×

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

Thank you!

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

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

Patent Reform Bill Approved by House Committee

CowboyNeal posted more than 6 years ago | from the long-time-coming dept.

Patents 95

Alex Forster pointed us to this PC World story that opens, "The House Committee on the Judiciary approved far-reaching legislation to reform the nation's patent system Wednesday. The Patent Reform Act of 2007 largely reflects the IT sector's lobbying effort to curtail lengthy, expensive patent infringement lawsuits, but Wednesday's committee deliberations centered on finding compromises acceptable to opponents — namely the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, manufacturers, and large research universities — so that the bill could win approval. Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., described the current patent system as inefficient, bogged down by inappropriate litigation rules, unreliably funded, and resulting in patents of "questionable quality." The bill would make it harder to secure a patent and easier for rivals to challenge one, and it would change how courts determine an infringed patent's value."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

95 comments

Patent Band-aid Bill slithers out of Committee (5, Insightful)

UncleWilly (1128141) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925083)

..would have been a better title. No real reform here. Just business as usual.

Re:Patent Band-aid Bill slithers out of Committee (2, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925417)

Care to cite examples? Or is this just a generally "I am cool because I am a skeptic" response?

Tagged: tinysteps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19925449)

Tagged: tinysteps

I must thank the Communists... (5, Interesting)

aneeshm (862723) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925841)

The current Indian government is a coalition, and the Communist Party of India are one of the major members, without whose support the coalition would collapse.

Though I am staunchly in favour of the free market, I still must thank the communists for one thing - they made algorithms (mathematical and non mathematical), programs, business methods/models, and software in general unpatentable, by including it in the 2005 Patent Amendments Act.

Before that, software was patentable in the limited sense of it being a component of hardware - like the microcode of a chip, for example - basically at the point where the differences between hardware and software became a bit blurred. Now, however, it falls under the list of things which are explicitly unpatentable.

I find it extremely ironic, and a bit sad at the same time, that it is the Communists Party of India which essentially stood up for freedom and a truly freer market.

Re:I must thank the Communists... (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 6 years ago | (#19927179)

Though I am staunchly in favour of the free market

Oh good grief. Anyone who supports intellectual property has completely given up the right to say they're in favor of the "free market". There's nothing "free market" about IP laws.

Re:I must thank the Communists... (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 6 years ago | (#19927957)

Somebody didn't read the post they were replying to!

Re:I must thank the Communists... (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 6 years ago | (#19936479)

I read it just fine. He said he was in favor of a "free market", but he didn't denounce the idea of patents altogether - just software patents/algorithms. Since he is not disagreeing with the existence of other types of patents, he is not really truly in favor of a free market.

Re:I must thank the Communists... (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 6 years ago | (#19936757)

I read it just fine. He said he was in favor of a "free market", but he didn't denounce the idea of patents altogether - just software patents/algorithms.
So? You didn't denounce Hitler, but I don't assume you're a nazi. An argument from silence isn't worth the pixels it doesn't occupy.

Take your strawmen elsewhere (1)

Lockejaw (955650) | more than 6 years ago | (#19928075)

People who favor a free market generally recognize that it is not the solution to everything.

Re:Take your strawmen elsewhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19936001)

Yeah, it's obvious that a free market is the incorrect solution when it provides competition to yourself.

Re:Patent Band-aid Bill slithers out of Committee (1)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925855)

I agree exactly... The one thing they didnt even talk about was the patent cross licensing issue... This business tactic profits very large established players and basically blocks out any new competition.... This, in my opinion, is the worst part of the current patent system...

It would appear that the only real competition left in the software world is OSS. Its kind of hard to sue an OSS project...

Re:Patent Band-aid Bill slithers out of Committee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19926283)

Wednesday's committee deliberations centered on finding compromises acceptable to opponents -- namely the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, manufacturers, and large research universities

In other words, the people who pull "our" puppet legislators' strings; those who finance "our" political campaigns. As long as you're allowed to "donate" to more than one candidate in any given race, and donate to candidates you aren't eligible to vote for, America's Plutocratic form of government is not going to change.

We have the best government money can buy!

-mcgrew

Actually, quite substantive (1)

PatentMagus (1083289) | more than 6 years ago | (#19926689)

This bill does a lot to make the US patent system align with the EU one.

Furthermore, it establishes a first to file system, meaning the first inventor to file gets the patent. Currently, we go through lots of litigation involving signed lab books and "dilligent" pursuit of the invention. In the future, we'll just look at the filing date. Prior art still invalidates applications as before.

It also introduces a method for submitting prior art for the examiner's consideration before a patent issues. That means the thing can be squashed before a troll uses it to sue somebody.

There's more, but we're still digesting it at my firm.

Re:Actually, quite substantive (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 6 years ago | (#19928453)

Does it define prior art?

One of the ways that the current system is broken is not allowing publication on web-searchable pages to be considered prior art. Perhaps they NOW consider publication in SourceForge to be prior art, but they didn't last year, and since that's an administrative decision, it may be reversed at any time. FWIW, I suspect that even if they now consider publication in SourceForge to be prior are, they probably don't consider CodeHaus, and almost certainly don't consider the Linux Kernel Mailing List.

In some ways this is because the current model is based around isolated inventors working in secret (counting a corporation as one inventor), so it's merely inertia. In other ways, however, it feels more like "Money Talks".

So...what's prior art? Is it defined in the law, or is it an administrative decision?

Caution: IANAL...and especially not a patent lawyer.

Re:Actually, quite substantive (1)

PatentMagus (1083289) | more than 6 years ago | (#19931739)

Prior art is defined by law under 35 USC 102. 35 USC 103 refers to 102. The letter of the law says "printed publication". The reform act also says printed pub, but also says "in public use". The administrative decision is based on 1) web stuff isn't a "printed publication" and 2) the difficulty the USPTO has in determining the date of publication/public use.

All it takes is one case going to court on the issue and the administrative decision will have to change. If it can be proven that the code was available on a publicly available reposisitory at the time an application was filed, then a judge should be pretty hemmed in by the "in public use by another" language in 102. That or some leaning on of senators/congress critters to get the "printed publication" language changed to "provably published" or some such thing.

Also notice that the new language says "may not be patented" if ... printed pub/public use ... The old says "entitled to a patent unless" ... This is also huge. It means a patent can be denied for other reasons. We'll see if it works that way.

"Far-reaching"? (5, Interesting)

pieterh (196118) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925129)

This bill is a small tweak of the system that cures the worst symptoms but does not fix the disease. It's at best a recognition that the US patent system is not perfect, and at worst a band-aid that will delay real reform.

There's no substantive changes, no change of the economic incentives that drive specialists to claim every plausible invention in the name of speculative future profits. As long as experts can claim exclusive ownership of the software commons, the patent system is broken, and it'll continue to punish real innovators by creating unpredictable risk.

Real innovators don't even seek patents. 80% of VC-funded software firms don't claim patents within four years of being funded. [digitalmajority.org] The whole patent system is a fraud, a tax on the consumer, and a blight on high-tech industries. This bill just perpetuates the fraud a little longer.

What is needed is a total review of what patents are for, why society should grant them, and how this should operate in a post-industrial world. Compare, for example, the trademark system (an industrial-age protection) with the domain name system (proper digital age protection of the same thing), and you see what could be possible.

Re:"Far-reaching"? (4, Insightful)

pzs (857406) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925245)

Real innovators don't even seek patents. 80% of VC-funded software firms don't claim patents within four years of being funded. The whole patent system is a fraud, a tax on the consumer, and a blight on high-tech industries. This bill just perpetuates the fraud a little longer.

I totally agree with this. There is an Audi advert here in the UK where they claim that their new car is very innovative because during its production, they filed more patents than NASA did whilst developing the space shuttle. They fail to mention that NASA is government funded and focussed on progress and innovation, so they have much less interest in slapping a "this is mine" sticker on any half-idea they have and charging everybody to use it.

This is actually related to this [slashdot.org] discussion. Number of research papers is not necessarily proportional to the quality of the research because (duh) somebody might publish one really amazing paper which contributes more than 15 crappy papers.

It strikes me that the patent system is just another part of the corporate game playing exercise. People cynically patent anything as another revenue stream making a mockery of the purpose of protecting IP in the first place.

Peter

Re:"Far-reaching"? (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925895)

Why does the US have such great laws in regards to copyright of works produced by government agencies and yet no similar laws for patents?

Re:"Far-reaching"? (2, Interesting)

Yfrwlf (998822) | more than 6 years ago | (#19926019)

Agreed, and I also find it really amusing when companies mention patents in advertisements. "This product is great, because we're going to charge you more because of our stranglehold on the technology!"? You don't need patents in order to use good ideas.

Re:"Far-reaching"? (1)

pzs (857406) | more than 6 years ago | (#19926267)

I've realised that my message is blatant karma-whoring. Apologies.

Next time, I'll just say "patents are bad, mm-kay?"

Peter

Re:"Far-reaching"? (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#19927797)

People cynically patent anything as another revenue stream making a mockery of the purpose of protecting IP in the first place.

There is also a perverse incentive for the patent examiners to approve even half baked or marginally plausible patents because their agency and its funding is based primarily on, you guessed it...patent fees. If they start tightening up what gets approved and what doesn't then fewer companies will apply for patents and pay fees which means less revenue to their (the patent examiners') agency.

Re:"Far-reaching"? (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925351)

"80% of VC-funded software firms don't claim patents within four years of being funded."

That's a great statistic, but doesn't really -mean- anything. WHY didn't they claim a patent? Ideals? Lack of anything to patent? Lack of money? (Yes, they were funded, but that doesn't mean they had extra.) Did they get beaten to the patent?

Re:"Far-reaching"? (2, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925493)

What is needed is a total review of what patents are for, why society should grant them, and how this should operate in a post-industrial world. Compare, for example, the trademark system (an industrial-age protection) with the domain name system (proper digital age protection of the same thing), and you see what could be possible.


Hmmm...what if you had an online database of implemented original inventions, peer-reviewed, of course. Those with truly inventions would then post them in the database. Peers in the industry would review the invention to determine if it was truly original. Laws would prevent implementation of inventions that haven't yet completed the peer-review process -- if it passes the peer-review, the inventor gets the sole right to sell/produce the invention for 5 years. The 'payment' for receiving a patent would be that the inventor would have to participate in the peer-review process for at least 3 other inventions. A registrar, consisting of a panel of 3 trustees and 3 judges would oversee everything to ensure that everyone was playing fair -- violators would be prosecuted.

Re:"Far-reaching"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19926471)

>the inventor gets the sole right to sell/produce the invention for 5 years.

It coud take a lone inventor 5 years to convince someone to fund the enforcement effort against Mega IP Pirate Corp for a blatant rip off of disclosed technology that would otherwise remained trade secret.

Re:"Far-reaching"? (1)

Yfrwlf (998822) | more than 6 years ago | (#19926171)

Correct, it's not anything that actually helps everyone, it's something that helps monopolies, that helps the few squeeze even more money from the already heavily-overtaxed populace. I'd like to see the whole thing done away with, and alternate systems take it's place, even ones that may naturally develop, like companies working together to get a good product *into market* to make money. Competition! Amazing concept!

At the VERY least, since throwing it out would send monopolies into convulsions so it'll never happen since they control the government, the patent system reform that needs to be made is one that forces technology to *enter* the marketplace. So many patents are bought up by big industries and sat on because their release would actually better technology for the world and make things *cheaper*, thus taking away their revenue stream. Industries don't WANT many technologies from getting to you, the consumer. You have no clue all the things you don't have right now because technology has been withheld from you. Unfortunately, we'll never know all the things we could have had those technologies gotten out, gotten used by everyone, so that new ideas *could* be thought of to build upon and better those technologies.

http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual /against.htm/ [ucla.edu] is an interesting read, it's an interesting argument that patents prevented the industrial revolution from occurring for a few decades.

read the new rules changes (1)

ProfBooty (172603) | more than 6 years ago | (#19926831)

A small tweak?

        The "2+1" Limit on Continuations/RCE's:
        Each applicant gets 2 continuations and 1 RCE per application. The rules will be applied retroactively for cases that have not yet received a first action on the merits.

        The "3+1 Transition Rule":
        For cases that have not received a first action by the time of the new rules, a "bonus" continuation will be allowed, i.e., a total of one (1) RCE and three (3) continuations.

        The "25/5" Claim Limits:
        Twenty-five (25) total claims, including up to five (5) independent claims.

These are substantial changes that will cause applicants to claim their real invention up front, and more likely have longer more detailed claims. For the slashdot crowd, this means lower liklihood of infringment asuming the claims are longer.

If these are applied retroactively, this will signifigantly reduce pendancy in the office, meaning shorter times to first actions, and much much much shorter prosecutions since applicant can't simply file RCE/continuations forever.

oblig (-1, Troll)

youthoftoday (975074) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925149)

I for one welcome our new Patent Reform Bill overlords.

Re:Soviet Russia misquote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19925223)

When Soviet Russia existed Visicalc could not be patented as a patent lawyer said software could not be patented.

Owen Linzmayer Apple Confidential 2.0

I do not welcome our patent lawyer overlords!

Quick... (2, Funny)

djones101 (1021277) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925171)

1. Patent the patent bill.
2. Sue the government.
3. Profit!

Now thats good reform!! (1)

Freaky Spook (811861) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925377)



He managed to cut out step 3. and go straight to profit!!

If only the parent was on some advisory committee!!!

Imagine.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19925251)

patenting a Beowulf cluster of those....

(Groans, and goes outside in the rain to commit suicide..)

largely reflects the IT sector's lobbying effort (-1, Flamebait)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925261)

You mean Microsoft.

Re: largely reflects the IT sector's lobbying effo (1)

GundamFan (848341) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925547)

Strictly speaking it is true that Microsoft has a big presence in the lobbying world but how do you figure that Microsoft would benefit from reform in the patent system? One of their main tactics for bullying smaller competitors (read all competitors) has been to use there vast library of vague patents to sue. Who would be the chief beneficiary of a bill like this?

In the long run I don't care who lobbied for a bill if it benefits the greater good (I don't know if this does or not, I am not a lawyer), which may be why I find your cynicism disturbing.

Re: largely reflects the IT sector's lobbying effo (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925779)

Uhh, Microsoft have stated their reasons for wanting patent reform. They're the biggest target for patent trolls.

Re: largely reflects the IT sector's lobbying effo (1)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 6 years ago | (#19928459)

Um, Microsoft is not giving up their patents. They are saying this:

"Look, guys, we haven't really had any new ideas in a while, and we're tired of paying so much for ideas. Let's have Congress pass a law that makes it really hard for future people to get patents, but allows us to keep our patents! That way we can still threaten to sue Linux users, but they can't do anything to us! Woot!"

Re: largely reflects the IT sector's lobbying effo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19926403)

Flamebait? Wow, those Microsoft employees are full of mod points today! How about a new moderation tag, "stupid". The parent comment isn't flamebait (now if you said something like that about Linux it would be;) but the comment simply isn't thought out. The poster had a neuron fire and put finger to keyboard. I've done it, you've done it, it isn't flamebait.

IBM has more patents than anybody. I'd say Sun, Cisco, and the rest of the tech industry (especially hardware manufacturers) have more of a stake than Microsoft.

-mcgrew

(PS and OT: I actually got a real GF who isn't Butt Ugly! [slashdot.org] She's a very attractive woman 19 years younger than me. Of course, she's a whiskey-drinking alcoholic. Do I have to turn in my nerd license?

Quick! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19925287)

Dear employee:

It has come to our attention that Congress will soon make it more difficult to patent out innovations. Under the new rules, some of our innovations such as our "two click on-line shopping" invention and our "three click shopping for healthcare" invention would be unpatentable.

Although shocking, our legal staff tells us that it is very unlikely that our existing patents will be nullified. We'll still have patent rights on three-click healthcare.

Please note that this is the time to ramp up the filing while we still have the chance! This week, Robert is planning to file "combination TV remote and firearm", "Fuel pump/ATM combination device", "guitar with integrated video display", and "Retail sales of iPod accessories made after 2008". People, PLEASE talk to Robert to get your filings in ASAP - because otherwise, we'll have to really innovate, and that will damage our bottom line.

Re:Quick! (1)

endianx (1006895) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925567)

Fuel pump/ATM combination device
That is a great idea! You should patent that.

Re:Quick! (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925801)

They already exist, several petrol stations in the UK have these.

Re:Quick! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19925947)

They already exist, several petrol stations in the UK have these.
Maybe in the UK, but that doesn't mean they can't be patented now in the States.

Re:Quick! (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 6 years ago | (#19928597)

Actually, they exist in the US also. They're quite common:
You drive up to a gas pump, insert your credit card, and pump out gas instead of money (though an automatic translator ensures that your bank is dispensing money).

congress isn't the only one having their say (5, Interesting)

iritant (156271) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925337)

Check out this article [mondaq.com] about how the Supreme Court earlier in the year revived the obviosness standard. This was one of several decisions that went against patent trolls, and leads me to believe that the justices actually read the newspaper. Now if Congress took less money from the trolls, perhaps there would be stronger legislative reform.

Obviously (1)

xednieht (1117791) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925399)

The "questionable quality" part refers to Microsoft's 235 patents.

Re:Obviously (1)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925879)

So your telling me M$ has only 235 totally bogus patents? Oh, that cant be right... I mean M$ is much more "ambitious" than that... :-)

Bullshit (2, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925459)

The bill would make it harder to secure a patent and easier for rivals to challenge one
By the time it gets out of committee it will be just another gimmee for the biggest corporations.

Re:Bullshit (1)

mutterc (828335) | more than 6 years ago | (#19926789)

That might not be a bad thing (I can't believe I just said that...)

There's two basic bad effects from the current system: big companies squashing competition, and patent trolls submarining obvious patents then popping up demanding license fees.

Big corps are the ones hurt most by the patent trolls, so they and we (the public) are on the same side in that fight.

As far as squashing upstart competition goes, I'm sure they'll lobby to keep that ability.

Re:Bullshit (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 6 years ago | (#19929711)

The public should be for solving all the issues at once... Since separating them will lead to just solving the patents trolls.

now first-to-invent? (2, Interesting)

PoochieReds (4973) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925475)

Thus spake the article:


The bill moves the patent system from a "first-to-invent" to a "first-to-file" system, but in another nod to large universities, the committee clarified a grace period on filing patent applications for inventors who disclose or publish inventions in advance of seeking a patent.


Does this mean that prior art can no longer invalidate a patent if the creator of the prior art never filed for one?

Re:now first-to-invent? (3, Informative)

Heisenbug (122836) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925563)

Does this mean that prior art can no longer invalidate a patent if the creator of the prior art never filed for one?

No, because to get a patent you have to prove the technique hasn't been previously published by someone else. This will just mean that if two people who can each prove that element file for the same patent, they won't have to argue about who kept it secret for longer.

Re:now first-to-invent? (1)

Courageous (228506) | more than 6 years ago | (#19926985)

No, because to get a patent you have to prove the technique hasn't been previously published by someone else.

Where'd you get a crazy idea like that?

C//

Re:now first-to-invent? (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 6 years ago | (#19926565)

Does this mean that prior art can no longer invalidate a patent if the creator of the prior art never filed for one?
The way I read the statement is that prior art wouldn't invalidate a patent if the prior art was by the person filing for the patent. If you're the first person to invent something, you can still patent it even if you make it public before applying for the patent.

Re:now first-to-invent? (2, Informative)

beavioso (853680) | more than 6 years ago | (#19928863)

The "first-to-invent" is the system where if an application is rejected over prior art that is within one (1) year of the filing date (or priority date, which could be a provisional application, foreign application, or another US case) the applicant can file an affidavit swearing that they where the "first-to-invent". This means they can "swear back" upto 1 year behind their filing, or priority date. They need evidence to prove they were the "first-to-invent", which can be very subjective.

The "first-to-file" system gets rid of these affidavit's and makes the filing, or priority, date the day of invention. If prior art was filed, published (meaning it was available to the public, but no one actually had to have seen it), etc, before the day of filing, it qualifies as prior art.

In other news... (0, Offtopic)

imbaczek (690596) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925507)

It's raining in the whole Sahara and meteorologist predict it won't stop for the next two weeks.

This was my "Patent" wake-up call.. (3, Insightful)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925539)

I recently saw an add for a razor, you know, the kind you use to shave with. Not electric mind you, just a plain old shaving razor. The advertisement said that this particular "new and improved" razor had 20 more patents that the previous model.

Seriously, how do you get 20+ patents out of a razor?

I think the math pseudo-code works like this:

IF [1 razor] >= [20 patents] THEN {ACTUAL-PATENT-VALUE} = {TRIVIAL}

Yet, the value of an "infringed" patent can be hundereds of thousands of dollars in court (if not millions).

Therefore, while I do believe the original idea of the patent was to protect honest innovation, it appears that all we are really doing these days is creating a litigation industry. The more patents you can attach to something, the greater the likelihood of generating additional revenue in court.

I'm not opposed to the idea of a patent, but it seems to me that businesses are simply "gaming the system" here....or am I missing something?

Re:This was my "Patent" wake-up call.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19925783)

I'm not opposed to the idea of a patent, but it seems to me that businesses are simply "gaming the system" here....or am I missing something?
You must be new here.

Re:This was my "Patent" wake-up call.. (4, Informative)

rmstar (114746) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925819)

Go to a startbucks. The little cardboard ring that you use to keep your fingers from burning is protected by two patents. A piece of cardboard and a bit of glue, and you are a patent infringer. Now that I told you, you would be liable for trebble damages.

And if you need a further wake-up, read how patent litigation really works here [law.com].

Re:This was my "Patent" wake-up call.. (1)

duerra (684053) | more than 6 years ago | (#19939829)

That is lunacy. Coffee cups have been around for AGES. That sounds to me like a patent for "doing [x], but on the INTERNET!"

I have a hard time believing that such patents would stand up to the new standard set forth by the SCOTUS.

Re:This was my "Patent" wake-up call.. (2, Interesting)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 6 years ago | (#19926643)

At least the razor is a physical object that might have some amount of research (probably in the materials used) to it. I hear ads on the radio from a bank that rounds all debit card purchases up to the next dollar and transfers the difference into your savings account. At the end of the ad, they say "patent pending". They have actually applied for a patent that covers the combination of basic arithmetic and transferring money between accounts (which most people have been able to do for years, even online or on an automatic schedule). I'm all for a patent system that does what ours was intended to do, but it's getting just a bit ridiculous now.

Yeah, right (4, Insightful)

dgun (1056422) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925551)

There will be no real reform of the patent systems as long as congress is bought and paid for by campaign contributions.

And real reform means eliminating all software patents. And that will never happen as long as:

Microsoft Campaign Contributions: $8,907,025 (1999 - Present)

And I'm sure there are many other companies in the industry that throw dollars at congress. Source [campaignmoney.com]

Re:Yeah, right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19926935)

There will be no real reform of the patent systems as long as congress is bought and paid for by campaign contributions

I agree, patent reform won't happen without two campaign finance reforms:

First, it should be a felony punishable by prison time to "contribute" to more than one candidate in any given race. Baldfaced bribery is already illegal and punishable by prison, and this is bribery with a beard.

The second reform would be that you would not be eligible to contribute to any candidate who you are not eligible to vote for.

These two reforms would mean that Bill Gates (let alone his minor children) could not donate money to Dennis Hastert or Dick Durbin, unless he moved to Illinois, let alone Durbin and... well, Durbin is running unopossed but you get the drift. And neither Microsoft nor the Code Writing Guild could contribute to anybody at all, as corporations and unions aren't eligible to vote.

These reforms will be signed into law sometime after hell freezes over.

-mcgrew

Re:Yeah, right (3, Insightful)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 6 years ago | (#19927267)

One simple reform would make campaign finance reform a LOT easier: removing the idea from the legal system that corporations (or organizations) have the same sorts of rights as real people (specifically, free speech).

Re:Yeah, right (1)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 6 years ago | (#19933527)

removing the idea from the legal system that corporations (or organizations) have the same sorts of rights as real people (specifically, free speech).

In other words, you'd like to see that individual people have the right to free speech, but when they pool their resources together, they don't. How would that even work?

Re:Yeah, right (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 6 years ago | (#19936473)

There would be nothing stopping the individuals from exercising their free speech rights, individually or as a group. There is no reason to allow an entity which is essentially a legal fiction, those same rights.

Senate Committee Follows Suit (3, Informative)

dc_dog (767092) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925561)

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed their own version of the bill (S. 1145) yesterday afternoon. The bi-partisan bills now move to a vote in the full House and Senate. Trolls beware...

Should have lobbied for somthing else. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19925813)

Maybe they should have lobbied for the removal of software patents instead. Major companies only use them defensively for the most part, and the ones who have a legitimate claim who sue infringers are mostly buried by defensive patents instead.

You can not reform with band-aids. (1, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#19925827)

I read the whole text of the bill at thomas.loc.gov today. It's long, drawn out, runs circles around itself, and really does nothing. You can tell that mercantilist businesses helped write it -- it will still make things worse.

If you want to reform something, you don't do it with steps like this. You don't write new laws to amend old laws -- it leaves loopholes and gaps that you and I can not find, but that patent lawyers are aware of and can help manage through IF you can afford them. It makes it more difficult to defend yourself pro se in a trial where your "patents" are infringed upon.

I'm anti-patent, of course, but I also would be happy to see a return to a Constitutional patent system. I have a recommendation for Congress to make the patent system more level:

1. Pass a bill into law that scraps ALL previous laws, amended laws, and riders to laws that cover the patent system. Declare all of these in that very bill. This would mean the old laws were fully sunset and removed from power. I'd also include a complete firing and deconstruction of the USPTO along with it. Might as well kick those cronies to the curb.

2. Work on a new bill that is easy to understand, and doesn't provide for loopholes. Have no exceptions.

3. Produce a VERY limited amount of time for the power of the patent. 7 years sounds good.

4. Develop a "previous art" website that is the first step to produce a new patent. Allow the average netizen to go and provide proof of prior art, at which point you can knock the patent out of the running. Provide for LARGE penalties for those who submit patents that are rejected.

You can't completely overturn the existing system (1)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 6 years ago | (#19926503)

I'm anti-patent, of course, but I also would be happy to see a return to a Constitutional patent system. I have a recommendation for Congress to make the patent system more level

Your suggestions seem nice in the abstract, but saying you want to strip down the patent system and start from scratch is completely unworkable. The US is party to several international treaties that make a complete overhaul impossible, for starters.

The current bill is certainly not as far-reaching as most reformers would like, but is a start. The change to first-to-file alone will be a huge change. It is tempting to say that you must have all or nothing solutions, but politics is about compromise. I'd rather have slow change than no change at all.

Re:You can't completely overturn the existing syst (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#19926701)

It is tempting to say that you must have all or nothing solutions, but politics is about compromise. I'd rather have slow change than no change at all.

In your personal life, slow changes make sense. You slowly learn a new trade, or you slowly fix your home, or you slowly save for retirement. It's just you, so you know what your goals are.

In politics, slow always means "more tyranny," because the people voting for a bill today will not be the ones to enforce it tomorrow. When the Executive takes on new powers, you have to consider what future executives will do with those powers. When today's Congress enacts new legislation, you have to think of how that legislation will "slowly" change in the future.

I don't trust politicians to do anything slowly in my favor. When I have a heavy stone, and a hill, I know I can push that stone slowly over the hill. I can hire people, invite friends, or do it myself, but I'll get there. When politicians are involved, along with special interests, you never know where that stone will roll, but if you're below it, I'd wager that you'll get crushed eventually.

Re:You can't completely overturn the existing syst (1)

TrappedByMyself (861094) | more than 6 years ago | (#19932479)

Think about what you're saying...you don't trust politicians to make small changes to large complex systems, but you trust them to trash the systems then put up quick replacements?

In the real world, you can't toss programs around left and right and expect any sort of success. The only real way to get stuff to work is through an evolutionary type process where there is improvement over time. Yes, this can lead to bloat when you involve idiots, but when done reasonably well it's the only real way to build something solid.

Slow change versus fast change (1)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 6 years ago | (#19932485)

In politics, slow always means "more tyranny," because the people voting for a bill today will not be the ones to enforce it tomorrow.

I'd say it's exactly the opposite. Look at the history of tyranny in the 20th Century. Tyranny moves swiftly, often by popular demand. The Russian Revolution, the rule of Mussolini, the rule of Hitler, and the Killing Fields in Cambodia all came about through rapid unchecked political action. The swiftness with which the Bush White House consolidated Executive Branch power is exactly what I'm talking about.

Swift political change sounds great, until the law of unintendend consequences rears its ugly head. The "special interests" you refer to are really just competing political factions. Special interests is one of those terms used by everyone in politics as a convenient scapegoat. But in reality "special interests" just means whatever interests you politically oppose. When those interests currently in power (be they libertarians pushing for mandated tax cuts, liberals pushing for stricter anti-tobacco laws, or republicans outlawing sodomy), make sweeping political changes, our ability to tweak, modify, and correct those changes is constrained.

Re:You can not reform with band-aids. (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 6 years ago | (#19926713)

2. Work on a new bill that is easy to understand, and doesn't provide for loopholes. Have no exceptions.
You must be new here. Let me be the first to welcome you to the American legal system.

Re:You can not reform with band-aids. (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 6 years ago | (#19932471)

Brilliant! Your plan for a patent system without abuse and loopholes, is to "Work on a new bill that is easy to understand, and doesn't provide for loopholes. Have no exceptions."

Let me know when you finish writing it so I can bring it up this session.

Signed,
Congressman Fantasy McNutbag D-MA

Ado about nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19926315)

Progress is nice and all, but it's never going to get fixed.
Just like any billion-dollar industry (eg. oil) the big companies won't ever loosen their grasp.
We need to pry the patents from their cold, dead hands.

Approval from who? (2, Insightful)

farker haiku (883529) | more than 6 years ago | (#19926327)

Wednesday's committee deliberations centered on finding compromises acceptable to opponents -- namely the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, manufacturers, and large research universities -- so that the bill could win approval.

I wasn't aware that the biotech industries, manufacturers, and large research universities were the ones voting on it.

Re:Approval from who? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#19926975)

I wasn't aware that the biotech industries, manufacturers, and large research universities were the ones voting on it.
Do you really think Congresspeople don't vote for the interests of those that fund their campaigns and push lobbyists in their faces?

Besides that cynical view, it's also true that a lot of politicians feel that one of their repsonsibilities is to ensure the health of industry for economic reasons. Many politicians would worry that overly zealous patent reform would cause unemployment in their district, or even an economic downturn across the board. Even if the negative effects are only in the short-term, and are outweighed by the long-term positive effects of real patent reform, politicians won't be willing to take the risk. Voters have short memories.

Corporate standard practice (1)

wirehead_rick (308391) | more than 6 years ago | (#19926515)

The patent system will never really be reformed. Any legislation claimed to be patent reform will be cleverly written to have the opposite effect and enhance the present woes of the patent system instead of having the desired and claimed effect. This is simply one piece of the government sponsored corporate welfare standard of operation today.

Note the standard corporate business model of today:

1. Take a half assed product. No not a good product, a half assed product.

2. Patent the hell out of technologies used in it through trivial and voluminous patent and trademark submissions. Claim copyright on any and every copyrightable aspect.

3. Exert the least amount of effort to productise the idea. Buggy sw, unreliable parts, frequent but temporary outages of service, etc. are perfectly acceptable. As long as there is a flashy skin on a plastic box, blinky lights and/or graphics and slick well crafted product packaging you are golden.

4. Spend millions of dollars on slick advertising campaigns and pay off major industry rags for glowing reviews and endless hype.

5. Release product under great fanfare and press.

6. Ignore the high volume of complaints of a half functioning product by utilizing a phone support service in a foriegn country which requires 20 button presses to get through and 30 minutes of hold time. All this to talk to a person who knows nothing about the product, can barely speak english and cannot cancel the customers account.

7. Make sure the default pay option is through automatic checking account or credit card deduction (advertised as an exceptional service feature that you can probably even charge extra for). Make any other pay options obscure and/or difficult to sign up for. Never stop periodically charging the account regardless of account status. Just simply never stop charging under any circumstance. The customer will have to cancel the account to terminate paying you.

8. Pay off press and media to keep the tidal wave of customer discontent at bay or covered up. Legally attack any internet source that attempts to uncover the truth of your corporate evil ways with the threat of endless litigation. File any suits as necessary. Make examples of anyone who fights. Make the legal process a cash-plus division and use agressive offensive legal tactics where possible.

9. Pay off any and all politicians who will work to continue your corporate welfare status. This is accomplished through legislation that favors your ability to continue to screw customers and be given default monopoly status. Make deals with local and state legislators (under the guise that you provide jobs to the locals and threaten to move and fire 'am all if you don't get your way). Among the deals include govt. granted monopoly status. It's not worded that way in legislation but effected through the legislation that is passed. Sometimes named as anti-competitive act "this" or "that" and having the exact opposite effect as claimed. The other local govt. deal almost always includes being excluded from any taxes at all. The positive tax impact on the local economy is extracted from the taxes of the underpaid poor saps working for you. More perks include breaks on loans and funding for facilities management and capital expansion costs.

10. Attack anyone who even remotely treads on your patent and trademark portfolio. Use the resources of industry organizations which can help the lobbying effort to keep laws in place that prevent any competition from innovating a better product (which would be trivial since your original product is a piece of junk anyways). Continue any voliminous trivial patent filings so as to prevent any remote chance of any technology competing. Litigate, litigate, litigate.

My fellow Americans. This is what living in a fascist state gives you. Attempting to change the status quo will get the attention of the federal authorities under the suspicion of terrorism threats. The penalty of which (no conviction or due process is necessary) is being whisked away to a state sponsored gulag located in a legal limbo foriegn land where the laws of your own country do not apply.

Welcome to Ben Franklin's worst nightmare.

Maybe it's time for another declaration of independance?

Re:Corporate standard practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19927261)

You were doing well until you got to the "My fellow Americans" paragraph.

Re:Corporate standard practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19927471)

Tried that in 1860, but lost.... Cost us over 500K dead, loss of Habeas Corpus, and even more restrictions....

You insensitive 3lod4.. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19927217)

I don'T want to long ti8e FreeBSD

Questionable constitutionality (0)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 6 years ago | (#19927575)

Patents are not my field, so there may be a number of important issues elsewhere in the bill which are escaping my notice, but there is a big problem with at least one aspect of this proposal: a first-to-file system is unconstitutional.

The Constitution requires that if patents are granted at all, that they must be granted to inventors. The second person to come up with something however, even if they do so independently, is in the same boat as the third, or fourth, or five hundredth -- they're not the inventor. Only the first person can actually make that claim. It doesn't and shouldn't matter whether the PTO receives someone else's application prior that of the inventor, provided that the inventor can show that he was first (with things like dated lab notebooks, etc.).

Yes, this means that there are sometimes interference proceedings to determine which of multiple claimants to the title was actually the inventor. But this is a relatively small price to pay to make sure that our system is just and adheres to our highest law.

That much of, if not all of, the rest of the world has a first-to-file system, rather than our first-to-invent system is irrelevant; if the rest of the world was going to jump off of a cliff, that doesn't mean that we should as well. It is important that the US patent system best serve the interests of the American people, rather than anyone else. (Certainly our copyright system would be vastly improved if we ignored other countries and merely concentrated on what was best. Critical reforms such as formalities, and significant shortening of the term length can't even happen now, so long as we care about what the rest of the world thinks.)

At a minimum, I hope that the new bill includes provision for its own unconstitutionality, so that if it is enacted, when the first-to-file portions of it are struck down, there is more than an ad hoc process in place for dealing with interferences. Otherwise, it sounds as though whatever court time is saved on the infringement front might end up being used up elsewhere in the patent system.

Personally, I think that it might also be worthwhile to reduce the power of the Federal Circuit as well; I don't think that that little experiment has worked, but for all I know that might be buried in there somewhere.

Re:Questionable constitutionality (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 6 years ago | (#19930029)

First to file used to be the way the US Patent system worked, so it is tested law and very likely to hold up under constitutionality attacks. As you note it is how most of the rest of the world works, and for good reason, it is less evil than first to invent. The problem with first to invent is twofold - it leads to submarine patents, and it also leads to a lot more litigation. With First To File it is pretty clearcut who has priority. With first to invent it often requires a lengthy discovery process, extensive record keeping, and an expensive trial to figure out who was actually first. None of that favours the individual inventor.

I'm all in favor of first to file.

Re:Questionable constitutionality (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 6 years ago | (#19931059)

First to file used to be the way the US Patent system worked, so it is tested law and very likely to hold up under constitutionality attacks.

That's news to me, though as I said, patents aren't my field. Please cite the law to which you refer and the dates when it was in force. But IIRC we've been first-to-invent since the 1793 Patent Act.

The problem with first to invent is twofold - it leads to submarine patents, and it also leads to a lot more litigation.

No, submarine patents are caused by having termination dates that depend on the grant date, as opposed to the filing date. They are also caused by not requiring the PTO to publish every application it receives immediately upon receipt, along with amendments and other correspondence regarding patents and applications.

As for litigation, so what? What is important is having a useful patent system which allocates patents justly and lawfully. Sometimes this requires litigation. It's just a means to an end, and is itself neither good nor bad. If you have a better way of actually prosecuting an interference, then by all means, let us know. But abolishing the practice altogether is a terrible idea. It's akin to saying that we could save a lot of money in the criminal justice system if we just assumed everyone was guilty and didn't bother with a trial. Yes, it would be cheaper, but it would not actually help with the goals of the system.

None of that favours the individual inventor.

OTOH, not having to race to the PTO does favor the individual inventor. AFAIK, individual inventors and their trade organizations have been in favor of first-to-invent, while it's mainly been large inventors (and the worthless-to-listen-to-on-this-matter international community) who have been in favor of first-to-file.

Once again, the people get pwned (2, Insightful)

TechForensics (944258) | more than 6 years ago | (#19928023)

Wednesday's committee deliberations centered on finding compromises acceptable to opponents -- namely the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, manufacturers, and large research universities Am I the only one who thinks how powerful interests have to be consulted (so they can stay powerful) before a bill passes is a pretty F****D-UP kind of democracy? It looks like whether we have communism or capitalism, if either system gets too hoary and entrenched the people get pwned.

Reflects the IT industry lobbying effort to... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 6 years ago | (#19928545)

...etc..

The IT industry sector here = IBM

Things that cannot be patented: Natural Law, Physical Phenomenon, Abstract Ideas are the three primaries. Mathematical algorithms are also considered non-patentable but in fact are a subset of abstract ideas.

Man is unlike other animal life, he is capable of consciousness or in other words, abstraction above basic level. It is the nature or natural law of human character. It is further a physical phenomenon that man converts abstract thinking into physical movement and the creation, repair and manipulation of physical objects large and very very small. And programing is commonly thought of in terms of mathematical algorithms.

Software is not of patentable nature, It has all three primary strikes against it. So apparently the US position on software Patents is one of supporting Fraud.
So is it really any surprise that we have problems with the patent system in regards to software? Would you have a with any other natural law, physical phenomenon or abstract idea if you went against the honesty about it? Try thinking that you can walk off a cliff without anything but your thoughts to keep you from falling!

It should be obvious why there are problems with the patent system regarding the IT sector. IBM is a very large software patent holder and the one most supporting this "reform". They are also making available many of their patents to anyone to use without need to compensate IBM for such use. IBM knows, but they are not ready to give it all up yet. The change has to happen across the IT board. It must happen. There is no excuse to not correct the wrong of fraud.

http://threeseas.net/abstraction_physics.html [threeseas.net]

IS it any surprise the us is falling in innovation, given such fraud that can only act to suppress innovation?

     

The heart of the problem (1)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 6 years ago | (#19928777)

... is that corporations have been granted rights that citizen's don't even have. And while abolishing the concept of a corporation as a legal entity isn't a workable solution, neither is how corporations and special interest money are used to "tweak" the government into granting loopholes, exceptions, and many other financially lucrative little deals against the citizenry of the nation, which in the end amount to nothing more than special rights based on money -- an idea 100% counter to American ideals.


Unless I am mistaken, this is quite literally at the heart of the patent issue -- because when patents came into existence, only individuals could be granted patents. And in the ideal system, the patent owner either produces the item, or licenses other groups of people (which could include companies) to produce the item during the patent period. It was not designed to support the idea of "I had an idea first, threw together some government approved documentation, and can sit like a spider waiting for some profitable fly to get entangled in my legal web".

Bottom line for me is that if the citizenry actually cared enough to use their elector power to force the politicians and bureacracies to take away some of the most misused corporate "special rights", and how many of the problems in our society become ten times more solvable?

In other News: New York has a steam pipe rupture (0)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | more than 6 years ago | (#19930947)

Why do I mention this?

Here is another related but seemingly off topic point; The Media and our Government, have told us; "Oh my Social Security is going to go bankrupt." What I just learned is that SS isn't supposed to BE AN ACCOUNT. It is supposed to go to Zero once the Baby Boomers are done retiring. In the 1980's, Reagan doubled the SS tax on the individual from 7 to 14% in order to allow for the Baby Boomer increase. SS was always intended as a money transfer from people working and too people retiring.

What does this have to do with a research plateau? America is falling apart. We have big companies, fat cats, people on the gravy train, who just take and take and take from our educated work force, from our infrastructure, and then have brainwashed us that the only sin is taxes.

Well taxes used to be 90% of people earning more than $3 Million, and we had the most booming and prosperous economy in the world. Higher education was free for anyone who wanted it (college a bit rarer at the time -- but many civilized nations pay for this). Taxes should be lower for working folks -- but in the end, what everyone pays is what everyone pays.

It is only in RELATIVE costs to businesses and individuals that you get distortions in the economy.

Well, enough with the economics lessons -- people either get it about the Commons or they don't. We don't seem to be moving around on efficient and clean trains everywhere in my state, so it's pretty obvious that MOST people don't understand it yet. Why are US businesses not competitive? Health Care. Anyway, why build it in the US when you can make it cheaper somewhere else and ship it in? America can has an infinite supply of retail jobs and middle managers -- I'm sure that manufacturing nothing, protecting nothing, and educating nothing won't have a down side.

Just pay attention to a 100 year old steam pipe bursting in New York. You will start to see signs of things just wearing out. Because we keep passing on the costs to the next people. The cuts in education, the lack of protection for high technology production, the outsourcing of our vital infrastructure. These chickens are coming home to roost.

As the "decency" party that has given us our supreme court, gets the power they want, you will see more intellectuals leaving for "smarter" locals.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

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

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

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

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...