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Personal Audio's James Logan Answers Your Questions

samzenpus posted 1 year,27 days | from the Listen-up dept.

Businesses 78

A few weeks ago you had the chance to ask James Logan, the founder of Personal Audio, about the business, the patents the company holds, and the lawsuits it has filed. James answered most of the questions in great detail. Read below to see what he has to say and what question he passed on and why.Why are you doing this interview?
by MtHuurne

I am curious why you would volunteer to step into the lion's den.

Logan: There is an active debate going on now about whether the patent system should be changed again while we are still adapting to the American Invents Act of 2011, the largest patent reform since the 1950’s. We have strong views on this and want to weigh in on the debate.

Yes, we understand the leanings of Slashdot readers but sometimes going into the “lion’s den” is the best way to get your point across. That’s probably why you see James Carville on Fox News from time to time.

There are some legal risks to us wading into the den, however. Lawyers may try to take things we say and use them against us. You know how that goes. So, we apologize in advance if some of our answers have to be circumspect.



What do you do?
by Antipater

What exactly is Personal Audio? Your website is slashdotted, so I can't find what you make or what your business model is. But you claim not to be a patent troll. You're even willing to come to a hive of kneejerking anti-patent-trolls and answer our questions to try and convince us of this. So, if you're not one, why not? What do you make? What do you sell? What do you do?

Logan: Personal Audio, LLC is a holding company. That is, we own property and our main activities relate to earning a return on that property. Now, it just so happens that our property consists of patents—not real estate, artwork, or copyrights—and that has apparently put us on the wrong side of the patent debate in the eyes of some people (see Lion’s Den above).

The term “patent troll” has emerged in recent years, and to the extent that words matter, this phrase has served as an effective piece of negative branding for those who want to reduce the rights of patent holders. But the debate should go beyond catchy name-calling. Whether we are, or aren’t patent trolls, whatever that term means, isn’t the issue. The issues are what purpose do patents serve and how do we best foster innovation? Which brings us to the next question



To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts
by nickmalthus

The intent of patent and copyright laws is "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts". Certainly back in the 18th century when the Constitution was written access to information, resources, and research specialists was limited and costly. Now in the 21st century, with global economics focused on knowledge and service sectors, these assets are extremely abundant. Would the progress of Science and the Arts be better served by eliminating legal barriers to innovation, such as patents, and letting the market decide which unencumbered producers survive? If not, why not?

Logan: Nick, thanks for this question. Yes, patent rights are laid out in the Constitution and perhaps a few words about history here would be of interest. The U.S. patent system was derived from the earlier, successful English system. According to a recent book by Willliam Rosen,

It was England's development of the patent system that was the decisive factor (in giving England the dominate role in the Industrial Revolution). By aligning the incentives of private individuals with those of society, it transformed invention from a hobby pursued by the idle rich into an opportunity for spectacular commercial gain open to anyone with a bit of skill and a good idea. That allowed England to harness the creative potential of its artisan classes in a way that no other country had managed before.

But the English patent system was a rich man’s game and it was expensive to get a patent. It did lead to the successful development of many “heavy industry” inventions (think steam engines and railroads) but not a lot of “micro-inventing”. When Nikola Tesla (the greatest geek who ever lived) came to America later in the 1800’s, he marveled at the innumerable ways that inventive Americans had improved, and patented, everything they could lay their hands on.

You suggest that today, with globalization and an economy focused on knowledge and services, we might be better off without patents. That a world without patents would foster innovation. This really is the most fundamental question of the whole debate.

I think the suggestion is wrong. Patents are even more important in today’s information economy then they were in past centuries. To see why, let’s broaden the debate to include all intellectual property (“IP”).

If there were no copyright laws, do you think AMC would spend $3 million on each episode of Breaking Bad? If anybody could just copy it and give the content away on the Internet why would they? Without copyright laws there would be no Mad Men, New York Times, or Call of Duty.

(Of course, the irony of comparing patent rights to copyrights isn’t lost on us. We’ve come under blistering attack from the media, including NPR, for asserting our patents against some rather large media businesses—companies that wouldn’t blanch at suing teenagers who copy their songs, websites that offer free movie downloads, or even Google who might offer too-detailed of an article summary. And of course, we all have to sit through their FBI warnings at the beginning of a DVD.)

These same copyright arguments apply to hard goods, and by extension to patents. Would Cisco be able to afford its R&D if factories in China could copy its products and sell them here for a fraction of Cisco’s price? Would Microsoft be spending millions on Windows 8 if each update could be freely copied and distributed? Would GE spend money designing wind turbines if others could copy the designs at will?

Would innovation happen without patents? Of course, just not as much. The risk involved in R&D would increase, investors would be less interested, and researchers tired of being “ripped off” would do other things. The pace of progress would slow. As the economy shifts more and more to knowledge-based work, it seems clear to me, that we need even stronger IP protections.



Do you deserve a patent without doing the work?
by saihung

Why do you believe you deserve any money in licensing fees at all, when you haven't apparently done any of the work required to produce a product?

Logan: Well, I could answer this question by arguing that I did try to build a product. That I spent $1.6 million of my own money trying to realize our vision of a custom listening experience that ended up, at the end of the day, being implemented in the form of a cassette tape product, and not the digital player system we envisioned and patented.

But I think that story is beside the point. The question is whether we should have a patent system that requires the inventor to build a product in order to receive a patent. I think that’s exactly what we don’t want and by way of example let me explain why.

I started my first company in the 80’s, when I was working with a young MIT engineer, Blair Evans, to develop the first analog capacitive touch screen. Were we struggling to make it work when we got a letter in the mail from an inventor in Maryland, Bill Pepper, who was literally working out of his garage. He had been working with Bob Moog, inventor of the world’s first electronic synthesizer, on a touch sensitive piano and from that research had gotten several patents on a touch tablets.

Bill had tried unsuccessfully to license these patents to several large companies (“Call me back when there’s a market”, they said) when he heard about our attempts to make a capacitive touch screen. We realized Bill had the solution we were looking for and we promptly signed an exclusive license for his patents. MicroTouch went on to become the world’s largest touch screen company, selling the precursor to today’s projected capacitive touch screen found on all smart phones. When I left MicroTouch to start Personal Audio in 1996, we employed 500 people making touch screens in Massachusetts. Without those patents, we would never have gotten the company off the ground.

The point of the story, besides the fact that patents can play a leading role in driving innovation, is that often the inventor and the implementer are, and should be, two different people or companies. Bill had no desire to build or run a company. He retired off our royalties and went on to invent other things. Blair and I went on to build a company and an industry.

Why would you want a system that mandated such “vertical integration”, where the inventor has to be the producer? A recent paper (pdf) published by Yale looks at the history of patent monetization over the last 200 years. It describes how “the ability to quickly find buyers for patents was an important driver of inventive activity during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when patenting rates in the United States were at historic highs.” In fact, both Edison and Tesla sold off most of their patent rights. The paper goes on to say that 24% of hi-tech patents were sold off in the twenty-year period leading to 2000.

The whole history of tech over recent decades has been an ever-increasing specialization of labor. In 1980 IBM made everything from chips to software to mainframes. We all know how that evolved—Intel, Microsoft, Adobe, and others came in and took a slice out of that stack, each becoming a master specialist in one function.

The horizontal slicing of technology food chain has continued and has worked its way to intellectual property to an extent. Today you have Cisco, Yahoo, Google and others buying small companies, for their engineers, products, customer bases, and sometimes intellectual property.

There is still work to do, however, in developing more of an actual “IP market”—one where ideas and inventions are sold outright and not necessarily encapsulated in products or services. It’s a hard market to develop because each patent is, by definition, different and speaks to something new and unknown. If commodities are the easiest things to buy and sell, patents and intellectual property are the hardest. In addition, many companies have strong “not invented here cultures” that build barriers to buying-in technology.

But do you think the large tech companies that rail against “patent trolls” would really want rules that required a product to be produced before a patent was granted? After all, these companies get patents all the time for things they only invent on paper.

Even if you had such a requirement, how would you manage it? Would you have to just “produce” a product or would you have to sell it, too? Google dabbles in lots of areas and works on lots of long-range projects. Are you going to tell Larry Paige that if he doesn’t sell a driver-less car within five years those patents expire? Or if he doesn’t ship or offer for sale at least one, 10, or 100 such cars a year his patents expire? Does each car have to use every claimed feature? Does it have to work (well)? Can it be sold at any price? Who would decide all that?

If there were a requirement that only producers could own patents, then Personal Audio would probably start a podcast just to meet the requirement. But then you’d say, “That doesn’t count. You need to have 1% of the market to qualify.” Or maybe it’s 5% (so one doesn’t get patent protection until one succeeds?) Or do you want us to sell ourselves to CBS thus ensuring a system where only large companies have valuable patents?

Even if you don’t agree with my view that the world would be better off if inventors and implementers were sometimes different people, you can see that setting up a system to mandate otherwise would be a nightmare of micro-management with no obvious benefit. Except, I suppose, that there would never be a case where somebody would say, “He or she doesn’t deserve a reward just for inventing something”.

The debate of whether it was necessary to produce a product to get a patent has been thrashed out in the past. The U.S. patent office used to require inventors to send models to Washington DC before a patent would be issued. But inventions were getting more complicated, took longer to implement, and were getting more abstract. So in 1880 the U.S. patent office dropped the “implementation” requirement.



Comment Please, Mr. Logan
by Anonymous Coward

Mr. Logan,
Here's a "comment" from the Computer World story linked above: "'The company was able to hang on to several patents, however, and put them "in a drawer for 10 years," Baker added. "Is that a troll?"'

Yes it is. That is exactly the definition of a troll. They weren't able to make it work, had no impact on the industry, failed and no one has ever heard of them. But when someone more enterprising independently comes up with a similar idea, solves all the problems that Personal Audio couldn't solve, popularizes the concept, and makes it work, they somehow feel they are entitled to a piece of the action. Your thoughts?


Logan: AC, you summarize well points we have heard from others. Let me start off by saying that over 1,300 patents have cited the Personal Audio patent set (meaning these later patent applications referenced the Personal Audio patents as “prior art” to their applications). A lot of folks read our embodiment and probably some of what we taught in the patent did end up in other people’s products and implementation. That still doesn’t answer your question, however, as to whether we are “entitled to a piece of the action”, as you put it.

But our patents, like others, fall under a two-part incentive system. The first incentive gives the hope of a temporary monopoly to the entrepreneur. That hope fosters innovation by getting people to push the envelope and try new ideas, not just copy old ideas. The hope of creating a business protected by patents, like the one I had at MicroTouch, motivated me to create and move forward with Personal Audio.

The second incentive offered by patents, however, is to investors. During the life of Personal Audio, I invested $1.6 million, and lost it all. Personal Audio, LLC, the patent holding company, is the attempt by the investor, me, to get a return on that investment. When investors like me get our money back, plus some if we’re lucky, it means that startups are not as risky as they might otherwise be. To that extent, patents lower the “cost of capital” to startups, that is, make it easier in the long run for them to raise money. If you’ve shopped plans around to VCs, you will see that often they are very interested in the IP potential of the ideas being pursued. They are interested in both the monopoly power it might offer a startup as well as the safety net it provides in case things don’t go well.

So to answer your question, we are small players in a larger system, one set up to foster innovation by turning inventions into property. We are merely using our property as the system was designed. You may not like every outcome of this system, but in general it has served its purpose well over many years.



Why individuals?
by Sockatume

Pursuing the end users of a product which infringes upon one's patent is practically unheard-of. Why have you done so?

Logan: We appreciate the gist of your question, Sockatune. Let me clarify by saying that we have not done anything to approach “end-users”, who technically would be listeners of podcasts or viewers of other episodic content. But you’re probably referring to podcasters or video producers themselves who are on the smaller side of things.

With that in mind, it is worth noting that the cost of negotiating and setting up a patent license is not trivial. As such, it does not make sense for us to deal with hobbyists, non-commercial ventures, and small entities. The economics of it would be prohibitive. As such, we will be focusing on the largest users of our technology and those that collect significant revenues from ads placed on their podcasts or episodic video content, or who gain commercial value from that content in other ways. Finding good information on this score can be challenging, however, so we can’t be certain that our efforts are always perfectly aligned with our strategy.



When did you first hear of podcasting?
by capedgirardeau

When did you first hear of podcasting and why didn't you file your infringement suit immediately instead of waiting until many people were already using the technology?

Logan: We filed the ‘504 patent (U.S. Patent 8,112,504) in 2009, a short time after we filed suit against several infringers of the ‘076 patent (U.S. Patent 6,199,076). The patent then issued in early 2012. We have had a lot of questions concerning how we could have filed for a patent covering podcasting in 2009, years after the first podcasts started coming out, so let me briefly explain that.

Under certain circumstances, specifically when the patent office has not finished prosecuting a family of patents, the inventor is allowed to apply for additional claims that derive from the original invention by filing a “Continuation Patent”. The priority date, or date of invention, that is given by the patent office to this Continuation is the filing date given to the original patent application in the family. In our case, then, the priority date of the ‘504 patent is October of 1996—the date we filed our first patent application in which the material that describes podcasting was included.

Another misconception is that we “waited all those years” while podcasting evolved and then sprung the ‘504 patent on the industry. The fact of the matter is that Charlie Call, my co-inventor and patent attorney, and I were busy working on other things when podcasting as an industry was emerging. We didn’t get focused on the Personal Audio patents until 2008. That delay is unfortunate for Personal Audio because as a result the ‘504 Continuation Patent did not issue until 2012. As a result, we are only able to collect license fees from that date forward. All the activity that happened before the ‘504 issued is not covered



Can you explain?
by trcooper

Can you explain, in terms I could tell the average person, how your patent is novel enough that anyone who wants to distribute audio over the internet should license it from you? I'd appreciate it if you could address how the distributions of podcasts today widely differs from downloading audio files in 1995 and how your patent help change this.

Logan: Trcooper, this is one of those of questions that could get me in a boatload of trouble—with my lawyer, that is. Any comments I make regarding the claims and how they are different from previous systems, can and will be used against me in court. So I’ll have to take a pass on this one.



Cassette Tapes
by CaseCrash

The only business you made with these patents was sending cassette tapes with some recorded articles that were chosen by the customer through the mail. How does this transfer to creating playlists and podcasting? Picking the listening order of sound files I got from the internet doesn't really seem like it should be protected intellectual property. How do you justify what you've done (a failed business in 1995) to justify payment (much much later) from people who had never heard of you or your patents when they made their services/products, and who apparently never tried to patent that process as it seemed too obvious to them?

Logan: CaseCrash, you touch on a few different areas with your questions, so let me tackle them one at a time.

First, the cassette tapes that Personal Audio sold in 1997 have nothing to do with the validity of the patents that were filed in 1996. Are you suggesting that if a company changes its business strategy, it has to abandon any claims to things it might have invented before the switch? Or if you go out of business you have to donate your patents to the public? If so, be sure to let the creditors of A123, the now-bankrupt pioneering battery company, know that their only remaining asset is now toast. Ditto for the Fisker car company. That all sounds a bit like the culture in Europe where entrepreneurs are severely punished for losing. I’m not sure that’s the startup culture we want to embrace here.

Secondly, you seem to be implying that Personal Audio’s patents should be invalidated for obviousness. Well, I’m not at liberty to discuss specifics around this issue in our case, but one of the main functions of the patent office is to screen for obviousness. Some large companies expended significant resources to prove Personal Audio’s patents were obvious but they were unsuccessful. In general, though, things often seem obvious in hindsight, particularly when the idea has been around a while. So we’re not surprised when people say that about our patents.

In addition to a jury trial, some of our patents have also been through more than one re-exam, an extensive process where the patent office prosecutes the patent all over again. While some consider these do-overs to be a quality control step, it can also be thought of as a form of double jeopardy, retrying a case over and over again. Re-exams create an aura of uncertainty over a patent, making it harder to license a technology and get it to market. Think how hard it would be to put up a building if mortgage holders kept coming out of the woodwork.

Ironically, there are now new laws before Congress to institute even more re-exam procedures. I think that is unfortunate. One of the better features of the America Invents Act of 2011 was to allow for an expedited patent process whereby you can get a patent in less than 12 months—a new speedway that is working as advertised. Now you can come up with an idea, get it patented in a matter of months, raise money on the IP, and be off to the races.

Other changes to the patent system are also being considered, including the SHIELD Act, which would force an NPE (a Non-Practicing Entity) to pay the other side’s legal bills if the NPE loses in court. It would be unfortunate (if not unconstitutional) if this passed. As this article in Forbes recently pointed out, NPEs serve a real purpose in offering inventors, investors in failed companies, universities, and even smaller operating companies a way to participate in the market for intellectual property.

While NPEs have been ceaselessly disparaged, one of the most common criticisms has been that they have been responsible for doubling the number of annual patent lawsuits. In their defense it should be said that two factors outside their control have accounted for most of that increase. First is that the America Invents Act mandated that any patent lawsuit can only have one defendant whereas previously a case might have had multiple. This has dramatically increased the nominal number of cases and skewed the data being hurled against NPEs.

Second, is that over recent years many companies have started using a tactic of preemptively suing a prospective licensor the minute they receive an offer to license a patent. This has led to a counter-strategy where many licensing companies decide to sue first then enter into licensing discussions later. This again, has greatly skewed the numbers.

In any case, the IP market today is dominated not by NPEs but by companies like Google, Apple, and other large firms who own tens of thousands of patents. They buy patents by the thousands, cross-license each other, and then go on to hoard their patents effectively shutting out others from the market. Talk about stifling innovation—try to go license a patent from Microsoft or Google.

And these same U.S. tech companies that rail against patent trolls have few qualms about taking ideas from others. They will buy competitors’ products, conduct teardowns to analyze components and features, and incorporate the best of what they find. Yet it rare that these companies check to see if the “borrowed” ideas are patented. If fact, ask anybody in Silicon Valley and they’ll tell you that engineers in many, if not most, R&D labs are specifically requested to refrain from looking at the patent database when designing products.

Finally, many of these firms are themselves now engaged in so-called trolling. They are spinning off unused patents and either selling them to NPEs (often hiding their ownership) or setting up their own patent assertion companies. In effect, they lobby for one thing, while doing that which they lobby against. And the hypocrisy doesn’t stop there. Look here, in fact, and you’ll see that Mark Cuban sponsored the EFF’s “Chair To Eliminate Stupid Patents” in the same year he went for a quick buck by buying 7% of VRingo, a public NPE that has famously sued Google.

But despite all the consternation about NPEs, and who is one and who isn’t, in general I feel the patent system is not broken. The ever-rising number of U.S. patents being filed, the explosion of incubators, and continued flow of venture capital into new enterprises points to vibrant culture of innovation in the country.



How can I license your podcasting patent?
by David Quaid

Hi Jim, I am about to start a podcast of my own, and I want to make sure I do this in the right way. I looked on your website, but there is no information for how to license your podcasting patent. No online shopping option. No form to mail in. No price. In fact, in the This American Life episode, Richard Baker says "We have a price. We just don't want to make it public."

It seems that the only way to license with you, is to first launch my podcast and then settle with you once you threaten to sue me.

You argue that you are really just a legitimate business man and not a patent troll. But despite the ongoing growth of new podcasts, you have not made it possible for an aspiring podcaster to realize what their financial liability to you might be. This makes it very risky to decide to invest in a new podcast and growing the number of subscribers, since I could be sued out of existence if I succeed.

My question: If you are not a troll, why have you chosen only to sue and threaten, and never directly license to interested customers who are joining the growing podcasting industry?


Logan: David, we have no intention of making podcasting a risky endeavor for anybody. Our license is a modest one and reflects, we feel, the relative values of our intellectual property, the podcasters’ copyrights, and the marketing and other efforts that make a podcast succeed. Our licensees are our customers and we want them to succeed just like any business wants its customers to succeed.

We hope to publish our ‘504 license schedule in the coming weeks. If we do, that will give you a sense of the affordability of a license. In any case, if you think you will need a license please contact us and we would be glad to discuss the details.



The EFF
by greg1104

Claiming that the EFF is some sort of enforcer working for large companies to beat up small ones is an idea that can only have come from heavy use of hallucinogenic drugs. Which ones does your team take?

Logan:None of our team-members is on drugs as you suggest, and one of us has even sworn off caffeine. (Not sure how that works.)

Regarding the EFF, I think our point was just that with our limited resources, our primary focus is addressing the larger entities that are podcasting. To that extent, the EFF can be seen to be weighing in on the side of large media conglomerates such as CBS and NBC.

More generally, I think it’s a bit anomalous that patents often get such a bad rap by individuals, such as some engineers in Silicon Valley, or groups like the EFF, which purport to stand for David (vs Goliath). Patents are a great tool for the little guy. If you want to start a company, build it around some patented technology (like Google did). The patents, or even pending applications, will help you raise money, ward off competition, and give you a fighting chance. They’re the ultimate equalizer.



International
by Sockatume

You don't seem to have any presence outside the US, despite apparently having invented podcasting. Why?

Logan: We don’t have any international patents and as such, don’t have any activities outside of the U.S., although we have licensees that are foreign companies.

Why don’t we have any international patents? The answer is that it is very expensive to apply for, and “prosecute” such applications, and the benefits can be scant. One of the beauties of the American patent system is that it provides reasonable protection to inventors, has modest costs associated with it, and the resulting patents cover a critical part of the international market. If a company can get coverage in the U.S. for its products, as we hoped to do when we filed in 1996, it gets a measure of worldwide protection. That is because it’s hard to compete in today’s global economy if you can’t sell in the U.S. This is one of the reasons that many European companies come to the U.S. first to file patents on their inventions—and often bring over their R&D work, too.

Today, patent rights are rapidly being eroded in the U.S. through recent court decisions, legislation, and new patent office regulations. Meanwhile, the Chinese are rapidly strengthening their patent system. Hopefully, we don’t find that in 10 years the tables are turned—that China has the biggest economy and has created an IP fortress, where they incubate and protect products that are then shipped to the U.S.

While we’re on the topic of protecting American intellectual property, let me also point you to a recent report stating that overseas intellectual property theft is a problem that costs the U.S. economy $300 billion a year, a number about 10 times larger than the damages recently ascribed to “trolls” by President Obama.

Well, I hope this has been helpful and thanks for your time!

cancel ×

78 comments

Wow, if you believe this guy (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | 1 year,27 days | (#44092823)

I gotta a great deal on a famous bridge on a Florida swamp.

Re:Wow, if you believe this guy (5, Insightful)

nedwidek (98930) | 1 year,27 days | (#44092997)

Yeah, my first thought was, "giant douche tries to explain why he isn't a turd sandwich."

Regarding the 'thousands of patents claim ours as prior art'.... Yeah, it's so broad that to do just about anything near audio and the web, you'd need to cite it too. That's become the main problem. They claim not an invention, but the entire domain of the invention and several others at the same time.

Seeing the work load that patent examiners are under, that the examiners do not appear to be skilled in the modern art of computers, the fact that granting patents is the way for the USPTO to get its funding, that it's just cheaper to pay the troll than to try to get a re-examination or go to court, and companies that are more than willing to just keep amending a patent until the examiner caves..... The system is just broken and it's beginning to seem easier to throw the whole stinking pile out and start again.

Re:Wow, if you believe this guy (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44093229)

The mandate for patent officers is to pass things through, and then let the courts decide whether a given patent should have been granted. Lawyers lobbied for this change many years ago, and for the life of me, I can't think why they would do something that would create a huge amount of work for themselves involving billions of dollars a year.

Re:Wow, if you believe this guy (4, Interesting)

Princeofcups (150855) | 1 year,27 days | (#44093329)

Yeah, my first thought was, "giant douche tries to explain why he isn't a turd sandwich."

This is the gist of the problem. He does not see himself as a turd, or his business as evil. He lives in a world where such things are taken for granted as business as usual. There is no room for sympathy, fair play, justice, or integrity in big business, only blood thirsty greed. As long as it is within the letter of the law, laws written by the same people, then no one should have any problem. There is no way to make these people understand the basic problem with that way of thinking.

Re:Wow, if you believe this guy (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | 1 year,27 days | (#44093427)

The system is just broken...

It is NOT!

WE are broken!

You're out of order! You're out of order! The whole trial is out of order!

  We piss and moan, yet, every day we wake up and go about our dirty business pretending we're not part of anything. How many degrees of separation from the emperor is required to be able to claim 'innocence' and ignorance of his crimes?

Re:Wow, if you believe this guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44093769)

Yeah! It's my fault as a citizen and voter that patents are holding technology back.
Seriously, not even the fourth box (ammo) can fix things at this point.

Re:Wow, if you believe this guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44097775)

You're out of order! You're out of order! The whole trial is out of order!

"The barrister's out of order!"
- Magenta, Rocky Lawyer Patent Suit

Re:Wow, if you believe this guy (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44093121)

Whether you agree with his arguments or not, I'd say he at least communicates his position fairly well. And that he's willing to enter into a discussion, civilly so far as I can tell, is a positive thing.

Re:Wow, if you believe this guy (4, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | 1 year,27 days | (#44093285)

Smart sociopaths are good at that kind of thing. So are compulsive liars, and lawyers.

Re:Wow, if you believe this guy (4, Interesting)

fustakrakich (1673220) | 1 year,27 days | (#44093293)

Yes, he's a master of spin. He'll convince you that tuberculosis is good for you. The man should be writing speeches for the president. He seems quite qualified.

Re:Wow, if you believe this guy (2)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | 1 year,27 days | (#44098341)

No he doesn't. You are an idiot.

the largest patent reform since the 1950â(TM)s.

Weasel words

I don't know what happened in the 50's, but if it was monumentally huge, and the American Invents Act of 2011 changed a single letter, the AIA could still be the largest since then, without being large. Here, let me show you another. I among the most intelligent and attractive people in the world, and among the richest. If I tell you my percentile in each category is 51, that sounds less impressive. You said nothing at all, and you seem like it was supposed to sway someone. Parent poster was swayed, so I guess you have that going for you. Which is good.

The issues are what purpose do patents serve and how do we best foster innovation?

Re-framing the debate

I don't remember that being the issue. The issue is patent trolls, who enforce patents solely for profit and without requiring any of the protections afforded by patents, because you do not make any products that a competitor might copy. You don't make anything at all. You are a sinkhole for the money of the American consumer who cannot afford to buy in to your scheme, a money maker for those who can, and otherwise do not and cannot promote the arts and useful sciences.

If there were no copyright laws, do you think AMC would spend $3 million on each episode of Breaking Bad? If anybody could just copy it and give the content away on the Internet why would they? Without copyright laws there would be no Mad Men, New York Times, or Call of Duty.

Rhetoric, irrelevant statistics, and false assertions

Didn't Hollywood get its start because it was out of the patent arm of Thomas Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company? Look at the IP (copyright) created by violators of IP (patent).

If there were no copyright laws, cable television would have grown because people wanted ad-free TV. Then broadcasters figured out they could get money from both ends. Cable would still have revenue, and AMC would spend money on Breaking Bad because they would get revenue from cable and satellite operators. I can pull assertions out of my ass, too, only they sound plausible.

People can watch anything they want for free right now, but it is easy and affordable to pay monthly subscriptions to watch things when they air, mostly reliably. And although the irony or discussing copyright vs. patent did not elude you, you also didn't stop to really consider what you were saying.

Would Cisco be able to afford its R&D if factories in China could copy its products and sell them here for a fraction of Ciscoâ(TM)s price? Would Microsoft be spending millions on Windows 8 if each update could be freely copied and distributed? Would GE spend money designing wind turbines if others could copy the designs at will?

Rhetorical questions, the core of rhetoric. Chinese knock-offs are commonplace, and it is almost expected that if you make electronics in Asia you will get clones, or anti-circumvention devices very quickly. Companies like Apple have been good to companies like Foxconn - and the markup on their products is high enough that they can release the next generation quickly, making more on each device. Look at the adoption rates of the latest and next to latest devices for iProducts, and compare with Android. I'll let you find your own studies to study. iProducts are almost nothing in the second generation. Cisco specifically - they bought LinkSys and the product line went to crap. They have a second-rate product line with a brand name that allows them to gather money on crap dumped to market and use it for R and D. And a devoted following for anything that runs wrt54g. So yeah, they would. Microsoft's own policy for a while was "If they are going to pirate something, it should be Windows". So yes it was and they did. And GE - what the fuck is wrong with you, I can't build a fucking turbine in my back yard. Almost no company could jump into the turbine business dead, and the ones that could have their own energy plans, or no plans in the energy space. It would be like stealing the formula to Coke - absolutely useless, since the brand name is what sells.

That I spent $1.6 million of my own money trying to realize our vision of a custom listening experience that ended up, at the end of the day, being implemented in the form of a cassette tape product, and not the digital player system we envisioned and patented.

Pity

Sorry, empathy building

You had a shit idea that was either out-sold or out-marketed or under-designed. I guess that's not "either"; that's a lot of things that could have gone wrong, and I doubt

wait...

Where the hell did you get $1.6 million? I'm supposed to feel empathy for someone who wasted $1.6 million on a doomed product? No, you're a tool. And not a useful one.

Please keep in mind, I am trying to remain as fact-based as I can, and the fact is you are a tool. Unless there are pertinent details you omitted so I'd skip the thinking and jump straight to "feel bad for the dude for spending more money than I will make, after taxes, and getting scooped".

When I left MicroTouch to start Personal Audio in 1996, we employed 500 people making touch screens in Massachusetts. Without those patents, we would never have gotten the company off the ground.

The point of the story, besides the fact that patents can play a leading role in driving innovation, is that often the inventor and the implementer are, and should be, two different people or companies. Bill had no desire to build or run a company. He retired off our royalties and went on to invent other things. Blair and I went on to build a company and an industry.

Oh, that's where you got the money. That sounds like a classic business partnership, and because you were at the beginning of this, you were able to get a marketable product out the door and into millions of doors.

Could you have come up with an exclusive contract and achieved the same goal? Sounds like yes to me. You needed each other, that just screams partnership. Or buggery, but I'm not saying that.

Why would you want a system that mandated such âoevertical integrationâ, where the inventor has to be the producer?

Framing the argument

Not re-framing. This is just framing, where you get to omit stuff you don't want to talk about. Short answer: yes, without explanation. Long answer: as long as the inventor holds a stake of the company, most people would be satisfied. You licensed something, it worked out for both parties. If Bill believed in his product, he could have skin in the game and probably come out further ahead. Or a simple profit sharing without licensing. Your example shows what is possible, but does not demonstrate what makes your situation so unique that it requires patent licensing where a non-producing company like yours holds the rights to lots of things it neither invented nor produces. You are ignoring the question.

And I'm done. I've typed enough. James Logan, the founder of Personal Audio, does not have a sound argument that stands up to the slightest scrutiny. His claims of Hollywood's success, and the TV and Video Game success that followed, are predicated on IP theft. His rhetorical questions are easily answered. His ability to frame and re-frame the question demonstrate a moving target, not one that is defensible. Security through verbosity. James Logan, the as previously self-evidenced tool, has not made an argument. He has made a plea to emotion. At every turn, he wants you to empathize, sympathize, or feel some need for something you have which - as he claims - would not exist without his world view.

I assert quite vehemently the opposite. Americans would have invented quite liberally here with or without a patent system to protect them. Prove me wrong.

Re:Wow, if you believe this guy (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | 1 year,27 days | (#44098429)

I missed one.

The debate of whether it was necessary to produce a product to get a patent has been thrashed out in the past. The U.S. patent office used to require inventors to send models to Washington DC before a patent would be issued. But inventions were getting more complicated, took longer to implement, and were getting more abstract. So in 1880 the U.S. patent office dropped the âoeimplementationâ requirement.

And in the age of 3D printers, offshoring, and especially software patents, you think this still applies? Wait just a moment.

perhaps a few words about history here would be of interest

Yes, I think that's appropriate.

The debate of whether it was necessary to produce a product to get a patent has been thrashed out in the past. The U.S. patent office used to require inventors to send models to Washington DC before a patent would be issued. But inventions were getting more complicated, took longer to implement, and were getting more abstract. So in 1880 the U.S. patent office dropped the âoeimplementationâ requirement.

Oh, so what if things were easier now, and implementations could be copied from a CD or DVD or flash drive or hard disk or 3D printer or CAD software or your e-mail inbox or from just about fucking anywhere? Perhaps some history is in order.

Horseshit

I couldn't find a better way to call this logical fallacy out, unless you just call it Anachronism. Oh wait, that's what it is, but that's not a logical fallacy. That's just inability to maintain narrative, not staying on message, or just pure mental defect.

Define "producer". (2)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44092871)

Why would you want a system that mandated such “vertical integration”, where the inventor has to be the producer?

Yes, I agree - IF someone licenses the patent to actually produce or provide a service that uses said innovation.

Getting a patent for sole purpose of litigating is not "producing" anything of value - unless you're a lawyer.

Re:Define "producer". (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44093233)

IF someone licenses the patent to actually produce or provide a service that uses said innovation.

It seems that's exactly what the company is focused on--getting people who are providing those services to license the patent that covers what they're doing.

So what you're saying.. (3, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,27 days | (#44092881)

is that patent laws are broken and "NYAH NYAH NYAH NYAH".

"We didn’t get focused on the Personal Audio patents until 2008. That delay is unfortunate for Personal Audio because as a result the ‘504 Continuation Patent did not issue until 2012. As a result, we are only able to collect license fees from that date forward. All the activity that happened before the ‘504 issued is not covered "

yeah. that's fun. as if podcasting(even through automated process to download) wasn't around in early 2000's. heck, some pirates had autodistribution systems for new mp3 releases way earlier than that.
isn't what you just explained a clear case of you adding already on the market inventions to be covered by your patents which were processing during that time?

Re:So what you're saying.. (1)

Ardyvee (2447206) | 1 year,27 days | (#44093267)

Why are you commenting here? Prove prior art and destroy the patent!

Re:So what you're saying.. (2)

Arker (91948) | 1 year,27 days | (#44094317)

The trouble is it's setup so it costs inordinate sums of money to even attempt to 'prove' something that is trivially demonstrable, and even then the courts usually find a way to ignore it and rule against you if you try. Ergo, invalid patents that are effectively enforceable. It's a completely broken system.

Re:So what you're saying.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44094645)

Right, but they filed in 1996, so all of that 'prior art' from the early 2000's is, uh, not actually prior art.

He's complaining that it took 16 years to go from an application to a published patent... The application should have been visible before then, so anyone in the space would know that it would eventually be patented.

Re:So what you're saying.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44096133)

Ok, then how about those musicdisks that demoscene groups used to distribute back in the late 80s and early 90s? They were sets of music, in playlists that could be downloaded. In every way, a precursor to modern playlists and podcasts.

Patent chests (3, Interesting)

pr0nbot (313417) | 1 year,27 days | (#44092935)

In general, there is food for thought here.

But the bit that most amused me were his complaints about large companies and their patent warchests. If you turn patents into a weapon, you're starting an arms race, and guess what? The guys with the most money can afford the biggest guns. And despite his assertion that he's not going after the little guy, I wonder whether he's also not going after the big guy, i.e. finding his own niche in the chain of bullying.

Oh, the world owes me a living... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44092937)

> The second incentive offered by patents, however, is to investors. During the life of Personal Audio, I invested $1.6 million, and lost it all. Personal Audio, LLC, the patent holding company, is the attempt by the investor, me, to get a return on that investment.

So, you tried to start a company, and risked a bunch of money on it. Good for you, very admirable, well done. Then the company failed because of lack of buyers or failure of marketing or cut-throat competition or bad luck or space aliens or inept management or whatever. You lost of bunch of money. Oh dear, that's bad, poor you. So then you decide to "get a return on your investment" by patent trolling. Riiiiight... I can see why did that (you wanted money) but not how it's justified, which was the question you were supposed to be answering.

Patent trolls (2)

Endo13 (1000782) | 1 year,27 days | (#44092965)

So to paraphrase: "We're not patent trolls because that's such an ugly term and no one should be called that".

What a retard this guy is. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44092989)

See subject.

What a scumbag (4, Informative)

Desler (1608317) | 1 year,27 days | (#44093087)

Logan:None of our team-members is on drugs as you suggest, and one of us has even sworn off caffeine. (Not sure how that works.)

Regarding the EFF, I think our point was just that with our limited resources, our primary focus is addressing the larger entities that are podcasting. To that extent, the EFF can be seen to be weighing in on the side of large media conglomerates such as CBS and NBC.

More generally, I think it’s a bit anomalous that patents often get such a bad rap by individuals, such as some engineers in Silicon Valley, or groups like the EFF, which purport to stand for David (vs Goliath). Patents are a great tool for the little guy. If you want to start a company, build it around some patented technology (like Google did). The patents, or even pending applications, will help you raise money, ward off competition, and give you a fighting chance. They’re the ultimate equalizer.

What a worthless argument. The EFF only happens to seem to be "weighing in the sides of the media conglomerates" because standing against patent trolls like this guy is the correct thing to do. It's no different than the ACLU's mission to defend the First Amendment sometimes requires weighing in on the side of racist shitbags.

Re:What a scumbag (1)

greg1104 (461138) | 1 year,27 days | (#44096477)

I asked the EFF question, surprised that made it though. Describing the EFF as a sort of digital oriented ACLU is a great analogy for explaining its role to people unfamiliar with it, thanks for that.

Whoops, nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44093101)

Half a page in and he is citing TheOatmeal's salacious and very aggrandized piece about Nikola Tesla. I stopped reading.

Re:Whoops, nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44093137)

He probably thought he'd win people over by nerdgasming over Tesla. It usually works on this site in other submissions.

Circumspect... (4, Interesting)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | 1 year,27 days | (#44093147)

I would first like to say that I appreciate this long reply and, in fact, bothering in the first place. There's much of what was said that I agree with, though also plenty that I disagree with.

Aside from an agree/disagree, though, I do feel that these could have been addressed more thoroughly:

The 'Why individuals' question.
You say that individuals would be the listeners. I disagree. The individuals are the podcasters. They are the ones you assert are running afoul of your patents. What should have been explained is why you are going after them, rather than, say, the developers of podcast platforms, products, etc.
As an analogy, the MPEG LA group generally doesn't go after individuals encoding video with a codec that is covered by patents in their pool. Instead, they go after the developers of software and hardware products. This way they get a large section of the market (including areas where you may not even hold a valid patent, as the patent licensing costs are often not deducted in price discrimination), and end-users of the products don't have to worry about whether or not they are in the clear regarding patents. Yes, this does mean that they don't recoup any licensing from those who use, for example, a free and open source product. The question is whether that is enough of a market for them to worry about and thus go after individuals after all.
This is the question that should have been answered here.

The 'Why should I license your patent' question.
This one is unsatisfactory by necessity - your lawyer wouldn't appreciate your answering it.
Unfortunately, however, if your lawyer cannot give you (and thus: us) a good reason to license your patent, what chance does he have in the court of law?
At the same time...

The 'How can I license' question.
This one is answered as "If you think you need a license, contact us". I take issue with that for two reasons:
1. How would I know if I need a license, if you can't tell me why I would need a license? (see above)
2. Any time somebody tells you "contact us for a quote", it should be assumed that it is, quite frankly, cost prohibitive. If it weren't, you could just throw out a ballpark figure: $10/month. $0.02 per subscriber. $0.01 per subscriber * revenue in kiloDollars.
I understand that you're still working on the details and hope to have this information available in the coming weeks, and would prefer discussion on the actual figures (if given) rather than ballpark figures. But at the same time, telling somebody 'contact us' means you do already have some figures in mind right now.

On a closing note, I think you could have done without the pro-American rhetoric. Not just because it is rather thinly veiled, but because your own closing note states:

overseas intellectual property theft

While...
1. It's not theft. You should know better, especially given this audience.
2. Didn't you just say you don't hold any international patents?

Again, I do appreciate the reply, and agree with much of what you have said.

Re:Circumspect... (1)

Desler (1608317) | 1 year,27 days | (#44093215)

As an analogy, the MPEG LA group generally doesn't go after individuals encoding video with a codec that is covered by patents in their pool.

They will go after you for royalties when it comes to the commercial use of the codec such as for home video, VOD, etc.

Re:Circumspect... (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | 1 year,27 days | (#44094599)

True - though this depends on what tech you licensed for the encoding, most do have in their EULA that the license doesn't cover the Packaged Medium license (I think that's what you're referring to, at least).

It would indeed be interesting to see if PA are setting up a similar structure and declaring each podcast item * subscriber as a single 'packaged medium' or any other metric.

Note that for most video this is a somewhat academic issue. If you wanted to share a video now, YouTube - even if they pay you - has licensing in place so that you don't have to worry about it.. as do other video platforms. Obviously if you want to sell physical discs - maybe as a perk in a KickStarter campaign - that could be more problematic. Though even there, MPEG-LA really doesn't care much.. it'll cost them more than they stand to gain from such small scale issues.

Re:Circumspect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44096801)

Shouldn't the encoding/decoding done by my hardware/software have been licensed to the manufacturer and that be that? Any other system seems retarded as fuck.

Re:Circumspect... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | 1 year,27 days | (#44093463)

The 'Why should I license your patent' question.

This one is unsatisfactory by necessity - your lawyer wouldn't appreciate your answering it.
Unfortunately, however, if your lawyer cannot give you (and thus: us) a good reason to license your patent, what chance does he have in the court of law?

He wasn't saying his lawyer "cannot give [him] a good reason to license [his] patent." The question was "how is your patent novel," and he was saying, "if I describe, off the cuff in a simplified way, how it's novel here, then that answer will be taken out of context and used against me in court as a not-off-the-cuff, exhaustive description of novelty of the patent." And he's right: even you just took his answer out of context, claiming he was saying that him and his lawyer can't give a good reason to license his patent, rather than won't.

Agree or disagree with his answers and business philosophy, but twisting and misquoting someone's words while demanding they answer your questions is not a great way to convince them to answer openly.

Re:Circumspect... (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | 1 year,27 days | (#44094415)

Well if we're going to argue about what the question was, we might as well quote it:

Can you explain, in terms I could tell the average person, how your patent is novel enough that anyone who wants to distribute audio over the internet should license it from you? I'd appreciate it if you could address how the distributions of podcasts today widely differs from downloading audio files in 1995 and how your patent help change this.

I'll fully admit that my "Why should I license your patent" interpretation is my interpretation and may be flawed. If it is, I'm not seeing in what way that would be.

I'm also not demanding that he answer the question. He has already stated that he would be in trouble with his lawyer because his words would get used against him in court. That's fine, I get that. But his lawyer should, in fact, be able to explain in the same way they would in court. Unless of course they're doing their best to just not say anything except in court, when so asked (or as a pre-emptive defense). That, too, would be fine - but doesn't help you, me, or anybody else in terms of the follow-up I also mentioned.

I'm more than happy to await the outcome of the court case if that's what is needed to get a less circumspect answer. However, if somebody were to start offering audio files off their website and PA deemed it to be infringing, yet if asked "how so?" the answer would be "it just is", then it's no surprise people either cry foul, or just pay up because they don't want to deal with any legal hassles (be that hiring a patent lawyer to figure out if they're really infringing, or ending up getting sued for refusal to license) in the mean time. And maybe they're okay with that. I don't see why we would be, however.

I, for one, am looking forward to the licensing options being laid out in the coming weeks.

Re:Circumspect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44099491)

This answer is still supremely flawed because if he can't give an off-the-cuff simplified reason why his patent is novel, the patent doesn't meet the test of not being an obvious development.

This is the real problem with this specific patent. If he claims to have patented podcasting and several people have come up with the same thing separate from him with no involvement with him, then this would clearly be too obvious of a development to be granted a patent. Heck, I remember going to work in the 90's and people at my office dialing into some guy's voicemail message where he did the news. Since the data had to be stored to some sort of audio file, technically shouldn't that be prior art?

Reason to be a producer of a product (2)

Zan Lynx (87672) | 1 year,27 days | (#44093183)

The main reason is so that your company is equally vulnerable to the ridiculous patent system.

Just being in business using computers and the Internet and writing software opens up your company to hundreds of potential patents. Most of which are OBVIOUS! Really.

Another reason to be a producer is something that every inventor knows. Coming up with an idea is 10% of the effort. Actually making it work is much more difficult and 90% of the work. Sitting around and coming up with wild ideas that might be possible and writing patents on them and then waiting for someone else to do the 90% work before suing them is a very bad taste for the people who really did the work.

"Rocket science is easy. Rocket engineering is hard."

Re:Reason to be a producer of a product (3, Insightful)

surmak (1238244) | 1 year,27 days | (#44093575)

.. Sitting around and coming up with wild ideas that might be possible and writing patents on them and then waiting for someone else to do the 90% work before suing them is a very bad taste for the people who really did the work. ...

What makes this even worse is that the guy who "reinvented" the patented idea in most cases does not even know the patent exists in the first place. The courts have the legal fiction that the knowledge in the patents is in the public domain, but in practice this is not just the case -- especially when a defendant has a disincentive to willfully infringe a patent (better remain ignorant and avoid extra damages). Perhaps we need a system where the patent owner had an affirmative duty to publicize the patent.

Re:Reason to be a producer of a product (1)

greg1104 (461138) | 1 year,27 days | (#44096631)

Coming up with an idea is 10% of the effort.

That's generous. Ideas without a working implementation are in almost every case worth $0. If it's innovative enough to be considered worthy of a patent, it will be complicated enough that you can't prove it will work without building at least a prototype.

And many of the cases where something can be built, but couldn't until now, are simply based on underlying technology being available. Every year I churn out a few ideas that, while new at the time, are obvious next steps based on the current state of the art. That is the category Personal Audio's junk patents fall into. I "invented" a web site for online auctions in the summer of 1995, just before ebay started as AuctionWeb. Was that worth 10% of ebay? Of course not; it was worth nothing.

What these patent trolls are doing is a form of curve fitting. Companies throw out a bunch of garbage, hand waving over the details, filing patents for what the next generation of products might look like. Then, after the world sees which of them turned out to be right--which some of them will be just by random chance--the owners of the lucky patents sue. If many people re-invent your idea without taking any advice on how to do it from your patent, that alone should torpedo any patent as being an obvious next step.

Sigh (5, Insightful)

Antipater (2053064) | 1 year,27 days | (#44093213)

Well, he was brave enough to come to a site he knew hated him and try to defend his actions. I respect him for that. Having never heard of the guy or his company before ("what do you do?" was my question), I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. But while he wrote persuasively about the benefits of the patent system in general, his answers regarding Personal Audio were not nearly as convincing.

Basically, his argument boils down to "patents are an insurance policy so that you can get your money back if your investment fails". This is a rather novel analysis of the patent system that I've never heard before, and a completely paradoxical one. While encouraging innovation on the surface (by lowering the risk of "reach for the stars"-type innovative startups), it stifles it in the long run by chilling any follow-up innovation. If the first foray into a new field fails, anyone who comes in to try to do a better job is then penalized. It creates a barrier to entry for an empty field.

His other point of note was the threat that, if patent-holders are forced to create a product to enforce their patents, he would just create a useless podcast to justify holding his podcasting patent. I wonder if he realizes that any legislation would be written to give a court leeway to define such a strategy as useless or vexatious, at the court's discretion rather than written into the law. Designing a podcast to overcome that barrier would then make him a productive member of society and hey, maybe he'd find an actually-useful means of getting back his lost $1.6 million. He asks if Google should be required to produce a driverless car within a certain timeframe or forfeit their driverless-car patents. He asks it in such a way as to imply that this would be a ludicrous requirement. I almost find it funny that he could be so out of touch.

tldr: I went in with an open mind, but now believe /. was well justified in jumping all over this guy. Shameless, useless patent troll.

Re:Sigh (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | 1 year,27 days | (#44093979)

While encouraging innovation on the surface (by lowering the risk of "reach for the stars"-type innovative startups), it stifles it in the long run by chilling any follow-up innovation. If the first foray into a new field fails, anyone who comes in to try to do a better job is then penalized. It creates a barrier to entry for an empty field.

I especially like this 'condemnation':

And these same U.S. tech companies that rail against patent trolls have few qualms about taking ideas from others. They will buy competitors’ products, conduct teardowns to analyze components and features, and incorporate the best of what they find.

Umm...can you spell 'ideal scenario'? This sort of open source approach to hardware would be the best of all possible outcomes for everyone involved: users get better and better products, product developers are free to add or remove features without fear of reprisals (other than whether the users actually like the new-to-them features or not). Can you say iPad with a USB or microSD port, anyone??

Of course, an argument can be made that the original inventor should be recompensed, and that's fair...to a point. To redress this perceived injustice: patents should expire after a reasonable time, and NOT be renewable beyond a limited extent (say one or two renewals). So, for example, a filed patent would expire in two years, renewable to up to twice for a maximum length of six years. After expiry, it moves into public domain, for anyone to tinker with. The time frame is generous enough that, if the feature is truly unique and useful, companies will not be willing to wait long enough to let the patent expire: they will license the product so that they can use it now. And this would prevent these 'submarine' patents from almost a quarter-century ago from inhibiting current technology development.

Everything is built on the work of others. Remember, you invented neither the hammer nor the anvil.

Re:Sigh (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | 1 year,27 days | (#44094103)

Of course, an argument can be made that the original inventor should be recompensed, and that's fair...to a point. To redress this perceived injustice: patents should expire after a reasonable time, and NOT be renewable beyond a limited extent (say one or two renewals).

Patents do expire after (what Congress has decided is) a reasonable time: twenty years from the date of filing of the application. They are not renewable, period. And they can even expire earlier, if you fail to pay maintenance fees.

So, for example, a filed patent would expire in two years, renewable to up to twice for a maximum length of six years.

The problem there (or rather, not a problem) is that patents aren't just registrations or rubber stamps. They get examined, and that takes time - currently, it's about 4-5 years from filing to granting. So, under your proposal, they could expire before they even make it through the queue to examination. That would be fine, if it was more like copyright and simply paying your $35 registration fee gets you registered, but is not fine with an examination system... and I think the latter is a better system.

And this would prevent these 'submarine' patents from almost a quarter-century ago from inhibiting current technology development.

17 years is a lot closer to a 5th of a century than a quarter-century. And the patent will expire in 3 years, long before it gets to a quarter century.

Re:Sigh (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | 1 year,27 days | (#44095237)

Of course, an argument can be made that the original inventor should be recompensed, and that's fair...to a point. To redress this perceived injustice: patents should expire after a reasonable time, and NOT be renewable beyond a limited extent (say one or two renewals).

Patents do expire after (what Congress has decided is) a reasonable time: twenty years from the date of filing of the application. They are not renewable, period. And they can even expire earlier, if you fail to pay maintenance fees.

Wow, I wasn't aware of the requirement for maintenance fees [uspto.gov] , very interesting. So essentially, these fees do pretty much as I described, with the exception that the last 'maintenance fee' paid in year 12 extends the patent eight years, instead of only four years for the previous 'maintenance' fees.

Am I correct in assuming that once it expires (for whatever reason), it then gets assigned to the public domain?

So, for example, a filed patent would expire in two years, renewable to up to twice for a maximum length of six years.

The problem there (or rather, not a problem) is that patents aren't just registrations or rubber stamps. They get examined, and that takes time - currently, it's about 4-5 years from filing to granting. So, under your proposal, they could expire before they even make it through the queue to examination. That would be fine, if it was more like copyright and simply paying your $35 registration fee gets you registered, but is not fine with an examination system... and I think the latter is a better system.

Ah, so let the patent term start from the day it's granted, not the day it's filed (I think that's how it works now, isn't it?) That seems fair to everyone. The key takeaway is that patent terms should be drastically shortened, so as not to stifle the very innovations they purport to protect...but OTOH, it doesn't look like the 'maintenance fees' implemented in 1980 are having much of an impact on the patent circus, either.

And this would prevent these 'submarine' patents from almost a quarter-century ago from inhibiting current technology development.

17 years is a lot closer to a 5th of a century than a quarter-century. And the patent will expire in 3 years, long before it gets to a quarter century.

Ah, yes, sorry. Skimmed too fast, thought I read that it was granted in 1993 (no, I don't know where I got that number either). That would be exactly a fifth of a century, true...but still longer than I would consider reasonable.

Re:Sigh (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | 1 year,27 days | (#44096109)

Of course, an argument can be made that the original inventor should be recompensed, and that's fair...to a point. To redress this perceived injustice: patents should expire after a reasonable time, and NOT be renewable beyond a limited extent (say one or two renewals).

Patents do expire after (what Congress has decided is) a reasonable time: twenty years from the date of filing of the application. They are not renewable, period. And they can even expire earlier, if you fail to pay maintenance fees.

Wow, I wasn't aware of the requirement for maintenance fees [uspto.gov] , very interesting. So essentially, these fees do pretty much as I described, with the exception that the last 'maintenance fee' paid in year 12 extends the patent eight years, instead of only four years for the previous 'maintenance' fees.

Am I correct in assuming that once it expires (for whatever reason), it then gets assigned to the public domain?

Mostly yes - slight change to what you described was that maintenance fees are based on filing date, so if you have a patent application pending for 10 years, you only pay the year 12 fee, and it expires 8 years later.

And yes, once it expires, it's public domain forever. Interestingly, though unsurprisingly, most software-related patents get abandoned without paying the 12 year fee. The fees are not static, but increase significantly, so for most companies, it's not worth it to pay that last extension, particularly in software where technology moves so quickly. So, allowing for the time from filing to grant, most software-related patents already only last around 4-5 years.

Ah, so let the patent term start from the day it's granted, not the day it's filed (I think that's how it works now, isn't it?) That seems fair to everyone. The key takeaway is that patent terms should be drastically shortened, so as not to stifle the very innovations they purport to protect...but OTOH, it doesn't look like the 'maintenance fees' implemented in 1980 are having much of an impact on the patent circus, either.

That is how it works - term starts from day of grant and lasts until it expires, either for non-payment of maintenance fees or the end of 20 years from the date of filing. Now, whether 20 years is too long is open to debate, but it's not like the lifetime+70 years of copyright. And the maintenance fees do have a significant impact - see above - although maybe they should be either increased or have an added increment or two... I agree, having the final fee at 12 years is odd... maybe there should be additional fees due at 15 years and 18 years. That would tend to make patents expire sooner, unless the patent owner really thinks they're valuable.

Re:Sigh (1)

sribe (304414) | 1 year,27 days | (#44094621)

His other point of note was the threat that, if patent-holders are forced to create a product to enforce their patents, he would just create a useless podcast to justify holding his podcasting patent.

I'd have no problem with that. I don't care if the product is a turd and a total failure in the marketplace, what I care about is proof that the alleged inventor actually knows how to implement his invention--too many "software" patents out there are more of a wish list of features than a description of an actual invention.

Re:Sigh (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | 1 year,27 days | (#44098379)

You are far too forgiving. A failed hardware launch is really expensive, and a failed software launch can be anywhere from kinda expensive to a pain in the wallet.

A useless podcast would not be a product - it would either be a market failure, or a money sink. If the product fails, it is no longer a product. If it's a money sink, it's a tax on the patent holder.

Either way, it is way more harmful than the "negligible product" he thinks he will market.

You have a product, but it is not available anywhere - why is that?

No one wants your product, why should I license your tech?

Do you actually have a product, or did you just create one to comply with the letter, and not the spirit, of the law?

Re:Sigh (1)

sribe (304414) | 1 year,26 days | (#44099843)

You are far too forgiving.

Not at all. My point is simply for the inventor to prove that he knows how to make his invention--in other words that he has actually completed the hard part of inventing, and is not trying to patent a wish list or a dream. I see no relevance, to the purpose of a patent, in requiring an inventor to prove that he knows how to make money with his invention.

Re:Sigh (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | 1 year,27 days | (#44098403)

"patents are an insurance policy so that you can get your money back if your investment fails".

No, his argument is that as a patent troll he is somehow beneficial to society, while creating no products and consuming royalties.

Patents as a backup plan are relatively novel, but hardly a novelty. There was an inventor named Bill, from Maryland, in the 1980's, who worked with Moog himself and still couldn't get a product to market. Along comes a business partner with a complimentary idea, they form a partnership, and Bill, who never had any interest in owning a company, gets rich because he let someone else do all the work. Which he could have done with a normal business partnership. Had he not a patent, James could not have known the process - and now we have competitive advantage via pure invention, not patent protection.

Also, there's this guy named James Logan, who had a revolutionary idea for a whatever the fuck it was, and his backup plan was to lose $1.6 million. Somehow I don't think your interpretation really applies to most cases.

Answers weighed... (1)

Captain_Chaos (103843) | 1 year,27 days | (#44093219)

Answers weighed and.... yeah, patent troll.

It's not the fact of patents that's the problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44093327)

The problems are in the scope & implementation of the system.

I'm sure there are plenty of people who think patents should be abolished - Mr. Logan's response to the 3rd question is an excellent primer on why this is ridiculus. Many inventions & ideas take alot of time, money and effort to develop - but are trivial to copy once they exist. So why make that investment?

The issue with the patent system today isn't buying and selling patents. It isn't about non practicing entities holding & licensing patents (though holding them in reserve to be sprung on an industry once it matures needs to be curbed). The problem is the scope and breadth of what can be patented.

Here's the abstrract of the '076' patent (http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=1&p=1&f=G&l=50&d=PTXT&S1=6,199,076.PN.&OS=pn/6,199,076&RS=PN/6,199,076)

An audio program and message distribution system in which a host system organizes and transmits program segments to client subscriber locations. The host organizes the program segments by subject matter and creates scheduled programming in accordance with preferences associated with each subscriber. Program segments are associated with descriptive subject matter segments, and the subject matter segments may be used to generate both text and audio cataloging presentations to enable the user to more easily identify and select desirable programming. A playback unit at the subscriber location reproduces the program segments received from the host and includes mechanisms for interactively navigating among the program segments. A usage log is compiled to record the subscriber's use of the provided program materials, to return data to the host for billing, to adaptively modify the subscriber's preferences based on actual usage, and to send subscriber-generated comments and requests to the host for processing. Voice input and control mechanisms included in the player allow the user to perform hands-free navigation of the program materials and to dictate comments and messages which are returned to the host for retransmission to other subscribers. The program segments sent to each subscriber may include advertising materials which the user can selectively play to obtain credits against the subscriber fee. Parallel audio and text transcript files for at least selected programming enable subject matter searching and synchronization of the audio and text files. Speech synthesis may be used to convert transcript files into audio format. Image files may also be transmitted from the server for synchronized playback with the audio programming.

There is no promotion of science and the useful arts going on here. This is a sketch of a product design or business model. The look & feel of resulting product should be protected by copyright or trademark, the code that implements it should be copyrighted. It's not till you get down to the core bits that you get to stuff that should be eligible for patents - audio encoding and streaming technologies, voice recognition algorithms, text to speech, maybe the the algorithms for adaptively modifying content based on user behavior. You know - the actual art & science. Not the business.

The problem is that this is a continuum - there is no bright line discerning where art & science gives way to business. Thus it's the realm of lawyers. The current interpretation of patentability is far to broad and needs to be reined in.

patent on downloadable playlist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44093397)

It hardly gets more trivial than that.
Seriously what about it is supposed yo be the difficult part, the file or the downloading?

Re:patent on downloadable playlist? (4, Interesting)

Arker (91948) | 1 year,27 days | (#44094169)

"Seriously what about it is supposed yo be the difficult part, the file or the downloading?"

I went to school far enough back in the last century that we were taught a bunch of stuff about patents that seems to have been somehow lost along the way. That they were intended for cases where a proble had been obvious for a long time but people were stumped on solution. Then someone got an 'ahah' and found a nice solution that people had been overlooking. In return for publishing not just that 'ahah' moment itself, but also a workable, practical demonstration of 'the trick' the inventor then got a limited time monopoly.

These days, patents dont seem to have to include any of that. The first person that thinks about the problem and implements the obvious solution is apparently intended to have a monopoly on that solution and anything similar, simply for being first, without even being required to publish anything useful (or comprehensible) in return.

Translation for the unanswered question... (2)

PsychoSlashDot (207849) | 1 year,27 days | (#44093493)

Q: Can you explain, in terms I could tell the average person, how your patent is novel enough that anyone who wants to distribute audio over the internet should license it from you? I'd appreciate it if you could address how the distributions of podcasts today widely differs from downloading audio files in 1995 and how your patent help change this.

A:Logan: Trcooper, this is one of those of questions that could get me in a boatload of trouble—with my lawyer, that is. Any comments I make regarding the claims and how they are different from previous systems, can and will be used against me in court. So I’ll have to take a pass on this one.

A: Logan: No, actually. If I had an actual justification for what we do, people wouldn't be able to use it against me. But I don't. So anything I make up by necessity will be shot so full of holes that it'll resemble swiss cheese. That'll make my case weaker. Which will make my pockets less full of money I haven't earned by doing anything productive. Which will make baby Jesus cry and stuff. Probably. I don't want to say for sure He'll cry because if he doesn't then someone will point out I'm a liar in court.

Missing question (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44093503)

Do you have a platforce? If so, how many people does it hold?

How far did you get? (3)

netpixie (155816) | 1 year,27 days | (#44093615)

I got as far as this bit of nonsense (Q2):

> The term “patent troll” has emerged in recent years, and to the extent that words matter, this phrase has served as an effective piece of negative branding for those who want to reduce the rights of patent holders.

before stopping reading. I presume the rest of his answers were just as silly.

Re:How far did you get? (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | 1 year,27 days | (#44094365)

If reducing the rights of patent (and other "IP") holders mean set them back to constitutionally intended levels, then hell yes I wan to reduce the rights of patent holders.

Continuation Patents are one broken thing (4, Interesting)

devjoe (88696) | 1 year,27 days | (#44093617)

James, you wanted to hear about what the real problems with the patent system are? One of them is the continuation patent.

Back in 1996 you filed for a patent which issued in 2001 as U.S. patent 6,199,076 [google.com] . This actually sounds original for the time; it seems to be a system for providing hyperlinks that could be followed while listening to an audio program, along with a way to jump back to the previous program. Of course, we had those features already in web browsers; whether doing the same thing in an audio program was sufficiently innovative enough to deserve a patent is debatable (and presumably was debated a bit, since it took 5 years for the patent to be issued).

However, that patent in no way describes podcasting, which involves an ability to subscribe to a recurring series of audio programs, including ones not yet issued. That is instead covered by patent 8,112,504 [google.com] , which you filed in 2009 as a "continuation" of the much earlier patent application, one which had, in fact, already been issued as a complete patent for 8 years. Podcasting generally does not (and as far as I know, never does) include the hyperlinking-within-audio-programs feature of the '076 patent. (Yes, each item in a feed includes a hyperlink to where the audio file can be retrieved, but there aren't hyperlinks within those files to other podcasts - not unless they are spoken and you have to type in a URL yourself.) The features of that patent that podcasting programs do include - the ability to select one or more of a set of audio programs to listen to, possibly setting them to repeat, and with the ability to interrupt and redefine the sequence - were available in programmable CD players that already existed when the '076 patent was filed. And none of those features are features of the podcast, but of the podcasting program or hardware device.

The ability to go back and rewrite your old patent to include new features, and claim you invented them back when the old patent was filed (even if, as you noted, you're limited to collect damages on activity after the new version of the patent is issued) is one thing that is broken in the patent system. You basically saw something that people were doing, found an old patent which bore a little similarity, but which didn't have any claims against that activity you could enforce, and rewrote it so it covered the activity, after the fact. This should not be allowed.

Now I realize that there are legitimate reasons for continuations being considered a part of the original application. But you shouldn't be able to introduce new concepts outside the scope of the original patent application in a continuation. This sort of thing should either be rejected outright, or treated as a new application with priority date set to when the new concepts were first filed.

Re:Continuation Patents are one broken thing (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | 1 year,27 days | (#44094197)

Back in 1996 you filed for a patent which issued in 2001 as U.S. patent 6,199,076 [google.com] . This actually sounds original for the time; it seems to be a system for providing hyperlinks that could be followed while listening to an audio program, along with a way to jump back to the previous program. Of course, we had those features already in web browsers; whether doing the same thing in an audio program was sufficiently innovative enough to deserve a patent is debatable (and presumably was debated a bit, since it took 5 years for the patent to be issued).

However, that patent in no way describes podcasting, which involves an ability to subscribe to a recurring series of audio programs, including ones not yet issued. That is instead covered by patent 8,112,504 [google.com] , which you filed in 2009 as a "continuation" of the much earlier patent application, one which had, in fact, already been issued as a complete patent for 8 years.

By definition, a continuation application is identical to the parent application, except for the claims. The specification and the figures must be word for word and line for line identical. The claims must also be supported by that specification and those figures. Accordingly, if the '504 continuation describes podcasting (which I'm not taking a position on), then by definition, the '076 patent describes podcasting.

The ability to go back and rewrite your old patent to include new features, and claim you invented them back when the old patent was filed (even if, as you noted, you're limited to collect damages on activity after the new version of the patent is issued) is one thing that is broken in the patent system. You basically saw something that people were doing, found an old patent which bore a little similarity, but which didn't have any claims against that activity you could enforce, and rewrote it so it covered the activity, after the fact. This should not be allowed.

It's not - if you rewrite any part of the specification, or add any "new features", then it's considered a continuation-in-part, not a continuation. A CIP application does not get the filing date of the parent application, so in this case, it would have a filing date of 2009. Anything that happened prior to that would be prior art against it.

But this wasn't a CIP. It's a continuation. It's identical to the parent application, and has that 1996 filing date.

Now I realize that there are legitimate reasons for continuations being considered a part of the original application. But you shouldn't be able to introduce new concepts outside the scope of the original patent application in a continuation. This sort of thing should either be rejected outright, or treated as a new application with priority date set to when the new concepts were first filed.

That's exactly how the system works. And this falls under your first sentence - a continuation that's part of the original application, lacking any new concepts.

Accordingly, going back to your original statement, since the system works exactly the way you say is proper, then nothing about continuation practice is broken.

Re:Continuation Patents are one broken thing (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | 1 year,27 days | (#44098363)

Misunderstandings are common on both sides -

A little learning is a dangerous thing;
        Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.

How amusing it is frequently misquoted, and often misunderstood.

It is easiest to take the side you favor, and a challenge to take the side you don't. The hardest is to take no side at all.

Re:Continuation Patents are one broken thing (1)

Medievalist (16032) | 1 year,27 days | (#44095461)

Excellent post, devjoe, despite the length.

Patents are currently too extensible, last too long, are far too transferable, and cover ideas that are too broad and things that should not be patentable. Logan slyly points out the heyday of American patenting and inventing (1865-1882) came to an end shortly after the US Patent Office stopped requiring models in 1880, although that's certainly not the emphasis he puts on it.

He's just defending the current, broken system because he can get rich by it. I wanted to give him a chance, but he's a troll and part of the problem.

Patents (3, Informative)

niado (1650369) | 1 year,27 days | (#44093643)

Patent '504 [google.com]
Patent '076 [google.com]

These seems very abstract/broad. Not "rounded corners" patents, but almost as bad.

..._... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44093743)

Get out.

Please add (-1, Troll)

flacco (324089) | 1 year,27 days | (#44093751)

Mr. Logan - Why are you such a huge faggot?

I think I've heard this before (1)

Bucc5062 (856482) | 1 year,27 days | (#44093845)

There were so many applications of the Chewbacca Defense, my head was spinning. /. disdain wont change a thing about this guy. His ego came shining through quite clearly, "You all are wrong, I am right, get lost". The only way to truly effect folks like this is through changing the rules (laws) that provide for him and his ilk to slip and slide through the cracks, fleecing the public along the way. Sadly, those entrusted with the law are just about as bad. They too walk around with propped up egos, looking for ways to beat the system and justifying each step. The few that truly give a damn about the Public welfare are too few and too far between.

Maybe Karma will catch up to him, but till then, it is either drag him down by voiding his patents or shut him down by changes the laws. Neither a road traveled by you average Joe.

Still A Patent Troll (3, Insightful)

brit74 (831798) | 1 year,27 days | (#44093879)

Patents are even more important in today’s information economy then they were in past centuries. To see why, let’s broaden the debate to include all intellectual property (“IP”). If there were no copyright laws, do you think AMC would spend $3 million on each episode of Breaking Bad? If anybody could just copy it and give the content away on the Internet why would they? Without copyright laws there would be no Mad Men, New York Times, or Call of Duty.

You can't use copyright to legitimize patent law. They're two different things. First of all, copyright law is much more limited in scope than patents are. For example: you can go after someone if they started redistributing your podcast (maybe with inserting their own commercials and pocketing the money), but you can't sue all podcasters using copyright law.

And secondly, you can't use justifications for Intellectual Property law A as justifications for Intellectual Property law B. If that worked, then do this quick mental experiment:
Step 1. Dream up a new intellectual property law
Step 2. If copyright law justifies patent law, then you should be able to use copyright law to justify your new intellectual property law.
Step 3. You have now justified your new intellectual property law - whatever the heck it is. You've now shown that all conceivable intellectual property laws are justified (no matter what they are, you just need to dream it up).

Claiming that the EFF is some sort of enforcer working for large companies to beat up small ones is an idea that can only have come from heavy use of hallucinogenic drugs. Which ones does your team take?

Regarding the EFF, I think our point was just that with our limited resources, our primary focus is addressing the larger entities that are podcasting. To that extent, the EFF can be seen to be weighing in on the side of large media conglomerates such as CBS and NBC. More generally, I think it’s a bit anomalous that patents often get such a bad rap by individuals, such as some engineers in Silicon Valley, or groups like the EFF, which purport to stand for David (vs Goliath). Patents are a great tool for the little guy. If you want to start a company, build it around some patented technology (like Google did). The patents, or even pending applications, will help you raise money, ward off competition, and give you a fighting chance. They’re the ultimate equalizer.

What a turd. This guy is trying to take-on the mantle of being "the little guy" against the big guys because he knows that people like to support the underdog. Sorry, Jim Logan, we're not that stupid. We're not going to do a knee-jerk support of the underdog when the underdog is wrong. Besides, it's pretty clear that the real underdogs here are the podcasters, which Jim Logan (who's obviously a millionaire) is beating up. The only thing that this tells me is that people who stand to make millions of dollars off of bad patents can rationalize their crap to themselves.

Supply and demand (1)

Andy_R (114137) | 1 year,27 days | (#44094013)

"If there were no copyright laws, do you think AMC would spend $3 million on each episode of Breaking Bad?"

Of course. The existence of copyright has no bearing on the laws of supply and demand. People would still want new episodes to be made, and AMC would still be able to fulfil that demand, all that would change is the business model. AMC would simply ask for pledges, and only make the show when they were guaranteed to make as much profit as they would under the current system.

Re:Supply and demand (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | 1 year,27 days | (#44094325)

I'd go even further and say you could still make money from broadcast advertising, even if people were then free to record and distribute that broadcast. I download a lot, but I still watch TV. I'm currently hooked on The Returned, which I watch on TV with ads, but which I could easily download - but it's broadcast at a time when I'm always free, and I've come to appreciate waiting a week between episodes of an enjoyable show.

Re:Supply and demand (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | 1 year,27 days | (#44094327)

this is a constant red herring roadblock in these discussions.

It's also a false duality. There aren't many of us that want patents eliminated. There are a lot of us that want them scaled back enough so they are no longer used as weapons.

Re:Supply and demand (1)

dgatwood (11270) | 1 year,27 days | (#44095695)

Well, most of us want software patents eliminated. I've seen no real justification for allowing software patents.

The thing is, at least in the context of software patents, when you turn this guy's AMC question around, the question becomes downright silly. "If software patents were eliminated, do you think anyone would write software?" That's just an absurd question to ask, particularly given that most companies assumed that most software patents were not allowed until a key court decision (Sidney A. DIAMOND, Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks, Petitioner, v. James R. DIEHR, II and Theodore A. Lutton) changed that assumption in 1981. So the question becomes, "Why did anyone write software before 1981?"

And the answer requires us to dig a little deeper. Unlike most patentable works, software also has copyright protection. For any nontrivial piece of software, that should be enough to guarantee several years of revenue before anyone can usefully come up with a competing product, even if you do nothing but create the product and sit on your laurels without improving it at all.

Based on that, in the absence of compelling evidence to the contrary, it should be clear that in the software world, patents are simply an additional layer of unnecessary overhead, coupled with a corresponding minefield of uncertainty, having no redeeming value.

Whose efforts? (4, Insightful)

bidule (173941) | 1 year,27 days | (#44094737)

We realized Bill had the solution we were looking for and we promptly signed an exclusive license for his patents"

So Bill saved you a lot of struggle. That's what patents are for.

You seem to think that a patent should compensate you for the amount of work you did put in your idea (original or bought). Now did your idea help podcasting in any way, did it save them from struggling to find a solution?

If the answer is "no, not really", then it is a classic patent troll.

Thanks for answering (1)

CaseCrash (1120869) | 1 year,27 days | (#44094835)

I just wanted to say thanks for answering the questions. Not everyone is satisfied with the answers, of course, but at least you tried walking into the dragons den. It was quite interesting reading what you had to say about all this instead of just another interpretation by someone else.

I'm not saying I agree with you on everything, but thanks.

Decision logic and its applications... (1)

John Allsup (987) | 1 year,27 days | (#44096499)

Machines can be broken into two parts: the interface to the outside world and decision logic.
Decision logic can be hardwired or configurable.  A configuration of the configurable
parts of a machine comprises the software.  Software may be viewed as a program or
as data.  This is an artificial distinction: data may be viewed as a program for an interpreter
(notepad.exe interprets a text file and generates an interactive graphical experience that
appears to represent the contents of the text file).  Some data may be interpreted by
a hardwired logic unit.

All this was invented or discovered by WW2 with the exception of the fine details of the interface.

Use of a logic processing machine should not be considered patentable in any way.
In principle, once Turing's paper was written, one could enumerate all software for all machines.
Thus, since all the countable numbers were certainly discovered and logically formalised
in the 19th century, they should be considered already discovered.

As soon as an outside world interface involves decision logic, the decision logic should
be factored out and only that part that does not involve decision logic should be considered
a design and be patentable.

Copyright should not apply to what can be logically derived from a problem specification: it
should apply only to artistic expressions that are beyond derivation by a logical procedure.

Thus, what is truly art should be copyrightable (and there should be a common sense test
of whether someone could have produced something similar).  Designs should be patentable,
but not decision logic.  Decision logic should be considered already invented as of Turing's
paper and thus beyond the scope of copyright or patent.

That is the only logically sensible way to apply copyright and patents to technology.  Trouble is,
laws are made by technologically naive people, presided upon by technologically naive judges and juries,
and essentially those who understand technology properly have no power of those who make laws
regulating it.  This a dichotomy between understanding and power is why the system is as stupid
and broken as it is.

DNA should, accordingly, be considered software for a pre-existing interpreter that is over 20 years
old and thus equally non-patentable.

Ignorant and a lying fool (1)

Khyber (864651) | 1 year,27 days | (#44097283)

" MicroTouch went on to become the world’s largest touch screen company, selling the precursor to today’s projected capacitive touch screen found on all smart phones"

Mine certainly doesn't use a capacitive touch screen. It would be much more useful if it had one.

Thanks for fucking up the world of smartphones for some of us with your patents, asshole.

My favorite bit. (1)

tragedy (27079) | 1 year,27 days | (#44097869)

Now you can come up with an idea, get it patented in a matter of months, raise money on the IP, and be off to the races.

Simple ideas aren't meant to be patentable. Inventions are meant to be patentable. Just demonstrates how corrupt this guy is and the whole system is.

Nice try, but you dodge the most important questio (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44097953)

Having never read much on this topic before I decided to give you a chance - and ultimately, you dodge the only important question which is "Why should anyone believe your patent is NOT covered prior art , and or is obvious?" Because it seem to be a miracle if your so called property can dodge the thousands of audio transmission schemes that came before you. And yeah ok your lawyer this and that, but like it or not the public could really use an answer because your company seems very troll-like otherwise.

Unwilling to test the hypothesis == Bullshit. (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | 1 year,27 days | (#44098021)

If there were no copyright laws, do you think AMC would spend $3 million on each episode of Breaking Bad? If anybody could just copy it and give the content away on the Internet why would they? Without copyright laws there would be no Mad Men, New York Times, or Call of Duty.

The point to note here is that, AMC didn't have to spend $3 million on Breaking Bad episodes, AMC could have made each episode for $3 million without copyrights. Removing the copyright monopoly means you have to market your labor; It does not remove demand for new inventions or media. If the fans of the show want another episode to be made, and paying $3 million for each episode is what it takes, then in aggregate we will pay for it. Also, $3 million is a hugely inflated price; I'm sure that were market forces allowed to act upon it the price would be lowered. Artists can sell work directly to consumers now. With a sandwich one person benefits, one person pays. With art, everyone benefits, so crowd sourced funding is a natural fit. Want more money? DO MORE WORK. Bonus: Once the work is done and paid for, everyone is free to have a copy since the work has already been done. Super Bonus: Free market research, no wasted effort on crap shows, folks keep paying for it, the show goes on.

"If anyone could just copy and give content away on the Internet would they?" DERP! If anyone could just duplicate content to EVERY TV ON THE PLANET, would Television Exist?! HERP! Fucking moron. Commercials are a form of indirect crowd funding; Direct crowd funding == no commercials.

Fact is: Patent trolls are pushing artificial scarcity. Their "property" is worth NOTHING via Basic Economics: As the supply of the idea, solution, or information tends towards infinity it's price tends to zero; Regardless of cost to create or demand. Their ideas are in infinite supply, they should be free to all. Indeed, they are only able to benefit by the monopoly because it creates an artificial scarcity where no scarcity would otherwise exist.

Content creators and Inventors get paid shit for their labor because the current patent and copyright laws create an intellectual future's market whereby the worker gambles on their future success, without engaging the customer demands directly. Instead of: We want you to try and create X; Ok, that will cost $Y to research or produce. We've got: Let's work our asses off and pray one of the many things we do actually nets us some cash in the long run.

What happens is that churn is high due to repeated failures, and trolls like this end up getting to cherry pick the ideas that are most damaging to other companies from all the work that was done trying to create things that no one actually found useful. Protip: NO ONE is trawling through the patent system database looking for solutions to their problems, engineers just do the work because recreating the wheel is cheaper than licensing a patent. PATENTS ARE BROKEN. It's a system that rapidly accumulates wealth at the top while extracting huge amounts of labor at the bottom. Copyright and Patents need to be abolished, so the content creators and inventors can actually get fair pay for their labors instead of giving it all to 3rd parties.

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Non sequitur (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44098629)

"IÂfeel the patent system is not broken. The ever-rising number of U.S. patents being filed ... points to vibrant culture of innovation in the country."

I'd say it points to a vibrant culture of litigation where patents are regarded as a commodity to be bought and sold and sued over - not as a legal tool to give innovators a chance to make money off their ideas, nor as a way to improve society by fostering innovation.

But kudos for engaging.

Thanks, James, I liked it (1)

JimtownKelly (634785) | 1 year,26 days | (#44098899)

Glad James took the time to answer these. Not sure how much I agree with everything, but he didn't have to give us the time of day so thanks.

What a joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44103051)

So your logic is that the kind of patent abuse you engage in is acceptable so investments into "new ideas" (distributing any form of media over the internet is such a huge unfathomable leap in logic that it definitely constitutes a novel and innovative solution to a question no one had any problems answering, right?) are less risky, and the 'innovators' don't lose as much money at the end of the day.

You invested $1.6 million of your own money in a product. That product failed, and by extension YOU failed. Why should other companies that do a far better job than you have any obligation to pay you for your failure? Could it be possible that maybe your products really weren't that innovative? Or maybe they just sucked? The market has always been pretty good at weeding out what's valuable and what's garbage, and if you couldn't sell a product so incredibly "innovative" that you feel it grants you the right to point blank sue anyone for the most trivial of things, its probably an indicator that your idea, the product, its execution were all trash.

Why should anyone else be responsible for your shortcomings? You don't deserve anything. You aren't owed anything by the people who innovate today (and can actually deliver, unlike you), by content creators or society in general. Your long winded responses don't do much to scrub the image that you're a bully who's bitter because you don't have the capability to actually create interesting products or services for the market... and so turn to patent abuse to hurt those who *can* deliver things people actually want.

James Logan, everyone: The guy who can say with a straight face that others owe him for his failures. The guy who has no problem being the noose around creative expression in a medium he had no part in creating. You're right James, the word patent 'troll' doesn't seem to adequately describe your greedy, narcissistic views. How does this sound? James Logan, the Patent \/\/hore.

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