Beta
×

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!

FTC Defends Ethernet From Patent Troll

Zonk posted more than 5 years ago | from the much-appreciated-folks dept.

The Almighty Buck 59

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "The FTC has put a stop to Negotiated Data Solutions, a patent troll that bought a patent on an important part of the Ethernet networking standard and tried to jack up the royalties for licensing it. In a consent decree (pdf), N-Data agreed to continue licensing the patent at the formerly promised rates. 'Whatever the merits of the decision, it shows that the FTC sees the value of standards and will be on the lookout for any behavior that could undermine these standards-setting process. That alone could keep companies honest when they enter the standards process. Standards-setting bodies have also become more sophisticated over the years (after being burned in several high-profile cases), and now do a better job at forcing involved companies to disclose and license patents.' The IEEE voted back in 2002 to make patent letters irrevocable, which could have prevented this, but neglected to make that clause retroactive."

cancel ×

59 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

But wait (5, Funny)

moogied (1175879) | more than 5 years ago | (#22167784)

I already have a patent pending on using eletrical signals for any kind of communication!! How dare he steal my thunder!

Re:But wait (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22168206)

True story. A few years ago, I interned for VA Linux and ended up spending a couple days at the geek compound. Hemos showed me around the place and led me to a room he called "the dungeon." Inside, CmdrTaco was naked, bent over a padded gymnastic horse, wearing a ball gag. His hands and feet appeared to be tied, and an ethernet cable dangled from his ass. Upon seeing us, he made muffled sounds, perhaps an appeal for help.

"Cowboy Neal must be having lunch. The server room is next door. Let me show you the hardware."

Re:But wait (2, Funny)

GreyWolf3000 (468618) | more than 5 years ago | (#22170938)

But I have a patent pending on using electrical signals for any kind of communication...in bed. I don't cross license with strangers, though...

Re:But wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22171000)

How dare he steal my thunder!
For this quote alone, everything you ever have owned, and everything you ever will own, now belongs to Thor. You will also have to walk around with a strange, hammer-shaped hole in your forhead.

A small victory (4, Insightful)

dk90406 (797452) | more than 5 years ago | (#22167818)

Nice to see the FTC moving in a sensible direction. Of course the only reason they did it, was because we are talking Ethernet. If it was some less known standard that a troll way trying to attack, they would let it slide.

Re:A small victory (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 5 years ago | (#22170134)

That, and from my understanding this doesn't really set any precedent like it would if it was a court case. So the next time, they'll probably look at it as if this last situation never happened.

Re:A small victory (1)

Teflon_Jeff (1221290) | more than 5 years ago | (#22171934)

I'm confused. The government appears to be both reasonable, and on the side of the populace. I've never seen that from them before.

Re:A small victory (1)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 5 years ago | (#22174402)

Perhaps the head of the FTC was unhappy with his / her cut of the licensing fees
from the patent troll, and this is just showing the patent troll who is really boss.

Re:A small victory (1)

focoma (865351) | more than 6 years ago | (#22179690)

Thank you sir for your funny signature. I enjoyed it so much, I almost spit out the water I was drinking from a Gatorade bottle.

I have patent rights on using sports-drink bottles as distilled water containers, by the way. There! I'm no longer off-topic!

Patent troll turnover - 100M. Ethernet turnover... (3, Insightful)

arivanov (12034) | more than 5 years ago | (#22167864)

Sorry, this was a no contest situation.

With 100M worth of capital you do not go against an industry with turnover in excess of 100s of Billions per year. Most networking gear all the way to 10G is Ethernet now and that industry as the chairman of FTC noted can fend for itself. In fact, based on the FTC decision it surely did.

Eh? (1)

DarrenR114 (6724) | more than 5 years ago | (#22173470)

Are you referring to 802.10g ?? Thats not Ethernet - thats WiFi (well, one of them anyway) ...

802.3 is Ethernet ... and it only applies one sort of standard ... theres also Token Ring (802.5) ...

Re:Eh? (1)

Mariner28 (814350) | more than 5 years ago | (#22173722)

No - arivanov's referring to 10Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) - IEEE 802.3an (among others) 100GbE is just around the pike (IEEE 802.3ba - in development)

GPL? (1, Interesting)

WaHooCrazy7 (1220464) | more than 5 years ago | (#22167946)

Why wasnt this patent written so that in X number of years in became extinct and the contents of it went out under the GPL? This is done with other things such as prescription drugs, for so long after the drug is discovered only one company can make it, but then the patent expires so to say and other companies can produce generic versions of the drug. Why hasnt this been the case with ethernet?

Re:GPL? (3, Informative)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 5 years ago | (#22167966)

The patent was written so that it would be a one time fee of $1000. In terms of business costs and licensing fees, that's peanuts.

Re:GPL? (1)

onemorechip (816444) | more than 5 years ago | (#22170844)

License fees are not written into patents. They are negotiated independently.

Re:GPL? (4, Informative)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 5 years ago | (#22168070)

I think it's about 20 years and then it goes into the public domain, but that isn't the case here. The patent is on one particular part of Ethernet, particularly it's use of autonegotiation of speed and capabilities between different devices. It was adopted in 1994 into the Ethernet standard. Initially the patent deal was set up in such a way that every manufacteurer of Ethernet products had to pay a one time royality fee of 1,000 dollars which is pretty weak.

Re:GPL? (2, Interesting)

nexuspal (720736) | more than 5 years ago | (#22169122)

"every manufacteurer of Ethernet products had to pay a one time royality fee of 1,000 dollars which is pretty weak." Expanding on this, why shouldn't they at least be allowed to increase the original cost of the patent inline with inflation? Measuringworth.com estimates the current value of $1,000 1994 dollars at between $1,290 to $1,865. They have the patent, what value is it if they can't they can't set the royalty fee to whatever they want (within reason)?

Re:GPL? (1)

dvdungeon (761065) | more than 5 years ago | (#22169492)

Well they knew about the agreement and license fee when they bought the patent... tough luck to them.

Re:GPL? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#22169588)

It wasn't a part of the original agreement.

The patent like any other property comes along with it's
own baggage. If they didn't want the baggage, they shouldn't
have bought the property. Attempting to have it both ways
is a problem in terms of just basic business that is far
more fundemental than patent trolling.

Re:GPL? (2, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#22169662)

Expanding on this, why shouldn't they at least be allowed to increase the original cost of the patent inline with inflation?


Because their predecessor in interest, National Semiconductor, agreed to a $1000 license, with no consideration for inflation. Which Negotiated Data Solutions should have known when they bought the parent.

(Geez, "Negotiated Data Solutions" even sounds like the name of a shakedown organization)

Re:GPL? (1)

cthulhu11 (842924) | more than 6 years ago | (#22179146)

Well, heck, it's not like autonegotiation actually *works* anyway. I wouldn't miss it.

Re:GPL? (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#22168256)

This is done with other things such as prescription drugs,
It is, but shortly expiring a drug company will often release a new very minor improvement and do everything it can to discredit it's older product while pumping up the new one. Witness the advent of Nexium after the patents on Prilosec expired.

Re:GPL? (4, Informative)

timbck2 (233967) | more than 5 years ago | (#22168470)

It is, but shortly expiring a drug company will often release a new very minor improvement and do everything it can to discredit it's older product while pumping up the new one.


Many times it isn't even a true "improvement", just a minor tweak; like dextro-rotating (or levo-rotating) the molecule, or producing a racemic mixture (e.g. Adderal vs. Dexadrine, the aforementioned Prilosec vs. Nexium), or making an extended-release version.

Re:GPL? (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 5 years ago | (#22173916)

Patenting extended release I never got. At least, to my understanding extended release is the same procedure every time. IE, binding the drug into a substance that dissolves slowly. But then, the pharmaceuticals make software patent abuse look downright wholesome.

Re:GPL? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22184644)

Patenting extended release I never got. At least, to my understanding extended release is the same procedure every time. IE, binding the drug into a substance that dissolves slowly.
The selection of the safest, most effective slowly dissolving substance to bind to a given active ingredient is not always obvious.

Re:GPL? (1)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 5 years ago | (#22169060)

From what I understand, they do not even have to make any changes, just re purpose the drug, this will allow them to extend the patent. Think heart allergy medication (Allegra or whatever) that is found to also reduce cholesterol (this is a pure fictional example). I could be wrong, IANAL, but that is how someone once explained it to me.

All I can say is WOW. (4, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#22168368)

"Why wasnt this patent written so that in X number of years in became extinct and the contents of it went out under the GPL? "
All I can say Wow...
1 A patent is not a software license or a copyright. A patent does have a limited life span.
2. When a patent expires then it becomes totally free. Not free as beer, speech, or the GPL. Free as in public domain free. You can do anything you want with it after it expires.
So all I can say is WOW.....

Re:All I can say is WOW. (2, Funny)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 5 years ago | (#22169942)

So all I can say is WOW.....


A /. post displays an ignorance of property law and/or confuses patents, copyright, and trademarks, and you're surprised?


You must be new here.

Re:All I can say is WOW. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#22172488)

'A /. post displays an ignorance of property law and/or confuses patents, copyright, and trademarks, and you're surprised?

You must be new here."

I was just in one of my optimistic moods. Don't worry it is long gone now.

Re:All I can say is WOW. (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 5 years ago | (#22173316)

I was just in one of my optimistic moods. Don't worry it is long gone now.

No worries, mate. Happens to the best of us (and me too).

I'm no expert on intellectual property and patent/trademark/copyright law, but I know enough to know 97% of the /. posts the those subjects are complete bullocks. Think of how we mock PHBs and fossilized bureaucrats who compare the internet to a series of tubes. I imagine anyone with any actual knowledge of IP law would have the same regard for us.

Re:All I can say is WOW. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#22181294)

"imagine anyone with any actual knowledge of IP law would have the same regard for us."
Probably worse. Let's face it calling the Internet "tubes" really wasn't all that stupid. I have often heard knowledgeable people talk about Internet connections as "pipes". On Slashdot people speak with so much arrogance about IP law and at the same time are so clueless that it is like a bad Holiday Inn Express commercial.

That *is* done. We're not at Year X yet. (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#22172968)

Why wasnt this patent written so that in X number of years in became extinct

ALL patents and in fact all the temporary monopolies known in layman's terms as "intellectual property" are already term-limited. The problem is that the terms have been progressively extended over the decades since they were introduced so that, for all practical purposes, they might as well be permanent.

That is, "year X" just plain takes too long to get here.

A secondary issue that is closer to what you're thinking of is the terms of the licenses for the patents. These should have been made permanent and irrevocable. Another possibility is that the IEEE could have been granted a permanent and irrevocable right to sublicense the technology under the original terms for the purpose of fulfilling IEEE standards.

How about a change in patent law... (5, Informative)

dpilot (134227) | more than 5 years ago | (#22168178)

Why not limit the number of times patent rights can be reassigned?

As set forth in the US Constitution, the purpose of patents is twofold:
1: The temporary monopoly on the invention gives the inventor recompense for the investment made in the invention. In other words, it keeps him/her inventing instead of waiting tables.
2: The limited term of the patent brings the invention into the public domain, to be used as fodder for future inventions.

The whole idea of assignment of your invention rights is simply another way of getting recompense. It's a good idea, because it means you don't have to be a manufacturer and marketer, as well as an inventor. Assignment of rights lets you focus on inventing and not on those other things, if that's your bent.

And maybe reassignment by the first assignee might make sense, too. But by the time patent rights have been sold multiple times, the link back to one of the original functions - to keep the inventors inventing - is so diffuse that it has been lost, IMHO.

The Constitution never intended the patent as a revenue source beyond spurring invention. (Same with copyrights)

Re:How about a change in patent law... (4, Insightful)

s20451 (410424) | more than 5 years ago | (#22168412)

I think that would feed rather than quash the patent trolls. What if a patent can only be transferred n times, and you are the nth guy in the chain? Then your only way to make money from that patent is to license and litigate. So, when the (n-1)th guy gets tired of owning the patent, off to the patent troll it goes, who gets the patent at a nice discount since nobody else is interested in buying it.

Re:How about a change in patent law... (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 5 years ago | (#22169746)

Anything that lowers the value of the patent (ie. limiting the buyers' rights) will mean less money for the inventor on the original sale.

A higher standard for obviousness, use of science fiction as prior art (as in the geostationary satellite), and a better pre-granting discussion process (which is already being experimented with) is really all the system needs.

Re:How about a change in patent law... (1)

Free_Meson (706323) | more than 5 years ago | (#22172768)

use of science fiction as prior art (as in the geostationary satellite),
Made of bricks and powered by a waterfall? Please tell me you're joking. Read a few patents before saying something this silly.

and a better pre-granting discussion process (which is already being experimented with)
This would be a terrible idea as well, unless you want patent applications to cost hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars (per country, no less). Perhaps the presumption of validity should be relaxed a bit, but increasing the screening function of patent examiners by a meaningful margin would be prohibitively expensive. It would also do nothing to prevent a "troll" with a valid patent from inflicting millions of dollars in legal fees on a noninfringing company.

Currently, one patent out of every 10,000 or so granted is litigated and subjected to the appropriate level of scrutiny, and it's incredibly costly. It makes far more sense to expose patent holders to greater risk of loss in litigation if they have a flawed patent or a flawed theory of infringement. That way there's no penalty inflicted upon small businesses seeking legitimate protection and the misuse of valid patents is curtailed.

Re:How about a change in patent law... (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 6 years ago | (#22176870)

I'm baffled by your response. My example of a geostationary satellite is one example where someone tried to patent an idea and the patent was rejected on the grounds that Arthur C. Clarke had fully described the invention in a previous story. The pre-granting discussion/prior art system I was referring to is http://www.peertopatent.org/ [peertopatent.org] , which is being done in cooperation with the USPTO and seems to so far be doing a reasonably good job.

Re:How about a change in patent law... (2, Interesting)

Free_Meson (706323) | more than 6 years ago | (#22178122)

My example of a geostationary satellite is one example where someone tried to patent an idea and the patent was rejected on the grounds that Arthur C. Clarke had fully described the invention in a previous story.
What exactly was this geostationary satellite patent trying to claim? For anything I've ever read about in science fiction, using the description provided by the author would make very poor prior art material. Generally the disclosure necessary to support useful claims requires a level of detail that far exceeds anything you'd find in a work of fiction. Working out all the details and disclosing them, provided they were new, useful, and nonobvious, is what earns you the patent. Merely propounding on the possibility of geostationary satellites without providing the necessary information to reduce them to practice would not constitute prior art for an otherwise valid patent application.

I was referring to a different writer (forgot his name) who around the end of the 19th century said we would communicate using a network of satellites made of bricks and powered by water.

The pre-granting discussion/prior art system I was referring to is http://www.peertopatent.org/ [peertopatent.org] , which is being done in cooperation with the USPTO and seems to so far be doing a reasonably good job.
Effort put into the pre-granting review process is wasted. Simply, it's not where our system has problems. The particular site you link to is garbage (no offense). Very few comments I've seen there demonstrate understanding of the legal concepts involved and many misunderstand the technical subject matter. There are several companies looking at methods for automated rating of patents which, if applied to patent applications, could flag some for additional scrutiny. Beyond that, though, having an army of people who don't understand prior art, novelty, or obviousness and who can't properly read a patent review applications is just going to create more work for the already overburdened PTO.

There's also a legislative effort underway to greatly expand the pre-granting review process within the PTO, which is what I was referring to. It's a waste of resources because the problem isn't bad patents being granted, but bad patents being used in litigation (and good patents being misused in litigation).

Patents are just pieces of paper until litigated, when they give the patent holder the ability to impose huge costs on their party opponent with very little exposure. This allows a patent holder to extract millions of dollars in rents using patents that, even when valid, don't read on the target subject matter. Bluntly, a perfect system that granted only valid patents would have very little effect on troll activity.

Before a troll can prevail at trial, his patent will have to survive a challenge to validity several million dollars in the making, brought by an interested party who has focused those resources on the specific nuance of the patent that covers his accused product. That's where review really happens in our system, and it's an incredibly efficient method for focusing the overwhelming majority of our review resources on those few points of disagreement that actually matter. I'd guess that every patent on that website combined gets less effective scrutiny in a month than any one claim gets during litigation.

The problem with the current system is that people can take advantage of these high defensive litigation costs to engage in rent seeking. A true "troll" very rarely goes to trial, as he knows his case is garbage and that the real value is in allowing the other side to dig themselves out for less than their anticipated defense costs. The way to fix this inefficiency is to expose patent plaintiffs to risk of loss while giving incentive to patent defendants to invalidate or otherwise defeat bad faith claims in litigation. An appropriately written bonding statute would make current pre-granting review procedures more than adequate while reducing litigation and costing taxpayers and good faith participants nothing.

Simply, if we rebalance the patent litigation system to give accused infringers reason to fight bad faith litigation and make losses costly to the bad faith litigant then the patent troll business model will evaporate.

Why not, indeed. (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 5 years ago | (#22169854)

Why not limit the number of times patent rights can be reassigned?

Sure. And why not limit the number of times rights can be reassigned on something like music files? Why not have the number be 1, for the original sale? I'm sure the RIAA would like that. And why not apply the same standard to software? Or anything else?

You're right in the dual purposes of patents, but allowing the holder of a patent to sell rights does not counter the letter or spirit of either purpose.

Re:How about a change in patent law... (3, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#22170678)

It doesn't matter how many times the patent has been assigned - because assignment doesn't change the duration of the patent. What you have here is a solution in search of a problem and a potential enforcement nightmare.
 
Am I the only one that notices Slashdot's propensity to propose/applaud the limitations of others rights, while screaming loudly at any percieved limitation of their own?

Re:How about a change in patent law... (2, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#22170862)

Am I the only one that notices Slashdot's propensity to propose/applaud the limitations of others rights, while screaming loudly at any percieved limitation of their own?

Nope, we're here. It's just that there is a current Scientology thread so we're busy pounding Xenu to shreds. Be back momentarily. Until then, keep up the good fight.

Re:How about a change in patent law... (2, Interesting)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 5 years ago | (#22171080)

Am I the only one that notices Slashdot's propensity to propose/applaud the limitations of others rights, while screaming loudly at any percieved limitation of their own?

I already posted in this thread, so I can't use my mod points on your post, so I'll just say, you are not the only one.

Re:How about a change in patent law... (2, Informative)

dpilot (134227) | more than 5 years ago | (#22171806)

Last I checked, I held 19 patents, so I'm not simply an uninterested party foisting problems off on someone else. The system is currently broken, though as others have suggested, there are new improvements in the prior art process that may help. I was just coming up with another idea, aimed at the trolls.

Re:How about a change in patent law... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#22172916)

Again, you have a solution is search of a problem - because this doesn't stop, or even slow down, the process of 'trolling'. ('Trolling' of course is a code for 'a patent holder enforcing his rights in a way I don't happen to care for'.)

Re:How about a change in patent law... (1)

lucas teh geek (714343) | more than 5 years ago | (#22175488)

how about this. if a patent is sold, the buyer has a short time limit (say 2-3 years) to get a product to market that utilises the patent, other wise the patent expires and the implementation becomes public domain. if you're not the original inventor and you have no product, then you shouldn't be allowed to sell licences to use the patent either.

Re:How about a change in patent law... (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22176890)

I find the idea interesting. It focuses on parties who neither invented nor manufactured. My suggestion wasn't well liked, maybe yours would be better received. Of course the worlds problems will be solved, here.

AAPL is losing its ass SELL SELL SELL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22168204)



AAPL is losing its ass for a third day in a row

SELL

SELL

SELL

What do you mean, "troll"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22168354)

Did they derive great LULZ from watching people get annoyed at them? If they bought the patent, it's their choice how they license their intellectual property. The patent system is flawed, not the companies which treat it as an investment opportunity.

Re:What do you mean, "troll"? (0, Troll)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 5 years ago | (#22168548)

Companies that operate solemnly on exploiting the flaws of the system are called 'patent trolls'. As opposed to 'bridge trolls' or 'Internet trolls' like you.

Not necessarily a good thing (4, Insightful)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 5 years ago | (#22169682)

Not necessarily a good thing

First, the GP is only a troll is the poster doesn't believe the content of the post, but rather posts just to go against the prevailing sentiment and arouse a reaction.

Second, a phrase like "exploiting the flaws of the system" is quite loaded. Like if someone you like is charged with a crime but not convicted, you might say that person is not guilty. If someone you don't like is in the same situation, you might say, they only got off on a technicality.

I'm not guilty of murder, but only on a technicality. Of course, that technicality is the fact that I haven't killed anyone, or caused the death of anyone, or done anything else covered by the laws that define murder. But that's only a technicality.

If you think the right of a patent holder to charge licensing fees is a "flaw of the system" then yes, in this case the company was trying to exploit that flaw. Of course I could say the requirement to release source code is a flaw of the GPL, and anyone trying to get me to release the source of an application based on GPL code I am selling is just a troll exploiting the flaws of the system.

I may hear replies that the requirement to release source code is not a flaw of the GPL, but rather is an intentional aspect of how the GPL works. On the same tip, some might say the right of a patent holder to charge licensing fees for use of works covered by the patent, and the right to increase those fees should the patented works prove to be popular, is not a flaw in the system, but part of how patents are intended to work.

Re:Not necessarily a good thing (1)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 6 years ago | (#22176584)

On the same tip, some might say the right of a patent holder to charge licensing fees for use of works covered by the patent, and the right to increase those fees should the patented works prove to be popular, is not a flaw in the system, but part of how patents are intended to work.

We know the stated purposed of the GPL (and assume it to be its true purpose), and we know the stated purpose of patents (and also assume it to be their true purpose). The source release imposed by the GPL is about as in-line with its stated purpose as it gets. But the stated purpose of patents is, in short, to give the inventor some degree of reward for the invention, while also getting it into the public domain ASAP.

Had NatSemi hiked the licensing prices, I might cry foul, but it'd be ultimately their prerogative. If they'd come up with the invention and acted upon it solely by licensing manufacturing rights, sure, fine. Had they sold those rights from the get go to a company to resell, I could still see a point. As an inventor you don't necessarily have the business savvy to market an invention successfully, so you just get a one-time payment and let somebody else handle it. Still working as intended. Once you have the inventor successfully (you might argue the definition of success, but Ethernet is definitely it) exercising their rights both as a license-issuer and as a manufacturer, and years later selling those rights, and the new patent-bearer hiking the licensing prices or changing the rules of the game in any way, I think it's fair to say the system isn't doing the right thing any more. It's now rewarding Johnny-Come-Late for having the purchasing power to get their hands on an ubiquitous, tried and true technology and manipulating the market for that technology.

Re:Not necessarily a good thing (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22179194)

The patent system is intended to promote innovation by granting protection to the inventor to allow them to get paid for their work/research. The purpose of the period is to protect from copycats and give time to manufacture and sell the invented product.

It never meant gathering a few thousands of ideas everyone in the industry would get within next year anyway, then keeping them never intending to manufacture them, only gaining money from others.

Patents were intended to protect you from others who copy your idea, not to prevent others from getting the same idea as you did.

The flaw is that you can get something quite obvious patented and then block progress by charging everyone for doing the same thing independently. Patent trolls do exactly that - use the law directly against its spirit, stifling innovation instead of promoting it.

Neglect? (5, Insightful)

Eunuchswear (210685) | more than 5 years ago | (#22168362)

The IEEE voted back in 2002 to make patent letters irrevocable, which could have prevented this, but neglected to make that clause retroactive.
I doubt they "neglected" to make the cause retroactive, I suspect that not being brain dead they knew that they had no such power.

We need another nautical analogy for this (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 5 years ago | (#22169764)

This isn't a submarine patent. [wikipedia.org] In that case, the patent holder sneaks into the marketplace with a hidden patent and then springs it full-fledged upon businesses using the patented technology.

This case is a bit different. The patent was licensed to the current users of the patented technology--the "bad guy" ship wasn't a submarine sneaking into the middle of a convoy, it was one of the ships already part of the convoy. But then the ship is taken over by another entity... say, a crew of pirates... and they took advantage of their position in the convoy and the fact their intended victims were already under their guns to try to extort more.

Yeah, this isn't a submarine patent, this is patent piracy.

Yaaar!

The only real problem with this analogy is that it doesn't involve cars....

Re:We need another nautical analogy for this (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#22170626)

The only real problem with this analogy is that it doesn't involve cars....

Sure it does. One of the ships in the convey was a car carrier [wikipedia.org] .

You'd think I have to come up with all of the original ideas around here? ;) *duck*

cynical view (1)

orgelspieler (865795) | more than 5 years ago | (#22170202)

My inner cynic is thinking, "I wonder what official they forgot to pay off at the FTC."

Promissory Estoppel? (1)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 5 years ago | (#22170566)

Surely the existence of the original letter would allow a defence of promissory estoppel against the patent troll?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estoppel#Promissory_estoppel [wikipedia.org]

I wonder if that's why the troll caved so easily? (badum tish!)

Not so fast gossip hounds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22179168)

Instead of making uninformed guesses about what this is all about you should read NData Response. NData was part of a company that National provided VC funds to create. When the company's products were sold, the patents stayed behind so that the VCs and common share holders (employees of the company) could get some value out of the IP they were given by National as part of the VC funding process. The patent enfocement process started when the company still was making products - so it was not a "patent troll", it was a normal product producing company enforcing it's IP (normal everyday occurance) - the fact that the products were later sold should not affect the enforcment actions that have taken years to prosecute. For the cynical, you are probably closer to the truth in that the comissioners voting to take action against the chair's beliefs and the fact that 2 seperate dissents were written indicates to me that something fishy is going on here. The companies that borught this to the FTC are located in Texas and make computers, not consumers who would be affected. The amounts involved are pennies on a computer system purchase, not outrageous amounts as some would lead you to believe. http://www.negotiateddata.com/files/N-Data%20Statement%20012308pm.pdf [negotiateddata.com]

Ok. Here goes... (1)

jskline (301574) | more than 6 years ago | (#22179894)

Slap em' Danno! Then put the cuffs on them.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

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>