Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Companies Petition Congress To Reform 'Business Method' Patent Process

timothy posted 1 year,18 days | from the it-seems-so-very-obvious-even-to-those-unskilled-in-the-art dept.

Businesses 78

ectoman writes "This week, a coalition of more than 40 companies sent a letter to Congress asking for legislation that expands the Covered Business Method (CBM) program, a move some feel would stem patent abuse in the United States. Expanding the scope of CBM—a program that grants the Patent and Trademark Office the power to challenge the validity of certain business methods patents—would expedite the patent review process and significantly cut litigation costs, they say. "The vague and sweeping scope of many business method claims covering straight forward, common sense steps has led to an explosion of patent claims against processes used every day in common technologies by thousands of businesses and millions of Americans," says the letter, signed by companies like Amazon, Netflix, Red Hat, Macy's, and Kroger)."

cancel ×

78 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Prediction (3, Funny)

schneidafunk (795759) | 1 year,18 days | (#44449221)

With that kind of lobbying money, I expect a bipartisan majority pushing this through quite quickly.

Re:Prediction (2)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,18 days | (#44449645)

With that kind of lobbying money, I expect a bipartisan majority pushing this through quite quickly.

Depends... is there sufficient lobbying money opposing it. You know, shadowy patent trolls and such.

they call these 'dollar votes', those with the most dollars get the votes

Re:Prediction (2)

bkmoore (1910118) | 1 year,18 days | (#44451209)

Who's supposed to lobby for the people?...oh, right, the representatives whom were elected by the people should be the lobbyists for the people...I'm feeling a bit naive today.

You see! (3, Insightful)

briancox2 (2417470) | 1 year,18 days | (#44449553)

Business is not always evil. In fact sometimes business interests are very good.

But people are prone to make sweeping assumptions because of one company at one particular time making a bad decision. In truth, as with all things, businesses need to be evaluated on a case by case basis.

Re:You see! (4, Insightful)

tocsy (2489832) | 1 year,18 days | (#44449611)

I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic right now, but I'm going to respond as if you aren't:

Businesses are, by DEFINITION, primarily interested in profits. Given a choice, they will do what they can to maximize their profits. It seems as if in this case, expanding the CBM is good for their businesses - I'd guess because it will make it more difficult for them to be sued, allowing them to increase profits.

Money is ALWAYS the bottom line. What we may interpret to be "good will" is nothing more than the business determining that is a better/easier/quicker way to make more money.

Re:You see! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44449683)

Well, of course. The point is that the pursuit of profit is neither good nor evil.
Our task as a society is to adjust the system's incentives so that businesses' pursuit of profit aligns with our best interests.

Re:You see! (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | 1 year,18 days | (#44449761)

In other words we have to harness the amoral powers of sociopathy to good ends. We have to convince the psychopaths we've allowed to rule our society that it's in their best interests (which is all they give a flying fuck about) not to harvest us for our flesh, but rather to use their absolute lack of concern for any human being other than themselves for the greater good.

Does that just about sum it up?

Re:You see! (4, Insightful)

briancox2 (2417470) | 1 year,18 days | (#44449985)

I must assume that someone who paints every CEO in the entire country as a sociopath has probably never gotten to know one.

Re:You see! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44450533)

Or they've just gotten to know more than one.

Although, I rather think that regional sales managers have a higher rate than CEOs.

Re:You see! (1)

Schmorgluck (1293264) | 1 year,18 days | (#44450549)

I think the GP wasn't speaking of the CEOs, but of the companies themselves.

Re:You see! (1)

briancox2 (2417470) | 1 year,18 days | (#44451337)

Ah. Well here's a different point of view for you: there's no such thing really as a company -- in truth, there are only people that make up a company.

A company cannot make any decision that isn't made by a person who made that decision. And the CEO makes the final decision in a company.

Re:You see! (1)

Schmorgluck (1293264) | 1 year,18 days | (#44452161)

Yeah, but it can be argued that a company is an information system, in which the people making the decisions do so according to the informations delivered by the system, informations that are filtered on several levels based largely on what is specifically useful to the company as a whole. It's not that clear-cut.

Re:You see! (1)

briancox2 (2417470) | 1 year,18 days | (#44452531)

I think it's pretty clear cut when you go and actually look at the company. There are buildings, computers and paper and all kinds of machines sometimes. But none of those make decisions. When you watch a company in operation, you'll notice that it is the people that are making the decisions. A system is not capable of that.

Re:You see! (1)

Alomex (148003) | 1 year,18 days | (#44453233)

A company cannot make any decision that isn't made by a person who made that decision.

Nonsense. A computer as a whole can take a decision that wasn't made by a single transistor in any sense of the word. It is also well known that people in groups do things that they wouldn't do alone.

Re:You see! (1)

briancox2 (2417470) | 1 year,17 days | (#44461149)

Getting back to the context for a moment, are you implying that computers can make decisions which cause businesses to be evil?

Re:You see! (1)

briancox2 (2417470) | 1 year,17 days | (#44461529)

And aren't people who do things while in a group still responisble for their actions?

Re:You see! (1)

Alomex (148003) | 1 year,17 days | (#44464941)

They are responsible for their actions if they are or should reasonably be aware of the consequences. The point is that the system, as a whole can end up "making" decisions that no individual person made. This is the whole basis of the "invisible hand" economic theory from Adam Smith.

Re:You see! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44454371)

The CEO is responsible to the shareholders and is to make decisions in their best interest.

The problem is how far down the chain you have to go to reach a shareholder with a soul ( ie not yet another group of shareholders ).
By the time you do there is usually very little humanity conducted back up the chain.

Just my theory.

Re:You see! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44451875)

I must assume that someone who paints every CEO in the entire country as a sociopath has probably never gotten to know more than a few.

FTFY

Re:You see! (4, Interesting)

Logger (9214) | 1 year,18 days | (#44450031)

Yes. And that's one of the reasons why we need regulated capitalism. It's a means of harnessing sociopaths. In unregulated capitalism, the sociopaths will run rampant with their businesses. In communist societies, lacking other outlets, the sociopaths seem to take power in the government where they tend to do a lot more harm.

Re:You see! (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | 1 year,18 days | (#44450531)

sociopaths seem to take power in the government where they tend to do a lot more harm

To work in the government, you have to be OK with forcing people to do things against their will, even if they're harming nobody else. That's a very self-selecting job description.

Now, you want to let them tell businesses how they need to operate too? Think they'll have a moral problem with those businesses paying for special treatment?

Exhibit A: Wall Street.
Exhibit B: K Street.

Re:You see! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44450623)

And to be opposed, intrinsically and universally to the wishes and needs of others, you also have to express some sociopathic tendencies.

It's funny how that works.

Everybody ends up being mentally disturbed.

 

Re:You see! (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | 1 year,17 days | (#44462105)

I look at corporate management as being like a torturers' club. Sure, when you first join, you're shocked that your coworkers like to clamp jumper cables on to peoples' penises, but after a bit of desensitization, you're eager to take part as well.

In other words, corporations encourage sociopathic behavior, to the point that even normal people become inhuman monsters who justify the most depraved activities with the phrase "We're responsible for good returns for the shareholders". You know, much like how all those motherfuckers we tried at Nuremberg would defend themselves with the excuse "We were just following orders."

Re:You see! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44450511)

The great merit of the capitalist system, it has been said, is that it succeeds in using the nastiest motives of nasty people for the ultimate benefit of society. - Edward Austin Gossage Robinson

Re:You see! (4, Insightful)

briancox2 (2417470) | 1 year,18 days | (#44449783)

There's an underlying assumption in your response that profits are bad.

Because we have a finite amount of resources as a nation (man hours, kilowatts, lumber, etc.) at any given time, the only way to make everyone richer is to use those resources as efficiently as we possibly can to provide what people need and want.

Profit is the measurement of how efficiently an endeavor is providing what is needed and wanted. Therefore, it is not always evil and always has an element of good to it.

Notice I didn't say it is always good. If a company makes decisions that deny to some people what is needed and wanted, in order to provide to a select few what is needed and wanted for the purpose of profit, then they have not been as good as they could have been. So thus, Microsoft is more evil and Red Hat is more good.

But to over-simplify the truth and say, "Profits are an evil motivator," is, as over-simplification always is, ignorant. There's an unwillingness to really look at everything when you over-simplify so you are by default being ignorant of the whole truth.

Re:You see! (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,18 days | (#44449991)

Because we have a finite amount of resources as a nation (man hours, kilowatts, lumber, etc.) at any given time, the only way to make everyone richer is to use those resources as efficiently as we possibly can to provide what people need and want.

And what evidence do you have to suggest that is happening? The gap between rich and poor grows every year, which means it isn't making 'everyone richer'. In fact, it certainly looks like the opposite is happening.

And as far as using those resources as efficiently as possible, again, I'm not convinced we do. How is it more 'efficient' to make Larry Ellison even more wealthy and a bigger asshole? Is he proportionally doing more work, or is he just the guy at the top collecting massive rewards?

Profit is the measurement of how efficiently an endeavor is providing what is needed and wanted.

Bullshit. It's a measure of how much it costs you to extract money from your clients relative to how much you rake in.

A credit card scam can be hugely profitable, but it has no relation whatsoever to 'how efficiently an endeavor is providing what is needed and wanted'.

So many corporate profits these days are a shell game to make one thing look more expensive and defray the costs to someone else. You think Hollywood accounting is about 'how efficiently an endeavor is providing what is needed and wanted'? Or do you think it's about shuffling around money to tell one group of people you lost massive amounts of money and can't pay them, and tell another group how much money you raked in.

There's an unwillingness to really look at everything when you over-simplify so you are by default being ignorant of the whole truth.

And you have so over simplified what 'profits' mean as to make everything you said meaningless drivel.

Re:You see! (2)

Alomex (148003) | 1 year,18 days | (#44453323)

The gap between rich and poor grows every year, which means it isn't making 'everyone richer'.

Seriously dude? If I have $1 and you have $2 and we both double our wealth, now I have $2 and you have $4. Everyone is richer yet the gap grew from $1 to $2. Now lets say you tripled your money while I doubled mine. The gap is even bigger but still we are both richer.

It is perfectly possible for the gap to grow and everyone get richer. I'm not saying this is or isn't happening right now. I'm just pointing out that your mathematical reasoning is flawed.

Re:You see! (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | 1 year,18 days | (#44453733)

Oh, it's happening right this very minute! It happens especially during periods of stagflation (because the government keeps spending money it doesn't have). Individuals or entities that have money to invest in (homes, property, stocks...etc) gain a lot over someone living paycheck to paycheck once the market picks up and inflation kicks in (gov printing money to offset the new debt ratio from prior years of spending). Only a wealthy fool with money to spend will lock it up in cash. Cash devalues during inflation, so you want to invest in something that will "float" with it. BTW, home prices have been skyrocketing these past 6 months in the US because we are now coming out of stagflation and into inflation.

What defines wealth is the relative disparity in purchasing power over another individual. That's bad. Not just from a moral standpoint, but one from civil unrest. I'm all about reasonable equality were we have a healthy middle class and not stressing about our future retirement projections. The last thing we need is a full-blown communist revolution where we have a handful of elite and the poor live in misery; equally so however.

Re:You see! (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | 1 year,18 days | (#44454333)

Seriously dude?

The gap between rich and poor (gini coefficient) is invariant to (among other things) linear scalings. IOW if everyone doubles their wealth, the coefficient does not change.

It is perfectly possible for the gap to grow and everyone get richer.

The very reason that no one measures it the way you think they do is precisely for all the bad reasons you'e pointed out.

Re:You see! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44454939)

Which is why I gave the second example (2x for me, 3x for you), where still everyone is richer but the gini coefficient does increase.

Re:You see! (3, Interesting)

s.petry (762400) | 1 year,18 days | (#44451115)

Profits are bad, because profits are not the point of society nor a benefit to society. Society is a benefit to society, not profits.

Understanding that the ideal just expressed is utopian and unrealistic at this point in time does not change the fact that profits are bad.

Consider Socrates and the Allegory of the Artisan. The duty of the Republic is to ensure that a good artisan remains a good artisan. Pay him too much, and he will no longer produce works. He will not only stop producing, but spend his time and money meddling in other peoples affairs. The Republic has given him an opportunity to harm others as well as no longer be productive for society. If the Republic does not pay the Artisan enough, he will no longer produce. The artisan will be worried about the welfare of his children and home, and seek opportunities other than being an artisan to ensure survival.

The duty of the Republic is to ensure that people are rewarded for producing in society, but never so much that they become unproductive. This does not just go for the artisan, but also the farmer and cobbler and baker and every other job we have deemed critical to societies purpose and function.

Now if you consider that among Americans if you ask people "How much money is too much money?", you know damn well that the answer will be "no such thing". This is a socially deficient teaching which is not beneficial to society. People have been duped.

**and now I step down from my philanthropic soap box.**

Re:You see! (1)

steve79 (1368223) | 1 year,18 days | (#44451893)

Your perspective strikes me as deeply naive -- almost to the point that it isn't worth responding to, but I guess I've already started typing. What kind of a fool would say "profits are bad"? Profits are neither good nor bad, obviously.......... You do know that just about every pharmaceutical / computer / technology you rely on has been pursued for the sake of profit. You should read Wealth of Nations.

Re:You see! (1)

s.petry (762400) | 1 year,18 days | (#44452395)

Yeah, Socrates was just an idiot and nobody should ever study that guy right?

Sarcasm aside, the logic is given. If you choose not to read or comprehend the logic, that is not something I can not possibly repair. That also does not reflect on your ability to comprehend data and desire to use ad hominem to attack his words.

To put those thoughts to real practical use, why do we have the Sherman Act to prevent monopolies? It is an extension of profits which allows monopolies to occur, not someone trying to benefit society.

If you claim that profits are the same as being secure in your person (The same as having a savings account, property to hand down to your children, or anything other than "profits") then you fail at basic reading comprehension tasks and should reconsider your position after reading a dictionary.

Profits are money that comes after ensuring that basic needs are accounted for.

Note that I also stated that the view of Socrates was utopian, and even Socrates knew that Utopia was impossible (though the term was not used) which is why he stated that the people of the Republic needed to regulate.

Re:You see! (1)

steve79 (1368223) | 1 year,18 days | (#44456085)

Socrates never says profits are bad, that is you saying that. If you actually read the passage above that you quote, you'd see Socrates is arguing for an incentives system to encourage the artisan to produce... one such incentives system is the pursuit of profits and all of its benefits. In econ 101 you learn that it is competition that drives down profits, and monopolies are discouraged because they harm competition (they are not going after profits... they are going after anti-compeititive activity). There are companies that make money hand over fist because they innovate and you pay for their goods what you think they're worth -- think Apple right now. In the computer biz, there is a ton of competition, yet they make money, and that spurs further investment, and thus further innovation. It is a system that's given us more progress and innovation *in our lifetimes* than all of human history combined. Think about that before you just rattle off silliness. There would be no "Senior System Engineer/Architect" position that you hold without the lure of profit driving innovation.

Re:You see! (1)

s.petry (762400) | 1 year,17 days | (#44457811)

If you bothered to read instead of spewing your opinion you would find that Socrates does state that profits are bad. He states, very clearly, numerous reasons for profits being bad. The summary in the Allegory of the Artisan is a logical conclusion of a much longer discussion claiming the need for purposeful control of profits by the Republic.

I'm sure you won't let a little fact get into the way of your fantasy, but I'll recommend that you not speculate on verifiable history in the future. If your argument is based on false information, the argument is invalid. If your beliefs are based on false information you end up living in a delusional world full of cognitive dissonance and being a very unhappy person.

There are companies that make money hand over fist because they innovate and you pay for their goods what you think they're worth -- think Apple right now.

That statement there shows an extremely shallow amount of thought, intellect, or perhaps intentional omission. Go read the founder of Capitalism's (Adam Smith) book [wikipedia.org] and re-think your position afterward. Patents allow false shortages and monopolization which increases price much more than "demand" ever would.

Re:You see! (1)

steve79 (1368223) | 1 year,17 days | (#44458897)

You're the one that's saying Socrates says profits are bad -- if he says it "very clearly" certainly you can easily provide such text to back up your assertion. Please provide.

Do you think any pharma company would develop a new drug without a patent system in place? There are obviously downsides to the patent system, but anybody who just critiques it's downsides without appreciating its upsides is just whining and short-sighted.

You aren't seeing the enormous benefit *your* life has had based on the systems you now seem to be advocating for dismantling of.

Re:You see! (1)

s.petry (762400) | 1 year,17 days | (#44459355)

No, I'm not going to quote over 900 pages of text because you don't want to visit the Library. It's a nonsense request so that you can maintain your delusional opinion. I own 3 separate translations of each of his works, and most can be found on Amazon for a nominal $30.00USD price tag.

Your Pharma comment continues to show you are devoid of any research at all and simply wish to back your opinion using fantasy. In fact I'll go further and point out that you fail to consider extremely recent history in your delusional question. The obvious answer is that medicines were developed and sold just fine without a patent for the majority of history (including the history of the USA).

Your life is does not benefit because of a patent and neither does mine. You "believe" that it does because of your ignorance (willful or otherwise). The patent debates go back over 400 years, and there have been numerous papers written by exceptional scholars explaining why patent's are a detriment to society more often than a benefit. That is with basic patents on machine parts too, not ideas which historically have been illegal because they are absolutely detrimental to society.

Please don't bother replying with more irrational assumptions and fantasy stories to back your delusion. You have not read Adam Smith, you have not read Plato/Socrates, not read Milton Friedman, or any other works that would help you see things in a light other than your current belief. If you had, you would be able to give rational and factual basis for your belief.

Re:You see! (1)

steve79 (1368223) | 1 year,17 days | (#44459891)

Seems it should be pretty simple to just quote where Socrates says "profits are bad"... you're the one asserting it; you carry the burden of proof. The fact is he's never said such a silly thing, and if it takes him 900 pages to say what you think he's saying, you're over-simplifying what he's saying by several orders of magnitude.

Whether the patent system is a net detriment or benefit to society is an interesting debate -- hard to prove either way. At best anybody that looks at it should admit the question is complicated. Anybody that talks in such sweeping terms as you is not thinking.

FYI, Friedman, you know, the guy you are name dropping, supported the idea of patents, but thought they diverted R&D to the realm of the practical machines and away from other types of inventions that could be just as beneficial to mankind. In "Capitalism and Freedom" he references the notion of the supermarket -- no protection for that innovation, but a great service to man. You really should read him if you're going to name drop!

Re:You see! (1)

s.petry (762400) | 1 year,17 days | (#44461371)

It should be painfully obvious in the allegory provided that profits are problem but you refuse to see, acknowledge, or read anything that hurts your belief. If Socrates was not of the belief that profits were a detriment beyond an obvious point why would he state that the Republic needed to regulate them? I realize that many people today have difficulty with critical thinking, but the Allegory of the Artisan makes the point very obvious. If you are having difficulty because Socrates does not use the specific term "profit" you are linguistically challenged.

The reason I brought up Friedman was is because you stated patents are good for society. Friedman was against monopolization which you argue for by advocating the patenting of ideas. He was also of the opinion that patents were by nature dubious and worked against the consumers, harmed entrepreneurs, hindered progress, and hurt innovation. He was not _for_ patents, but accepted that a minimalist approach was potentially beneficial.

No, it's not hard to prove that "idea" patents are bad for society. You claim it's hard because it harms your belief. No, I'm not surprised because you continue a very easy to spot trend.

The trend is that you continue arguing fantasy to support your belief. No, I won't quote all of Friedman's work any more than I will quote all of Socrates work simply because you are lazy. Go read what they wrote for yourself. You will learn a whole lot if you do, way beyond the bounds of what I could possibly try to do in the /. forums. To add to your list, go read historical arguments from court records regarding patents. Nothing we can argue today is different than any other point in history. The rich people continue to to try and trick people into believing that they should own everything and you should be a servant. Ignorant people that can't spot a fallacy that pokes them in the eye continue to rally to their call as good little servants.

Re:You see! (1)

s.petry (762400) | 1 year,18 days | (#44452425)

s/reflect/reflect\ well/

Re:You see! (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | 1 year,18 days | (#44454271)

Profit is the measurement of how efficiently an endeavor is providing what is needed and wanted. Therefore, it is not always evil and always has an element of good to it.

Thanks for explaining the tenets of your religion. Now, any time you want to discuss economics, let us know.

You're too cynical (4, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | 1 year,18 days | (#44449865)

Businesses are, by DEFINITION, primarily interested in profits.

Primarily but not exclusively. The degree of their interest depends very much on who is running the business. Even the biggest businesses have stakeholders whose interest is not in maximizing corporate profits - many employees of the company not the least among them. And a profit motive does not mean that a company cannot engage in social good at the same time. Sometimes the two will conflict but often they will not.

Furthermore there are not-for-profit businesses who typically have some sort of dominant social agenda to which profit is merely an enabler rather than a driving force.

Money is ALWAYS the bottom line. What we may interpret to be "good will" is nothing more than the business determining that is a better/easier/quicker way to make more money.

I disagree that money is "always" the bottom line. Often, yes. Usually, maybe. Always, no. If your assertion were true then there are a lot of corporate activities that make little sense, starting with charitable giving. (for the cynics among you, charity generally makes for a terrible ROI even if you think of it as marketing) Furthermore a profit motive can, and often does, align with a social good. The two are not fundamentally incompatible. Reducing energy use has both an environmental benefit and an economic one. Reforming patent law can accomplish the same thing.

Re:You're too cynical (1)

Colin Castro (2881349) | 1 year,18 days | (#44450399)

Business are not non-profit, those are organizations. If a company has stockholders their objective is to make as much money as possible, bottom line. Money is always the bottom line, charitable givings are a tax right off and good publicity, despite your complaints on return of investment. Companies give for exactly that reason, they don't donate to charity out of the bottom of their heart, they make press releases around it constantly. Patent reform as these companies want it, is to increase profits. It will invalidate many patents held by individuals as well as companies (some patent trolls, some not.) Individuals have patents that they allow others to use as long as it isn't for profit unless you pay them for use, then you can profit on it.

Re:You're too cynical (2)

lgw (121541) | 1 year,18 days | (#44452253)

You have a very simple model of businesses. It's easier to think about things if all of your models are very simple, to be sure, but it's not the best approach to getting the right answer.

Many strongly moral people own companies. Many strongly moral people own stock. Many strongly moral people run companies. It's not the norm, but it's about as common as strongly moral are in society in general.

Profits are a goal, to be sure. Companies exist that have no other goals, and no compunction whatsoever about hurting any number of people to make a profit, to be sure. But companies like that are not the norm, because most people: most owners, most bosses, most workers, have moral lines they will not cross.

Some companies do give to charity just to give to charity, not for some marketing return (and any tax writeoff just means it costs less to give that money away, never that you come out ahead). Many people give money to charity because they enjoy helping others, and some of those people own, run, and work for companies.

Thinking in terms of simple, black-and-white, wholly-good-or-wholly-evil models is simply childish.

Re:You're too cynical (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | 1 year,18 days | (#44453827)

tax write off

A tax write off benifits the charity not the donor. Say my company has $1,000. If I give it all away to charity the taxman asks for nothing, if I keep the $1,000 in my own pocket then the taxman will demands his cut (around $300 in the US). What that does is ensure that charitable donations go to the charity in full and is not counted as income by the taxman. From the company's POV, it makes no difference to the what the taxman does, they are still down $1,000.

Not for profits and charitable giving (1)

sjbe (173966) | 1 year,18 days | (#44455417)

Business are not non-profit, those are organizations.

Not-for-profits absolutely can be a form of business. Most are treated as a type of corporation by law and they can and do engage in many of the same practices as for-profit businesses. I've served on the board of several non-profits and with the better run ones you'd have to look carefully at times to tell that they are not profit seeking institutions. Lots of hospitals are non-profits but I assure you that they are without question businesses.

Money is always the bottom line, charitable givings are a tax right off and good publicity

Tax write offs due to charitable giving are typically not recovered dollar for dollar. Furthermore charitable donations typically have an extremely poor ROI as a marketing device. I'm an accountant and I've done the math. I think charitable giving is wonderful but under your (faulty) premise that companies are "always" trying to maximize profit, most charitable giving makes little sense if your only goal is to maximize profit.

Re:You're too cynical (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44451903)

Business can increase their profit (money) both by building a better product building themselves up (win-win e.g. product research, market research, efficient production) and by bringing the competition down (win-lose e.g. lock in, misinformation, legal shenanigans). Most businesses are a mixture of both. The second is always bad. Regulation tries to minimize it but there are so many ways to do it it's very hard to stop. And unfortunately, in an increasingly connected and complex world it seems that win-lose strategies are increasing.

It's up to each person to decide whether the good of the win-win strategies outweighs the bad of the win-lose strategies of any particular company.

Re:You see! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44449935)

Add this book [geolib.com] to your summer reading list. The author doesn't disagree with what you posted, but (probably?) comes to a different conclusion.

Re:You see! (1)

bkmoore (1910118) | 1 year,18 days | (#44451231)

Businesses, at least corporations, are required by law to maximize profits. Otherwise they are negligent in their fiduciary duties to their shareholders and could be sued for fraud.

Re:You see! (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | 1 year,18 days | (#44453729)

Businesses, at least corporations, are required by law to maximize profits

I hear this often but have never seen such a law. In simplistic terms the board of publicly traded companies are required to do what the shareholders (ie: the owners) tell them to do, normally they say "maximise profits" but not because it's required by law.

Re:You see! (3, Interesting)

Alomex (148003) | 1 year,18 days | (#44453325)

Businesses are, by DEFINITION, primarily interested in profits.

Not in Germany, where by law they must consider the social good as well.

Re:You see! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44449649)

corporate behavior is independent of good vs evil.

This is about saving the companies money, not doing "good".

 

Re:You see! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44450443)

Business is not always evil. In fact sometimes business interests are very good.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Groovey times (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | 1 year,18 days | (#44449623)

This will crush the groove of lots of lawyers -- lawyers who also donate. Watch the votes.

FTFA: Interesting consortium (3, Interesting)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | 1 year,18 days | (#44449661)

I wonder why the lack of Microsoft and Apple.

Amazon.com, Inc.
AOL Inc.
Dell Inc.
Demandware, Inc.
Dropbox Inc.
EarthLink, Inc.
eBay, Inc.
Eddie Bauer LLC.
Facebook, Inc.
Gilt Groupe, Inc.
Google Inc.
Hearst Corporation
HomeAway, Inc.
HTC Americas Inc.
J.Crew Group, Inc.
Netflix, Inc.
Newegg.com Inc.
Overstock.com
Priceline.com Incorporated
Public Service Enterprise Group Inc.
QVC Inc.
Rackspace Inc.
Red Hat, Inc.
Safeway Inc.
Salesforce.com Inc.
Samsung Electronics America
SAS Institute Inc.
Southern Company
Spotify USA Inc.
SurveyMonkey
Jewelry Television
The Kroger Co.
LinkedIn Corporation
Macyâ(TM)s, Inc.
Media Temple, Inc.
Morgan Stanley
Mozilla
Twitter, Inc.
Verizon Communications Inc.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Whataburger
XO Communications
Yahoo! Inc.
Zynga, Inc.

Re:FTFA: Interesting consortium (3, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | 1 year,18 days | (#44450195)

Amazon.com Inc.

Amazon is the very definition of very definition of a holder of a stupid Business Method patent. I'm now afraid that reform means what copyright reform meant in 1998.

Re:FTFA: Interesting consortium (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44452607)

referring to one-click, i'm guessing. that dates back to september 1999, so it's nearing its end. maybe that is why amazon in on-board this future so-called "reform" of business method patents?

Re:FTFA: Interesting consortium (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44453581)

Also note no IBM. IBM's business model now relies on billion dollar annual revenues from licensing patents, many of dubious validity ("but we have so many of them, some of them are bound to stick in court so you'd better license.")

Zzzzzz..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44449663)

Call me when IBM, Apple, and Microsoft sign the letter.

A Moment of Clarity (1)

Bob_Who (926234) | 1 year,18 days | (#44449689)

Can it be a sensible act of congress? Perhaps they will even revive ethics in business, a move in the right direction... can it be?

Re:A Moment of Clarity (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44451427)

It's a trap !!! A big plot b the NSA to turn the internet citizen limited attention span away from .

Re: A Moment of Clarity (1)

s.petry (762400) | 1 year,18 days | (#44453157)

Exactly! Them nerds was spending too much time discussing liburghty!

Amazon signed this? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44450197)

They're one of the worst offenders. Seriously. Bezos...license out, in free terms, your one-click patent and those like it and **MAYBE** we'll believe you on this score.

Business Method Patents... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44450495)

... should not even exist. This is stupid. If there are a limited number of practical ways of doing something, who's to say all of them have or have not been found? Why should one company have the privilege of using one of the few practical methods available. I almost wish Henry Ford could have done this with the assembly line (regardless of whether he was the first to come up with the idea, the only thing that matters is making it to the gov office first) - then people would realize what a stupid idea BMPs are.

More useless bullshit (4, Insightful)

SCHecklerX (229973) | 1 year,18 days | (#44450513)

Business methods should not be patentable, nor should software. Period.

Re:More useless bullshit (1)

steve79 (1368223) | 1 year,18 days | (#44451863)

This is very narrow minded. There's a reason the vast majority of every software company doing cool things is in the USA, which has protection for software innovations. If a new algorithm is novel and unobvious, why should it not be protectable?

Re: More useless bullshit (1)

s.petry (762400) | 1 year,18 days | (#44453177)

Because an idea is not an invention, it is an idea. The implementation of an idea is not an invention either, it is however literary in coding and protected by copyright.

Re: More useless bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44453599)

It seems that the majority here think that copyright shouldn't be enforced either, except for the terms of free software licenses like the GPL. And the reason is because... well, "information wants to be free", and besides, the vast majority of copyrights are controlled by coke-swilling limousing-riding hooker-banging technology-and-todays-society-ignorant fat middle aged executives.

So that means that a businessman would do well to ignore the rants posted here.

Money money money... (1)

3seas (184403) | 1 year,18 days | (#44450545)

What do these companies pay in taxes vs. the peoples tax payments. But I suppose as a matter of accountability is to also consider what these companies lobbyists put in politicians pockets.

Still, The people most probably pay a great deal more.... And with this, where is teh tax return paper work that allows the people to say where their taxes are to be used? Rather than corporate tax avoidance saying?

Patents that stifle or hinder benefits the people would otherwise have......

Patent Waterfall, Spiral, Agile, Lean, Kanban, etc (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44450669)

What's next talking to customers? Patent business method positions, VP, C-level, DMs, PMs, BAs, QAs, Dev, DevOps? Patenting the Business Creation processes (LLC, Inc, etc)? Well if you can't innovate legislate!

What's a "business method" patent? (1)

steve79 (1368223) | 1 year,18 days | (#44450887)

the vast majority of patents that "trolls" use to sue companies are not "business methods" -- I know everybody loves to hate business methods but the fact is nobody knows what a business method is, except in the most extreme cases (and such cases are very rare). Recent legislation did away with some kinds of things that might be called business methods (tax strategies being one). This is a fundamental problem -- most that bitch about business methods never define what they're talking about.

Re:What's a "business method" patent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44451381)

Try looking it up then. Here's what's being patented:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_method_patent [wikipedia.org]

It's ambiguous. True, no one describes it (any definition you give would be inadequate). As is said about law: it's a fractal. The more you try to define it, the more the defining line keeps changing / looking different. Business method patents in particular are even more ambiguous that copyrights because the latter actually has something you can see and compare whereas the former is a matter of interpretation by lawyers.

Re:What's a "business method" patent? (1)

steve79 (1368223) | 1 year,17 days | (#44456531)

I think you agree with me. Unless you can define what a BM patent is, you can't really regulate it. The best def. for BM patents I've heard is they are the ones you're being sued on that you really really hate.

Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44450985)

... grants the Patent and Trademark Office the power to challenge the validity ...

As I remember, the USA got this mess because big businesses argued the USPTO doesn't have the power to decide the validity of patent applications. In short, rent-seeking corporations fought to make patent rights a civil matter decided entirely by the courts.

Reform? Why not ban? (1)

edibobb (113989) | 1 year,18 days | (#44452351)

Why not completely abolish patents on business methods, along with patents on algorithms? Shouldn't patents be limited to inventions, as God and the spaghetti monster intended?

Translation: (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | 1 year,18 days | (#44452817)

Translation: "Make our business process patents sweeping, broad and invulnerable. Make everybody else's go away so we can file on them later and outright steal them. Oh, and backdating these patents would be lovely, if you get the chance..."

the patent office is out of its mind (1)

JustineM944 (3004807) | 1 year,18 days | (#44453607)

I despise the creeping over-reach of patent law, the obscene expense of actually getting a patent, the ridiculously low de facto standards of patentability, the difficulty and expense of challenging a competitor's patent that should never have been issued in the first place, and the all-too-convenient Slashdot attitude that patents should be eliminated in their entirety. Moreover, there is almost nothing I despise more than copycat business models, franchises, and turnkey businesses. Franchise owners are nothing but modern-day serfs who were tricked into giving up their money for a hard life that will never make them rich. They are ridiculously beholden to the corporation, and there is no way out but bankruptcy, because no one will ever buy the franchise for what they put into it.

They should call them ICBMs (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#44453677)

Mutually assured destruction!

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>