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Inventor Has Waited 43 Years For Patent Approval

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the just-a-bit-longer dept.

Patents 258

An anonymous reader writes "If you think the average wait of 28.3 months for a patent to be approved is ridiculous, don't complain to Gilbert P. Hyatt. The 76-year-old inventor has been waiting over forty years for a ruling on whether his electronic signal to control machinery should be granted a patent. 'It's totally unconscionable,' said Brad Wright, a patent lawyer with Banner & Witcoff in Washington who specializes in computer-related applications and isn't involved in Hyatt's case. 'The patent office doesn't want to be embarrassed that they might issue a broad patent that would have a sweeping impact on the technology sector. Rather than be embarrassed, they're just bottling it up.'"

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I'm sure the government has learned from this. (-1, Troll)

drainbramage (588291) | about 5 months ago | (#46383947)

I'm sure the government will take this as a lesson and any issues people have with obama-care will be resolved rapidly.

Re:I'm sure the government has learned from this. (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46383975)

I don't give a fuck about the problems with Obama-care, but I do care about the problems with ./ beta

Re:I'm sure the government has learned from this. (1)

CheezburgerBrown . (3417019) | about 5 months ago | (#46383993)

There is a joke in there somewhere.

And that joke is Harry Reid (0, Offtopic)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 5 months ago | (#46384779)

Harry Reid called all the people with complaints about ObamaCare liars.
In Dilbert-land, Wally was all: "Genius!"

Companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46383969)

Every company that uses any kind of automation would have to pay him.

Re:Companies (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384115)

It's too bad the patent office doesn't drag their feet like this for obvious patent trolls like Apple.

Re: Companies (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384461)

It's too bad the patent office doesn't drag their feet like this with patent trolls like Google. -there, fixed that for ya.

Re:Companies (1)

craigminah (1885846) | about 5 months ago | (#46385059)

Why would they since he doesn't have a patent...can't be retroactive.

That's one heck of a very **BROAD** Patent ! (4, Interesting)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 5 months ago | (#46383977)

Haven't carried out a detail search on the said patent, but if TFA's description is to be believable

electronic signal to control machinery

...that gonna be one heck of a very broad and very VERY valuable patent !!

'The patent office doesn't want to be embarrassed that they might issue a broad patent that would have a sweeping impact on the technology sector. Rather than be embarrassed, they're just bottling it up.'

Oh sure! With the issuance of that patent now many manufacturers / users of devices that use that technology may start receiving lawyer's letter demanding $$$, if that patent ended up being sold to some patent trolls.

Re:That's one heck of a very **BROAD** Patent ! (5, Informative)

eclectro (227083) | about 5 months ago | (#46384061)

Haven't carried out a detail search on the said patent,

You won't be able to, either. The article states that due to age of the patent, the application is confidential.

Without seeing the application, it's difficult to tell what its validity is. But when this patent application was filed in 1971, electronic control of machinery was already quite widespread. So, it would have to be quite specific about its implementation. Then there is the question of making companies pay for something they knew nothing about.

In the end, congress would have the power to invalidate this patent outright, if they wanted to.

Re:That's one heck of a very **BROAD** Patent ! (5, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about 5 months ago | (#46384181)

Hyatt refers to it as his square wave machine control patent.
But that's about all that is known.

I'd speculate It would flow out of his digital processors patents, and probably has something to do with controlling motors with a microprocessor via pulse width modulation [wikipedia.org] or some such other common technique.

His problem is that the world plus dog independently discovered a variety of means to do the same thing in the interval since his first filing, if for no other reason than once you have a microprocessor (which he also invented), it is the obvious and natural way to control external devices.

Still, patents should be granted or denied. No reasonable excuse to sit on this forever. No way should the PTO get a "pocket veto" authority.

Re:That's one heck of a very **BROAD** Patent ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384253)

The article states that due to age of the patent, the application is confidential.

You mean the patent is not patent?

Re:That's one heck of a very **BROAD** Patent ! (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 5 months ago | (#46384167)

This is Slashdot. Nothing written here about patents is believable.

Re:That's one heck of a very **BROAD** Patent ! (3, Funny)

Blue Stone (582566) | about 5 months ago | (#46384183)

>Nothing written here about patents is believable.

From broad patents to sweeping statements. /. has it all.

topic != claims (2)

raymorris (2726007) | about 5 months ago | (#46384235)

Just because that's the topic the patent is related to doesn't mean he's trying to patent the entire topic.

Re:topic != claims (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384409)

And did YOU read the patent app, Mr. Cock Sucker? Did you? Ass hat? Mr I Know It All? Did YOU read the Patent? DID YOU?

Re:That's one heck of a very **BROAD** Patent ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384245)

'The patent office doesn't want to be embarrassed that they might issue a broad patent that would have a sweeping impact on the technology sector. Rather than be embarrassed, they're just bottling it up.'

Oh sure! With the issuance of that patent now many manufacturers / users of devices that use that technology may start receiving lawyer's letter demanding $$$, if that patent ended up being sold to some patent trolls.

They _do_ have the option of denying the patent. It's not like the only two options are issuing the patent or delaying indefinitely.

Re:That's one heck of a very **BROAD** Patent ! (2)

shentino (1139071) | about 5 months ago | (#46384477)

Apparently, they want to stall, becuase if they deny the patent it could be appealed in court.

So, they just sit on it.

Re:That's one heck of a very **BROAD** Patent ! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46385021)

Kind of like how the IRS doesn't decide on your 503c(4) application. No decision, no appeal.

Re:That's one heck of a very **BROAD** Patent ! (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 5 months ago | (#46384663)

Don't they need a reason to deny it?

Re:That's one heck of a very **BROAD** Patent ! (1)

radarskiy (2874255) | about 5 months ago | (#46384285)

"if TFA's description is to be believable"
Why should this be a matter of speculation? You can look at the claims yourself.

Of course we can be fairly sure that what has happened is that somebody read only the abstract of the patent application and took the most extreme interpretation they could think of on the spot, because reading the actual claims looks like work.

Re:That's one heck of a very **BROAD** Patent ! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384505)

But no one outside the patent office has seen the application, or the abstract, or anything.

It's all secret, because it's so old. As explained in TFA.

Re:That's one heck of a very **BROAD** Patent ! (3, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 5 months ago | (#46384867)

"if TFA's description is to be believable" Why should this be a matter of speculation? You can look at the claims yourself.

Unfortunately, we can't. From TFA:

Because the filings are so old, they fall under a law that keeps them confidential, said Patrick Ross, a PTO spokesman. That means the office can't discuss them or even say how many pending patent applications predate a 1995 change in the law, Ross said.

How could it be valid? (1, Informative)

DarkOx (621550) | about 5 months ago | (#46384003)

Seems like prior art should be easy to find, people have had relays on things longer than 43 years, or is this patent going to try and distinguish between electronic and electromechanical controls?

Re:How could it be valid? (4, Interesting)

ThatAblaze (1723456) | about 5 months ago | (#46384203)

Well, it can be valid if it covers a set of methods relating to how to use relays.

This guy seems to only want the patent so he can sell it to patent trolls. It seems that the patent office doesn't want to deny the patent because they know that as soon as they do he'll sue (again). I wouldn't call this guy an inverter, I would call him another part of the patent troll machine.

Re:How could it be valid? (0)

chrismcb (983081) | about 5 months ago | (#46385083)

. I wouldn't call this guy an inverter,

Why not? Just because he licenses the things he invents? Or do you believe an inventor should also be the producer?

Re:How could it be valid? (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | about 5 months ago | (#46385095)

his guy seems to only want the patent so he can sell it to patent trolls

To be fair, at 74, I don't think he really has any other option to try to monetize it. He doesn't have that long to enjoy the trophy wife the millions will get him.

Re:How could it be valid? (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 5 months ago | (#46384209)

You don't know what his patent claims, aside from the oversimplification in the summary.

Re:How could it be valid? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384407)

Maybe not, but I do know that all patents are garbage.

Re:How could it be valid? (1)

ThatAblaze (1723456) | about 5 months ago | (#46384573)

You don't know what his patent claims, aside from the oversimplification in the summary.

And what's your point.. or were you just stating the obvious?

Since it appears that no one knows specifically what the patent contains it's really no more than a nebulous threat to claim ownership over something that someone else did. It may or may not manifest in the future, and if it does then it was impossible for anyone in the present to know whether something they are building today infringes on it. No matter what this patent contains if it was ever granted it would be a complete abuse of the patent system.

Re:How could it be valid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384811)

It could credibly be a threat to something somebody reverse-engineered out of a product duly labelled patent-pending.

A 43-year wait on a patent whose lifetime can't even be half that long at most is pretty wild. Just give a final-no-takesy-baksies denial after, I don't know, 7 years or something.

Re:How could it be valid? (2, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 5 months ago | (#46384237)

This guy invented the microprocessor, holds over 70 patents, is a self made millionaire (maybe billionaire) and has successfully sued the state of California for nearly $400 million because they tried to extort taxes he didn't owe out of him. So far, everything he's done relating to tech has been righteous imo, let's cut him some slack.

http://www.forbes.com/2008/08/... [forbes.com]

Re:How could it be valid? (1)

Pseudonym (62607) | about 5 months ago | (#46384369)

Yeah, we're not talking about Lemelson here.

Re:How could it be valid? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384383)

The guy submits wildy broad patents and wants to use them to sell to patent trolls. Fuck cutting him some slack, just reject the damn patents already.

This guy invented the microprocessor (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384443)

No, he didn't.

Re:How could it be valid? (5, Informative)

Arker (91948) | about 5 months ago | (#46384579)

He did not invent the microprocessor.

He filed a fanciful patent application describing the possibility, waited until someone else figured out how to make it reality, then sued them.

He might be the patent troll patient zero.

Re:How could it be valid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384873)

This is the guy who claims he invented the microprocessor! He'd be charging us a tax for other people's work if he had his way. He should be shot and his corpse left in the street for wild dogs.

Re:How could it be valid? (2)

Trogre (513942) | about 5 months ago | (#46384877)

Really? Is Gilbert P. Hyatt just a pseudonym used by Jack Kilby?

Re:How could it be valid? (5, Informative)

Raenex (947668) | about 5 months ago | (#46384889)

This guy invented the microprocessor

Under dispute. Actually, he eventually lost his patent, but not until after he managed to extract millions in licensing fees from it. An anti-Hyatt [intel4004.com] page.

successfully sued the state of California for nearly $400 million because they tried to extort taxes he didn't owe out of him

Whether he owes them or not is still not settled. He won money from California on the basis of a Nevada jury for California's auditory process. The bottom line is that he moved to Las Vegas to avoid California taxes from his license windfall.

So far, everything he's done relating to tech has been righteous imo, let's cut him some slack.

From the article: "While some of Hyatt's patents predate or are contemporary with those granted to executives at Intel and Texas Instruments Inc., those companies made products that changed the world, Bassett said.

"I respect Gilbert Hyatt's work -- the process of engineering is difficult," Bassett said in a telephone interview. "But innovations are more than ideas. The broader context matters. If Gilbert Hyatt had never existed, I believe the microprocessor would have developed in the same way that it did.""

Re:How could it be valid? (2)

Hadlock (143607) | about 5 months ago | (#46385111)

The patent for the Teletype machine was issued in 1907, any variation thereof, up to and including paper punch cards would probably invalidate the patent.

Seriously (4, Insightful)

tarogue (84626) | about 5 months ago | (#46384013)

But they'll let Amazon patent "one-click" shopping?

Re:Seriously (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 5 months ago | (#46384161)

Don't you know that corporations and the "elite" have more privileges and rights than lowly peons like this inventor?

Re:Seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384205)

Don't you know that corporations and the "elite" have more privileges and rights than lowly peons like this inventor?

He's made over 150 million dollar on just one of his patents.

Lowly indeed.

Although, for someone with his talent and skill, I can't fault him. It's not like he created some dipshit webshit that allows its users to have their own website that pimps user's data and made billions after going public.

Marketing, gathering user data, and selling that data (Facebook and Google) is worth more according to the free markets than actually creating new and innovative technology.

No, Google glass is NOT new and innovative technology.

Re:Seriously (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#46384177)

Believe it or not, there are some people out there who believe that the Amazon one-click patent is a good patent. Sarten-X [slashdot.org] is one user who will defend Amazon's patent as being 'non-obvious' (as far as I can tell, he mainly claims that it's non-obvious because there was non exact prior art. Which isn't the same as being non-obvious, but that's how he feels).

Re:Seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384433)

Sarten-X ? who tf is Sarten-X ?

Re:Seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46385143)

Sarten-X ? who tf is Sarten-X ?

He's a guy who takes money from Amazon to post pro-Amazon comments here and in other places on the web. More commonly known as a "Shill".

Re:Seriously (3, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about 5 months ago | (#46384721)

The patent was on the business practice previously called "put it on my tab".

But all that is more proof that what should be banned is the ability to patent a process or business plan. Patent objects, or the plans to build them. Not software, not math, not genes, unless you invent a machine that does something with them. If you can tell someone the result (one click) and the rest of the process is easily guessable, it's obvious. Much like "sweat of the brow" doesn't determine copyrighability, just thinking up something new isn't sufficient for a patent.

Now all we need to do is convince the patent office of this simple truth.

Re:Seriously (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | about 5 months ago | (#46384885)

Apparently I had been going around with an inaccurate idea of how bar tabs work for 29 years (clearly I don't frequent bars). I was going to call you on that but background research shows that it really is the same thing.

I'm not entirely convinced the object thing is the right answer, though. I think it's possible to generate a nontrivial non-obvious useful process which is as useful as a nontrivial non-obvious useful mechanism. Certain crypto stuff, for instance, seems like it should be neither more nor less patentable than a novel mechanism for making a physical lock, even though it has a mathematical/software basis.

He sounds like a dick (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 5 months ago | (#46384019)

He pissed the patent office off and sued them, now his patents get delayed.
California asked him for taxes on his millions, he sued them for even more.

Dick? Maybe, but not your classical patent troll. (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 5 months ago | (#46384185)

FTR, FTA, he won a $388 million lawsuit against the State of California for harassment and invasion of privacy, which is now being reviewed in the SCOTSO Nevada.

We could, and often do, argue all night whether the patent system should cease to exist in it's current form.

For the purposes of this argument, we are forced to stipulate that it presently exists. This is about a government patent office holding a grudge against an inventor for friggin' decades.

Re:Dick? Maybe, but not your classical patent trol (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384271)

This is about a government patent office holding a grudge against an inventor for friggin' decades.

Oh come on! Talk about the culture of complaint, whinge, whine, they're all against me ... Whatever happened to the good old fashioned virtue of Patience. "All good things come to those who wait." In this case they guy only had to wait ... what was it? ... Oh, right ... yeah.

Nice weather we've been having lately, isn't it?

Re:Dick? Maybe, but not your classical patent trol (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about 5 months ago | (#46384451)

"SCOTSO", is that some Scottish demonym?

Quit making up cutesy acronyms that not even a google search reveals.

Re:Dick? Maybe, but not your classical patent trol (1)

Ecuador (740021) | about 5 months ago | (#46384633)

In case you are not joking, he means "Supreme Court Of The State Of". Americans love their acronyms for whatever reason even if it makes communication much harder. This specific example was modeled after the common acronym SCOTUS (Supreme Court Of The United States), so people who know that could understand (screw the rest). In fact, SCOTUS is one of the more "appropriate" acronyms, as it actually means "Darkness" in Greek, which is where the current SCOTUS is taking us...

Re:Dick? Maybe, but not your classical patent trol (2)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about 5 months ago | (#46384703)

Nevada's Supreme Court would have sufficed then. I guess some people like typing in all caps...

Re:Dick? Maybe, but not your classical patent trol (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384635)

SCOTSO is the state equivalent of the federal SCOTUS. Pretty clear extension of POTUS/SCOTUS terminology. You sir, are a nitpicker.

Re:Dick? Maybe, but not your classical patent trol (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about 5 months ago | (#46384673)

scotus, potus - again sounds like hocus pocus to me.

But, whatever...

Re:Dick? Maybe, but not your classical patent trol (1)

RandomFactor (22447) | about 5 months ago | (#46384921)

scotus, potus - again sounds like hocus pocus to me.

But, whatever...

All right, some budding musical genius make that into a song.

Re:Dick? Maybe, but not your classical patent trol (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 5 months ago | (#46385071)

Supreme court of the state of oregonahomaho? Why didn't you say so?

Re:Dick? Maybe, but not your classical patent trol (1)

Hadlock (143607) | about 5 months ago | (#46385145)

SCOTUS is bog-standard, IANAL but AFAIK you should be able to figure out SCOTSO Nevada. If he had said SCOTSN you might have had a point. IMHO.

Re:Dick? Maybe, but not your classical patent trol (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 5 months ago | (#46384695)

Which is interesting in light of the 11th amendment

Re:Dick? Maybe, but not your classical patent trol (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 5 months ago | (#46384745)

Doesn't change the fact he owed taxes and wasn't paying them.
Never said he was a troll, just a dick.
Perhaps if he was nice to people he'd be a billionaire by now.

Re:He sounds like a dick (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384561)

Sounds like a dick?

In the USA you have a right to be a dick! Otherwise most of the population would be in jail.

And it isn't unreasonable to expect the govt to follow the law, and to seek redress in the courts when the govt doesn't follow the law.

Jerk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384033)

He's trying to patent controlling machines electronically, the only reason it hasn't been rejected is so that he can't appeal. I agree this isn't a good way for the government to behave and oppose it on that grounds but I have zero sympathy for someone who apparently wants to make today's patent trolls look like mere children. (And any law that would allow him to claim historical royalties for a patent application that was confidential is retarded.)

Re:Jerk (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 5 months ago | (#46384191)

So basically they're keeping it in limbo on purpose.

Re:Jerk (1)

ATMAvatar (648864) | about 5 months ago | (#46384499)

Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence. If ever there was a case for incompetence, it is with the patent office.

The only thing they did wrong (2)

folderol (1965326) | about 5 months ago | (#46384077)

... was not telling him to bugger off 43 yeasrs ago. That was in 1971. As a trainee I was working on aligning servo motor controls in 1967 - it used them thar new-fangled transisitor things {bloody wickless wonders}

not in all cases (1, Troll)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 5 months ago | (#46384079)

"The patent office doesn't want to be embarrassed that they might issue a broad patent that would have a sweeping impact on the technology sector."
Unless you're Apple. Then they're like "ROUND CORNERS? ARE YOU A WIZARD?" *granted*

Re:not in all cases (0)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 5 months ago | (#46384199)

Well done.

He patented the microprocessor, too (4, Informative)

don.g (6394) | about 5 months ago | (#46384081)

As Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microprocessor#Gilbert_Hyatt) says:

    Gilbert Hyatt was awarded a patent claiming an invention pre-dating both TI and Intel, describing a "microcontroller".[9] The patent was later invalidated, but not before substantial royalties were paid out.[10][11]

And from http://www.intel4004.com/hyatt... [intel4004.com] :

    "This patent was later invalidated in a patent interference case brought forth by Texas Instruments, on account that the device it described was never implemented and was not implementable with the technology available at the time of the invention. "

I know that 1990 (when that microprocessor patent was granted) is pre-Slashdot, but srsly, what's happening when patent trolls' whinging is front page news here?

He's waited 43 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384093)

Not "43-years". Bonus points for not saying "28.3-months", and for getting "76-year-old inventor" correct.

Re:He's waited 43 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384623)

I'm continuously amazed and intrigued by geeks who can program in about 25 utterly different languages and paradigms and can pump out reams of correct code at about 160 wpm while listening to music, but throw them an apostrophe or a hyphen and it all falls apart.

Parasitic Rentiers (5, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 5 months ago | (#46384095)

What value has this man added to a single piece of equipment sold in the last 40 years? What part of these machines relied on his effort or ingenuity? If his patent had never been filed, are we to seriously believe that progress would have been held back by so much as an hour.

Let drop this passive-aggressive geek myth of the vital "small-guy" inventor and the civilization changing ideas which supposedly emerge from his superior brain. It is far, far easier, and far, far better for society as a whole to simply regard all patent holders as parasites, and simply stop issuing them. Inventors can start their own companies or get a job like everyone else.

Reward belongs to those who add value. To those who produce things; produce wealth. it does not belong to the people who "thought" of doing so, or who had some "bright idea" sometimes in the 1970s. It belongs to the three generations of people since who put their -- unpatented -- ideas into action and made them a reality. To the people who competed based on the merits of their results, and not the entitlement they felt their intellects deserved.

It's time to put patents away. All patents. Our society will make better progress without them. Inventors are not worth the price being paid to parasites.

Re:Parasitic Rentiers (2)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 5 months ago | (#46384151)

What value has this man added to a single piece of equipment sold in the last 40 years? What part of these machines relied on his effort or ingenuity? If his patent had never been filed, are we to seriously believe that progress would have been held back by so much as an hour.

From the article:

While some of Hyatt's patents predate or are contemporary with those granted to executives at Intel and Texas Instruments Inc., those companies made products that changed the world, (Ross) Bassett, (a professor at North Carolina State University) said.

"I respect Gilbert Hyatt's work — the process of engineering is difficult," Bassett said in a telephone interview. "But innovations are more than ideas. The broader context matters. If Gilbert Hyatt had never existed, I believe the microprocessor would have developed in the same way that it did."

Re:Parasitic Rentiers (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about 5 months ago | (#46384775)

Sounds like this guy did no more than if Gene Roddenberry had patented the cell phone in th 1960s based on the Star Trek communicator. He didn't invent it. He didn't implement it. He may have been the first to put something on paper and get it to the patent office, but that's not sufficient to be an "inventor".

Re:Parasitic Rentiers (1)

whoever57 (658626) | about 5 months ago | (#46384223)

What value has this man added to a single piece of equipment sold in the last 40 years? What part of these machines relied on his effort or ingenuity? If his patent had never been filed, are we to seriously believe that progress would have been held back by so much as an hour.

This case is a classic example of how the patent system does not benefit innovation or society. The patent that the article focuses on is secret, which means that "his invention" has not benefitted any product. On the other hand, it is very likely that others have made the same "invention" and actually used it in a product.

Re:Parasitic Rentiers (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 5 months ago | (#46384257)

Brilliant, so let's say the inventor starts his or her own company. MegaCorp sees the idea, likes it, and uses its massive financial and market power to create their own version which is better, faster and shinier. MegaCorp gets a 3% rise in stock prices, the inventor gets nothing.

The inventor has another brilliant idea, but this time he or she keeps it under their hat and the whole of society suffers as a result

Seriously, why does this need to be explained. But since it does I feel obliged to also mention that patents aren't copyrights and don't last nearly as long, because patents actually do describe things of real tangible value and often neccessity which usually only have one way of getting done, unlike copyrights which cover mostly discretionary subjects or subjects that can be trivially re-expressed without any loss of meaning and without violating copyright law - see educational textbooks, for example.

Re:Parasitic Rentiers (2)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 5 months ago | (#46384415)

Patents further the advantages of large companies more than independent entities by their very nature.

Regarding trade secrets, patents do nothing to reduce them as getting a patent on anything that could be kept a secret more than 20 years would be very foolish. If you intend to undermine trade secrets, then aim to get trade secret law pulled back.

Re:Parasitic Rentiers (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 5 months ago | (#46384545)

Frivolous patents, patents which haven't been put to use (ie defensive patents), software patents, submarine patents and patent trollery benefit larger corporations, but these are abuses of the patent system. There's nothing wrong with the basic idea, and nothing that can't be fixed if the will to do so ever materialised.

Re:Parasitic Rentiers (2)

ewibble (1655195) | about 5 months ago | (#46384897)

Frivolous patents, my well be abuses but they are also a direct result of the patient system. The patents are all about controlling, obtaining a monopoly, the more "Ideas" you control the more you benefit.

It is in a companies very nature to maximize profit, as such it will always push the patent system to its limits. Using its vast resources to do so, by lawyers, and bribing, ops I meant lobbying politicians, to change the laws.

I am not completely opposed to a patent system but patents should be very short lived, just enough for you to have a good chance of establishing a market share.

Or perhaps the length of the patent should be based on the effort needed to create it.

Re:Parasitic Rentiers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384429)

Why does it need to be explained? How, exactly, do you think MegaCorp ever came into existence?

If your model of history were true, then the entire country would be one giant corporation. But it's not. Corporations come and go. Small and medium sized businesses are everywhere. Why the heck would Facebook spend $19 billion for an app they could have duplicated in a weekend coding session?

Your theory simply doesn't actually explain our economy. Believe it or not, most innovations are unpatentable. Organizational innovations. Stylistic and artist innovations, many of which aren't even copyrightable (furniture, clothing). Most technical innovations go unlauded and unpatented, also.

Imagine spending $2 million opening a restaurant without having government regulation to prevent a competitor from opening a shop right next door to you and mimic you. Oh wait! There is no such regulation of the sort, and yet the restaurant and food market is unfathombly competitive, diverse, and awash in money.

Or imagine going to school to be an engineer, only to find out 10,000 other people had the same idea! How unfair! I guess it makes absolutely no sense for you to bother, huh?

Reality simply does not support your fear mongering. The old adage that success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration is far closer to the truth. Ideas are a dime a dozen, especially in an age where we mint so many PhDs*; making them profitable in a competitive market is far harder, and by some cosmic coincidence that effort is also much harder to duplicate.

Read "Against Intellectual Monopoly"**, written by two very capable economists who not only examine the theoretical arguments for patents and copyrights, but also survey the _empirical_ studies. Spoiler--the vast majority of empirical studies do not support the pathetic theoretical arguments.

* http://blog.inomics.com/en/phd-graduates-disciplines-and-numbers/
** http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/againstnew.htm

Re:Parasitic Rentiers (1)

gIobaljustin (3526197) | about 5 months ago | (#46384487)

It's funny how people just put forth mindless speculation when trying to show how the world would be without patents or copyright. The fact is, patents restrict private property rights (Can't use your own resources in a way that infringes upon someone's little monopoly!), and by default, laws don't exist, so the burden of proof is on you people. Yet, you can present no scientific evidence that patents are beneficial; all you do is speculate, and sometimes refer to societies that were vastly different than our own in a number of other ways.

Re:Parasitic Rentiers (2)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 5 months ago | (#46384757)

Patents, in theory, are actually a reasonably good idea.... the problem is, you need to find an adequate balance between rewarding innovation, and allowing others to benefit from them as well. That latter bit is the reason they expire. The former bit is because it can be very expensive to come up with and implement a new idea. Development costs, and all.

In practice it doesn't always work that way, but I wouldn't throw out the baby with the bathwater. We should figure out how to prevent abuse, not get rid of the system entirely.

Similarly, btw, copyrights do actually serve a purpose. As wonderful a world as it would be that artists and content creators could be free to create without worrying about where their next meal comes from, they do still need to eat. Copyright exists so that people can be rewarded for creating works. It's ridiculous that it lasts long enough that your grandchildren can still profit from it, but I wouldn't toss it completely out the window, either.

Re:Parasitic Rentiers (1)

gIobaljustin (3526197) | about 5 months ago | (#46384981)

In practice it doesn't always work that way, but I wouldn't throw out the baby with the bathwater. We should figure out how to prevent abuse, not get rid of the system entirely.

Since copyright infringes upon free speech rights, and both patents and copyright infringe upon private property rights and are anti-free market, they should be opposed no matter how 'effective' they are. Just like it wouldn't be okay for government thugs to molest people at airports (TSA) even if they did stop terrorists.

But really, you merely stated that copyrights and patents do have a purpose, but you didn't provide proof of this claim. Again, the burden of proof is on people who propose laws or defend exists laws that were created without using the scientific method to determine their efficacy. So... without resorting to speculation, can you scientifically prove that copyrights and patents are beneficial to society? For me, this is merely a curiosity, and I'd oppose them no matter what (since they violate people's rights), but offering proof is the least people could do. Also, please don't "refer to societies that were vastly different than our own in a number of other ways."

Monopoly (1)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | about 5 months ago | (#46384709)

You assume that patents do anything to prevent MegaCorp from competing. You also assume that it is Joe Inventor filing most of the patents, and not said MegaCorp. In practice, neither of these things are true, and the primary beneficiaries of patent litigation are lawyers.

Patents are the right to squash competition. Competition in the ideal sense is a very efficient way to allocate resources. If one company is first to market, and a competitor makes a product which is "better, faster, and shinier," what exactly is wrong with letting the market decide who gets rewarded?

Your argument hinges on the role of patents in encouraging people to bring products to market, which is actually an orthogonal process. Patents are intended to promote the disclosure of ideas. All well and good, but maybe an automatic monopoly isn't necesarily the best way to accomplish either of those things.

There are two really big problems with patents. The first is that almost all knowledge is derivative of other knowledge. Certain persons with an excess of self-interest will argue that such a thing as originality exists in some distinguishable form. I submit that even for the invention of fire there was prior art, and every invention since then was either an incremental adaptation or based on some other preexisting knowledge. Keep in mind that the ones who add to our knowledge of the world are called scientists, not inventors.

The second problem is embodied in the phrase "intellectual property." Jefferson noted that there is nothing less suited to ownership [uchicago.edu] than an idea. I could not possibly improve on his argument.

Patents are a granted right, not a natural one. You are as free to pursue financial gain by sweat of the brow or toil of the mind with or without their existence. I'm not, frankly, interested in pursuing a discussion of whether there is some better way to encourage inventors, but the discussion is not advanced by conjuring a trivial and misleading hypothetical situation, ignoring actual practice, and presupposing the necessity of some legal instrument unknown through most of human history.

Re:Monopoly (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 5 months ago | (#46384831)

You assume that patents do anything to prevent MegaCorp from competing.

That is in fact exactly what they do.

You also assume that it is Joe Inventor filing most of the patents, and not said MegaCorp.

No, that would be you putting words in my mouth.

Since you started off with a patently (ho!) false assertion and a strawman, the rest of your argument - which also happens to be based on these two items - can safely be discarded.

Re:Parasitic Rentiers (1)

ewibble (1655195) | about 5 months ago | (#46384841)

because that's not how it works in real life.

If Megacorp wants to crush you, it will, It will put into play its warchest of patents, with its army of lawyers, you will go bankrupt paying legal fees long before you make any money.

Your best hope is remain unnoticed until you are successful enough to compete.

Re:Parasitic Rentiers (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 5 months ago | (#46385109)

Why did they keep it under their hat the second time? Because they wanted to spite the public for Mega corp's actions? The way patents are abused now, we'd be better off with none, than with what we have now.

But at least a few of those years... (2)

RandomUsername99 (574692) | about 5 months ago | (#46384147)

was waiting in line at the damn post office to mail the application in.

He's the king of frivolous patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384153)

Most of his patents are obvious and follow the natural progression of the state of the art at the time.

Who else read this and thought of JRR Searl?/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384227)

[nt]

Poor journalism (1)

radarskiy (2874255) | about 5 months ago | (#46384299)

The Chicago Tribune writes an article involving a patent application but does not include the number of the patent application.

Re:Poor journalism (2)

CaptBubba (696284) | about 5 months ago | (#46384411)

It wouldn't do you any good anyway. It is under the old laws where everything is confidential until/unless a patent actually issues on the application.

The new laws were actually put in place because of this guy's actions and the 1990 microprocessor patent (and Lemelson's claims covering all of machine vision of course).

This article reads like (1)

Ice Station Zebra (18124) | about 5 months ago | (#46384315)

he might a writer told them his story and the writer agreed to write about it, hoping to make some quick cash. This guy is obviously an ass, based on the story, and since his claims are unverifiable probably not very honest either.

First patent troll (2)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 5 months ago | (#46384459)

From browsing the list of his patents [google.com] it looks like most of them are written with overly generalized broad claims which don't actually describe anything that wasn't obvious at the time. This gem [google.com] filed in 1972 describes a "Machine control system operating from remote commands". Whoopty do. Remotely operable computers existed before the filing date. Why the USPTO awarded him so many patents on obvious things is beyond comprehension.

Why should we accept lower growth for this man? (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about 5 months ago | (#46384513)

Why should we all accept lower growth so that this man, who is already extremely wealthy, can be made even wealthier? What sort of justice is that?

Re:Why should we accept lower growth for this man? (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 5 months ago | (#46384619)

Are you suggesting that what the USPTO is doing would be unacceptable if he was poor, but it acceptable because he is rich?

Re:Why should we accept lower growth for this man? (1)

kumanopuusan (698669) | about 5 months ago | (#46384895)

Let's not pretend that the USPTO is doing anything acceptable or would be doing anything acceptable in any hypothetical universe.

Cannot imagine what he thinks he invented (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46384677)

Single-chip computers were in existance in the early 80's; I used them (from Intel, Motorola, and Hitachi) in a bunvh of designs and even the original PC/AT used one (the keyboard controller, which replaced the shift-register scheme of the PC and PC/XT) so this is hardly obscure "prior art"

As for radio controls of machines, TESLA HIMSELF demonstrated that one! (he not only remotely-controlled machines, but he also remotely-powered them. The patent office USED to allow people to patent true breakthroughs, like the lightbulb, the airplane, the semiconductor, etc. In recent years, however (particularly since they started allowing software and "business method" patents) they seem to thingk ANYTHING can be patented even it there's both "prior art" AND it's obvious to people in the particular field.

Alternative title: "Submarine patent issued" (3, Insightful)

arglebargle_xiv (2212710) | about 5 months ago | (#46384697)

This sounds a lot like a submarine patent [wikipedia.org] . The idea is that you file a patent on some generic idea, not necessarily realisable, and then continue it for years, sometimes decades, until the state of the art has advanced to the point where it can be realised. At that point your submarine patent emerges and you've now patented a field that others have spent years developing for you. The notorious Jerome Lemelson [wikipedia.org] made a billion-dollar business out of this.

Leave it to slashdotters to not actually READ THE (1)

bloggerhater (2439270) | about 5 months ago | (#46384971)

This guy is nothing but one of the oldest living patent trolls. Because of the age of these patent applications no one will EVER get to see any information pertaining to them. All this is is a media grab. Time to move along slashdot.

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