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(Wired)   The patent system is broken and it's stifling innovation   (wired.com) divider line 94
    More: Obvious, Santa Clara University, patent attorney, hard copy, innovations  
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3143 clicks; posted to Geek » on 13 Nov 2012 at 11:19 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-11-13 08:22:44 PM  
I could've told you *that* (TM).
 
2012-11-13 08:53:10 PM  
Little old lady looks at headline and screams "WHERE'S THE SNARK?!?"
 
2012-11-13 09:09:17 PM  
Patents are a good idea gone stupid.

DMCA is worst bill.
 
2012-11-13 09:17:44 PM  
Patents and trademarks were a good idea until the field, like many others, fell victim to lobbyists, bureaucratic incompetence and Big Money.
 
2012-11-13 11:27:35 PM  
Patents would probably work better if a minute change didn't allow the renewal of the patent and patents were allowed to, y'know, end.

/Trademarks too. How many more years of Mickey can Disney wrangle out of Congress?
 
2012-11-13 11:28:05 PM  
The communists at the St. Louis Fed put together a paper: The Case Against Patents (.pdf)
 
2012-11-13 11:36:57 PM  
Oops. I Probably shouldn't have patented the process or action of innovating. Sorry, my bad.
 
2012-11-13 11:44:39 PM  
No shiat!
 
2012-11-13 11:45:08 PM  
Lucky for me, I already patented the concept of a broken patent system.
 
2012-11-13 11:45:52 PM  

Ready-set: Lucky for me, I already patented the concept of a broken patent system.


That sounds "innovating!"

Pay up.
 
2012-11-13 11:47:27 PM  
But it's our god-given right to start 16 shell companies in Texas whose sole purpose is to buy unused patents and sue everyone in sight. My mansion's not going to buy itself, y'know. It's not stifling innovation, it's protecting it!
 
2012-11-13 11:49:09 PM  
I'm reading this thread while thinking about a pro-patent buddy and eating a particularly evil blue goats cheese. I'm inclined to favor the innovators over the patenters on this.
 
2012-11-14 01:07:10 AM  
Sorry guys, I patented complaining about the patent system and I'm suing each and every one of you for five billion dollars.
 
2012-11-14 01:08:35 AM  
I'm sure you resident Fark patent attorney shills will chime in soon. Then we can hear the informed truth from people who make their money off the current system.
 
2012-11-14 01:20:16 AM  

nmemkha: I'm sure you resident Fark patent attorney shills will chime in soon. Then we can hear the informed truth from people who make their money off the current system.


It's telling that the lawyers are the only ones you ever see defending it. The inventors and innovators it's supposed to protect seem to hate it the most.
 
2012-11-14 01:55:19 AM  
It's only the thieves that whine about the patent system.

Innovation costs money. Get over it.
 
2012-11-14 02:00:58 AM  
Glenn Curtiss heard muttering "No shiat"
 
2012-11-14 02:01:57 AM  
While we're at it, we might want to look at copyright as well...
 
2012-11-14 02:02:53 AM  

acanuck: It's only the thieves that whine about the patent system.

Innovation costs money. Get over it.


Yep.
And only terrorists complain about the Patriot Act.
 
2012-11-14 02:13:07 AM  

acanuck: It's only the thieves that whine about the patent system.

Innovation costs money. Get over it.


I'm a co-inventor on several US patents. All of them were signed over to my employer at the time, some for a theoretical $1 while others gave me a real cash bonus. Speaking only for myself and not for any of those employers, the patent system is seriously broken and wouldn't recognize "innovation" if it bit it on the ass. 

Although admittedly I am a thief, since I did once exercise a cat without paying the appropriate royalties.
 
2012-11-14 02:32:35 AM  

acanuck: It's only the thieves that whine about the patent system.


Glenn Curtiss would like a word with you.
 
2012-11-14 02:40:20 AM  
Shouldn't it be incumbent upon the court to assess the merit of the claim before involving the defendant? Granted you can sue anyone at any time for anything, but if someone sued me for illegally operating a McDonald's franchise, the claim would be so baseless that it shouldn't be admitted to a court. What I'm saying is that the process for filing suit in trolling cases is far too simple and cheap. If it costs very much money and time that the defendant is not subjected to, the plaintiffs will be forced to bring only those cases which actually merit examination, and the defendants will only be forced to defend claims which might have merit. Just seems like the courts aren't doing their jobs.
 
2012-11-14 02:50:00 AM  

Toshiro Mifune's Letter Opener: I could've told you *that* (TM).


I couldn't have or TMLO would sue my ass
 
2012-11-14 02:57:26 AM  
I'm going to patent the process of filing a patent. Why not? That's as valid as most patents these days.
 
2012-11-14 03:04:37 AM  
I'm making a non-obvious business method right now... My patented stretch-and-yawn. Aw yeah, that's the stuff.
 
2012-11-14 03:21:33 AM  

Gunther: nmemkha: I'm sure you resident Fark patent attorney shills will chime in soon. Then we can hear the informed truth from people who make their money off the current system.

It's telling that the lawyers are the only ones you ever see defending it. The inventors and innovators it's supposed to protect seem to hate it the most.


It's telling that the armchair Internet warriors that have no clue how the system works are the biggest idiots attacking it. Maybe if people could even bother learning how it works you're uninformed opinions would mean more.

But clearly, the patent system is broken because idiots on fark and in the news look at the title "time machine" and go "haha apple patents a time machine derpedydoo".

Yes there are some blatant errors (see cat exercise quoted above) but overall most patents patented stand on the merits (as we'd hear much more about patents being invalidated by google/Samsung/apple rather than arguing that it doesn't apply to them). If apple sued google over their time machine patent, wouldn't it be in googles best interest (and the easiest method to escape suit) to get the entire thing invalidated? But that doesn't happen often for a reason.
 
2012-11-14 03:35:03 AM  

Summoner101: How many more years of Mickey can Disney wrangle out of Congress?


all of them
 
2012-11-14 03:48:38 AM  
My first patent was just approved by the USPTO, so try to innovate now biatches!!
 
2012-11-14 03:56:28 AM  
Whats broken is patent litigation and the overflow at the patent office. They are clearly overworked and understaffed and under qualified for many of the patents. The whole patent/copyright setup needs serious reworking but I doubt it will ever happen.

This country will rend itself apart before any real change happens.
 
2012-11-14 04:06:15 AM  

BoxOfBees: Shouldn't it be incumbent upon the court to assess the merit of the claim before involving the defendant? Granted you can sue anyone at any time for anything, but if someone sued me for illegally operating a McDonald's franchise, the claim would be so baseless that it shouldn't be admitted to a court. What I'm saying is that the process for filing suit in trolling cases is far too simple and cheap. If it costs very much money and time that the defendant is not subjected to, the plaintiffs will be forced to bring only those cases which actually merit examination, and the defendants will only be forced to defend claims which might have merit. Just seems like the courts aren't doing their jobs.


Playing devils advocate. But your assuming all patent holders are large companies. Many small patent holders exist and would suffer. My girlfriends dad makes gaming protocol softward and hardware and markets it at a huge fraction of the price of the larger industry players (almost a thousandth the cost) mostly because he has designed and developed the hardware/software himself (the engine can either be leased or bought buyers get the benefit of receiving all future updates for free). The software in question involves two different systems speaking different languages and neither is very easy to program, and software and hardware has to meet specific industry standards in the areas of response time and other areas. Anyways he has had to defend his creations in court from pirates on different occasions both in the US and abroad these are real pirates in that they steal this in order to profit.

If the man doesn't get paid he can't afford his scotch, and if he can't afford his scotch how will he get any work done?
 
2012-11-14 05:12:21 AM  
IBM and Haliburton have applied for patents on patent trolling, so things should get really amusing soon.
 
2012-11-14 05:51:47 AM  
Yes lets see how far we can go in creating a knowledge economy without intellectual property.

I realize that Google just wants to be able to use the fruits of everyone else's hard work without having to fork over for it - but the nerds at Mountain View (who are the primary financial backers of the anti-IP movement) haven't really thought through the End Game of what happens when IP is thrown out the window.

Bruce Sterling's "Distraction" provides a pretty good image of what happens to the US when the rest of the world says "hey, IP is bollocks, lets take whatever ideas we want".
 
2012-11-14 06:09:29 AM  

hammer85: Gunther: nmemkha: I'm sure you resident Fark patent attorney shills will chime in soon. Then we can hear the informed truth from people who make their money off the current system.

It's telling that the lawyers are the only ones you ever see defending it. The inventors and innovators it's supposed to protect seem to hate it the most.

It's telling that the armchair Internet warriors that have no clue how the system works are the biggest idiots attacking it. Maybe if people could even bother learning how it works you're uninformed opinions would mean more.

But clearly, the patent system is broken because idiots on fark and in the news look at the title "time machine" and go "haha apple patents a time machine derpedydoo".

Yes there are some blatant errors (see cat exercise quoted above) but overall most patents patented stand on the merits (as we'd hear much more about patents being invalidated by google/Samsung/apple rather than arguing that it doesn't apply to them). If apple sued google over their time machine patent, wouldn't it be in googles best interest (and the easiest method to escape suit) to get the entire thing invalidated? But that doesn't happen often for a reason.


I told you.
 
2012-11-14 06:51:16 AM  
Preventing innovation is what patents are for.  They are a way to say "I have climbed the shoulders of these giants, elevating myself above them by half an inch, and none may pass here evermore."
 
2012-11-14 06:58:28 AM  

hammer85: Gunther: nmemkha: I'm sure you resident Fark patent attorney shills will chime in soon. Then we can hear the informed truth from people who make their money off the current system.

It's telling that the lawyers are the only ones you ever see defending it. The inventors and innovators it's supposed to protect seem to hate it the most.

It's telling that the armchair Internet warriors that have no clue how the system works are the biggest idiots attacking it. Maybe if people could even bother learning how it works you're uninformed opinions would mean more.

But clearly, the patent system is broken because idiots on fark and in the news look at the title "time machine" and go "haha apple patents a time machine derpedydoo".

Yes there are some blatant errors (see cat exercise quoted above) but overall most patents patented stand on the merits (as we'd hear much more about patents being invalidated by google/Samsung/apple rather than arguing that it doesn't apply to them). If apple sued google over their time machine patent, wouldn't it be in googles best interest (and the easiest method to escape suit) to get the entire thing invalidated? But that doesn't happen often for a reason.


I'm not in favor of killing the patent system. But I will admit that as it's implemented has some serious flaws. However, the SHIELD act looks like a promising way to shore up some of those holes in the software sector and hopefully discourage frivolous patent lawsuits (Loser pays) and encourage people to fight for their rights instead of caving and settling, which is often cheaper than court battles. The example in the article (read it all the way through) is one of the more egregious examples of this. Patenting all of E-Commerce by patenting the filling out of a form online. Or the more nebulous "Processing of information" guy made millions off suing companies who didn't want the court costs or risk an injunction (example of RIM in there too being victimized over this) and having their business collapse.

Brought to a stop, sort of, when a banker decided on moral grounds to fight back, and won, and won court fees ($630k). Guy who owned the litigation company seemed pretty much the most arrogant asshole prick I've ever seen.
 
2012-11-14 07:08:13 AM  
http://www.fark.com/goto/7431661/http://appleinsider.com/articles/12/1 1/13/apple-wins-patent-for-basic-time-machine-functionality

Also this. Patenting backing up data. Pretty sure that's been done to death already by a LARGE number of companies. Changing the wording does not a patent make. In fact, there are so many patents for backing up data that on a quick google patent search, I ran out of patience looking through all the ones that contained the words "backing up data" just in the title. Many of them filed LONG before Apple got around to it. I'm pretty sure most of them cover the same concept, with maybe a handful or more actually being unique patents.

Again. Implementation problems, not problems with patents themselves. Need to review the patents already issued and possibly revoke some of them based on prior patents or don't meet the requirements for patenting a concept, device or process. Again, also with an appeals process. It'll take a long time and cost a lot of money, which is why it will probably never be done, but it still needs doing.
 
2012-11-14 07:16:04 AM  
Patent free world!
That way nobody makes any money except the corporations!

/Screw you, little people!
 
2012-11-14 07:26:32 AM  
Here's an idea, limit patents to tangible things. No more software patents, no more design patents, none of that. Also change the law so that patents can not be transferred to an entity. Ever. One of your employees gets a patent? Great, it's their patent and you have to work out a licensing deal.
 
2012-11-14 07:30:06 AM  

mephox: Brought to a stop, sort of, when a banker decided on moral grounds to fight


Damn, even the bankers are morally repulsed by patent trolls?

HotIgneous Intruder: Patent free world!
That way nobody makes any money except the corporations!


Yep, pointing out that the current system is broken means you want to get rid of patients altogether. You aren't constructing a ludicrous strawman there at all.
 
2012-11-14 07:30:45 AM  

HotIgneous Intruder: That way nobody makes any money except the corporations!


Glenn Curtiss made a fark ton of money without a patent to his name. In fact if you want to him and asked him to show you how to copy his own innovations he'd all but fall over himself to do it. Meanwhile the Wright Brothers drove themselves into irrelevance enforcing all their patents. Among those they sued was Curtiss, and while eventually the Wrights won the case, it was a bit late to do any good and a couple years later the Wright company was merged with Curtiss. Oh and the Curtiss aircraft company did eventually get a patent. A patent that had anyone really breathed on too hard would've been found invalid as it involved an entire plane that was neither of unique configuration, type or construction.
 
2012-11-14 07:45:26 AM  
Oh before Curtiss made airplanes, he first made bicycles. Unlike the Wright brothers who just owned a bike shop Curtiss ended up with an entire factory. Which utilized numerous innovations in bike design and manufacturing. None of which Curtiss ever patented. Then he got into motorcycles, where he came up with more innovations. None of which he patented. And he made even more money. He made so much that he was free to tinker with airplanes without worrying about the expense. And all along the way, no patents and not only didn't he care if someone copied him, he gladly helped people copy him.
 
2012-11-14 07:58:10 AM  

mephox: http://www.fark.com/goto/7431661/http://appleinsider.com/articles/12/ 1 1/13/apple-wins-patent-for-basic-time-machine-functionality

Also this. Patenting backing up data.


That's not what that patent claims.

Pretty sure that's been done to death already by a LARGE number of companies. Changing the wording does not a patent make. In fact, there are so many patents for backing up data that on a quick google patent search, I ran out of patience looking through all the ones that contained the words "backing up data" just in the title.

Exactly. "Backing up data" has been done for many, many years, and you couldn't possibly get a patent on it. But just because thousands of different implementations of systems for backing up data share the same title doesn't mean they're not patentable.
For example, there are 651,000 patents and applications with the word 'wheel' in their titles. None of them are trying to claim Caveman Ogg's original invention.
If you read beyond the titles - which, incidentally, have no legal weight whatsoever - you find that they're all different.
 
2012-11-14 08:01:01 AM  

Summoner101: Patents would probably work better if a minute change didn't allow the renewal of the patent and patents were allowed to, y'know, end.

/Trademarks too. How many more years of Mickey can Disney wrangle out of Congress?


Patents can't be renewed. They end 20 years from the earliest priority date. And Disney's getting copyright extensions out of Congress, not trademark extensions.

/pretty sure was trolling
 
2012-11-14 08:37:52 AM  

WhyteRaven74: Here's an idea, limit patents to tangible things.


Better idea: have the patent law for intangible things heavily consulted on by people who actually understand the nature of said intangible things.

Patent Lawyers don't write software, most haven't the faintest idea what it's made of and it may as well be unicorn farts and leprechaun piss to them.

Is it any wonder that the patent laws written to cover such things are equally clueless?
 
2012-11-14 08:53:50 AM  
I'm inclined to question if we need them at all anymore? The concept of patents came about in an era where it was a protection against a simple invention made by a small company or individual that could potentially be ripped off by larger companies. Now they are nearly exclusively used by large companies that enjoy oligopolies and even if you are able to reverse engineer gadgets it doesn't really matter. That's just the tip of the iceberg of getting it to production.
 
2012-11-14 09:01:33 AM  

nmemkha: I'm sure you resident Fark patent attorney shills will chime in soon. Then we can hear the informed truth from people who make their money off the current system.


First things first: I am an IP litigator.

Now i tend to represent clients who are trying to invalidate bad patents, as that is part of their business model, but given your statement i figure we should get that out of the way.

The reason "Fark patent attorney shills" tend to roll into these threads and start "fights" is that there tend to be two factors at work in any patent thread on Fark:

1) The patent system has some serious problems, especially to do with the Pre-KSR, Post-Diehr glut of software/tech patents that were granted under a much weaker version of 103 Obviousness. There are some major patent thickets out there, and I don't know any practitioners who wouldn't say that the system - especially as it applies to the tech field - is being hampered by the tragedy of the anti-commons. Of course this sort of thing happens whenever there is a major emergent technology - it happened in cars, aeronautics and telephony - but in each of those cases the government stepped in and forced rights holders to coordinate into pools.

2) Posters on Fark, however, tend to know about as much about law as the standard lawyer knows about cryptography or undersea botany. This leads to threads where a nebulous and misleading article about some new outrage (OMG the title of this patent says sandwich! They are patenting sandwiches now!!), which is translated into an even more misleading headline (its not news . . .) which leads to a patent law equivalent of a mob of people shouting "rabble rabble rabble." To lawyers, people arguing badly is like nails on a blackboard. Its like a dog whistle. Its like fat people in porn. We feel a desperate need to jump in and at least try to explain what the real issues are, so that at least the argument makes sense.

Or to say it with an analogy: Imagine your job involved knowing a lot about computers. One day you see a group of people biatching loudly about a system you knew well. That system has major flaws. However the biatching group is not really discussing those flaws in a real sense, but is instead complaining about things that a) do not exist in that system b) are an essential feature of that system and not really a flaw or c) are in fact flaws of a radically different computer system. You attempt to educate them, if only so that they can be biatching about the right things. You are now a shill for the biatched-about computer system - which makes sense because you make your money from computers.

/as a final note: If guns dont kill people, people do, the even more true corollary is that lawyers dont sue people, clients do*
/*excepting class actions
 
2012-11-14 09:04:31 AM  

SkunkWerks: Patent Lawyers don't write software, most haven't the faintest idea what it's made of and it may as well be unicorn farts and leprechaun piss to them.


That may be true for the patent lawyers who are writing biotechnology and pharmaceutical patents... but they don't practice on the software side. Similarly, I know diddly about those unpronounceable chemicals... but I don't practice on that side of things.
What you probably didn't know is that, unlike regular lawyers, patent lawyers all have scientific or technical backgrounds. Many of us have PhDs, or years of industry experience.
 
2012-11-14 09:04:44 AM  

MayoSlather: I'm inclined to question if we need them at all anymore? The concept of patents came about in an era where it was a protection against a simple invention made by a small company or individual that could potentially be ripped off by larger companies. Now they are nearly exclusively used by large companies that enjoy oligopolies and even if you are able to reverse engineer gadgets it doesn't really matter. That's just the tip of the iceberg of getting it to production.


Actually patents came about to incentivize people to publish their inventions. Without patents we fall back into a system of trade secret, where companies zealously guard their inventions and processes and we loose efficiency because everyone is either constantly trying to reinvent the wheel or involved in corporate espionage style arms races to figure out what the other guy is doing.

Not that this means patents are necessary either, but the publication part of patent law is really its raison d'être
 
2012-11-14 09:06:48 AM  

MayoSlather: I'm inclined to question if we need them at all anymore? The concept of patents came about in an era where it was a protection against a simple invention made by a small company or individual that could potentially be ripped off by larger companies.


No, the concept of patents is a little over 500 years old, and came about because an inventor had a great idea for a shallow-draft easy-loading merchant barge, and he was going to keep it secret and only do his loading/unloading at night with dozens of armed guards bashing heads of any onlookers, and the rulers of Florence offered him three years of exclusive use if he would show everyone how it worked. Patents aren't about "protecting the little guy," they're about destroying trade secrets and increasing public knowledge.
 
2012-11-14 09:09:38 AM  

Teiritzamna: 1) The patent system has some serious problems, especially to do with the Pre-KSR, Post-Diehr glut of software/tech patents that were granted under a much weaker version of 103 Obviousness. There are some major patent thickets out there, and I don't know any practitioners who wouldn't say that the system - especially as it applies to the tech field - is being hampered by the tragedy of the anti-commons.


Part of the problem there was that the USPTO didn't consider CS to be a real degree for several years, so you had semiconductor physics EE guys trying to decipher image processing, for example.

Of course this sort of thing happens whenever there is a major emergent technology - it happened in cars, aeronautics and telephony - but in each of those cases the government stepped in and forced rights holders to coordinate into pools.

And similarly, back in the early days of automobiles, you had mechanical and materials science guys trying to decipher transmission timing.
If a field is truly new and innovative, then the Examiners at the USPTO will necessarily lag behind it in skill.
 
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