top Software Patents Are Crumbling, Thanks To the Supreme Court
The first story about "on a computer" patents getting invalidated is a good thing. But the second story is perhaps even more important. People are taking notice that patent examiners are not doing their jobs. Too many of them are just working one day a week/month/whatever and just rubberstamping their quota of patents, allowing anything whatsoever through the system, and falsely reporting that they worked full time and even overtime, because there is a corrupt culture that lets them get away with it. Exposing this could lead to mass firings, and some sort of system to ensure real accountability.
It's a problem, though, because there's no simple metric to determine whether patent examiners are doing a good job. Using number of patents reviewed as that metric encourages examiners to do a shoddy job actually examining the patents (i.e. what has actually been happening). If they are expected to pass only a certain fraction of patents, this is slightly better since it forces them to actually come up with reasons to reject some patents, but what fraction should they use? Two examiners doing perfect jobs may have very different fractions of accepted patents simply because one got better patents to review than the other, especially if they have different focus areas. Does the patent office even know the fraction of submitted patents in various areas which are good? A better metric would be whether accepted patents survive in the courts, but this depends on somebody actually challenging the patents and takes years after the fact. It might help now throw out some of the patent examiners who clearly haven't been doing their jobs in the past.
I'm not sure what the right solution is. Blind peer review and multiple review? Assign each patent to 2 or 3 different reviewers and call to carpet the ones who most consistently differ from others? Does that even work if half your patent examiners are shirking?
top Comcast Customer Service Rep Just Won't Take No For an Answer
About 4 or 5 years ago, all the broadcast TV in the US changed over to a digital format, and the digital format includes HDTV broadcasts. If you have an HDTV and an antenna, and you live in a place where you can receive the signals, you can get the HDTV of all the broadcast networks over the air (OTA) with no cable.
It has been reported that Comcast re-compresses the digital HDTV streams, cramming them into a smaller digital channel in their cable system, in order to fit more channels in. This leads to reduced quality in the picture you view on Comcast compared to the OTA HDTV broadcast. I don't know about other cable systems.
Here is one such report, though it seems to be specifically about other non-OTA HD channels (where the FIOS broadcast was used for comparison).
top Malware Posing As Official Google Play Store Evades Most Security Checks
Not sure how this brief blurb with no link got posted, but
here is a link to an actual story.
top $499 3-D Printer Drew Plenty of Attention at CES (Video)
Specifically, it appears to be a translation-and-back-again of the LA Times article which is the first link in the article, or an automated synonym-substitution (trying to avoid being detected as copyright violation for reposting stories in full, perhaps, though strangely they link to the original article at the bottom). The other articles on their site (see Latest USA News sidebar on the right) appear to have undergone the same process.
top Ford Will Demo Solar-Charged Car At CES
Your idea will also help people who commute to work, whose cars will not BE under the canopy during most of the daylight hours.
top What Will Ubiquitous 3D Printing Do To IP Laws?
But only where there is enough of a market. If you're making and selling tens of thousands of a product, then mass production can work. If you can only sell a hundred of something, or less, the costs in mass producing it and the risk in producing something you may not be able to sell may shift the price advantage to 3D printing.
top Jury Finds Google Guilty of Standards-Essential Patents Abuse Against MS
The missing information is that
Google bought Motorola Mobility, the Motorola unit involved in this case, in 2011.
top Amazon Forbids Crossing State Lines With Rented Textbooks
In addition to this, the idea that $50 to rent or $150 to buy a general chemistry textbook is a "very low" price, as mentioned in the article, also suggests cartel-like price hikes from the textbook makers.
top After a User Dies, Apple Warns Against Counterfeit Chargers
If you read
the older article linked within the article for this story you will see that the woman who was electrocuted was using an iPhone 4, not an iPhone 5 as was first reported. So this was indeed using the older connector.
top British Porn-Censoring MP Has Website Defaced With Porn
Member of Parliament
top Microsoft Is Sitting On Six Million Unsold Surface Tablets
Well, I don't know about
stupidly low, but a big discount is what this writeoff represents. The estimate of 6 million Surface tablets comes from the $900 million writeoff and the $150 discount which they started offering to educational buyers last month, and are now offering to the general public.
top If I search online for my full name...
There are a few other people with my name, and now that the internet is more ubiquitous, some of them actually have some meaningful online presence. Since I don't post on Facebook much, the Facebook result that comes up in the first page of Google results is somebody else. Still, though, more than 80% of the first several pages of results on my firstname+lastname are about me. It was more extreme 10 years ago, when there was the small insurance company that got one result, a college football player with a couple results, and pages and pages of nothing but me.
top Personal Audio's James Logan Answers Your Questions
James, you wanted to hear about what the real problems with the patent system are? One of them is the continuation patent.
Back in 1996 you filed for a patent which issued in 2001 as
U.S. patent 6,199,076. This actually sounds original for the time; it seems to be a system for providing hyperlinks that could be followed while listening to an audio program, along with a way to jump back to the previous program. Of course, we had those features already in web browsers; whether doing the same thing in an audio program was sufficiently innovative enough to deserve a patent is debatable (and presumably was debated a bit, since it took 5 years for the patent to be issued).
However, that patent in no way describes podcasting, which involves an ability to subscribe to a recurring series of audio programs, including ones not yet issued. That is instead covered by
patent 8,112,504, which you filed in 2009 as a "continuation" of the much earlier patent application, one which had, in fact, already been issued as a complete patent for 8 years. Podcasting generally does not (and as far as I know, never does) include the hyperlinking-within-audio-programs feature of the '076 patent. (Yes, each item in a feed includes a hyperlink to where the audio file can be retrieved, but there aren't hyperlinks within those files to other podcasts - not unless they are spoken and you have to type in a URL yourself.) The features of that patent that podcasting programs do include - the ability to select one or more of a set of audio programs to listen to, possibly setting them to repeat, and with the ability to interrupt and redefine the sequence - were available in programmable CD players that already existed when the '076 patent was filed. And none of those features are features of the podcast, but of the podcasting program or hardware device.
The ability to go back and rewrite your old patent to include new features, and claim you invented them back when the old patent was filed (even if, as you noted, you're limited to collect damages on activity after the new version of the patent is issued) is one thing that is broken in the patent system. You basically saw something that people were doing, found an old patent which bore a little similarity, but which didn't have any claims against that activity you could enforce, and rewrote it so it covered the activity, after the fact. This should not be allowed.
Now I realize that there are legitimate reasons for continuations being considered a part of the original application. But you shouldn't be able to introduce new concepts outside the scope of the original patent application in a continuation. This sort of thing should either be rejected outright, or treated as a new application with priority date set to when the new concepts were first filed.
top Computer Memory Can Be Read With a Flash of Light
Actually, this is an error in the summary. The article says that it
doesn't change state in response to light, but with an applied voltage. It's read with light that doesn't change the polarization state.
top White House Announces Reforms Targeting Patent Trolls
If multiple separate parties all try to patent the same thing, then the idea was too obvious to be patented in the first place.
You say that, but exactly this situation has occurred with inventions as original and important as
the telephone (1876).
top White House Announces Reforms Targeting Patent Trolls
The you clearly haven't read the law.
Section 271 of Title 35:
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this title, whoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent therefor, infringes the patent.
The "uses" part covers customers who have bought the infringing product. It is not common to go after the customers but it is legal and there are examples.
As an example of going after customers, see
the story about patent trolls extorting money from business who use scan-to-email functionality. There are more recent stories on this subject, but this one from January is what I can find right now.
top Moore's Law Fails At NAND Flash Node
Uhhh, the article refers not at all to anything about performance. It refers to the fact that the chip is still using a 19nm process. i.e. the transistors are still 19nm on each side, and because of that, there's the same number of them.
Actually, it doesn't say that. While they are still using a 19 nm process, they found a way to pack them closer together, and hence there are more of them even though they are still the same size as the previous ones. They didn't say how much closer, though. Packing the units of the same size closer together is the kind of thing you can probably only manage to get useful improvement out of once. Then they'll probably make the chips bigger once, to deliver more transistors. This sounds like the stopgap things you do when the next smaller process won't work, or is too expensive, and they are already talking about stacking them in 3D as the next improvement. But adding another dimension has huge potential. Imagine how many layers you could stack in a 1 mm-high chip if each layer consisted of a 19 nm-thick circuit and a 19 nm-thick insulator.
I don't think this is really a Moore's Law failure. More like a hiccup, as the new technology needed to continue the growth of Moore's Law gets built up - as has happened multiple times in the decades since Moore stated his famous law.
top Scientists Study Getting an Unwanted Tune Out of Your Head
From the article:
Some of the easiest songs to get stuck in your head (as used by the researchers)
Alejandro – Lady Gaga
Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
Call me Baby – Carly Rae Jepsen.
Single Ladies – Beyoncé
She Loves You – The Beatles
I Wanna Hold Your Hand – The Beatles
She Loves You – The Beatles
SOS – Rihanna
You Belong with Me – Taylor Swift
Apparently She Loves You is such a catchy song that it gets stuck in your head twice.
about a year and a half ago
top Bitcoin To Be Regulated Under US Money Laundering Laws
Then donate $1.
Life's cool up here in my Mansion tower.
And that is exactly the problem with this regulation. If transactions of more than $N into and/or out of bitcoins must be reported, criminals will keep their transactions under $N. They can create as many bitcoin accounts as they want. As long as they get the money into different US dollar accounts before buying bitcoins with it, there is nothing to tie the transactions together, and they won't be reported.
about a year and a half ago
top We Should Be Allowed To Unlock Everything We Own
Actually both industries believe that ripping to another format is illegal. The music industry just at some point realized that calling all their customers criminals and suing joe downloader into bankruptcy wasn't going to guilt them into buying cds again.
"Believe," sure. But the difference in Jason Levine's example comes from the fact that DVDs are encrypted. This is considered an "access control" protecting a copyrighted work. Even though the password to this encryption is now public information, the DMCA makes it illegal to rip to another format, even when you don't distribute it. CDs have no such access control. While copyright law still applies to music, the DMCA does not apply, and the type of copy Jason describes falls under the fair use exception in copyright law as interpreted by just about everybody outside of the RIAA.
This is much the same with cell phone unlocking. You know (or can find out without too much effort) how to unlock your cell phone, but the DMCA prohibits actually doing it. The only difference is that there was, for a while, an exception to the DMCA permitted for unlocking cell phones. (See the previous slashdot story linked in the summary for an explanation of why this exception expired.)
about a year and a half ago
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