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Investment Companies Backing Patent Trolls

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the arms-merchants-in-the-patent-wars dept.

Patents 147

greenbird sends us to Forbes for an account of billions in investments flowing to US patent troll companies. One example is DeepNines, who is suing McAfee over a patent that covers combining an IDS and firewall in a single device. The patent was filed on May 17, 2000 and issued on June 6, 2006. No prior art for that, no siree. DeepNines is funded by "an $8 million zero-coupon note to Altitude Capital Partners, a New York City private equity firm, promising in return a cut of any winnings stemming from the lawsuit. The payout is based on a formula that grants Altitude a percentage that decreases with a bigger award."

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LOL PATENTS RULE LOL (4, Funny)

LOL PATENTS RULE LOL (903720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863573)

LOL PATENTS RULE LOL

Re:LOL PATENTS RULE LOL (1, Funny)

Joey Patterson (547891) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863817)

How many investment companies are backing you?

Mod Parent UP GOD DAMMIT !!! Mod it UP ! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18863969)

Mod Parent UP GOD DAMN IT !!! Mod it UP! Do it now!

Re:LOL PATENTS RULE LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18867083)

Ah, yes. A true patent troll.

Patent trolls get a bad rap on Slashdot (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18863589)

So called patent trolls get a bad rap on Slashdot. I think it's unfair. If there is a hole in the open that can be exploited, you can expect it to be. It's just like when a young man goes to a bar like The Manhole.

This is just free market forces at work. If there was no profit, it wouldn't be viable and nobody would invest in these companies.

Personally I think this whole thing is overblown.

Re:Patent trolls get a bad rap on Slashdot (2, Insightful)

Old Benjamin (1068464) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864629)

I think the real problem is Patents. No we shouldn't abolish them, but we should stop giving frivolous ones. http://www.freepatentsonline.com/crazy.html [freepatentsonline.com] http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn965 [newscientist.com] Google Ridiculous Patent for more Honestly we should have some common sense. Yes you can patent the lightbulb, or A new motor, but some of this stuff is ridiculous.

Re:Patent trolls get a bad rap on Slashdot (3, Insightful)

slazzy (864185) | more than 7 years ago | (#18865587)

I think it would be a good idea to pass a law which would revoke patents from companies where most of their active income wasn't produced from actually selling the product or service which is covered by the patent. That is - companies have to actually sell the product or service which they patented, if they don't, they can't sue anyone else for using it. As long as they actually sell the product or service which is patented, then they can sue other companies and collect royalties on the patent - but these royalties shouldn't exceed their own revenues for their own product. A law like this would make it impossible for the patent troll companies like Acacia Technologies [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acacia_Technologies] to exist. Since patents were created to protect inventors and encourage innovation, not discourage it! Patents aren't all bad, but software patents aren't really needed IMHO because copyright and trademark offer fair and reasonable protection I feel.

Re:Patent trolls get a bad rap on Slashdot (5, Insightful)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 7 years ago | (#18865879)

The problem with that is, there are companies who obtain patents for the sole purpose of ensuring that the technology is available for people to use. Apple does a bit of this, as do a number of other FOSS related companies. If you enforce patents to be used by their owner, you will actually hurt a number of groups with good intentions who help the community a great deal.

As an example, Novell, IBM, Phillips, Redhat, and Sony formed a company called The Open Invention Network [wikipedia.org] , "The Open Invention Network (OIN) is a company that acquires patents and offer them royalty free "to any company, institution or individual that agrees not to assert its patents against the Linux operating system or certain Linux-related applications""

I think a better answer to all of this is to make it MUCH harder to get a patent, and narrow the definition given in the patent as much as possible. That seems to be the real problem, patents are routinely granted that cover things the entity applying for the patent didn't even come up with.

Google this now! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18863601)

Google this now!

Third post!!!

When common sense fails... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18863611)

...to fix the patent system, greed will.

Bloody leeches.

Re:When common sense fails... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18863617)

Ok Slashdot, I'll tell you my first incest experience. It was about 2 years ago; I was 18 and my sister was 16(and a half). We had a cousin staying at our house for the summer and she was either 16 or 17. Got along great with the cousin, but not so great with the sister. She felt she should have the run of the house since I was about to move out to college and I thought she was a bitch. This caused conflict.

  Anyway, the parents were at work, I was chilling in my room, and the two girls were sunbathing/swimming outside. I had nothing for my sister at this point, but my cousin was a different matter. From an objective standpoint, she's good looking. She's the big athlete in the family so the body is pretty good as well. I would post pics, but I'm afraid someone would recognize her(maybe I'll post with the face blurred...). So I can't he;lp but look out my window every now and again to check her out and maybe jack a bit.

  Here's where things get crazy. I'm building up jack material on my cousin, but I can't stop looking at my sister. Cousin is hot, but my sister has a RACK. Her boobs look like they wanna bust out of the bikini. So I start storing images of her as well. It feels a little sick at first, but that just makes things more exciting.

  I want a closer look, so I go outside to the pool and say that I'm going to bust into the booze cabinent and to come inside if they want any. They think it's a great idea and follow me in. They get wasted pretty fast, but I only have a couple drinks. It gets to the point where they're basically passed out on the floor, wearing skimpy bikinis, and I'm sitting there with a raging hard on. So I make the decision.

  I run to the basement to grab a camcorder and set it up in the den where we are. Just then, my grandpa busts through the door, tears off my pants, and fucks me in the ass. He's wearing a cowboy hat. Once he unloads, he runs back out of the house and yells, "I have the weirding way!"

Re:When common sense fails... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18864489)

Well damn.

Re:When common sense fails... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18864561)

What's your gramdpa's phone number?

Re:When common sense fails... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18865577)

...the Aristocrats? ..... WTF?

Fuck man (0, Redundant)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863631)

This is exactly why we need patent reform.

Yay, I modded you down! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18863749)

And I can still post the fact that I modded you down without the mod-down being undone! Yay, comment abuse! Yay!

Seriously though, this would be a great time for FOSS promoters to come and go w00t. I don't know why.

Re:Yay, I modded you down! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18863783)

Next time log out first. sigh.

Can somebody please pick up the slack for this fucking moron?

Sounds like good business (1)

gsergiu (585096) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863641)

Seems like there's money to be made here. Probably google can shed some light on the situation, but where can one find what is needed to apply for a patent as a Canadian? I mean... wtf, RRSPs suck, getting a patent (on everything and anything) seems to be much easier.

There ought to be a law but there isn't (5, Insightful)

philpalm (952191) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863961)

Computer software geeks meet the Big Drug companies. If you Google enough you will find that the lawmakers were in bed with Big Drug Companies who wish that Patent rights laws were stronger.

As opposed to software and other user generated innovations that build upon the writings and methods of those who have gone ahead in the discovery game.
Computer development is linear, you can see how each company leapfrogs another and soon the king of the hill pushes everyone off of their mountain.

Drug companies claim that they discover a certain formula and test the hell out of all side effects before coming to market. They spent all that money and want to be reimburst for the money spent on failures and developments.

Two industries with different methodologies and financial successes yet both are in the same patent boat. There ought to be a law but a King Solomon hasn't decided nor is likely to solve it soon.

Re:There ought to be a law but there isn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18866527)

Drug companies and software companies are in exactly the same business: High initial investment, low marginal cost. It costs $1B to identify a new drug, but $1 to stamp out a pill. It costs $1B to develop a major new software system (e.g. Vista) but $1 to stamp out a DVD image. Both industries rely on patents (and copyright for software) to create the artificial scarcity which allows them to sell their products for more than the marginal cost.

Re:There ought to be a law but there isn't (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 7 years ago | (#18867255)

The king solomon solution in that case would be to cut the child... seriously, a total overhaul of the patent system is really needed not the reinforcement of the current one. There are various solutions to the problem, some have to deal with gradual patent times, getting rid of patents in areas which grew without them, and also try to cut down massively on things which patent trolls live on etc... the solutions would be clear without sacrificing the patent law in areas which grew with it (pharma industries) but the main problem is nobody has the balls to touch it.

Re:Sounds like good business (4, Interesting)

FiniteElementalist (1073824) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864129)

This doesn't suprise me in the least that there is investment in these sorts of companies. Speculators will take bets on all sorts of different aspects of the economy. This could just be a don't pass bet on patent reform, since the trolls stand to make money or be bought out if their patent portfolios aren't overturned. Having a buyout target is good because a buyout will inflate the value of the stock.

Or, there is a possibility that this is just hedging against the effects of patent trolls. With hedging the investors could being trying to remove some of the risk of the targets of patent trolls by putting some money on the troll's position. This will dampen the effect on the portfolio as a whole either if trolls get their way or if not, as it is likely the stocks of the trolls and their targets will be negatively correlated.

If it is actually billions being funneled into trolls I doubt it is all hedging though.

Re:Sounds like good business (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18865271)

Speculators will take bets...

Here are the rules [blackjackinfo.com] . Good luck.

Re:Sounds like good business (2, Insightful)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864345)

But your entire business model hinges on the patent office not reforming. I think this scheme was invented by the lawyers, them being the ones who will ultimately profit the most from this.

Re:Sounds like good business (1)

Radres (776901) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864377)

Why can't someone just patent being a patent troll?

MOD THE PATENT TROLL DOWN!!! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18863773)

MOD THE PATENT TROLL DOWN!!!

Silly companies... (5, Funny)

FlyByPC (841016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863777)

...you don't feed trolls, you mod them down!

ATTN: SWITCHEURS! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18863829)

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Re:ATTN: SWITCHEURS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18867267)

Trying to come up with a lunix variant of this popular copypasta, with not much luck. Any help please?

Prior Art (2, Interesting)

qdygwakf (1092883) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863785)

Is there a clearing house for patent threats and corresponding prior art? A GROKLAW equivalent for prior art is clearly needed.

Re:Prior Art (1)

jkgamer (179833) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863985)

If there isn't, maybe we should start one. And by the way, submit a patent request for the use of a website to assist in prior art searches for patents!

Re:Prior Art (2, Interesting)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863993)

Prior art is irrelevant to these people. In the Alcatel Lucent case MS believed they had legitimately licensed the patents they were later sued over and having acted in good faith could end up paying twice for the same thing. The whole decision, the amount awarded and the fact that it was also against sales in areas outside of US patent jurisdiction was seriously dodgy.

Re:Prior Art (2, Informative)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18866551)

Prior art is irrelevant to these people. In the Alcatel Lucent case MS believed they had legitimately licensed the patents they were later sued over
Umm, what? What is the connection between prior art and the supposed 'belief' Microsoft had that they did have a license?

Prior art can be used to invalidate a patent (or prevent it being issued in the first place). The Microsoft-Alacatel case wasn't about that. It was that Microsoft had a patent license from Fraunhofer, but the issue at hand - MP3s - consists of various functionalities (recording, playback, streaming, etc.), only a few of which were covered by Fraunhofer patents. Other functionalities were covered by Alcatel patents. Therefore Microsoft lost. It doesn't matter that Microsoft 'believed' they had a patent license, what matters is if they actually had a license to all relevant patents. The court ruled that they didn't.

Anyhow, regarding TFA, it is always good to see an article in a mainstream financial publication (Forbes) that is critical of patent trolling.

Re:Prior Art (1)

Temposs (787432) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864033)

After a little Googling, it seems this [wikipatents.com] would be a good place to start.

It seems to have a patent repository, a prior art voting system, and ways to figure out if your idea if patentable.

Re:Prior Art (1)

fat man with a monke (869132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18865453)

Yes, but willful infringement is a whole lot easier to prove if you research beforehand. No research, no knowledge of prior art, no willing infringement.

You can't build a solid economy on IP. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18863809)

In a decade or two we'll likely see that it's impossible to build a solid economy upon intellectual "property". Unlike manufactured goods, IP has no inherent value. At least the material used to make a tangible product is often of some worth, even as scrap. The same can't be said for a patent, or a trademark, or an industrial design. The only way value can be derived from such things is through the use of artificial monopolies and the threat of civil lawsuits and/or other punishment.

A drive through Detroit, Buffalo, or most of the US midwest clearly shows how the manufacturing capacity of the United States is essentially gone. In such areas you'll see abandoned factory after abandoned factory. What's left is minimal, and even those firms are being squeezed out by foreign manufacturers. On one hand, these investment companies can only really put their money in IP. America has very little left in the way of actual manufacturing. Investing in businesses that no longer exist isn't really useful.

But eventually America will have to face the fact that it produces nothing with intrinsic value. All it takes are countries like India and China deciding to ignore American and international IP law, and the main item of production (ie. IP) of the US drops to a value of nil. China and India will exhibit strong economies, due to their actual production of goods with intrinsic value. The economy of the US, built around goods without any intrinsic value, cannot remain strong.

Re:You can't build a solid economy on IP. (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863915)

Hey, aside from IP, you're forgetting about the other major output of the US economy: lawyers and legal work. If IP loses its value, we can just fall back on... oh, wait... never mind.

Maybe I'll just start investing in rupees.

Re:You can't build a solid economy on IP. (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863927)

But eventually America will have to face the fact that it produces nothing with intrinsic value.

But we'll be dead by then, so screw it. Take the money and run, while there's still time.

Re:You can't build a solid economy on IP. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18864035)

But we'll be dead by then, so screw it. Take the money and run, while there's still time.

Dead in ten years? For most of us, that's doubtful.

We only need to look to India and China to see how quickly their economies have grown, even in just the past decade. Their economic growth has been immense. This is because those nations have begun to produce virtually all of goods that are then exported around the world. But their growth has, as mentioned earlier, essentially destroyed the manufacturing base of the US. Europe may not be far behind.

The extremely rapid rise of the economies of Asia may very well be mirrored by a similarly rapid decrease in the economies of the West. And this IP nonsense may even accelerate the process. As the standard of living (and thus the cost of production) rises in areas like India and China, bringing production back to the US may start to look financially viable. But if the producers have to face attacks from these so-called "patent trolls", then the cost may be far too great, and they'll continue to produce in India and China. This in turn will further push America towards an IP-based economy, which will no doubt place even more emphasis on IP litigation.

In essence, it will create a cycle where the lack of a solid manufacturing base will move the American economy towards intangible IP "production", but this increase in IP litigation will further reduce or inhibit the growth of the manufacturing sector, which in turn will push the US economy further towards an IP-based economy, and so forth.

Re:You can't build a solid economy on IP. (2, Interesting)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864191)

Dead in ten years?

Listen, this is nothing new here. It's been going on for hundreds of years, ne, thousands. Unless there's an epiphany, or you get nuked, nothing is going to change. You will trudge on as dutiful as the Chinese do, and you will like it. That's the world being left to you. And chances are you will leave the same thing to your kids... and so on. This is the nature of nature. So, unless you are against nature, you will settle down, have a bunch of kids so there will be somebody to take care of you when you get old, and pay off your debts. And save the morality for when you catch your kid stealing a candy bar. And please do try to understand the true nature of this reply.

Re:You can't build a solid economy on IP. (2, Insightful)

Somnus (46089) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864087)

That's crap. Lossy compression algorithms, for example, are clearly valuable, or people wouldn't use them. Intrinsic versus extrinsic is not at issue, but enforceability and the external consideration of profitability of research v. the public good of free information.

Just as the tractor replaced the plow, automation replaced the assembly line worker, so purely intellectual goods will replace tangible goods.

I predict just the opposite of parent. As China and India develop research regimes, they'll want the same IP protections that the US and Europe demand; they are violating IP now because it is expedient. As long as there is scarcity at all in our economy, IP will be with us.

Re:You can't build a solid economy on IP. (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864135)

Example: The Mechanical Loom, Back in the day it was incredibly valuable to have a copy of those plans to make this machine. What value does a copy have now? Ironically the US made it's wealth at first on natural resources but then from stolen IP from europe. The cycle is just repeating itself in Asia.

Re:You can't build a solid economy on IP. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18864481)

>That's crap. Lossy compression algorithms, for example, are clearly valuable, or people wouldn't use them.

Do they hold monetary value if you pirate them? Does compressing a Quicktime movie with a paid version of Quicktime make that Quicktime movie more valuable than one compressed with a pirated copy? Is the paid for copy of Quicktime more valuable than the pirated copy?

No.

Monetarily, if it's piratable, its value is the cost of pirating it. If the cost of pirating it is virtually nil, as with most all software, then it is worth nothing.

However, if you were to pirate the plans for a computer motherboard (a tangible good), making the pirate copy of it would cost you much more than buying an original. At that point, the value of the plans is the value the motherboard sells for on the open market.

And, of course, which country makes Quicktime? And which country makes the most motherboards? Following that trend, which country has the most value?

America USED TO produce tangible goods that cost a lot to copy. America even USED TO manufacture computers. Now Americans can only manufacture paper tigers. Have you checked the street pricing on origami? It's hard to make a buck on (now watch someone post an eBay link to some $10,000 art auction of a paper tiger...)

Re:You can't build a solid economy on IP. (3, Informative)

vux984 (928602) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864787)

That's crap.

No it isn't.

Lossy compression algorithms, for example, are clearly valuable, or people wouldn't use them.

No, they are clearly useful. That doesn't make it valuable. Value only shows up when there is scarcity.

That is why air, for example, which is essential to life is free. There is (currently) no scarcity.

A lossy compression algorithm, once thought up, is like air. There is be no scarcity of an idea once thought up, except through deliberate and artificial suppression.

At this stage, it takes little more to make an idea or algorithm infinitely available than a decision. In the past, replicating, ideas/algorithms/software/whatever and distributing them was enough of a chore that ideas algorithms and processes were literally scarce, and had value.

But today, in the 'internet age' the price of replicating and distributing information has dropped so close to zero that its almost irrelevant. The only thing that gives them any value, is our collective decision not to make 'unauthorized copies' in order to artificially prop up scarcity, and by extension prop up their value.

If we ever collectively chose not to, its game over for IP. There is nothing intrinsically scare about it (once created).

Re:You can't build a solid economy on IP. (1)

Somnus (46089) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864929)

You didn't read my post. I understand that freely available information is a public good -- it is precisely because data is cheap to replicate. The issue is incentivizing the research behind innovation.

Re:You can't build a solid economy on IP. (4, Insightful)

radtea (464814) | more than 7 years ago | (#18865131)

The issue is incentivizing the research behind innovation.

I think he did read your post and you're talking past each other.

He is pointing out that bits can be copied for free. You are pointing out that to prevent that we need robust laws to stop people from copying bits for free. I'm pretty sure he understands your point. He just thinks you're wrong.

Material goods are easy to protect from copying because they are relatively hard to copy. "IP" is inherently copyable at almost zero cost, and therefore has no market value unless that value is created by an artificial scarcity produced by extremely expensive laws, with all of their outrageous secondary effects like the creation of patent trolls. There is no evidence that "IP" when so protected can ever generate sufficient wealth to pay for the legal infrastructure required to maintain the required artificial scarcity, much less support the parasitic growths that that legal structure will necessarily attract.

It may be possible to generate sufficient artificial scarcity at a low enough overhead cost to create a primarily "IP" based economy, but it would be extremely foolish to bet the future of your country on it.

Re:You can't build a solid economy on IP. (1)

Somnus (46089) | more than 7 years ago | (#18865933)

I completely agree with you that digital IP enforcement is a nightmare. However, we're talking patents here as well -- they are indeed costly to enforce, but it's not the same as "making water unwet" like with pure data.

I read his/her post as making the case that material scarcity is what should drive the law. That's totally besides the point: the issue is incentives for innovation production. Copyright and patents do create artificial scarcity (intended to be temporary) to achieve this end; what is a viable alternative?

Re:You can't build a solid economy on IP. (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18866653)

Material goods are easy to protect from copying because they are relatively hard to copy.

You can say that, but for how long will this be the case? I don't think copying something is very hard right now, and the barriers seem to continue to go down.

What happens when anyone can copy anything? I'm trying to figure out the economic consequences of that when it is carried out that far. It doesn't seem as if a person can make money using their talents to improve on something. I'm skeptical that the equivalent of tip money can make it worthwhile, it would seem to turn artisans, engineers and designers into beggars like many OSS projects seem to be these days. I suppose musicians can make money with live performances, but would that actually be a money draw? Recorded media seems to have reduced the desire for live bands. Heck, if the wedding market is any indication, services like DJs are simply being replaced with the likes of playlists.

Re:You can't build a solid economy on IP. (2, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 7 years ago | (#18867287)

You can say that, but for how long will this be the case? I don't think copying something is very hard right now, and the barriers seem to continue to go down.

For the foreseeable future at least. You can give me the complete specs on a Core 2 Duo chip, and I still won't be able to make my own for less than what it would cost to buy one.

Even the desk in my office, which I probably could 'copy' if I were really inclined to probably isn't worth it once you factor in the time, material cost, and tools cost.

What happens when anyone can copy anything?

Well then we live in "star trek utopia land", and everybody is happy and free; and we can all run pointless creole themed restaurants and serve food to people who got tired of asking the replicator for it themselves. ;)

I'm trying to figure out the economic consequences of that when it is carried out that far. It doesn't seem as if a person can make money using their talents to improve on something. I'm skeptical that the equivalent of tip money can make it worthwhile, it would seem to turn artisans, engineers and designers into beggars like many OSS projects seem to be these days. I suppose musicians can make money with live performances, but would that actually be a money draw? Recorded media seems to have reduced the desire for live bands. Heck, if the wedding market is any indication, services like DJs are simply being replaced with the likes of playlists.

If somehow energy and matter could be had in limitless quantities such that we could just run off a copy of anything we wanted from our replicator box, we wouldn't really need money because there'd be no reason to buy anything. Musicians would create music because they wanted to, or perhaps to pursue fame and celebrity. Artisans, engineers, and designers will create buildings for the same reasons.

At least that's the star trek version of such an "economy". Or maybe the whole thing will be reduced to a mad rush to obtain supplies of dylithium crystals, or Tiberium, or Melange....because that's the only thing left with any scarcity and value.

Personally I think if you give the average person limitless energy and the power to copy whatever they want, sooner or later someone will destroy the planet.

There's never enough room for all the pigs. (2, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#18865125)

so purely intellectual goods will replace tangible goods. I predict just the opposite of parent. As China and India develop research regimes, they'll want the same IP protections that the US and Europe demand; they are violating IP now because it is expedient. As long as there is scarcity at all in our economy, IP will be with us.

"IP" laws are designed to create scarcity and the laws enforcing them will always be oppressive. A country that tries to build an economy on, "you can't do that because I say I thought of it first" is doomed. There will always be morally repugnant cases like life saving medicines that other nations will use as an excuse to exercise their freedoms. The "IP" nation will be forced to ever more hysterical and anti-social enforcement. Don't even bother with China and India as examples, first world nations want their freedom too.

The easiest example is software. M$ and other US companies would like to shut down or tax every other software company on Earth. They intend to do this with bogus patents and DRM'd hardware. If you think the rest of the world will allow themselves to be subjugated that way, you need to think some more. The US can threaten trade embargo and other measures, but it's not going to work.

Even in the most cynical case, where every country has it's own oligarchies, the competition between companies and industries will ruin any kind of "IP" empire. Such an arrangement would be devastating to the world economy and I can only hope we go towards free competition and away from government granted monopolies. The IP world you envision will be a dark age, where news is censored, history lost and technology stagnates for centuries. Taken to it's limit, you get a Byzantine system where everything is obsessively regulated but utterly lawless and a few constantly squabble for control of an ever shrinking pie. It is the death of civilization.

Re:There's never enough room for all the pigs. (1)

Somnus (46089) | more than 7 years ago | (#18865969)

You've made the case that the current IP regime is broken (patents too easily granted, prior art, overly long patent/copyright extension), not that IP is fundamentally broken. [You may wish to read the other branch under my first reply.]

Specifically, software and drug patents are more contentious than machine and business process patents.

Re:There's never enough room for all the pigs. (2, Interesting)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 7 years ago | (#18866037)

M$ and other US companies would like to shut down or tax every other software company on Earth.

I hate to break it to you, troll [slashdot.org] , but "M$" is getting nailed [slashdot.org] by the very system you claim they enjoy. Ever heard of Eolas? [w3.org] I'd really appreciate it if you showed us a single instance of Microsoft (oh, "M$") using a patent offensively. That does not include FAT32, which is about as common a licensing scheme as it comes in the hardware world.

Microsoft plays the game [ffii.org] the same way IBM [ibm.com] and everyone [slashdot.org] else [slashdot.org] does [slate.com] to protect themselves from the patent trolls [slashdot.org] . The system is broken. Constantly harping on why "M$ is teh bad" like Stallman [newsforge.com] is not going to help much.

It's good and right that they suffer. (0, Troll)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#18866785)

"M$" is getting nailed by the very system you claim they enjoy.

They not only enjoy patent nonsense [slashdot.org] , they helped make it so awefull to begin with. M$, though freely violating other people's work, has been a major backer of laws like the DMCA. Vista and the genuine disadvantage of XP should be enough to show you where they want things to go. Why you want to be dragged along and defend them at every step is beyond me. Like so many non free software schemes, software patents are so toxic and anti-social that they also harm those who sought to use them in the first place.

I'd really appreciate it if you showed us a single instance of Microsoft (oh, "M$") using a patent offensively.

I'd say the above linked rants of Mr. Balmer are terribly offensive. The SCO lawsuits are an example of M$ abusing copyrights by proxy. In the patent case, I can agree with some of the things a younger M$ said about patents and losers. They may not have meant those things when they said them, but they were fine words all the same. Those that can't innovate, litigate before they go out of business.

Re:You can't build a solid economy on IP. (1)

Watson Ladd (955755) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864169)

If the factories are still there the capacity still exists. What is lost is the will to put the unemployed people on the unemployed machines, and make products that far to many people in America don't have. This is a symptom of the disease of free-market madness.

Re:You can't build a solid economy on IP. (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864383)

China and India will exhibit strong economies, due to their actual production of goods with intrinsic value.
Selling to whom? If the US economy goes down it'll take India & China (US represents ~20% of their exports) with it.

The economy of the US, built around goods without any intrinsic value, cannot remain strong
The US produces IP because it's more value added. Any item you make has IP in it's design. The US has just seperated the IP generation from the item production - designed by Apple in California, built in China. If IP is not protected in China, then the US will go back to design in the US build in the US. It will also leave idle many Chinese factories that have depended on building US designed products.

Re:You can't build a solid economy on IP. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18864643)

Selling to whom? If the US economy goes down it'll take India & China (US represents ~20% of their exports) with it.

Only an American would make such a stupid comment. There are over 2 billion people between India and China. There are 2 billion more in the immediate vicinity. There are just over 300 million people in the US. Europe only adds another 700 million people or so. Yeah, that's right. The combined European and American market is miniscule compared to that of India, China, and their neighbors. They'd take at most a temporary hit were their exports to America and Europe to be halted. And soon enough they'd be supplying their goods to their own citizenry and their neighboring nations.

The US produces IP because it's more value added. Any item you make has IP in it's design.

Yeah, but it's the manufactured item that holds the real value. You can have all the IP you want; if you don't have the capability to turn that IP into an actual product, you're economically fucked. And today it's America that has come to lack those manufacturing capabilities.

If IP is not protected in China, then the US will go back to design in the US build in the US.

Wrong. Oh, so wrong. Most of the factories in the US have been shut down for some time. The cost to bring them back into service would be extremely expensive. And even then, they probably couldn't compete on cost with the Asian manufacturers. Regardless of what your uninformed brain tells you, the major factor here is cost. That's what economics revolves around: cost.

It will also leave idle many Chinese factories that have depended on building US designed products.

Hopefully by now you see how foolish this argument is.

Re:You can't build a solid economy on IP. (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18866801)

The "lack" of manufacturing in the US is overstated. There may be fewer manufacturing jobs, those still in manufacturing have generally increased in productivity. The manufacturing that has gone overseas is the lower skilled work.

http://www.newyorkfed.org/research/current_issues/ ci12-2/ci12-2.html [newyorkfed.org]

I'm not convinced that manufacturing is a panacea for anyone. Right now, it's largely based on consumerism, and "need" for the next big thing or keeping up with the Joneses when it's just not relevant and current behaviors are not sustainable on a global scale.

Re:You can't build a solid economy on IP. (3, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864449)

Pish posh. The US has plenty of manufacturing capacity. Only recently has China started to overtake the US in exports of real goods(points 4,5 and 6):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/evandavis/ 2007/04/the_state_of_trade.html [bbc.co.uk]

Note that the US is the largest exporter overall. Even foreign companies build many of their cars here:

http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1004876,0 0.html [time.com]
http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2007-03-22-ame rican-usat_N.htm [usatoday.com]

Re:You can't build a solid economy on IP. (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864813)

Last I checked, those countries also make plenty of manufactured crap with little to no intrinsic value.

Alternate View (1)

mike2R (721965) | more than 7 years ago | (#18867221)

The US economy is moving towards the only area which has longterm viability - IP.

With the inevitable invention of machines capable of fabricating any item at a molecular scale, the US is fortunate that its economy has already started to transition away from the soon-to-be-obsolete area of manufacturing.

Not going to happen quite yet, but I bet we have Diamond Age type manufacturing long before we ever see an end to IP law.

I wanna be a troll too! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18863813)

Now I wanna be a troll! Lemme see...

Macs rule!

Dick Cheney is the most evil person in all history!

Air Supply is the best band ever!

You suck!

Lovely (3, Funny)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863851)

I'm surprised this hasn't become a Vegas sporting event. It's got to be better than off track betting. I can see the old farts waiting in the Kino lounge for three years for verdict, while the guards are carrying out the cadavers of those who couldn't hold out. What a country!

How is this news? (5, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863895)

Newsflash: investments flow to companies that stand a chance at making money.

The problem is with current patent laws and the incompetence of the Patent Office with regards to IP. Companies exist to make a profit within the bounds of the law. The law is what we should be focusing on here, not the obvious fact that investors want to...wait for it...get a return on their investment.

Re:How is this news? (1)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864137)

What happen to the importance of the intent of the law, instead of the law unjustly applied.....
I'm so fucking tired of everyone (companies and people) trying to find loopholes so they
don't have to work hard. Whatever happen to doing a good job? When did everyone start to screw
eachother over? Maybe I just didn't notice it till now but it smells like poo.

Re:How is this news? (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864591)

It's been going on since before Hammurabi wrote down his laws. Maybe it's hard coded into our DNA at some level.

No news there. Greed is a loser. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#18865187)

Newsflash: investments flow to companies that stand a chance at making money. The problem is with current patent laws and the incompetence of the Patent Office ...

People who invest in greed are more often robbed than the intended victim.

mo3 up (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18863901)

AND HELP US! [goat.cx]

This is ridiculous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18863903)

These lawyers are mining ideas as if they are some kind of intellectual resource to be extracted from the companies that are adding the *real* commercial value -- you know, by actually implementing something.

Oh, wait, I already claimed that intellectual territory ten years ago I have exclusive rights to develop it. You owe me money, and I've signed up a bunch of investors to push the case through the courts. What are you going to do? Tear down all your work now that you've built your business on it? HA! Pay up!

Commerce under these circumstances is like building hotels on beachfront property where nobody knows who owns the land or where the boundaries are. Best not to build there in the first place, even though that wouldn't exactly be good for business ("innovation").

Ugh... (1)

Hellken242 (897869) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863921)

This article actually makes me a little sick, especially this quote: "We are focused on obtaining jury verdicts," he says. "That's why we put our own money at risk, all the way from acquisition through appeal." Sad that an important and inherently useful system like the patent is being used to such evil ends.

Is an idea worth anything? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863965)

Yes, a pure idea — without implementation?

If it is worth anything, then it can be sold.

And the more such companies there are, who compete for ideas, the higher the price...

So, in principle, it is good news, that the buyers of ideas are well funded.

It sucks, that, in practice, the patents are often too broad, but the principle is great. One can market a patented idea with possible implementors without fear of seeing it stolen, etc.

Re:Is an idea worth anything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18864867)

An idea -- even a really good one -- is usually worth nothing to the creator/inventor.

Getting a patent on an idea is worth a lot.

There's a big difference. It's why most of the mathematicians solving really difficult problems don't get rich from it; nor do the scientists testing the theoretical bounds of our knowledge. The person who gets rich is the one who takes the mathematicians' work and patents it (actually patents its "implementation," but they're essentially the same when we're talking about software patents).

This is a government-enforced monopoly on ideas, benefitting not the ones who come up with new ideas, but copycats and scoundrels. In theory, it's a nice idea... reward people for new ideas. In practice, it does exactly the opposite. It goes so far as to punish people if their ideas happen to be tangentially related to someone else's ideas, even by coincidence.

This is the exact opposite of what you hope for. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#18865375)

... it is good news, that the buyers of ideas are well funded.

Such is the confusion of Intellectual Property. You can't talk intelligently about all of the specific protections created by government for Trademarks, Patents and Copyright at the same time, though each embodies original "ideas". Each protection is created to encourage a specific part of the economy and each has strict limits.

In the Patent case, what you are seeing is exactly the opposite of the intent of patent laws. Patents are granted so that people will share their inventions! People will always improve their craft in a free society. Patents grant an exclusive franchise to specific inventions - non obvious techniques for doing specific things. It's not just an idea and it should always be practical for it to be granted. Without the franchise grant, people would keep their improvements to themselves and the state of the art would stagnate. In theory, paptens encourage people to share what they know, so everyone is more productive. Patent trolls are taking out franchises on obvious inventions, or even methods, often with prior art to rob others. At the very least, they will encourage people to keep their methods secret. People abusing patents rob real inventors of their livelyhoods and cost all of us. At wost, they will destroy what's left of US industry and convert the country into a parasitic empire.

Ownership of ideas is a very dangerous and oppressive thing.

Quite the risk (2, Insightful)

The Second Horseman (121958) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863995)

If too much money from institutional investors or hedge funds gets tied up here, it could be really, really bad. The sort of thing that can make economies collapse. The LTCM mess in 1998 is a good example - there was a massive bailout organized. It couldn't be allowed to fail - it would've taken too many things with it. So, why not? If you're a big enough fund, you get bailed out. If you're not, you're never on the hook for more than a small percentage of what you grabbed. So when I hear about this stuff, it just seems like an amazing gamble. Barely better than investing in lottery tickets, really. Geez, bet people feel good about those 401k/403b fund right now.

Why not just buy lottery tickets? (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864053)

Seriously. Investing in these kinds of companies versus millions of dollars in lottery tickets. What's the difference? About the same odds and the same payout.

Save yourself the trouble and the time in court and the lawyers fees - and just buy lottery tickets.

Re:Why not just buy lottery tickets? (1)

jon287 (977520) | more than 7 years ago | (#18865975)

It is actually illegal to buy large blocks of lottery tickets for this very reason.

living outside US I don't risk lawsuit ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18864077)

... so I could write:

You bastards! You killed US corporate creativity!

Keep at it, USA! (3, Insightful)

FFFish (7567) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864103)

Soon you'll be an IP wasteland, completely bereft of innovation as those with ideas seek other countries in which to make their money, out of desire to avoid US patent litigation.

First you export your manufacturing labour. Now you're exporting your brains. WTF do you think you're going to do for business in the future?

Re:Keep at it, USA! (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864409)

WTF do you think you're going to do for business in the future?
Export our lawyers.

Re:Keep at it, USA! (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864895)

Lawyer paratroops. Parachutes definitely optional.

Re:Keep at it, USA! (1)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864923)

WTF do you think you're going to do for business in the future?

Export our lawyers.


Only if they can be exported to Golgafrincham [wikipedia.org]

Re:Keep at it, USA! (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864927)

we'll export our bombs (grim i know), but once we run out of those (and we will), we'll do what the mexicans do to us, we'll jump your borders, marry your women, and take your jerrbs : )

Re:Keep at it, USA! (1)

infiniphonic (657188) | more than 7 years ago | (#18865147)

Very shortly there will not be much business done in the United States. Most Americans will be absorbed into the Matrix very soon. The energy that our tubed bodies produce will be used to run the eternal server that Bill Gates consciousness has been transferred to. By that time the whole country will be painted the color of Windows 98 because Vista was not a hit and they had lots of grey and blue lying around.

Re:Keep at it, USA! (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18866601)

First [you, the USA] export your manufacturing labour. Now you're exporting your brains. WTF do you think you're going to do for business in the future?
Easy question. There is one industry that is extremely successful and has no current risk of being outsourced. I am speaking of course of the entertainment industry, mainly hollywood (music has more overseas competition, for what hollywood produces, there isn't much). The Chinese may build the TVs, but US actors will be appearing on many of them.

Re:Keep at it, USA! (1)

Daychilde (744181) | more than 7 years ago | (#18867271)

Yeah, because it's *only* the US doing this stuff... Mmm-hmm...

So i guess I am in violation (2, Interesting)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864121)

Since I have a single device, a linux box, running tripwire and iptables...

Well, Its real then! (1)

cabd (970146) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864159)

Everybody here has been hyping about how lawsuits are going to become a revenue stream for cooperations. Welcome to 2007, where any lawsuit, as long as your wallet is deep enough, is funding.
Could this be the year when we see patent reform?
I really hope so, but my gut feeling tells me that it's not gonna happen, America. Too bad, so sad.
If I want to move to somewhere that has sane laws, does anyone have any suggestions?

BlackICE == Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18864371)

The BlackICE intrusion-prevention system put IDS and firewall on the same device. It shipped in 1999.

But, I patented that.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18864435)

I patented the process of investing in companies who patent things.. so now I can shut y'all down and license my process.

Wouldn't it be funny (2, Interesting)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864709)

Wouldn't it be funny if it turned out that China & Co were actually waging economic terrorism on the states via these investment firm's taste for litigation?

The irony would be delectable.

How to export jobs from the US (1)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864737)

These absurd IP Laws and Congresses unwillingness to do anything about it will come back to haunt the What is the status of US IP Laws in China and India and other countries? Copyright is one thing, but US patent law has got completely out of control. If these countries don't sign on to US IP law (the way US client states like Australia have), they will make themselves more attractive centers for IT industry and investment.

Re:How to export jobs from the US (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864965)

"will make themselves"?

how about have made themselves..

the cs programs in the us have been gutted by outsourcing to those nations faster than inner cities were gutted by interstates.

now we have stories of "shortages" of it labor (with the unstated qualifier of 'willing to work at chinese/indian wages').

Uh, why not make sure it's invalid first? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864977)

One example is DeepNines, who is suing McAfee over a patent that covers combining an IDS and firewall in a single device. The patent was filed on May 17, 2000 and issued on June 6, 2006. No prior art for that, no siree.

Is there? I've never seen a combination device like this prior to 2000. Can anybody cite an actual example instead of just saying "no siree" and assuming we'd all just get in the mob and believe there's prior art?

Re:Uh, why not make sure it's invalid first? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18865243)

Just make them two different devices that plug into each other really really easily. Thus, get around the "combining" patent. Silly patents require silly solutions.

Re:Uh, why not make sure it's invalid first? (1)

eli pabst (948845) | more than 7 years ago | (#18865457)

Portsentry (an IDS) version Beta 0.61 was released at least prior to May 8 1999 (according to wayback) and although ipchains wasn't yet released, ipfw was still the linux firewall. So any one who ran PortSentry on Linux (or BSD) was running a "a single device that combined a firewall and IDS". I would bet there were prior IDS's that predate that as well.

Re:Uh, why not make sure it's invalid first? (1)

eli pabst (948845) | more than 7 years ago | (#18865699)

I've never used it, but I believe the NetRanger device (now owned Cisco) did IDS monitoring and had firewall capability as well.

Here is a review dated 1999 talking a 2nd gen version and mentions both firewall and IDS capability and is truly a dedicated device:
http://www.networkcomputing.com/1023/1023f14.html? ls=NCJS_1023bt [networkcomputing.com]

Patent is invalid -- prior art - 1999 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18866227)

A company called Alteon Websystems Inc (acquired by Nortel in 2000) had a capability called WCR (Web Cache Redirection) which could be applied with a filter, that does EXACTLY what this patent claims. The feature had been in the product since 1998, maybe early 1999 at the latest. I deployed several web farms with this technology in early 1999, so I know its valid prior art. The WCR feature could be used to redirect ANY traffic, after it was passed through a set of firewall rules, a final firewall rule would forward it to a server.

This levels the playing field. (2, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864999)

Up to now only the big guys could enforce patents. Patents were ignored in new designs. Portfolios of patents were accumulated to use as cross-licensing bargaining chips when another big player squalked.

This innovation - financing the suit for a cut of the potential payment via a bond - lets anybody with a patent play in the enforcement game without putting the rest of their operations at risk. A little guy can enforce a patent on a big guy. The investors take the loss if he loses, a cut if he wins. Meanwhile his capital is safe and his ongoing operations (if any) can continue. Risk is assumed by people with enough money to survive losses and experience in spreading it appropriately and balancing risk and reward to achieve reasonable investment income and security.

Of course that will change the game entirely: A player financing his suit this way has little incentive to agree to a payoff in the form of a cross-license. And the less operation he has for a counter-suit to disrupt the less opportunity there is for counter-blackmail. (Limiting case is for a "patent troll", of course. But for a small enough operation taking on a big enough opponent it might be a better deal to respond to a counter-claim by folding the actual operation and living off the proceeds of the patent suit.)

The result, of course, is that a large number of patents held by little guys that are being blatantly infringed by big guys will now become enforcible and trigger an explosion of such suits.

Possible fallout:
  - The big guys have to pay all the little guys for all the patents they've been blatantly infringing for years.
  - Companies (ESPECIALLY large ones) will have to start paying attention to patented prior art.
  - IP law gets rewritten to abort this scenario.

All of these - except SOME forms of the last - seem like they might end up being a good deal for the little guys.

Meanwhile the little guys have shallow pockets and aren't at significantly more risk from this than they already were from the big guys and the existing patent trolls.

Re:This levels the playing field. (1)

jt2377 (933506) | more than 7 years ago | (#18865405)

level what field? bullshit is a bullshit no matter how you slice and dice it. if this level the playing field then allow me to shove my shits down your throat!

Interlectual property right? (1)

streetphantom (1075615) | more than 7 years ago | (#18866241)

Trolls with a high gloss, shiny finish? I thought of that years ago ! !

this i5p goatsex (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18866999)

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