This would free the Patent Office to be able to deny poor patents.

  • 2) Granting too many Patents is a mistake.

    Currently, we expand the number of patent examiners based on demand. See the USPTO FY 2013 President's Budget, page 60, Gap Assessment: "Meeting this commitment assumes efficiency improvements brought about by reengineering many USPTO management and operational processes (e.g., the patent examination process) and systems, and hiring about 3,000 patent examiners in the two-year period FY 2012 and FY 2013 (including examiners for Three-Track Examination)."

    Again, the assumption is, more patents are better, even if it means decreasing examination, and increasing the number of untrained examiners. Poor quality is an inevitable result of this patent process.

    The resulting flood of patents creates patent thickets. These thickets eliminate competition and stagnate markets.

    Reform would require somehow limiting the number of granted patents in a field. This could be accomplished several ways. The easiest would be to restrict the number of Patent examiners. If you eliminate the idea of cost recovery, then the natural process of limited congressional funding would probably suffice to limit the examination staff. Patent quotas would also work, but an PTO quota would be subject to regulatory capture. Patent Quotas would work best if they were set by Congressional Act.

  • 3) It is a mistake to grant all patents that meet minimum standards.

    A review of recent Patent Law will reveal that the minimum standard for granting a patent has consistently shifted downwards during the past few decades. We must abandon the idea that any patent that meets minimum standards is granted. Over time, the standard always degrades.

    Reform is easy. You rank Patent Applications according to an agreed measure of quality, and only grant the top few percent. Over time, the pressure will be to improve the quality of patent applications, instead of degrade them.

    My personal favourite measure of Patent quality is to rank them according to the damage they do to society. Compare the application to last years applications. Then, based on that comparison, give the patent application points for:

    • Relative lack of clarity in the invention description;
    • Relative lack of precision in the claims;
    • And lack of originality.

    Then only grant the top applications with the fewest points. This has the advantage of being fairly easy to measure, thus it is hard to challenge in court. Plus this ranking will greatly reduce the need to go to court to discover the scope of a patent.

As you can see, decreasing the number of future stupid patents is straight forward. The pressures that currently give rise to bad patents are fairly obvious. We can mitigate those pressures and institute processes that tend to increase patent quality. It is much harder to figure out how to survive the current flood of crappy patents.

Miles

Re:Reform is straight forward. (1)

dweller_below (136040) | about 2 years ago | (#42345389)

I screwed up the first point of my argument. There is really 2 points there:
  • 1) Running the US Patent Office as a cost-recovery operation is a mistake.

    The US Patent Office is a very small, but critical component of the US economy. It's purpose is "..to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.." (US Constitution Article One, Section 8(8).) But, once the USPTO became cost recovery, the primary goal became overshadowed by the more pressing goal of securing funding via patent fees. The primary effect of cost recovery is to guarantee immediate bureaucratic capture by the patent industry.

    The patent industry want's patents. Lots of them. They don't care about quality. In fact, most of the patent industry prefers to have vague, sweeping patents. Currently, patent quantity is up. Patent quality is down. Lawsuits are up. This is a desired outcome for the patent industry. But, what is good for the patent industry is not good for the rest of the country.

    Reform is painful, but simple. Admit cost recovery is a failed experiment. Revert the funding model to the model used 30 years ago. The USPTO must be centrally funded by the US government. Any collected fees should be returned to the US Government.

  • 2) It is a mistake to organize the US Patent Office to create economic incentives to grant poor patents.

    Currently most of the revenue of the US Patent Office comes from GRANTING patents..

The rest of my arguments should have followed from there.

I apologize for my previous poor logic and exposition.

Miles

Re:Reform is straight forward. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42345799)

Reform could come in many forms, but the simplest and most reliable would be to eliminate and unify the Patent office fees into a single filing fee. This fee would provide no guarantee of receiving a patent, only a guarantee that your patent would be considered. This would free the Patent Office to be able to deny poor patents.

Even better:

Make it so that the filing fee is returned when a patent is accepted. Should stop companies from filing stupid crap.

How about this patent for the iframe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42344251)

US Patent No: 8,112,497 http://www.patentbuddy.com/Patent/8112497

stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42344699)

I actually thought the headline read "stupid parents".

Conspiracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42346063)

Laws are usually written up by lawyers. The only beneficiaries of the current software patent system are ... lawyers.

Coincidence?

We have to come to terms with rule 1... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42346263)

The patent system works against the freedom of people doing anything they want.

If we didn't have the patent system, then everyone interested in making a living creating or selling a product would do that, and may the best one win, get the monopoly, and grow fat.

With the patent system, we see big fish still behave like big fish and do what they like, we see some small fry become big fish, a rare occurence but it can happen, and we see lots and lots of leeches, which hurt everyone, but not enough to kill anyone outright, not anyone already established anyway.

Not what I first thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42346471)

I thought it said "Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Parents. That, honestly, is probably more critical.

Re:Not what I first thought... (1)

Frankie70 (803801) | about a year ago | (#42347903)

I thought it said "Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Parents. That, honestly, is probably more critical.

Well, if stupid parents had been eliminated, you may have not been here to make your stupid post.

Patents vs. the laws of physics (1)

tomek.bury (1809832) | about a year ago | (#42346781)

Patent law demands the people to defy the laws of physics. It's obvious from the court cases that examining the true meaning, depth and breadth of a single patent can take months or years. On the other hand USPTO granted 247,713 patents in 2011 alone. Assuming a full-time job (240 working days and 8 hours a day) this equates to 129 patents per hour. It's physically impossible to even read the monopoly rights granted to patent holders. Even if that was possible it's still impossible to analyse and understand the selected patents that my be related to the line of business. Even if that was possible the language used in paten applications make impossible to judge the validity and extend of the patent protection. Can an inventor or small company be held responsible for not defying the laws of physics? I'm not talking about the negligence. It's physically impossible to keep up with the current rate of patent granting. Would that be a sufficient defence line?

Revised quote (2)

lazlo (15906) | about a year ago | (#42347491)

"If I have not seen further, it is because the giants sued me when I tried to stand on their shoulders."
-Modern day Isaac Newton

I wonder if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42347985)

Steve Ballmer will ever have a chair named after him. Maybe in a physics department?

Stupid or intelligent/useful (1)

gnupun (752725) | about a year ago | (#42348315)

How is one supposed to decide if a patent is stupid or ingenious? The decision is quite subjective in most cases. I fear such a anti-stupid patent committee can be used by vested interests to reject valid/clever patents as stupid.

About Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42348325)

It's about time that someone did something about stupid parents, we suffer from their badly brought up children all the time. And the poor children themselves are suffering badly.

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