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IBM Sues Amazon For Patent Infringement

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the they-did-it-first dept.

204

Petersko writes "It appears Amazon is about to be sued for patent infringement by IBM". From the article: "Hundreds of other companies have licensed the same patents, and IBM has tried to negotiate licensing deals with Amazon "over a dozen times since 2002," Kelly said. Amazon.com, which has bought a lot of hardware from Hewlett-Packard Co. over the years but not IBM, has allegedly refused every time."

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confused (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16959286)

--quote---
Amazon.com, which has bought a lot of hardware from Hewlett-Packard Co. over the years but not IBM, has allegedly refused every time. /quote

so the new fashion is using comas instead of brackets?

Re:confused (0, Offtopic)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959852)

CNN text: Amazon.com -- which has bought a lot of hardware from Hewlett-Packard Co. over the years but not IBM -- has allegedly refused every time.

The text from the article was not copied over correctly or was re-edited badly. Considering what they teach in high schools these days, it's not too surprising.

OneClick? (1)

J053 (673094) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959298)

I sure hope OneClick is among them.

IBM Laywers (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16959646)

... have nothing better to do after SCO

Almost a month old (4, Informative)

jpetts (208163) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959300)

Dupe [slashdot.org] .

Re:Almost a month old (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959318)

Its not a dupe, IBM had to double sue because Amazon have a patent on single click lawsuits.

Re:Almost a month old (1)

Ruff_ilb (769396) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959950)

That's the point...

Re:Almost a month old (1)

nwbvt (768631) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960542)

And to make matters worse, the slashdot summary reads "It appears Amazon is about to be sued..."

Did someone misread the month and think this story is about something that happens Novemeber 23, or tomorrow?

Ouch (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16959314)

Turns out that Big Blue has a business method patent on abusing the patent system. Amazon should have seen that coming.

Patents (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16959330)

Our system has become based on the ridiculous premise that all inventors come up with ideas that nobody else could possibly have come up with.

The patents system has devolved to be that if you are the first to file a piece of paper .. regardless of how obvious your idea is .. you win a monopoly on it for 20 years (with possible infinite extension via mickey mouse legislators).

Just because you are the first to invent something, doesn't mean society would have been deprived of your invention were it not for you. It just means you got there first (thanks to better resources available to you). It's like a winner of a race claiming that if it wasn't for him, nobody else would have crossed the finish line.

Re:Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16959446)

It has nothing to do with who did what first, it's about who filed what papers first and where, and gets away with it. I.e. Tesla's design used by Marconi, who filed something that didn't work. Guess who made the money and who is "remembered" as the father or radio? Yup, the fraud, not the inventor.

Re:Patents (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16959460)

I have to agree.

A good analogy would be the development of a race car. IBM is like the company that perhaps developed a car or two. Reasonable patents would probably be on the engine design, electronics, etc. Instead, however, the patent office has granted it the patent to "race cars"; disallowing anyone else from developing their own engines, electronics, or what have you, and putting it all together.

Is the difference so hard to comprehend in technological contexts that the patent board is unable to differentiate between the two?

Almost a great point (2, Interesting)

typidemon (729497) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959564)

Just because you are the first to invent something, doesn't mean society would have been deprived of your invention were it not for you. It just means you got there first (thanks to better resources available to you).

The idea is to protect people who invest those resources into developing technology from people who just wait for the technology to be invented and then just selling it without any of the research costs involved.

What I do hate is that patents have turned from protecting a method of production to a concept of a product in all of its forms. That's a major difference, if I invent a new device I should have a realistic expectation that nobody else could use my design to make their own device. However, if someone goes "hey, I like what this thing does" and then invents their own way of doing that exact same thing, they should be able to. Hell, they can even learn from my mistakes and improve on the process. That's where patents facilitate innovation.

Re:Patents (4, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959634)

On slashdot it doesn't matter if you're the first to do it, no-one else had ever thought of doing it, and no-one knew how to do it until you did it.. if the method can be explained in a sentence this audience is more than willing to call it "obvious" then make some claim about how something completely unrelated (that is also obvious) could be covered by the patent under question and therefore declare that not only will the lawsuit fail but the patent will be revoked by royal decree.

Re:Patents (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959844)

if the method can be explained in a sentence this audience is more than willing to call it "obvious"

And I would bet that many other audiences would do as well. Those are commonly believed to have common sense of sorts.

CC.

Re:Patents (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959904)

Sigh. If I were to ask you how to do some technical task, without telling you how I am doing it, and you were to tell me my method, then it would be fair to say that it is obvious.. simple != obvious.

Re:Patents (1)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960166)

That sounds like a reasonable test to me. I certainly haven't researched the patents involved here, and CNN wasn't very helpful about any details, however in just reading the article it says that they patented and ordering system using an online catalog. I think that would certainly meet the definition of "obvious". I don't know if they have some totally non-obvious stuff in the patent, or just a bunch of long words that mean "online ordering system", but if it really is just "an online ordering system with a catalog" - then hell - that's obvious.

Re:Patents (3, Insightful)

bonhomme_de_neige (711691) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960200)

Sigh. If I were to ask you how to do some technical task, without telling you how I am doing it, and you were to tell me my method, then it would be fair to say that it is obvious.. simple != obvious.

Unfortunately it's a prisoners' dilemma, because once I've told you the method, it's easy for you to claim that was what you were going to do anyway, and I have no way of proving otherwise.

Similarly, if you tell me your method first then it's easy for me to claim _that_ as what I was going to tell you. Whoever volunteers the information first risks having their idea claimed by the other person.

So this test would never happen in practice (about anything you might seriously want to patent anyway), and thus we need different measures of obviousness (new word?)...

Although I agree that a lot of things that are not obvious can be described in one sentence, once you know what they are. Gravity is a good example - it took thousands of years for someone to write down a theory, but that theory is one sentence long.

Zero knowledge proof (1)

Wolfier (94144) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960330)

I can just show you the end result of my method to let you know that I know *some* way of doing it.

If you can tell how I'm exactly doing it, then it's obvious.

Not all ideas are like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16960416)

What you are saying is true for things like flying cars.

But what if the idea itself is the end result ..for example, the idea for a user interface, or napster, youtube, or slashdot, or digg.

Nobody will say any "genius" of youtube lies in the implementation (look at how quickly there are clones). However the idea itself is somewhat original.

Sometimes once you tell me the idea, the implementation is trivial .. but the creative effort is coming up with the idea. So how do you reliably test for obviousness in that instance, when the idea itself identifies a need and provides a new service or capability?

Re:Not all ideas are like this (3, Insightful)

Wolfier (94144) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960600)

This is off-topic because ideas on their own cannot be patented.  Only implementations can be.  In the special case where the implementation is the same as the idea (e.g. look and feel), those *should* be protected by copyright instead.

In your examples, idea for a UI, Napster, YouTube - they have their specific implementations and only those are patentable (I'm sure there are at least 50 ways of implementing user interface, napster, youtube, slashdot or digg).

If you think these ideas are somewhat original, then let me tell you that ideas are a dime a dozen.  Don't worth anything at all unless it's elevated into something tangible, like an implementation.

Unless, of course, you may be confusing between an idea and an implementation.  Sometimes the line is blurred but it certainly exists.  Napster and YouTube - they have good business ideas.  Slashdot and Digg - the idea is a "community system" (which, again is a dime a dozen), but Slashdot and Digg are implementing it differently.

Re:Patents (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960296)

you were to tell me my method

Not the method, but the concept, IMHO. Like in: keep record of your products (file cards, inventory), have a way to display it to your customers (printed catalog), have a way to tell them what they want (mail order), ... you got the point.

To make it short: software (among other things) cannot be patented. Imagine someone comes up with a "real" AI passing Turing. Get sued, you "improperly" make use of IP.

CC.

Re:Patents (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960408)

Most every patent that is reported on slashdot or in other media as being a patent of some idea is a result of the person making the report not knowing how to read a patent application. In the rare occurance that such a patent is granted, it is never enforced because the lawyers who are called upon to enforce such patents know they won't be able to.

Re:Patents (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960742)

is a result of the person making the report not knowing how to read a patent application

Claims [wikipedia.org] , yes. Disclaimer: IANAL, nor even a U.S. citizen.

In the rare occurance that such a patent is granted

Like here: http://www.slingshots.com/html/wrist-braced-slings hot.html [slingshots.com]

it is never enforced because the lawyers who are called upon to enforce such patents know they won't be able to

Yes, enforcing surely would not conform to business ethics.

CC.

Re:Patents (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960426)

Imagine someone comes up with a "real" AI passing Turing. Get sued, you "improperly" make use of IP.

      Not if the one filing suit is the AI... well, it could happen!

Here's a thought (5, Interesting)

mutube (981006) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959666)

Just because you are the first to invent something, doesn't mean society would have been deprived of your invention were it not for you. It just means you got there first (thanks to better resources available to you). It's like a winner of a race claiming that if it wasn't for him, nobody else would have crossed the finish line.
If the purpose really is to reward valuable invention (vs. obvious extension) then a simple answer is this: In the event of someone re-inventing something which has been previously awarded a patent, with no evidence of copying, there should be two options available to the patent holder.
  • Add this new inventor to the patent & allow them equal share of licensing fees for it's remaining lifespan.
  • Revoke the patent.

Re:Here's a thought (2, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960000)

If the purpose really is to reward valuable invention (vs. obvious extension) then a simple answer is this: In the event of someone re-inventing something which has been previously awarded a patent, with no evidence of copying, there should be two options available to the patent holder.

The "no evidence of copying" is the sticky part. You're back to a system that requires that patent examiners be shrewd enough to understand the fundamental difference between one patent and the next. What would obviously end up happening in such a system is Amazon finds out IBM has a patent on something it wants to do (patents are published, public documents), says, "hey, that's a great idea!" and then "invents" its own way of doing it. Voila! Instead of paying IBM to license the patent, Amazon gets to add itself to IBM's patent and take half of IBM's fees. You can see where patents would quickly become an anti-competitive weapon of an order even greater than they are becoming today.

In today's world, the outcome of these patent lawsuits between big companies, more often than not, is some kind of licensing agreement. It will more than likely be a cross-licensing agreement ... so IBM says it's OK for Amazon to use its patent, provided IBM can add One-Click shopping to its Web site, or something of the sort. It's not as if IBM really wants to put Amazon out of business. It just wants to keep the money moving from hand to hand, with some of it staying at IBM for a while.

Re:Here's a thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16960490)

OK, so now A & B share the patent. C possibly infringes. B wants to pursue C, A does not. B pays all the costs, and wins. A gets his share? If not, consider that maybe A is some small fry, and B is IBM. So IBM essentially hijacks the patent. This is only one of dozens of problems that I'm too lazy to type out.

Re:Patents (1)

Cow Jones (615566) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960004)

It's like a winner of a race claiming that if it wasn't for him, nobody else would have crossed the finish line.

Thank you, AC, that's a very nice analogy.

Re:Patents (5, Informative)

trentblase (717954) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960154)

Our system has become based on the ridiculous premise that all inventors come up with ideas that nobody else could possibly have come up with.

The system is not premised on the idea that nobody else could have come up with the idea. The system encourages people to take their ideas and reduce them to practice. Having the invention filed with the government exposes the knowledge to the public, who benefit where the alternative is keeping the details a secret.

The patents system has devolved to be that if you are the first to file a piece of paper .. regardless of how obvious your idea is .. you win a monopoly on it for 20 years (with possible infinite extension via mickey mouse legislators).

Unlike some other countries, the US is not a first-to-file jurisdiction. Instead, it is a first-to-invent jurisdiction, generally giving rights to the first person to come up with the idea. Furthermore, obviousness is a bar to patentability (although a challenger is not allowed the benefit of hindsight when making this obviousness determination). Except in very strange circumstances (usually involving government appropriation of defense-related inventions) there is no way to extend patent rights beyond 20 years. The mickey mouse legislators you refer to are dealing with copyright. Just because you are the first to invent something, doesn't mean society would have been deprived of your invention were it not for you. It just means you got there first (thanks to better resources available to you). It's like a winner of a race claiming that if it wasn't for him, nobody else would have crossed the finish line.

The limited rights given to a patent holder is one of the main incentives that drives the metaphorical race you describe. Without patents, things would surely be invented... just not as quickly. And once they were, the details would be kept completely secret, robbing value to society. Without patents, here's how the race would go: once the winner reaches the finish line, all the other runners are instantly transported to the finish line and given gold metals. So what is the incentive for any one runner to be first? Nobody would run. They would more likely meander indifferently towards the finish line.

I'm not some crazy lover of patents. I believe that some reform is in order. But the basic premise makes sense in our currently capitalist business environment.

Re:Patents (1)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960274)

As of a few months ago the US was passing laws to become a first to file nation, don't know what became of that, but it's likely that sometime in the not too distant future it won't be first to invent anymore(first to invent is way to expensive and difficult to administer).

Re:Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16960520)

first to invent is way to expensive and difficult to administer).

Especially when you
* divert funds collected for such a system to other areas of government
* leave the systems ambigously defined (e.g. "not an invention obvious to others in the field")

Re:Patents (1)

Wolfier (94144) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960530)

If I had my mod points, I'd be modding you down cold.

Our system has become based on the ridiculous premise that all inventors come up with ideas that nobody else could possibly have come up with.
How did you arrive at this conclusion? The patent system is to encourage people to elevate their ideas into tangible implementations, and bring them public. Ideas are a dime a dozon - that worth almost nothing on their own.
If you reach the same implementation independently - too bad - no system is perfect and that includes the patent system. The police system is imperfect but I doubt anyone would call for its abolishment. Same for democracy. In this case, the patent system does not preclude you from being the first in the next invention - so in the long run it is still fair. Think of it this way - all patents in existence can be worked around - there's nothing that prevents you from doing your research and implement the same idea in a different way. Someone may have a monopoly but at least their implementation is in the open and in 20 years it'll become public domain. Society wins.
On the other hand, the inventor of the implementation might choose to keep it a secret. There's no monopoly, but it can remain a secret for 300 years. Society loses.

The patents system has devolved to be that if you are the first to file a piece of paper .. regardless of how obvious your idea is .. you win a monopoly on it for 20 years (with possible infinite extension via mickey mouse legislators).
Again, you might have confused between the idea and the implementation. The idea or the end result is very probably obvious, the implementation may not be.
Also, unlike copyright, patents cannot be extended, period.

Just because you are the first to invent something, doesn't mean society would have been deprived of your invention were it not for you. It just means you got there first (thanks to better resources available to you). It's like a winner of a race claiming that if it wasn't for him, nobody else would have crossed the finish line.
I'll copy one of the replies here: without a patent, once somebody reaches the finish line, everyone else is suddenly teleported to the finish line without running. It's extremely unfair to the person who actually runs - in fact, it's the real premise of the patent system: without some sort of monopoly, implementations will be copied by freeloaders who don't spend a cent in research.

Re:Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16960630)

The idea or the end result is very probably obvious, the implementation may not be.

If the implementation is not obvious, then there are ideas needed for it to work .. correct?

Anyway .. the original post was NOT saying that a patent system should not exist. If you read it properly you would have noticed words such as "has become" or "devolved" .. meaning the current patent system has CHANGED from offering at incentive for developing ideas to one that rewards filing paperwork on an idea. Basically, the patent system should exist .. but it must not grant extended 20 year monopolies for trivial and obvious things that a 5 year monopoly would suffice for.

Do you have problems reading what you quote?

Also, patents CAN be extended .. they used to be 14 years .. now they are 20 years. Patents that originally were given a 14 year monopoly in the 80's got extended to 20 years. Who knows if when some big corporations current patents are about to expire they won't push for another extension. The pharmaceuticals have already made rumblings about this.

Re:Patents (1)

GospelHead821 (466923) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960806)

Although this does not pertain to an obvious idea, the patent office has always operated on the principle that the first to file is granted the patent. Alexander Graham Bell secured a patent for the telephone hours before rival Elisha Gray filed for a telephone patent.

I Pee (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16959372)

"It appears Amazon is about to be sued for patent infringement by IBM".

Fortunately in 2007, the move by the slashdot community to abolish IP succeeded and IBM (FOSS poster child) no longer has a leg to stand on.

Dup check (1, Offtopic)

$exyNerdie (683214) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959384)

This was already discussed in October!! http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/10/23/18 14217 [slashdot.org]

Re:Dup check (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16959722)

Who modded this Offtopic/Troll? He's right! Mod him redundant if you must, but please, mods, show some sense!

Re:Dup check (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960082)

[...] but please, mods, show some sense!
You want us to get sued by IBM for infringing upon their Sense patents?

Re:Dup check (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960388)

please, mods, show some sense!

      You must be new here ;)

Statement should read... (5, Insightful)

iSeal (854481) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959392)

The first paragraph in the article states:
BOSTON, Massachusetts (AP) -- Key aspects of Amazon.com Inc.'s retailing Web site are improperly built on technologies developed at IBM Corp., Big Blue alleged Monday in two lawsuits against Amazon.
It should read:
BOSTON, Massachusetts (AP) -- Key aspects of Amazon.com Inc.'s retailing Web site are improperly built on very general concepts involving technology developed at IBM Corp., Big Blue alleged Monday in two lawsuits against Amazon.

Re:Statement should read... (1)

Morphine007 (207082) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959412)

meh... semantics ;-)

Re:Statement should read... (1)

tilandal (1004811) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959568)

Some ideas that seem obvious now were not so obvious 25 years ago. For example, Changing a web page based on a users previous habits. If storing a users data so they can buy without entering it is valid a valid patent then generating dynamic content based on a users browsing habbits is at least as patent worthy.

amazon (0)

Feyr (449684) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959408)

amazon had it coming. you reap what you sow.

that said, patent lawsuits are still dumb

Re:amazon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16959512)

i wear what i sew!

Re:amazon (0, Troll)

Feyr (449684) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959788)

you sir, are dumb. may i suggest a dictionnary?

sow [webster.com]

Re:amazon (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959900)

Considering what he's wearing, I don't think a dictionary will cover it. :P

Re:amazon (3, Funny)

sabernet (751826) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959946)

I wanna be the first to patent the "one click lawsuit". ;)

Simple solution (4, Insightful)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959496)

Make lawyers a minimum wage job. All the lawsuits are costing the public a fortune and has placed the court system in perminate gridlock. We need to concentrate on crime not petty squabbling. Patents should be for significant inventions not every minor thing some one thinks up. Often times there's no thieft involved it's simply such an obvious idea that others are recovering the same ground and haven't a clue some suit ape patented the idea. Patents should help spur innovantion. If they don't they aren't in the publics interest. Patents are a creation for the publics interest and are not in the Constitution so when they work against the public they need to be revised. There is no inherent right to patents. I'm a big supporter of inventors rights but these aren't inventions they are similar to cybersquatting and need to removed from the patent process.

Re:Simple solution (1)

elmarkitse (816597) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959656)

Lets see....for sensationalisms sake, lets assume you go to the best law school out then and have a 150,000 bill for your law degree. Even at $10.00 an hour, billing 80 hour weeks for 3 years, you not paid off, assuming every dollar of your minimum wage goes to paying off your bill. Putting $4 an hour into your tuition reimbursement, still working 80 hour weeks, but this time for 9 years, and you're barely there, assuming no interest on your initial debt.

More fun, lets say you get stuck at the 'best buy' of 'full time' minimum wage new age law companies, and can only work 32 hours a week before you get benefits.

23 years, not including interest.

I wonder where the line is for people hopping on this idea?

I agree on your other points however, patents being limited to certain types of innovation, limited on their legnth, and designed to support advancements in our society not stifle them

Re:Simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16960508)

Parent wrote:
I wonder where the line is for people hopping on this idea?
From http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/legalotln/la wyers.htm [state.gov] :
The number of lawyers in the United States has increased steadily over the past half century and is currently estimated at more than 950,000. Where do all the attorneys in the United States find work?
and according to http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/ranko rder/2119rank.html [cia.gov] , the US population is 295,734,134.

For sensationalisms sake, let's divide those numbers: 950,000 / 295,734,134 is only 0.32%, or about one in 311. What happens when it comes up on a ballot? Oh yeah, that's right: the other 99.7% of the country votes them out of power. But they'll never let that happen.

Re:Simple solution (1)

ultracool (883965) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959686)

I think another possible solution is simply to reduce the length of time before a patent expires, say down to 5 years. That still gives the inventor an advantage, but does not cripple everyone else and force the public to pay exorbitant prices for things (medicine for example). However, software patents are still ridiculous and should be done away with entirely. Imagine if you could patent mathematical methods. "I'm sorry, you have to pay us royalties if you want to use Simpson's rule to solve your integral."

Re:Simple solution (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959708)

Patents are a creation for the publics interest and are not in the Constitution so when they work against the public they need to be revised.

Um, actually:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries

I agree with you entirely that we need to revise the way and extent to which patents are issued, but the fact is that the issuance and enforcement of patents (along with copyrights) is one of the fundamental purposes of the US government, as defined by the Constitution. (You can of course start an effort to get that section amended; good luck with that.) A better approach is to look at the explanatory clause -- "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts" -- and start ruthlessly revising those sections of IP law which do not work toward that goal.

Step 1: if it's not a physical object, a working model of which can be presented at the time of filing, don't grant a patent. Period. End of story. No software algorithms, no "business methods," no DNA sequences, etc. -- software can go copyright; the other two examples shouldn't get IP protection at all -- and no speculative ideas for something that someone might want to make someday, either.

Step 2: deem any patents which are not being actively exploited to be unenforceable, and the IP represented in them to be public domain. IOW, if you have a patent on something, you have to be either distributing it on the market, or be able to show that you're working toward the goal. Otherwise, everyone else gets a shot too.

Step 3: require patent holders to defend their patents, as is the case with trademarks. If the patent holder could reasonably be expected to be aware of a violation -- as IBM certainly could be expected to be aware of Amazon -- require them to begin legal action within one (1) year or forfeit the claim.

These three steps, if followed, would I think substantially reduce the amount of patent bullshit which is currently doing the exact opposite of "promoting] the Progress of Science and useful Arts." The lawyers whose clients still have a legitimate claim would still have plenty of work. Similar though not identical reform is needed for copyrights and trademarks; Step 1 in the former case is reducing the term of copyright to 20 years or so and keeping it there.

Re:Simple solution (1)

psykocrime (61037) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960150)

Well said... I hope some of your suggestions come to fruition!

Re:Simple solution (1)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960224)

Makes a lot of sense. Now, we need to "Make it so."

Workaround? (1)

Shawn is an Asshole (845769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960332)

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries

Set the limited time to 20 hours instead of 20 years...

Re:Simple solution (1)

GWBasic (900357) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960622)

Step 3: require patent holders to defend their patents, as is the case with trademarks. If the patent holder could reasonably be expected to be aware of a violation -- as IBM certainly could be expected to be aware of Amazon -- require them to begin legal action within one (1) year or forfeit the claim.

Actually, patent holders do have to defend their patents; it is the patent holders who always accuse other parties of violating patents.

I think the real problem is that one company will buy another company that bought another company that bought another company that bought another company that bought another company and will go digging through the archives and find an old & questionable patent that they think means they own the entire industry. There's no consequences for being a patent troll.

Re:Simple solution (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960796)

You should send that to your congressman and ask him to submit it as a bill.

Re:Simple solution (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16959792)

Patents are a creation for the publics interest and are not in the Constitution

Fucking booblet.

Article I, Section 8, Clause 8.

To save your lazy, ignorant ass the trouble of looking up more than just my previous citation, the Ninth Amendment clearly explains why your puling "not in the Constitution" whimper is without merit -- "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

... need to removed from the patent process.

You illiterate fuck -- inanimate or abstract things are incapable of "need". Use of the "needs" language is simply a cheap-ass way dipshits like you use to try to project their own infantile desires to control the behavior of others onto said others by characterizing the desires as "needs" which are to be fulfilled by the others.

Come by again when you detect the begnnings of fuzz on your balls.

Re:Simple solution (1)

elmarkitse (816597) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959876)

You're charming, thanks for sharing.

Re:Simple solution (1)

Trieuvan (789695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959864)

That never happen, these lawyers make law !!!

Lawyers (and doctors) (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960726)

Make lawyers a minimum wage job. All the lawsuits are costing the public a fortune and has placed the court system in perminate gridlock.


They're expensive because they are permitted a government mandated monopoly on practice.

 

Screw em (-1, Flamebait)

AlphaLop (930759) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959548)

While I don't agree with our current copyright system I despise Amazon. They screwed up so many orders of ours, including one for a textbook for my wife's college class (which never showed up because they don't let you select shipping methods and they shipped it to the wrong address which caused her to have to cancel the class delaying her degree by one semester) that I am happy to see them having problems. That, coupled with their attempts to to copyright ridiculous things such as one click ordering (Like that was so innovative) makes me hope they get their collective asses kicked.... Die Amazon...

Re:Screw em (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16959596)

You're some kind of idiot, right?

Re:Screw em (2, Funny)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959992)

I find it odd that your wife had to buy a textbook for her college class from Amazon, and was forced to cancel that class when they failed delivery. I don't know, maybe it's a novel expectation that a college bookstore would, you know, sell textbooks for the classes taught at that school. Or y'know, another bookstore.

But. . . wait a second! (3, Interesting)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959582)

But I thought companies such as IBM only use their patent portfolios defensively, particularly concerning patents over trivial and/or obvious "inventions?" Isn't that what a number of users here have been claiming? I'm confused! ;)

Re:But. . . wait a second! (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959874)

They do say that a good defense is a good offense. Besides, annoying the heck out of the other guy has never been ruled out.

Re:But. . . wait a second! (2, Informative)

Jason Earl (1894) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959994)

IBM is the ultimate patent troll. They make quadzillions every year licensing their patent portfolio. In fact, Microsoft's recent foray into the patent business are based on recreating IBM's success. When it comes to patents IBM is definitely not the good guy.

Re:But. . . wait a second! (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960360)

companies such as IBM only use their patent portfolios defensively

      Yes, they're merely applying the "The Best Defense is a Strong Offense" maxim...purely defensive though. Probably go after Amazon's WMD's next...

Good, but bad (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959658)

I'm not sure whether to tag this one "haha" or "evil"

Re:Good, but bad (1)

niXcamiC (835033) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960002)

It would seem you decided.

What is everyone thinking? (5, Interesting)

Cauchy (61097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959668)

Ok, I understand the desire to hate bad patents and bad patent law, and I hate large corporations as much as the next guy---I made enough 'free' phone calls in my youth to prove that. But, seriously, the small guy needs patent law more than the big guy. I work creating ip as I am sure many of you do, and I have extensive experience working for startups including some without VC funding. The fact is that if I, as an individual or a very small business, come up with an idea, a patent may be my only line of protection. I don't have the money to develop it as fast as IBM or Microsoft or Google. I couldn't seek funding for an idea without ip law because the investors might just steal my idea. Patents and ip law are the ONLY protection I have from being completely screwed over.

When I was younger, I screamed 'information wants to be free' as loud as any of you. However, that was probably the dumbest idea ever to be voiced. Information is the most valuable asset in the world, and it always has been. People die for information all the time. The CIA, NSA, DIA, NRO, and all the other agencies we love to hate are solely about information. Wars are won and lost because of information. Societies succeed or disappear because of information. Information wants to cost you everything.

We may think the patent system is broken, but we do need a patent system, and we need a patent system that covers algorithms. An algorithm one of us invents is just as valuable as a widget some mechanical engineer invents.

Re:What is everyone thinking? (1)

wes33 (698200) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959780)

The CIA, NSA, DIA, NRO, and all the other agencies we love to hate are solely about information.
And these organizations exist and work so hard at keeping information unfree. Why? Because information "wants" to be free. This is almost a theorem of thermodynamics. Unshared information is an unstable equilibrium and it takes a lot of work to keep the information state at the top of the hill.

The internet is like adding a new path to the lowest energy state and information is just "desperate" to flow down that easy pathway to the equilibrium state ...

It's not *just* a metaphor ...

Re:What is everyone thinking? (2, Insightful)

Cauchy (61097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960578)

> And these organizations exist and work so hard at keeping information unfree.

Actually, the purpose of these organizations is generally to acquire information. Most of the secrecy comes to protecting their methods for acquiring information. And, it isn't the information that wants to be free. People want the information because it is valuable.

Re:What is everyone thinking? (2, Insightful)

mjrauhal (144713) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960128)

I couldn't seek funding for an idea without ip law because the investors might just steal my idea. Patents and ip law are the ONLY protection I have from being completely screwed over.

Not so. This can be done with suitable NDAs and/or pre-contracts (eg. negotiating a flat high percentage and no money up front for use of the ideas, with the understanding that this is just a stopgap and renegotiating will occur once people know what's on the table). This is of course impractical now, since investors would be taken aback with such agreements, however without patents this would have a high chance of becoming pretty much standard, so smart money would go with it.

Re:What is everyone thinking? (0, Troll)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960284)

So then, an inventor has every person on the planet sign a NDA? Brilliant! Now, do you suggest that I do this: via email, fax, or physical mail?

Re:What is everyone thinking? (4, Insightful)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960398)

Problems with that theory:

  • As soon as you come up with a good idea, you'll be sued into submission by a large company's patent warchest
  • Small companies don't even have the money or time to pursue patent lawsuits, so if a big company did take your idea, you'd be tied up in court until you were broke... or they launched a countersuit (see above)

Re:What is everyone thinking? (1)

Cauchy (61097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960614)

As I said, the system is broken, and it needs to be fixed. I'm not sure how to fix it, but it should be fixed.

Re:What is everyone thinking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16960504)

I don't have the money to develop it as fast as IBM or Microsoft or Google.

Neither did Google, until after they'd done it. Go read any essay Paul Graham ever wrote.

and we need a patent system that covers algorithms.

Bullshit. It's a bad mistake.

Re:What is everyone thinking? (1)

Cauchy (61097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960602)

> > and we need a patent system that covers algorithms.

> Bullshit. It's a bad mistake.

Then, why do we bother to develop algorithms? I don't know about you, but I work very, very hard developing algorithms, and I deserve every penny of the compensation. If it weren't for patents and other forms of ip law, the only one who would profit from my work would be large companies who stole my ideas.

Re:What is everyone thinking? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960868)

Then, why do we bother to develop algorithms?

To solve a problem. Sometimes for the fun of it.

If it weren't for patents and other forms of ip law, the only one who would profit from my work would be large companies who stole my ideas.

Then don't do it. Or, better yet, go to work for one of those large companies and become a millionaire developing algorithms for them that make them richer.

Sun IBM (1)

Dopeskills (636230) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959676)

So basically IBM is evil again and Sun is the new FOSS poster child.

Re:Sun IBM (1)

niXcamiC (835033) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960044)

They do seem to have contributed more code than any other single contributor, what with opensolaris, java, some random compilers, openfirmware, and a bunch of stuff im sure im missing.

Re:Sun IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16960162)

Don't forget about NFS and OpenOffice.
OpenOffice, i can argue, is the most important piece of free software. It enables Enterprises the interoperability with Microsoft Office documents and it's an arguably equivalent that can competes with it.

Patent bullying (1)

XCondE (615309) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959712)

So IBM tries to push some of its hardware to Amazon, who refuses - in spite of possible threats of patent litigation -, and decides to take the matter to court.

The VP admitted that much:

IBM has tried to negotiate licensing deals with Amazon "over a dozen times since 2002," Kelly said

Looks like IBM is learning to play SCO's game to me.

Re:Patent bullying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16960202)

There's no mention of IBM trying to push hardware on Amazon. It's obvious given the rest of the article that "licensing deals" is referring to licenses for the patent. US patent law is stupid enough without making false accusations of childish behavior.

It's beyond me why the article mentions HP hardware at all. It has nothing to do with IBM's patents.

Laugh at Amazon, but watch the patent abuses rise (1)

dwalsh (87765) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959766)

Not the most innocent victim here, however this is a small but significant step in the rise of companies who has ostensibly "defensive" patent strategies show their true colours. Microsofts noises about patents and Linux is part of the same trend.

Those who live by the douchebag... (1)

straponego (521991) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959932)

...die by the douchebag. Something like that. Couldn't happen to a nicer company. Oh, that reminds me, for years I've done much of my holiday shopping on Amazon. This year, I don't think so. Who do you guys suggest for books and movies, preferably both in one site?

Re:Those who live by the douchebag... (0, Flamebait)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960306)

Try your local independent stores, jackass. Feeding multinational corporations online doesn't help anybody except for the executives in said multinational corporations, and UPS. Try spending that money locally, with people who actually pay taxes, and contribute back to your community in lots of different ways.

Re:Those who live by the douchebag... (1)

straponego (521991) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960866)

All of the gifts I buy online are shipped to other states. You're saying I should, what, drive them to their recipients? Maybe ride my bike there? Seems... inefficient. I buy locally when it is a reasonable option. I even have a bias toward doing so. So... take your assumptions, print them out on thick hemp-based paper, fold them into a nice sharp origami shapes, and shove them up your ass, you self-righteous prick.

This reeks of, (1)

Grand Facade (35180) | more than 7 years ago | (#16959988)

If you don't scratch me here, I'm going to stab you there...

"Where's my tee shirt? Oh! There it is."
It says,
"US Patent Office, selling monopoly rights to common sense for over 25 years"

When are they going to figure it out?

Why only Amazon? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16960014)

FTA:

Amazon is accused of infringing on five IBM patents, including technologies that govern how the site recommends products to customers, serves up advertising and stores data.

Some of the patents were first filed in the 1980s, including one titled "Ordering Items Using an Electronic Catalog."

"Given that time frame, these are very fundamental inventions for e-commerce and how to do it on the network," said John Kelly III, IBM's senior vice president for intellectual property. "Much, if not all, of Amazon's business is built on top of this property."


By this description, it would seem that IBM is entitled to sue just about every online vendor on the web today.

For maximum patent lawsuit profits, I think they should hit the iTunes store next, then work their way down the list of all domains until the profit from the lawsuits drops to less than $10K per victim.

The potential for a cash grab is absolutely insane here, they could bankrupt just about every single online vendor on the web, though that might be counterproductive to their hardware sales, however if the lawsuit profits can be invested and grow at a rate greater than hardware sales profits, I guess that wouldn't matter and IBM could abandon hardware sales and simply manage investment funds started with lawsuit profits.

This is definitely the beginning of the end of online commerce.

Re:Why only Amazon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16960618)

I.E. Buy all your hardware from us, or we will sue you.

Ohh Crap!! (1)

bossvader (560071) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960234)

I just sorted a list of products in my spreadsheet!

Am I next?

Oh... guess not... I only have 32 cents in my deep pockets.

just another (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16960454)

This is just another reason to rid the world of Software Patents. There is more then one way to code something.

Lately I begin to wonder.... (4, Interesting)

pjr.cc (760528) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960730)

As I sit there coding some piece of rather innocent software blissfully unaware of the world around me, i wonder how many patents im infringing with every line of code....

This is quite seriously scary stuff in my opinion and just goes to emphasize how we really shouldnt have software patents in the first place. Sadly, im a big fan of big blue and dislike amazon quite alot.

I wonder how many people, who code just "stumble" on the same idea. If you locked a coder in a black box and told him write a site that sells things online and make it "feature" rich, how many patents would he infringe?

The broad nature of the patents (or at least how they are described in the article) makes me pray to god IBM dont win this one.

What does IBM want? (3, Interesting)

Weezul (52464) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960754)

Does IBM just want money? Do they want Amazon to buy their stuff? Could they be seeking cross licensing deals for Amazon's shit patents?

I'd be lovely if IBM descided that its time someone puts the U.S. patent office out of its missery, but I'm sure this isn't the case if they have been trying to negotiate licensing deals with Amazon. But it might still have that effect if Amazon is stupid.

Patent abstract (1)

carpevita (849940) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960776)

United States Patent 5,319,542
King, Jr. , et al. June 7, 1994
System for ordering items using an electronic catalogue

The disclosed system facilitates the user in electronically ordering items from suppliers. The system is comprised of an Electronic Catlogue and an Electronic Requisition facility. The Electronic Catalogue includes a Public Catalog and a Private Catalogue. The Public Catalog is stored on a publicly available database for access by customer/Requestors. The Private Catalogue is resident on a Customer's computer system and may contain unique pricing data based on pricing agreements. The Electronic Requisition facility is used by the Customer/Requestors to electronically create purchase requisitions based upon the information provided in the catalogues and route the requisitions through the appropriate approval process within he enterprise. Requisitions are then processed through the customer's procurement system and transmitted electronically as purchase orders to Suppliers."

Wow, that's just pathetic (2, Insightful)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 7 years ago | (#16960854)

This just heavily underscores why the duration of patents needs to be drastically shortened, with no option for extension. Ten years or less would be sufficient.
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