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Software Patent Reform Stalls Thanks To IBM and Microsoft Lobbying

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the politics-is-awesome dept.

Patents 239

An anonymous reader writes "The Washington post reports on the progress of a piece of legislation many hoped would address the glut of meaningless software patents used as weapons by patent trolls. Unfortunately, the provision that would have helped the USPTO nix these patents has been nixed itself. The article credits IBM, Microsoft, and other companies with huge patent portfolios for the change, citing an 'aggressive lobbying campaign' that apparently succeeded. Quoting: 'A September letter signed by IBM, Microsoft and several dozen other firms made the case against expanding the program. The proposal, they wrote, "could harm U.S. innovators by unnecessarily undermining the rights of patent holders. Subjecting data processing patents to the CBM program would create uncertainty and risk that discourage investment in any number of fields where we should be trying to spur continued innovation." ... Last week, IBM escalated its campaign against expanding the CBM program. An IBM spokesman told Politico, "While we support what Mr. Goodlatte's trying to do on trolls, if the CBM is included, we'd be forced to oppose the bill." Insiders say the campaign against the CBM provisions of the Goodlatte bill has succeeded. The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a markup of the legislation Wednesday, and Goodlatte will introduce a "manager's amendment" to remove the CBM language from his own bill. IBM hailed that change in a Monday letter to Goodlatte.'"

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Obama was telling the truth (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45474831)

NOT!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-the-gops-scary-movie-strategy/2013/11/19/41da73a4-5163-11e3-9e2c-e1d01116fd98_story.html

"the ones who join exchanges are likely to be older and sicker, making the insurance pool costlier to insurers. As Larry Levitt, a senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, explained to me, if costs are more than 3percent higher than anticipated in the first few years of Obamacare, the federal government will have to pick up at least half of the additional expense."

GOOD GRIEF!

And how about this:

http://hotair.com/archives/2013/10/03/mcafee-antivirus-founder-what-idiot-put-this-system-out-there/

"Obamacare, as currently configured, is a "hacker's paradise," according to MaAfee Anti-Virus founder and former owner John McAfee.

Is that scary? Does that discourage people from signing up?

Indeed it does. It's also true. Another security expert just called the site filled with "critical risks." CMS's former head of IT, Tony Trenkle, refused to certify the site as secure."

This is news? This is not a "Republican Strategy", this is what we call the TRUTH!

And those of us with brains who have looked at this have known this all along!

This is what Obama and the Democrats have been doing all along. The GOP has attempted to tell the public this would happen, but there has been little media interest in covering the story. The media simply assumed Obama was telling the truth and the GOP was lying and refused to look into the actual facts.

Well, now that these things do not require any reading or research to discover -- witnesses are coming forward -- the media cannot continue maintaining its pose that Obama was telling the truth.

He wasn't. He was lying. He was lying all along.

What a freaking farce.

Money again... (5, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#45474837)

FTA: An IBM spokesman told Politico, "While we support what Mr. Goodlatte's trying to do on trolls, if the CBM is included, we'd be forced to oppose the bill."

What about the hundreds of thousands of small developers who support it?

Do they get a "vote", too ... or is it only the people who are rich enough to bribe senators?

Re:Money again... (5, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#45474863)

If money is equal to speech then guess who as more speech than you.

Re:Money again... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45474961)

EPA Study: Mercury Levels in Women of Childbearing Age Drop 34 Percent

Data suggest women making more informed seafood choices

WASHINGTON — Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a study using data collected by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing that blood mercury levels in women of childbearing age dropped 34 percent from a survey conducted in 1999-2000 to follow-up surveys conducted from 2001 to 2010. Additionally, the percentage of women of childbearing age with blood mercury levels above the level of concern decreased 65 percent from the 1999-2000 survey and the follow-up surveys from 2001-2010.

During the survey period there was very little change in the amount of fish consumed. The decrease in the ratio of mercury intake to fish consumed suggests that women may have shifted are shifting to eating types of fish with lower mercury concentrations.

For the peer-reviewed study, Trends in Blood Mercury Concentrations and Fish Consumption among U.S. Women of Childbearing Age, NHANES (1999-2010), EPA analyzed measurements of blood mercury levels from CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. EPA found that blood methylmercury concentrations in women of childbearing age in the first survey cycle (1999-2000) were 1.5 times higher than the average concentration of the five subsequent cycles (2001-2010). The average of blood mercury concentrations changed only slightly from 2001 to 2010, and remained below levels of concern for health.

Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet because they are a source of high-quality protein, many vitamins and minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and are mostly low in saturated fat. A well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fish and shellfish can be beneficial for heart health and children's proper growth and development.

However, nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury. For most people, the risk from mercury by eating fish and shellfish is not a health concern. Yet, some fish and shellfish contain higher levels of mercury that may harm an unborn baby or young child's developing nervous system. The risks from mercury depend on the amount of fish and shellfish eaten and the levels of mercury in the fish. EPA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advise women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children to avoid some types of fish and to eat fish and shellfish that are low in mercury for the health benefits and to reduce exposure to mercury.

EPA and FDA advise:

- Do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish because they have high levels of mercury.
- Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) per week of a variety of fish and shellfish low in mercury.
- Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.
- Another commonly eaten fish, albacore ("white") tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. So, when choosing two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.
- Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught in local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) per week of fish caught from local waters, but don't consume any other fish during that week.
- Follow these same recommendations for young children, but serve smaller portions.

EPA and the FDA issued national mercury advisories on fish consumption in 2001 and 2004. The agency conducted an extensive national outreach campaign, including distributing millions of advisory brochures; translating information into Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Cambodian and Hmong; and providing materials to more than 150,000 doctors and healthcare professionals. EPA has also worked closely with state and tribal partners on developing and communicating risk and benefit messages related to consuming fish.

In 2013 EPA took two significant actions toward making fish and shellfish safer to eat. In June, the agency proposed new effluent guidelines for steam electric power plants, which currently account for more than half of all toxic pollutants discharged into streams, rivers and lakes from industrial facilities in the U.S. In April, EPA issued the new Mercury and Air Toxics rule, which sets emissions limitation standards for mercury emitted from power plants. Compliance with this rule may take up to four years.

More information: http://water.epa.gov/scitech/swguidance/fishshellfish/outreach/advice_index.cfm [epa.gov]

Re:Money again... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45475067)

If money is equal to speech then guess who as more speech than you.

Now now, all Americans are equal. Some are just more equal than others

Re:Money again... (1)

WilyCoder (736280) | about a year ago | (#45475231)

Four legs good two legs bad

Re:Money again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45475087)

Actually, I think IBM, Microsoft, and other companies are trying to make the argument that money causes innovation.

Oh the lies we tell ourselves...

Re:Money again... (2)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#45475111)

Actually, I think IBM, Microsoft, and other companies are trying to make the argument that money causes innovation.

Oh the lies we tell ourselves...

I think you meant to say "money crushes innovation"

Fixed it for you.

Re:Money again... (-1, Offtopic)

sideslash (1865434) | about a year ago | (#45475157)

If money is equal to speech then guess who as more speech than you.

That's a nice little oversimplification of the issue. The Supreme Court has ruled that you can't censor rich people from communicating via media campaigns, films, etc. Freedom is not supposed to guarantee equality of outcomes, just a lack of arbitrary restrictions. So what if rich companies can communicate more widely than you? I have a suspicion that you want to see some rich people or corporations censored because you disagree with their message. That is not OK.

The definition of a liberal is someone who doesn't care what the law is, as long as it is mandatory. Nanny states, government censors and controls. Ew, yuck.

Re:Money again... (3, Insightful)

Cenan (1892902) | about a year ago | (#45475285)

The problem is not the rich spending their money trying to influence policy, that is to be expected, similar to how we expect a prisoner to attempt escape if left unguarded. Human nature and all that bullshit. The problem is that it is possible to spend money to influence policy. Politicians who were not so easily bribed would secure an equal voice for any citizen, no matter their luck/skill in other things.

Re:Money again... (1)

kbolino (920292) | about a year ago | (#45475509)

People talk out of one side of their mouths that elections are the definitive voice of the people, and then complain out the other side that they don't like the outcomes. Money isn't the problem, people are. Governments have been allowed to accrue extraordinary powers in the name of "helping" people, but those powers can be turned to any purpose. Any power you grant to the government is one that your opponents can use against you.

Re:Money again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45475537)

I agree, which is why I favor an autocracy with me at the top, like Palpatine.

POWER UNLIMTED POWER

Re:Money again... (1)

kbolino (920292) | about a year ago | (#45475687)

Everybody imagines a perfect world governed by himself. The problem is that statistically, you're guaranteed to be one of the ones suffering in another guy's perfect world.

Re:Money again... (1)

countach (534280) | about a year ago | (#45476067)

Yeah, but it seems less objectionable to suffer under the will of the majority than under the will of the oligarchs.

Re:Money again... (2)

bob_super (3391281) | about a year ago | (#45475317)

There's a name for a system where only the rich get the ear of the politicians...

> The definition of a liberal is someone who doesn't care what the law is, as long as it is mandatory

You're responding to someone criticizing a ruling of the SCOTUS, which has force of law and therefore by definition mandatory. Your point?

Re:Money again... (1, Insightful)

sideslash (1865434) | about a year ago | (#45475715)

You're responding to someone criticizing a ruling of the SCOTUS, which has force of law and therefore by definition mandatory. Your point?

The SCOTUS ruling in question was a rarity in that it actually limited the power of government to tell people what they could or couldn't communicate. It was a win for freedom, and I cheer it. Any time the government says "we forbid the forbidding of freedom of speech" I'm OK with that being mandatory. Now back to you, sir -- your point?

Re:Money again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45475437)

Similarly, the definition of corruption is not caring what the law is, because it is optional.

Re:Money again... (4, Insightful)

Duhavid (677874) | about a year ago | (#45475595)

"So what if rich companies can communicate more widely than you?"

The "so what" is that they have a darned good whack at drowning out all voices but their own. Inherently undemocratic.
Money as speech seems, to me, to be taking us closer and closer to an authoritarian system.

"I have a suspicion that you want to see some rich people or corporations censored because you disagree with their message. That is not OK."

Agreement is not the issue, their message is not better than anyone else's, and does not deserve amplification.
I don't think that rich people, nor corporations ( who I think should be entirely outside of politics ), nor trade unions, nor teachers unions nor any organization deserve amplification.

You start with "That's a nice little oversimplification of the issue..." then have to go with:
"The definition of a liberal is someone who doesn't care what the law is, as long as it is mandatory..."
( an oversimplification )

Sigh. Is that really all there is to liberals? It is just as un-dimensional ( and inflammatory ) to say "The definition of a conservative is 'I got mine, up yours'".
Which I know not to be true of all or most, only true of some subset.
Here sits a liberal who detests nanny states, censors and undue controls.
And I do care what the law is, but also that the law be fair and fairly applied and reasonable.
( some control seems to be required, and I would argue both sides want controls, it is just a matter of who and what is to be controlled... )
For me, liberalism is caring more about people than institutions ( corporations, powerful people's , states, etc ).

Re:Money again... (-1, Troll)

sideslash (1865434) | about a year ago | (#45475843)

"So what if rich companies can communicate more widely than you?"

The "so what" is that they have a darned good whack at drowning out all voices but their own. Inherently undemocratic.

You can't make every YouTube video a viral hit. You can't make every citizen equally wealthy and influential. All you will do is undermine democracy by censoring some people. Communism causes more problems than it solves, news at 11.

Agreement is not the issue, their message is not better than anyone else's, and does not deserve amplification.

The cool thing about a free democracy is that neither you nor the government gets to decide who "deserves amplification". If the speaker spends his own money to get his message out, then only he gets to decide whether it's a worthwhile exercise or not. Isn't freedom great?

For me, liberalism is caring more about people than institutions ( corporations, powerful people's , states, etc ).

Your error is that you forgot that corporations are people, and are not owned by the government or the country at large. Of course corporations are not individual people, but they are owned by people, run by people, responsible to people, generate profits for people. It's people all the way down! And once again, you don't get to decide that those people don't get a political voice.

Re:Money again... (1)

Duhavid (677874) | about a year ago | (#45476563)

"You can't make every YouTube video a viral hit. You can't make every citizen equally wealthy and influential. All you will do is undermine democracy by censoring some people. Communism causes more problems than it solves, news at 11."

When did I say I wanted to? Not asking for Communism, asking for actual democracy not plutocracy.

"The cool thing about a free democracy is that neither you nor the government gets to decide who "deserves amplification". If the speaker spends his own money to get his message out, then only he gets to decide whether it's a worthwhile exercise or not. Isn't freedom great?"

It would be, if we had it. Why is it better that a few ( the wealthy/powerful ) get to chose who deserves amplification? Why are they better?

"Your error is that you forgot that corporations are people, and are not owned by the government or the country at large. Of course corporations are not individual people, but they are owned by people, run by people, responsible to people, generate profits for people. It's people all the way down!"

Your error is in not questioning if corporations should be people and what privileges should come with that for them if they are.
And all those people *already* have a vote and influence as the no-so-privileged, so the fact that they are run by people, etc is meaningless, except to point out that those persons get additional amplification, deserved or not.

"And once again, you don't get to decide that those people don't get a political voice."

Never said they should not get a political voice. I said they should not have a bigger voice than others.
Dont put words in my mouth.

Re:Money again... (1)

Beeftopia (1846720) | about a year ago | (#45476021)

"So what if rich companies can communicate more widely than you?"

The "so what" is that they have a darned good whack at drowning out all voices but their own. Inherently undemocratic.
Money as speech seems, to me, to be taking us closer and closer to an authoritarian system.

It's called "crony capitalism." The system had been growing for a long time, but was only publicly exposed with the financial crisis of 2008.

"Only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked." - Warren Buffett

Re:Money again... (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | about a year ago | (#45476075)

"So what if rich companies can communicate more widely than you?"

The "so what" is that they have a darned good whack at drowning out all voices but their own. Inherently undemocratic.

You mean, the way things were before widespread Internet access and personal web sites?

Re:Money again... (1)

Duhavid (677874) | about a year ago | (#45476655)

I mean the way things are right now.

If I have a political opinion, manage to host it, I wont have advertising dollars to get word out aside from my site.
I wont have much ability to cross link. Opponents of my opinion with money will likely manage to drown me out and make sure I am not cross linked much outside of small time "looks like you got quite a conspiracy going there" sites.
They can also SEO my site into /dev/null
And if they really dont like it, DDOS my site, buy the hosting company, or other shenanigans, and my site disappears.

Say I have a beef with a company....
I want to put up a website disparaging that company. True statements on that site will likely still see me in court.
How many law suites have there been recently against people who reviewed another party's work, etc and that other party didn't want that information/opinion public?

Re:Money again... (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about a year ago | (#45475767)

That's a nice little oversimplification of the issue. The Supreme Court has ruled that you can't censor rich people from communicating via media campaigns, films, etc.

That's the Citizen's United ruling. Just wait until the SCOTUS rules on McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission

Then the politicians will be completely up for sale.

Scalia's argument sarcastic comment about finance reform:

a law that only prohibits the speech of 2 percent of the country is O.K.

I'm glad he's looking out for the 98% that will be out spent. *cgh cgh*

Re:Money again... (-1, Troll)

sideslash (1865434) | about a year ago | (#45476035)

"Waaah, there are rich people who have more money than me. Make them stop putting up yard signs and making political movies, since I don't have enough money to do the same."

Re:Money again... (1)

erikkemperman (252014) | about a year ago | (#45475965)

SCOTUS decided that 1) campaign contributions are free speech and must be protected (not limited) and 2) corporations in this regard, as in many others, are considered to have the same protection as individual citizens.

The idea of limiting contributions is to prevent corruption, the buying of influence in the political process. In a democracy (democratic republic) worthy of the name, representation should be proportional to head count, not bank account or family name. Otherwise it is a plutocracy or aristocracy, respectively (amounting to the same thing mostly). You seem to be arguing that buying favour is no problem, perhaps even natural and just... Or do I misunderstand?

The idea that corporations are people is especially disastrous when it comes to their influence on democratic processes, because they are some if the most undemocratic structures around. Now the board, say a dozen or so individuals, get to wield amounts of "speech" which are way out of any proportion to their number.

This is why folks such as this IBM exec say things, deadpan, like "we will oppose this bill". Congress opposes bills, not you, Mr. Goodlatte (cool name though).

Too bad your otherwise reasonable post, much though I disagree, had to end with a mock definition and partisan cliche falsehood.

Re:Money again... (-1, Troll)

sideslash (1865434) | about a year ago | (#45476299)

You are wrong on several items in your post; let's pick a few.

1. If by "buying favour" you just mean spending money to communicate a message, then it shouldn't be censored. Speech should never be censored without a really good reason.
2. Here in the USA we spell it "favor".
3. The idea that corporations are people is not disastrous, it is simply true. Corporations are neither owned nor run by robots. You seem to be trying to make corporations be run and de-facto owned by the government, which is more worthy of Cuba or Venezuela than the USA.
4. Mr. Goodlatte is not an IBM executive, he is actually a member of Congress. ...A-a-a-and you have egg on your face.
5. What's wrong with opposing bills even when you're not a member of Congress? Are we not supposed to have opinions? Are we supposed to shut up about our opinions? Seriously, what in the world were you thinking in saying that only Congress may oppose bills?

Re:Money again... (1)

erikkemperman (252014) | about a year ago | (#45476673)

1. If by "buying favour" you just mean spending money to communicate a message, then it shouldn't be censored. Speech should never be censored without a really good reason.

No, I'm pretty sure I meant what I said, spending money to buy politicians, aka corruption.

2. Here in the USA we spell it "favor".

Good for you, I guess. I'm not a native English speaker and have a British spell checker apparently. Let's sidestep this thorny dispute and call it corruption.

3. The idea that corporations are people is not disastrous, it is simply true. Corporations are neither owned nor run by robots. You seem to be trying to make corporations be run and de-facto owned by the government, which is more worthy of Cuba or Venezuela than the USA.

It's simply "true"? I'm not even sure what that means. That they're not robots doesn't mean they are people. I'm not suggesting that governments run corporations, rather I'm suggesting that the opposite seems to be happening.

4. Mr. Goodlatte is not an IBM executive, he is actually a member of Congress. ...A-a-a-and you have egg on your face.

Ah, yes, my bad, as they say. I was sloppy in reading TFS. Still it was the IBM guy speaking of opposing the bill.

5. What's wrong with opposing bills even when you're not a member of Congress? Are we not supposed to have opinions? Are we supposed to shut up about our opinions? Seriously, what in the world were you thinking in saying that only Congress may oppose bills?

Opposing, as in voting against? I'm not sure I quite understand your indignation at my remark... Probably I'm using the wrong word?

Re:Money again... (1)

Internetuser1248 (1787630) | about a year ago | (#45476339)

The definition of a liberal is someone who doesn't care what the law is, as long as it is mandatory. Nanny states, government censors and controls. Ew, yuck.

liberal
/lib()rl/
adjective
adjective: liberal
1.
open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values.
"they have more liberal views toward marriage and divorce than some people"

favorable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms.
"liberal citizenship laws"synonyms: tolerant, unprejudiced, unbigoted, broad-minded, open-minded, enlightened; Morepermissive, free, free and easy, easygoing, libertarian, indulgent, lenient
"the values of a liberal society"
antonyms: narrow-minded, bigoted

(in a political context) favoring maximum individual liberty in political and social reform.
"a liberal democratic state"synonyms: progressive, advanced, modern, forward-looking, forward-thinking, progressivist, enlightened, reformist, radical More"a liberal social agenda"
antonyms: reactionary, conservative

noun
noun: liberal; plural noun: liberals
1.
a person of liberal views.


People who spout garbage in public and have no idea what they are talking about. Ew, yuck.

Re:Money again... (-1, Troll)

sideslash (1865434) | about a year ago | (#45476405)

Forgot to mention -- liberals also lack a sense of humor. There, now my definition is complete.

Re:Money again... (1)

kbolino (920292) | about a year ago | (#45475547)

Don't like money in politics? Don't vote for politicians who are easily bribed.

Re:Money again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45476195)

https://movetoamend.org/

Join, contribute, end the corporate takeover of America.

Money is not Speech
Corporations are not People

Re:Money again... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45474909)

Why would I listen to a bunch of ne'er-do-wells in the face of people who actually know how to generate money (ie, know how to generate tax dollars)?

When you bring something worthwhile to the table the government will listen. Until then you're just another cry baby trying to rip off people who know how to code for business.

Re:Money again... (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#45474963)

Why would I listen to a bunch of ne'er-do-wells in the face of people who actually know how to generate money (ie, know how to generate tax dollars)?

Don't know about Microsoft and IBM, but don't most big companies these days do everything they can to avoid 'generating tax dollars'?

Re:Money again... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45474913)

What about the hundreds of thousands of small developers who support it?

My favorite part about patent reform is that eventually it's going to pass, and all the small developers will run out and invent shit... and then promptly have it all ripped off by megacorps who make billions on their ideas, and the myopic developers go bankrupt.

And once again society painfully relearns the lessons that were learned centuries ago. Patents exist for a reason. Just because a few bad apples make things inconvenient some of the time, there's no reason to destroy the entire system.

Re:Money again... (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#45474935)

My favorite part about patent reform is that eventually it's going to pass, and all the small developers will run out and invent shit... and then promptly have it all ripped off by megacorps who make billions on their ideas, and the myopic developers go bankrupt.

If your 'idea' can be 'ripped off' that easily, it sure as heck doesn't deserve a government-granted monopoly.

Re:Money again... (4, Insightful)

suutar (1860506) | about a year ago | (#45475027)

One of the (theoretical) points of a patent is to reveal enough information about the idea and method for implementing it that someone else can do it. So 'ripping off' is pretty easy.

Re:Money again... (4, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year ago | (#45475095)

And one of the reasons patents exist is to encourage companies to reveal enough information so that somebody can implement it after the patent expires.
The problem is that patents neither reveal enough useful information nor expire when they could (theoretically) have been useful.

Re:Money again... (3, Insightful)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about a year ago | (#45475123)

Actually, disclosure serves more of a purpose in avoiding duplication than increasing public knowledge. France had a patent system without disclosure at one point, and it ended up making patents all but useless. If you could practice your invention and keep it secret for longer than 20 years, you'd be a moron to get a patent. The benefits of disclosure are not a theoretical increase in pubic knowledge, that's just a talking point made by patent apologists.

Re:Money again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45475555)

Wow. That's an incredibly interesting perspective. I studied patents at law school and have read a considerable amount of literature on the subject, but that's the first time I've heard it described that way, and it totally resonates. And it's so obvious, too. Wow.

(For the first time ever I wish I had created a Slashdot account in 1998 so I could mod this up. But I'm too stubborn--over 15 years of AC--to create one now so I hope others can mod Mr. Neckbeard up.)

Re:Money again... (1)

Duhavid (677874) | about a year ago | (#45475663)

"If your 'idea' can be 'ripped off' that easily, it sure as heck doesn't deserve a government-granted monopoly"

When one side has lots of money, and the other is struggling to make payroll, the idea becomes pretty easy to rip off.
See Stac Doublespace for one example.

Re:Money again... (2)

Solandri (704621) | about a year ago | (#45475781)

If your 'idea' can be 'ripped off' that easily, it sure as heck doesn't deserve a government-granted monopoly.

In innovative idea is frequently one which is obvious in hindsight. A friend of mine in Korea grew up with a bathroom which connected to the house, but it was essentially a detached room with no shared heating. For ventilation it had a simple fan mounted in the window, used only when needed because electricity was expensive. In winter this meant the bathroom got very cold and he hated having to use it.

He came up with a fan whose blades were spring-loaded. When the fan was off, the springs would snap the blades flat and it would block the opening. When the fan was on, centrifugal force on some counterweights would cause the blades to resume their normal fan-like angle, allowing it to push air. This allowed the bathroom to share heating with the house without losing heated air through a hole in the window, while retaining the ability to vent stinky air outside.

His idea is obvious in hindsight, but nobody had thought of it in the 50+ years they'd been using electric fans for ventilation. It's like learning something new in school - once you'd seen it work and gotten your mind past the assumption that the blades in a fan need to be fixed, it's dirt easy to understand and replicate even if you've never seen any internal schematics. Because of poor patent protection in Asia, there were Chinese knockoffs being sold within a year.

The main problems I see with patents are (1) overly broad descriptions which try to cover every possible solution to a problem, rather than describe a single implementation of a solution. This was what sunk the infamous Selden patent [wikipedia.org] . Selden was a patent attorney who tried to patent the concept of a gasoline-powered car. For almost a decade he succeeded and extracted huge royalties from the companies actually working on building and improving the automobile. His patent was eventually bypassed when Ford and other automakers pointed out the patent was for an engine using the Brayton cycle, while their engines used the Otto cycle. It was a technicality, but one that I think is important for patents to serve their purpose. You want people to dream up alternative solutions to the same problem.

And (2) re-implementation of ideas which already exist in other branches of engineering or physics. The NTP patent on "email over wireless cellular networks" which cost Blackberry 3/4 of a billion dollars is a great example. So is Apple's bounce animation patent, which is just an animated implementation of the step response of an underdamped second order linear system which has been known about for centuries. Or the XOR patent [xcssa.org] (yes, the USPTO granted a patent on one of the fundamental logical operators). A hardware example would be the patent on electronic time-delayed intermittent windshield wipers. The mechanical version had already been invented, and all the electronic version did was take the same feedback control system in the mechanical system, and implement it using electronic components.

If you made those two reasons grounds for immediately invalidating a patent, I think a lot of the problems with patents would go away.

Re:Money again... (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#45475071)

Patents do not protect small inventors. Small inventors do not have the millions of dollars it takes to deal with a patent suit (on either side) in court. They will always run out of money before IBM does. They also typically cannot devote the necessary man-years to the task.

Until that changes, the small inventor is better off if there are no patents at all. True, they're still screwed, but they're not quite as screwed.

Re:Money again... (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about a year ago | (#45475083)

Will you please stop perpetuating the myth that patents protect the little guy from the big corporation? It makes no sense that a legal monopoly would be a boon to small competitors. Corporations didn't even exist in a meaningful way when patent law was brought into existence. The intent was not to protect the little guy from the big guy, but to protect the little guy from a thousand other little guys who didn't have ideas.

Re:Money again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45475105)

The intent was not to protect the little guy from the big guy, but to protect the little guy from a thousand other little guys who didn't have ideas.

Another myth. The intent was to get the little guy so share his idea with thousands of little guys and to give him an incentive to do that.

Re:Money again... (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about a year ago | (#45475331)

I was talking about the intended means, not the intended purpose. The sharing of information likely wasn't anywhere near as big a factor (in theory) as the incentive for inventing in the first place.

Re:Money again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45476217)

Another myth. The intent was to get the little guy so share his idea with thousands of little guys and to give him an incentive to do that.

The intent was to get the little guy to share how he did something. Nobody gave a shit about his idea, because despite what so many idiots think, ideas are a dime a dozen and no matter how clever you think you are, somebody really has thought of yours before.

Putting an idea into practice can be quite a different matter, though, and patents were supposed to be a way of getting those who had figured out how to do something hard to tell others how they did it.

Re:Money again... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#45475159)

I'd suggest that the hundreds of thousands should stop being cynical about their ability to get positive change in washington and should contribute to a coalition that surely already exists instead.

Re:Money again... (2)

almechist (1366403) | about a year ago | (#45475175)

One of the comments below the main article is rather insightful in this regard:

LittleOlMe 12:51 PM EST What actually killed it, and most every other good idea, is a lack of public funding for all federal elections.

Re:Money again... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45476027)

You want less patent rights? So if you make any sort of clever or novel app, you have no right to its novel functionality beyond the code copyright, allowing Apple to include the functionality in the next version of iOS without any sort of credit to you, let alone payment, effectively driving your app out of business. Yes, where do I vote for that !?

Re:Money again... (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about a year ago | (#45476333)

Amazing, IBM. I've got an idea for a Watson project; Patent Troll Analysis.

My guess (5, Funny)

Lost Penguin (636359) | about a year ago | (#45474843)

Doesn't IBM hold a patent on patent reform?

Evil business model (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45474855)

They have to fight to preserve their evil business model.

They will squeeze every cent of Office and the Mainframe till they kill their business :)

Human nature? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45474873)

Is it simply human nature to attempt to dick over everyone else if you become unfathomably rich?

Why is this forever a struggle between the freedom of the poor and the freedom of one or two extremely rich people or organizations to fuck over everyone else?

Re:Human nature? (5, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#45474951)

It's probably because most large corporations are run by sociopaths. Sociopaths, because they have no empathy or conscience, are more easily able to rise to the top of power structures (if they're smart; the stupid ones become criminals and go to prison), so most of our political and corporate leaders are sociopaths. And since they have no conscience, they don't give a shit about anyone else except maybe immediate family, and happily use their power to try to fuck over everyone else for their own gain.

Re:Human nature? (2)

thoughtlover (83833) | about a year ago | (#45475325)

Please mod parent up...I'd do so if I had points. The Corporation [youtube.com] is a good example of a sociopathic entity that's run by sociopaths that claim no fault; the company can be the only 'person' to blame. What a weird world of hypocrisy an half-truths we live in.

Re:Human nature? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45475337)

It isn't personal. They have investors and have to generate money or be thrown away, like Steve Jobs was at some point. He learned the lesson, and others did. Balmer didn't learn good enough and see what happens. So that's the way business works. There is a counter force - politics. It is controlled by politicians (as you guess). In corrupt society politicians are themselves controlled by money and you see what's going on. There is another force to press politicians - public. When there is total control over mass media it doesn't work. Like in Putin's Russia today. Sadly the USA is slowly moving in the same direction, NSA becomes more like FSB (former KGB). It has dual functionality too, first is public safety, second is crowd control. Crowd control consists of total snooping and targeted pressure on certain individuals. Usually journalists and opposition.

Re:Human nature? (1)

gblfxt (931709) | about a year ago | (#45476583)

It's probably because most large corporations are run by sociopaths. Sociopaths, because they have no empathy or conscience, are more easily able to rise to the top of power structures (if they're smart; the stupid ones become criminals and go to prison), so most of our political and corporate leaders are sociopaths. And since they have no conscience, they don't give a shit about anyone else except maybe immediate family, and happily use their power to try to fuck over everyone else for their own gain.

they would not be able to get into power without the help of their underlings, who's more of a sociopath, the in-power sociopath or those who follow and support the sociopath?

Re:Human nature? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#45476619)

Stupid people are easily conned and led. That doesn't make them sociopaths, only gullible and stupid (and also probably lazy, apathetic, etc., all common human failings).

Re:Human nature? (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#45474957)

Is it simply human nature to attempt to dick over everyone else if you become unfathomably rich?

No. Becoming unfathomably rich usually requires being willing to dick over everyone else.

Re:Human nature? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45475653)

Warren Buffett managed to do it by buying struggling companies and saving jobs. At least, that's the simplistic version of it.

Also, while I agree that generally speaking if you want to get ahead you have to be prepared to step on people, anybody with a conscience would presumably become a progressive, supporting things like universal health care, universal education, and a basic income. Even if you're a monster, it would will still make it easier for your bleeding heart middle managers to fire employees, knowing that Little Timmy won't be put out on the streets, which should improve overall efficiency and productivity.

Re:Human nature? (3, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#45475179)

I'd suggest it's nature's nature, not specific to humans. Cells that are particularly good at growing and competing do the same thing in organisms. The bright side with those asshole cells is that when the host dies of cancer, the cancer cells die too.

Well, usually anyway. HeLa cells are like those asshole billionaires who ruin a country and then move before the depression ruins them.

Is that the same Washington Post ... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45474881)

... that's owned by Jeff "One Click" Bezos?

Where the guilt is (3, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#45474925)

If you use the word "bribing" instead of "lobbying" it becomes more clear who are the ones that screwed all there. Being governed by people that not only accept bribes, but is also not worried about that being known is almost as bad as citizens taking that as something normal.

Re:Where the guilt is (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#45475013)

The good part about this is that it makes a very nice list of who not to buy from. Of course, that doesn't help us with organizations like "Patent Office Professional Association", although I'm sure there's no conflict of interest there.

Re:Where the guilt is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45475085)

Yeah, and if you use the word "stealing" instead of "make infringing copies", that makes the latter sound a lot worse. But here on Slashdot, you're not allowed to do that, yet it's A-OK to redefine other words for our own feel-good* purposes, apparently?

Re:Where the guilt is (3, Insightful)

Rob Riggs (6418) | about a year ago | (#45475497)

Yeah, and if you use the word "stealing" instead of "make infringing copies", that makes the latter sound a lot worse. But here on Slashdot, you're not allowed to do that, yet it's A-OK to redefine other words for our own feel-good* purposes, apparently?

MAFIAA bribery (or "lobbying") resulted in corporations "stealing from the public domain". And they have managed to re-defined "fair use" as "DMCA violations". But you keep using whatever terms makes you feel good about that.

Re:Where the guilt is (1)

kbolino (920292) | about a year ago | (#45475587)

Let's say you hold a patent on something.

I build that something, with my own time and materials.

Now you get to steal it from me, in the name of your patent.

And you have the nerve to tell me I stole it from you?

Microsoft and IBM (4, Funny)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#45474939)

Protecting you from the future since 1976.

Re:Microsoft and IBM (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#45476679)

Amen! +10

obligatory reference to Disney vs Copyright terms (1)

themushroom (197365) | about a year ago | (#45474941)

Same shit, different property.

For those who are interested (5, Informative)

sconeu (64226) | about a year ago | (#45474967)

CBM means "Covered Business Method (patent)"

Re:For those who are interested (1)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about a year ago | (#45475241)

I thought it was a Continental Ballistic Missile.

Re:For those who are interested (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45476151)

I thought it was a Continental Ballistic Missile.

Heheheheh. Are you going to nuke yourself?

Re:For those who are interested (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45475335)

And here I was, thinking that Commodore Business Machines was being resurrected.

Entrenched "Innovators" (5, Insightful)

Dega704 (1454673) | about a year ago | (#45475001)

Translation: "We love the absurd and unfair amount of power that the broken patent system gives us over any and all future start-ups and rivals, and will oppose any legislation that doesn't maintain the status quo."

Re:Entrenched "Innovators" (1)

JWW (79176) | about a year ago | (#45475117)

Ok, then, if IBM and Microsoft want to do that, fine.

But I'm not going to have any sympathy when a patent troll takes them for $4 billion on a clearly bogus patent because the system is broken.

Re:Entrenched "Innovators" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45475727)

These guys are at the top of the food chain. Their risk is substantially less than the rest of us, and in any event they could take a $4 billion dollar hit. Microsoft burns that kind of cash just keeping their XBox developers warm.

All or nothing? (4, Insightful)

Theaetetus (590071) | about a year ago | (#45475225)

Translation: "We love the absurd and unfair amount of power that the broken patent system gives us over any and all future start-ups and rivals, and will oppose any legislation that doesn't maintain the status quo."

No - see the summary:

An IBM spokesman told Politico, "While we support what Mr. Goodlatte's trying to do on trolls, if the CBM is included, we'd be forced to oppose the bill."

The proper translation is "yes, we want to stop the troll problem, but this nuclear option you've got goes too far. We like all of your other proposals." Just because you don't like 5% of a proposal doesn't mean you necessarily hate 100% of the proposal.

Lobbying should be made illegal (2)

GerardAtJob (1245980) | about a year ago | (#45475009)

A company is, in theory, like a person so it should not have more power than a normal citizen : Lobbying should be considered the same as bribing : ILLEGAL.

Re:Lobbying should be made illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45475061)

The American People can't. Because the American people wants cheeseburgers and TV. Only.

Re:Lobbying should be made illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45475119)

Who's going to make it illegal? The guys who make a large profit from lobbying(bribes)?

Re:Lobbying should be made illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45475149)

I disagree because if it were illegal, then it would prevent us normal schmoes from lobbying - like petitioning your own congressmen and others on Capital Hill.

I AM all for putting K Street out of business but that would be a First Amendment violation and therefore I am not for it - if that makes any damn sense.

Anyway it's not REALLY the lobbying - it's the strings attached. IBM and Microsoft have a LOT of power and fundraising ability. And that whole Citizen's Untied buillshit just gave them even MORE power.

That's where the corruption is. "Listen career politician, we'll make sure that your opponent gets ALL of our backing and ANY skeletons in your closet WILL be exposed. Got it BIATCH?!"

John McCain has been trying to do something about this for decades and I dream of the day where he finally flips his lid and just really let's go and outs ALL of the horseshit on the HIll!

Re:Lobbying should be made illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45475259)

The problem with this is that legitimate lobbying serves an essential role to curb the government, preventing it from having too much power. Unfortunately, the giga-corporations exploit it to force through tons of small little things that no one would care about unless they were being paid to do so.

Though, your argument doesn't really hold water because they are just like a person. An individual with trillions of dollars could push just about anything through the US government, single handed.

Big guys are trolls too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45475043)

Just because they sell a product doesn't mean they should be able to keep out new players. I thought patents were supposed to protect the small guy so he can make some money before a corporation scales his idea faster? Why should the corporations be allowed to hold a bazillion patents on lots of obvious things that prevent the small guy from entering the arena? Oh yeah, they have money and bribe congressmen...

And SONY!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45475059)

Sony is also in that list VIA OnLive...
(fucking cowards!!!)

THIS NEWS JUST IN !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45475063)

And you thought it would not happen in your lifetime !!

Jesus has just left Chicago !!

AND

He is bound for New Orleans !!

You heard it on /. first !! Because this is stuff that matters !!

Same old same old (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#45475089)

The whole world being held back for the benefit of the few. It will be the defining characteristic of this period in history.

In Soviet Amerika people have no rights (4, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#45475099)

Welcome to serfdom, comrade!

You need to wake up and do something about it! (4, Interesting)

zaroastra (676615) | about a year ago | (#45475101)

Most people on this forum are IT related, and I do not need to explain how software patents in particular hinder the ability to innovate in the field.
Only the US has terror histories regarding patent trolls and patent dicksizing contests between software companies, which in no way help you be better, faster, and, I would even say more profitable (Lawyers being the only ones profiting out of this)
There is no room for software start ups because of this. Everything that could be patented already is (and a lot that shouldn't is too).
Here, in software patent free world, it's so much better. Whatever you can think of you can do it, and even if you cannot find a solution, you can google for it, code it, and that's it. No lawyers or burocracies needed.
This is a clear situation of the big fish creating rules to eat the small fish. Is that the world you want to live in?

(the same could be applied to the rest of patents, and even things outside patents like equality and justice, but I will stay out of it to keep on topic)

So here we have an example of our crossroads... (2, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | about a year ago | (#45475131)

So, our choices are apparently either:
- an overbearing nanny state in which the government makes all the decisions, or
- a weak state in which the corporations make all the decisions.

Great. That really illustrates why frustrated people turn to Caesarism, and faith in a single strong personality given despotic powers to "fix the mess".

Unfortunately, while you might get lucky and ACTUALLY get a Gaius Marius or someone genuinely interested in the general well-being of the people and nation, *rarely* is that ever sustainable to whomever inherits (earns/steals/etc) that power next....(Marius himself - in pursuit of very-much-needed reforms - could arguably be blamed for turning the Republic into the Empire)

Re:So here we have an example of our crossroads... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45475671)

Choices!? We don't have no stinking choices. The decisions to which you refer are made for us by elected oafishials who are put to the task of governing by a class of people more interested in IBM as a member of the Dow Industrials than IBM as a determinant factor of the quality of society.

If Free Market Fundamentalists actually believed in a free market system, we wouldn't need to glorify a seriously broken, uncompetitive business framework which increasingly raises the barriers for entry and stifles individuals without wealthy backers from participating or innovating. Wall Street likes it that way, and without campaign reform and far better education the US is headed for the backwater of China's wake.

Re:So here we have an example of our crossroads... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45475879)

The corporations get to make all the decisions *because* of the overbearing nanny state, not in opposition to it. A government that didn't have to the power to award favors to businesses, wouldn't be worth lobbying by those businesses and thus be far more accountable to The People.

CBM is not the answer. (4, Insightful)

Spazmania (174582) | about a year ago | (#45475421)

I'm strongly in favor of patent reform, but CBM is not the answer. CBM allows a subset of patents to be challenged administratively on a fast-track, without having to go to court. That hurts the patent trolls, but it hurts anybody without a phalanx of lawyers even more.

Real patent reform has three key parts:

1. Fix "obviousness." The courts didn't like the examiner affirmatively finding that something was obvious so turn it around and require the applicant to justify why anyone of average skill seeking the same result would not have found the same method. Require the examiner to affirmatively find that it isn't obvious. No justification = no patent.

If anybody asked to do X would have tried your approach and X itself doesn't supply the genius either then no patent should be granted. Nor should a minor tweak on something you or somebody else already invented receive a patent. There are too many "routine inventions" receiving patents.

2. A person of average skill in the art should be able to implement the technology from the contents in the patent. Start rejecting packets where that isn't true. Vague or stilted language in the application = no patent.

3. Patent duration should be from application, not from the grant. Effective protection starts with the application. You can't sue anybody until after the grant, but no one dares use the tech unless they're sure the patent won't be granted. That's been abused by delaying the final grant for years or even a decade.

Re:CBM is not the answer. (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | about a year ago | (#45475989)

Real patent reform has three key parts:

1. Fix "obviousness." The courts didn't like the examiner affirmatively finding that something was obvious so turn it around and require the applicant to justify why anyone of average skill seeking the same result would not have found the same method. Require the examiner to affirmatively find that it isn't obvious. No justification = no patent.

Unfortunately, I think you're asking someone to prove a logical negative: the applicant has to prove that something isn't obvious by showing... what, exactly? Definitive proof that no one has ever thought of the something?

2. A person of average skill in the art should be able to implement the technology from the contents in the patent. Start rejecting packets where that isn't true. Vague or stilted language in the application = no patent.

3. Patent duration should be from application, not from the grant. Effective protection starts with the application. You can't sue anybody until after the grant, but no one dares use the tech unless they're sure the patent won't be granted. That's been abused by delaying the final grant for years or even a decade.

These are both good suggestions, and, of course, they're already in the statutes. 35 USC 112 requires that the patent have a written description that enables one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention. And patent term is calculated as 20 years from filing (or 20 years from the earliest priority date, if the application claims priority to an application before its filing date).

Re:CBM is not the answer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45476177)

This is like fixing slavery by writing laws that:

1) Slave must stay working for his master as long he's getting 3 meals a day and a bath once a week
2) Slave can go anywhere and rest as long as it does not collide with his duties to work for his master
3) Slave has right to have children if the children inherit the duties to work for his master

Abolish the patents all together, this is the only reasonable option.

This is why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45475661)

Lobbying should be illegal.

Now we see who the real patent trolls are (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45475953)

Yes IBM, Microsoft et al. are posers and are the biggest trolls. They hold their cache of patents as a sort of Plan B in case a competitor comes along with a truly novel idea and product that they couldn't make happen themselves and leech off of these guys by looking for ways to suck some money out of them - and usually it's the little guys - the start-ups - that get screwed by the patent system that was supposed to protect them from these monsters.

I voted for Asimo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45476401)

Fuck the fucking fucks!

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