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(Android Central)   A coalition of companies, led by Google, have asked the Courts to stop upholding purposely vague software patents   (androidcentral.com) divider line 89
    More: Hero, software patents, Google, Red Hat, Rackspace, Intuit, amicus brief, coalitions, petitions  
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2618 clicks; posted to Geek » on 10 Dec 2012 at 12:48 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-12-10 10:08:37 AM
Many computer-related patent claims just describe an abstract idea at a high level of generality and say to perform it on a computer or over the Internet. Such barebones claims grant exclusive rights over the abstract idea itself, with no limit on how the idea is implemented.

... except that if you don't perform the idea on a computer or over the Internet, you don't infringe.
 
2012-12-10 10:23:18 AM
Link to the brief, because Subby's source sucks. It's an Amicus Brief in the CLS Bank v. Alice Corp. case.
Better article at TechCrunch.
 
2012-12-10 11:30:37 AM
Led by Google? Color me suspicious.

If it becomes harder to win one of these cases, deep pocket companies like Google will be able to bury smaller ones by the weigh of their mountains of cash without putting themselves at real risk.
 
2012-12-10 11:51:14 AM
I think I approve of this honestly. I think patents should be more specific; patent trolling has become too much of an industry. Even if Google's interest in this is not entirely altruistic I think this is a good direction.

/I think
 
2012-12-10 11:57:20 AM
nothing will come of this
 
2012-12-10 12:05:45 PM

Elandriel: I think patents should be more specific; patent trolling has become too much of an industry.


Without disagreeing with either statement, they're not related. Patents should be more specific, both as an aid to searching and to reduce litigation costs with disputes over what the meaning of "is" is. Patent trolling is unrelated to that, as it's about income through licensing and litigation, and will continue even if patents become more specific.
Both are worthy avenues for discussion, but addressing one will not resolve the other.
 
2012-12-10 12:16:39 PM
We'll get patent reform right after we kill all the patent lawyers.
 
2012-12-10 12:29:41 PM

Theaetetus: Elandriel: I think patents should be more specific; patent trolling has become too much of an industry.

Without disagreeing with either statement, they're not related. Patents should be more specific, both as an aid to searching and to reduce litigation costs with disputes over what the meaning of "is" is. Patent trolling is unrelated to that, as it's about income through licensing and litigation, and will continue even if patents become more specific.
Both are worthy avenues for discussion, but addressing one will not resolve the other.


I dunno, I find that patent trolling regarding things like "online aggregation" or whatever the situation was that Fark got hit with, could be resolved by a bit more stringent standards for patent application. But then I'm not in the industry so more or less armchair quarterbackin' here. I'm probably way off.
 
2012-12-10 12:52:47 PM

Marcus Aurelius: We'll get patent reform right after we kill all the patent lawyers.


Or maybe after we get patent examiners who don't think adding two numbers to produce a third is worthy of a patent.
 
2012-12-10 12:55:54 PM
I wish them something like "luck" or "success" over the "internet".
 
2012-12-10 12:59:09 PM

Elandriel: Theaetetus: Elandriel: I think patents should be more specific; patent trolling has become too much of an industry.

Without disagreeing with either statement, they're not related. Patents should be more specific, both as an aid to searching and to reduce litigation costs with disputes over what the meaning of "is" is. Patent trolling is unrelated to that, as it's about income through licensing and litigation, and will continue even if patents become more specific.
Both are worthy avenues for discussion, but addressing one will not resolve the other.

I dunno, I find that patent trolling regarding things like "online aggregation" or whatever the situation was that Fark got hit with, could be resolved by a bit more stringent standards for patent application. But then I'm not in the industry so more or less armchair quarterbackin' here. I'm probably way off.


Well, again, that's sort of a third issue. Basically, you've got:
1) "The USPTO keeps issuing obvious/not novel patents" - this is a problem about examination quality
2) "The patents are too vague or tough to understand" - this is a problem about the sufficiency of the description
3) "Patent trolls grrrrrrr!" - this is a problem about venues, aggregation of defendants, speculative licensing amounts, the high cost to defend a suit, etc.
and there's also:
4) "Software is just math/an abstract idea/etc." - this one is about whether the most nonobvious, novel, super specific invention by a good and practicing company should still be unpatentable, because of its industry.
5) "Patents last too long in X industry" - computers move so fast, so shouldn't software patents have shorter term? But drugs are slow, so shouldn't they have a longer term? Do we need specific terms for every industry, and for Congress to issue new term guidelines every year?

Part of the problem is that people confuse these issues... So they'll say "patent trolls are bad, because software patents last too long" or "software is just math, so it's all obvious". Even if you tell that to someone who is anti-patent, you come off as a kook. And it's really not going to sway anyone in Congress who is pro-patent.
 
2012-12-10 01:01:56 PM
IMO a patent holder should be required to maintain a working prototype of their invention in order to hold the patent. Having patents without a product that they're intended to protect does not provide any benefit to anyone.
 
2012-12-10 01:07:58 PM

Theaetetus: 2) "The patents are too vague or tough to understand" - this is a problem about the sufficiency of the description


There is also the issue, which I think this particular case/brief may be referring to, which isn't vague in the sense of unclear, like you posted here, but vague as in too broad. Such that the patent is for a pretty broad or abstract idea "on a mobile device" or "on the internet". It isn't that such patents are hard to understand or impenetrable, they are the exact opposite, but they are so broad that they cover too many different ways to achieve the same outcome.

IMHO patents should bear some sort of specificity to implementations.
 
2012-12-10 01:09:22 PM
Speaking as a developer... software patents are bullshiat.
They are the software equivalent of patenting a literary theme or construct. No one would ever agree with patenting a writing method or style. Patenting a programming method is akin to patenting a thesis format or method or writing that induces a certain effect.
 
2012-12-10 01:11:09 PM

Theaetetus: Link to the brief, because Subby's source sucks. It's an Amicus Brief in the CLS Bank v. Alice Corp. case.
Better article at TechCrunch.


The TechCrunch article IS much better.
 
2012-12-10 01:12:08 PM

theresnothinglft: IMO a patent holder should be required to maintain a working prototype of their invention in order to hold the patent. Having patents without a product that they're intended to protect does not provide any benefit to anyone.


Well, to offer an opposing view. The purpose of patents are to disclose information that would otherwise be kept secret and to incentivize invention. Assume Alice invents a new widget, and it is great. Alice discloses that invention and gets a patent. Alice decides however she doesn't want to make the thing. Its too much trouble, or she has a pathological fear of factories. Whatever.

At this point you may say that Alice should be prohibited from having that patent. But remember that patents are property - so why shouldnt Alice be able to merely license the invention to others. This is likely what we would all rather, as the invention gets made, Alice gets paid, no problems all around.

However, note that there is a rather anti-american style streak to your initial statement. Imgaine that Alice decides that her widget is in fact terrible, for some non-utilitarian reason. she realizes that it is being used 100% as part of a weapons system, say, and she has moral issues with that. Should she be forced to license her property out? Is not this akin to one landowner looking at the property of another and saying "hrm, i could totally use that land better, so i should be the one who owns it"

Personally, i would figure it was not the end of the world if we instituted types of mandatory licenses for certain industries/invention classes (transforming patents from rights to exclude into rights to revenue) - but it is not so simple to say "you must make X to patent X."
 
2012-12-10 01:13:22 PM

entropic_existence: There is also the issue, which I think this particular case/brief may be referring to, which isn't vague in the sense of unclear, like you posted here, but vague as in too broad. Such that the patent is for a pretty broad or abstract idea "on a mobile device" or "on the internet". It isn't that such patents are hard to understand or impenetrable, they are the exact opposite, but they are so broad that they cover too many different ways to achieve the same outcome.


That would be covered by issues #1 & #4
 
2012-12-10 01:28:54 PM

Theaetetus: 5) "Patents last too long in X industry" - computers move so fast, so shouldn't software patents have shorter term? But drugs are slow, so shouldn't they have a longer term? Do we need specific terms for every industry, and for Congress to issue new term guidelines every year?


Whenever possible, the law should be written so as to be event-driven, not calendar-driven, in order to avoid abuses, or "bugs" in the law such as what you describe. For the most part, however, calendar-driven expiration for patents isn't the problem, so much as a proper selection for what event starts and stops the clock. Drug manufacturers should not have the clock started until they can legally sell the drug in the market. Software patents (or copyrights) should also expire at a certain time when the product is abandoned, if properly defined. There will still be those who game the system, but if the system is designed properly, such gamesmanship will be quite obvious, and the necessary PR burden can be applied.

I find it hard to comprehend that we as a society can agree on rules that govern the timing of football and basketball, but can't properly nail down how to implement patent and copyright timing.
 
2012-12-10 01:33:54 PM

Teiritzamna: Assume Alice invents a new widget, and it is great. Alice discloses that invention and gets a patent. Alice decides however she doesn't want to make the thing. Its too much trouble, or she has a pathological fear of factories. Whatever.


It reads to me like you're conflating two different things. Making something one time in order to gain the patent is very different from making a million of them in a factory. A patent is supposed to be the registering of a real-world embodiment of an idea, not just the idea itself. (I agree that current patent laws do not require a working model, but my opinion is that that should be changed.) Certainly no one should have to set up a manufacturing line in order to be able to patent something. But you should have to build one of them, to prove that it's possible, and to automatically create intellectual borders for that idea.
 
2012-12-10 01:35:35 PM

Teiritzamna: That would be covered by issues #1 & #4


Not really. Patent law has a fairly specific definition they sue for novel/non-obvious that this doesn't necessarily run afoul of for #1. For #4, this isn't the idea that software is itself is abstract.
 
2012-12-10 01:37:19 PM

entropic_existence: Theaetetus: 2) "The patents are too vague or tough to understand" - this is a problem about the sufficiency of the description

There is also the issue, which I think this particular case/brief may be referring to, which isn't vague in the sense of unclear, like you posted here, but vague as in too broad.


Totally. This brief is actually more about (4), that software patents are just claiming an abstract idea. Subby's headline is inaccurate (though due to bad journalism in the linked article).

Such that the patent is for a pretty broad or abstract idea "on a mobile device" or "on the internet". It isn't that such patents are hard to understand or impenetrable, they are the exact opposite, but they are so broad that they cover too many different ways to achieve the same outcome.

IMHO patents should bear some sort of specificity to implementations.


They are - mobile devices, or the Internet are both very specific things. But that's really not the issue - it's that the patents are claiming abstract ideas... and that that shouldn't be cured merely by reciting a non-abstract element, such as a mobile device or the Internet.
So, in other words, it's not about the mobile device. This would be patentable:
1. A method, comprising: [concrete idea] executed on a mobile device.
While this would be unpatentable:
2. A method, comprising: [abstract idea] executed on a mobile device.

The distinction isn't in the mobile device part, it's the abstract vs. concrete idea, and Google is saying that the presence of a mobile device doesn't make an abstract idea concrete.

... problem is that no one, including Google, knows how to define an "abstract idea". It's like obscenity... you know it when you see it.
 
2012-12-10 01:38:36 PM

midigod: It reads to me like you're conflating two different things. Making something one time in order to gain the patent is very different from making a million of them in a factory. A patent is supposed to be the registering of a real-world embodiment of an idea, not just the idea itself. (I agree that current patent laws do not require a working model, but my opinion is that that should be changed.) Certainly no one should have to set up a manufacturing line in order to be able to patent something. But you should have to build one of them, to prove that it's possible, and to automatically create intellectual borders for that idea.


Ah, in other words the patent owner must show that the invention is creatable and provide enough information to enable others to make it?

35 U.S.C. 112
(a) In General.- The specification shall contain a written description of the invention, and of the manner and process of making and using it, in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the art to which it pertains, or with which it is most nearly connected, to make and use the same, and shall set forth the best mode contemplated by the inventor or joint inventor of carrying out the invention.
 
2012-12-10 01:42:27 PM

rolladuck: I find it hard to comprehend that we as a society can agree on rules that govern the timing of football and basketball, but can't properly nail down how to implement patent and copyright timing.


Hey, leave copyright out of this one. That's a whole separate issue. The problem there is that all of the interests of copyright owners are aligned in extending copyright. Universal doesn't care about Mickey Mouse. Disney doesn't care about Harry Potter. They all agree on wanting extended protections for their own creations, and are aligned against pirates who want no protection... and all the money of that equation is on one side, which is why you end up with lifetime+70 year terms.

Contrast that with patents... Everyone wants their own patents to be longer, but they also want everyone else's to be shorter. Apple does care about what IBM has patented, because they want access to it. Similarly, Google cares about what Apple has. As a result, all of the interests (and money) are evenly divided, and patent terms have only ever been extended twice - one of which was a negligible extension to comply with an international treaty.
 
2012-12-10 01:44:13 PM

midigod: Teiritzamna: Assume Alice invents a new widget, and it is great. Alice discloses that invention and gets a patent. Alice decides however she doesn't want to make the thing. Its too much trouble, or she has a pathological fear of factories. Whatever.

It reads to me like you're conflating two different things. Making something one time in order to gain the patent is very different from making a million of them in a factory. A patent is supposed to be the registering of a real-world embodiment of an idea, not just the idea itself. (I agree that current patent laws do not require a working model, but my opinion is that that should be changed.) Certainly no one should have to set up a manufacturing line in order to be able to patent something. But you should have to build one of them, to prove that it's possible, and to automatically create intellectual borders for that idea.


What if I'm a super-brilliant but impoverished physicist working in my garage, and I come up with a way to make cold fusion practical and efficient... but to even make a "small" 1KW reactor will require a few million in materials and deuterium? No patent for me because I'm poor?
 
2012-12-10 01:45:49 PM

entropic_existence: Not really. Patent law has a fairly specific definition they sue for novel/non-obvious that this doesn't necessarily run afoul of for #1. For #4, this isn't the idea that software is itself is abstract.


Ok i am confused. Not being attacky, but could you unpack further by what you mean under: vague (too broad) other than #1: "it is not a new invention or it would be an invention that is obvious to a person in the industry,"* or #4 "it is an abstract idea and thus unpatentable subject matter regardless of its novelty or embodiment.

*35 U.S.C. 103
** found as a negative implication under 35 U.S.C. 101
 
2012-12-10 01:45:57 PM

Theaetetus: midigod: Teiritzamna: Assume Alice invents a new widget, and it is great. Alice discloses that invention and gets a patent. Alice decides however she doesn't want to make the thing. Its too much trouble, or she has a pathological fear of factories. Whatever.

It reads to me like you're conflating two different things. Making something one time in order to gain the patent is very different from making a million of them in a factory. A patent is supposed to be the registering of a real-world embodiment of an idea, not just the idea itself. (I agree that current patent laws do not require a working model, but my opinion is that that should be changed.) Certainly no one should have to set up a manufacturing line in order to be able to patent something. But you should have to build one of them, to prove that it's possible, and to automatically create intellectual borders for that idea.

What if I'm a super-brilliant but impoverished physicist working in my garage, and I come up with a way to make cold fusion practical and efficient... but to even make a "small" 1KW reactor will require a few million in materials and deuterium? No patent for me because I'm poor?


Further, as Teiritzamna said, what if I can give you a hundred pages of detailed schematics, a 3D CAD model of the reactor, and affidavits from a dozen engineers and other physicists saying "yeah, I could build this, and yeah, it would work," but I still can't build one for lack of resources?
 
2012-12-10 01:47:50 PM

Theaetetus: comply with an international treaty.


Also lest we forget, life of the author + 70 in copyright is to get us into compliance with international treaties - which is why i say we need to dismantle the UN.
 
2012-12-10 01:49:47 PM

entropic_existence: Teiritzamna: That would be covered by issues #1 & #4

Not really. Patent law has a fairly specific definition they sue for novel/non-obvious that this doesn't necessarily run afoul of for #1. For #4, this isn't the idea that software is itself is abstract.


Nah, it's part of #4... As noted above, Google's position in the brief is that "a claimed process that recites an abstract idea is not patent eligible merely because it also recites a specific implementation, element, or field-of-use restriction."
The problem is still "okay, assuming you're right, what's an abstract idea," and "uh, I don't know."
 
2012-12-10 02:00:15 PM

Teiritzamna: Ok i am confused. Not being attacky, but could you unpack further by what you mean under: vague (too broad) other than #1: "it is not a new invention or it would be an invention that is obvious to a person in the industry,"* or #4 "it is an abstract idea and thus unpatentable subject matter regardless of its novelty or embodiment.


I interpreted his #4 as software is an inherently abstract idea, period. That is something that some people sometimes argue. I wasn't making that claim. But yes it does boil down to abstractness, thats just not how I interpreted (narrowly) that point #4.

Theaetetus: Nah, it's part of #4... As noted above, Google's position in the brief is that "a claimed process that recites an abstract idea is not patent eligible merely because it also recites a specific implementation, element, or field-of-use restriction."
The problem is still "okay, assuming you're right, what's an abstract idea," and "uh, I don't know."


right, but I was interpreting your point #4 more narrowly. It seemed to me you were making the point that some people define software itself as inherently abstract, which is something I would disagree with. If you just meant it as "the abstract problem" then yes my point was about abstractness, mostly anyway.
 
2012-12-10 02:03:48 PM

entropic_existence: Teiritzamna: Ok i am confused. Not being attacky, but could you unpack further by what you mean under: vague (too broad) other than #1: "it is not a new invention or it would be an invention that is obvious to a person in the industry,"* or #4 "it is an abstract idea and thus unpatentable subject matter regardless of its novelty or embodiment.

I interpreted his #4 as software is an inherently abstract idea, period. That is something that some people sometimes argue. I wasn't making that claim. But yes it does boil down to abstractness, thats just not how I interpreted (narrowly) that point #4.

Theaetetus: Nah, it's part of #4... As noted above, Google's position in the brief is that "a claimed process that recites an abstract idea is not patent eligible merely because it also recites a specific implementation, element, or field-of-use restriction."
The problem is still "okay, assuming you're right, what's an abstract idea," and "uh, I don't know."

right, but I was interpreting your point #4 more narrowly. It seemed to me you were making the point that some people define software itself as inherently abstract, which is something I would disagree with. If you just meant it as "the abstract problem" then yes my point was about abstractness, mostly anyway.


gotcha - cheers
 
2012-12-10 02:05:19 PM

entropic_existence: right, but I was interpreting your point #4 more narrowly. It seemed to me you were making the point that some people define software itself as inherently abstract, which is something I would disagree with. If you just meant it as "the abstract problem" then yes my point was about abstractness, mostly anyway.


Ah, conceded.
I think there's a huge overlap, but we could certainly split it into:
4.1) "All software is abstract!"
4.2) "WTF is an abstract idea anyway?"
 
2012-12-10 02:07:18 PM
Oh, and let me add:
6) "This patent is essentially about [known x], and [x] is known, so therefore the patent is obvious." - i.e., the paraphrasing problem.
 
2012-12-10 02:22:08 PM

Theaetetus: Theaetetus: midigod: Teiritzamna: Assume Alice invents a new widget, and it is great. Alice discloses that invention and gets a patent. Alice decides however she doesn't want to make the thing. Its too much trouble, or she has a pathological fear of factories. Whatever.

It reads to me like you're conflating two different things. Making something one time in order to gain the patent is very different from making a million of them in a factory. A patent is supposed to be the registering of a real-world embodiment of an idea, not just the idea itself. (I agree that current patent laws do not require a working model, but my opinion is that that should be changed.) Certainly no one should have to set up a manufacturing line in order to be able to patent something. But you should have to build one of them, to prove that it's possible, and to automatically create intellectual borders for that idea.

What if I'm a super-brilliant but impoverished physicist working in my garage, and I come up with a way to make cold fusion practical and efficient... but to even make a "small" 1KW reactor will require a few million in materials and deuterium? No patent for me because I'm poor?

Further, as Teiritzamna said, what if I can give you a hundred pages of detailed schematics, a 3D CAD model of the reactor, and affidavits from a dozen engineers and other physicists saying "yeah, I could build this, and yeah, it would work," but I still can't build one for lack of resources?


Uh... how realistic is this hypothetical situation though? There's a definite gap between "should" work and "would" work, and "should" is the best answer you can get.

That said, I guess I have no real answer to your question (at least without thinking about it quite a bit more)
 
2012-12-10 02:25:06 PM
And to be fair, in my line of work software is pretty much exclusively dealt with through copyright law and licensing not through patent law. Good thing too, because if software development and methods were being dealt with in the same way as they currently are in the mobile/internet sector a lot of advancement would have been severely limited. We wouldn't be where we are today in terms of Genome Sequencing and the advancements it has already made (and will make even bigger impacts down the road) in health related stuff.
 
2012-12-10 02:27:31 PM
So Google has gone through to make sure they don't have any ridiculous patents like this.... right?
 
2012-12-10 02:37:26 PM

YoungLochinvar: Theaetetus: Theaetetus: midigod: Teiritzamna: Assume Alice invents a new widget, and it is great. Alice discloses that invention and gets a patent. Alice decides however she doesn't want to make the thing. Its too much trouble, or she has a pathological fear of factories. Whatever.

It reads to me like you're conflating two different things. Making something one time in order to gain the patent is very different from making a million of them in a factory. A patent is supposed to be the registering of a real-world embodiment of an idea, not just the idea itself. (I agree that current patent laws do not require a working model, but my opinion is that that should be changed.) Certainly no one should have to set up a manufacturing line in order to be able to patent something. But you should have to build one of them, to prove that it's possible, and to automatically create intellectual borders for that idea.

What if I'm a super-brilliant but impoverished physicist working in my garage, and I come up with a way to make cold fusion practical and efficient... but to even make a "small" 1KW reactor will require a few million in materials and deuterium? No patent for me because I'm poor?

Further, as Teiritzamna said, what if I can give you a hundred pages of detailed schematics, a 3D CAD model of the reactor, and affidavits from a dozen engineers and other physicists saying "yeah, I could build this, and yeah, it would work," but I still can't build one for lack of resources?

Uh... how realistic is this hypothetical situation though? There's a definite gap between "should" work and "would" work, and "should" is the best answer you can get.

That said, I guess I have no real answer to your question (at least without thinking about it quite a bit more)


Here's the counterpoint... If the invention doesn't work, then you can't possibly infringe it, so who cares if I get a patent? In other words, if I apply for a patent on a specific implementation of cold fusion using whipped cream, a blender, and three pounds of uranium, it's not going to work... but you'd never try to build it, so you won't infringe my patent either.
 
2012-12-10 02:53:31 PM

ReverendJasen: Speaking as a developer... software patents are bullshiat.
They are the software equivalent of patenting a literary theme or construct. No one would ever agree with patenting a writing method or style. Patenting a programming method is akin to patenting a thesis format or method or writing that induces a certain effect.



Developer here too.  I liken software to a recipe.  Its really no different.  Its just a recipe for someone's computer to follow to "create" something rather than a recipe for someone to "create" chocolate chip cookies.
 
2012-12-10 03:05:58 PM
My idea was a start and needs some fleshing out then. The first argument against it is the inventor that creates an invention but does not think it is good or otherwise wants to censor it This almost falls flat in my idea unaltered. So long as the inventor has a prototype of the invention he or she can censor it however he or she wants.

The second argument is interesting: The inventor who has an invention idea but lacks the resources to produce a prototype. He should be able to license his invention without worrying about it being stolen. At the same time patent holders who don't produce on their patents are where patent trolling comes from. They wait for others to make a similar invention then troll them out of their money.

A possible addition to my idea is that the prototype clause would not apply to the original inventor until after a set time, maybe 10 years. This is kind of how the current patent law works. It would allow the inventor to license the invention for production.

After that time and if the patent is sold completely then any buyer must produce and maintain a working prototype of the invention described in the patent. They only need to maintain one prototype for the patent to be valid and would have to produce the prototype within a certain time frame of acquiring the patent or the patent reverts to public knowledge and anyone can produce the invention described in it.
 
2012-12-10 03:52:25 PM

Theaetetus: Many computer-related patent claims just describe an abstract idea at a high level of generality and say to perform it on a computer or over the Internet. Such barebones claims grant exclusive rights over the abstract idea itself, with no limit on how the idea is implemented.

... except that if you don't perform the idea on a computer or over the Internet, you don't infringe.


Methinks you missed the point, perhaps willfully.
 
2012-12-10 03:57:32 PM

Elandriel: I think I approve of this honestly. I think patents should be more specific; patent trolling has become too much of an industry. Even if Google's interest in this is not entirely altruistic I think this is a good direction.

/I think


Google only entered the patent fray as a mechanism of defense against competitors who were already playing the game. Now they seek a patent every time somebody sneezes, much like Apple and MS. As evidenced by this case, some of these companies...the ones that actually innovate...would really rather just stop that game. It's the companies NOT involved that is more telling.
 
2012-12-10 03:59:54 PM

SacriliciousBeerSwiller: Theaetetus: Many computer-related patent claims just describe an abstract idea at a high level of generality and say to perform it on a computer or over the Internet. Such barebones claims grant exclusive rights over the abstract idea itself, with no limit on how the idea is implemented.

... except that if you don't perform the idea on a computer or over the Internet, you don't infringe.

Methinks you missed the point, perhaps willfully.


No, my point was that you can't really say "this claim limits use to a computer, with no limit of use!" Google's argument is more nuanced than that crappy quote would show.
 
2012-12-10 04:01:17 PM
A group consisting of Google, Dell, Facebook, Homeaway, Intuit, Rackspace, Red Hat and Zynga have filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals suggesting that courts stop honoring and upholding patents with purposely vague wording.

Some people know a bit about vague...
 
2012-12-10 05:57:25 PM

Teiritzamna: theresnothinglft: IMO a patent holder should be required to maintain a working prototype of their invention in order to hold the patent. Having patents without a product that they're intended to protect does not provide any benefit to anyone.

Well, to offer an opposing view. The purpose of patents are to disclose information that would otherwise be kept secret and to incentivize invention. Assume Alice invents a new widget, and it is great. Alice discloses that invention and gets a patent. Alice decides however she doesn't want to make the thing. Its too much trouble, or she has a pathological fear of factories. Whatever.

At this point you may say that Alice should be prohibited from having that patent. But remember that patents are property - so why shouldnt Alice be able to merely license the invention to others. This is likely what we would all rather, as the invention gets made, Alice gets paid, no problems all around.

However, note that there is a rather anti-american style streak to your initial statement. Imgaine that Alice decides that her widget is in fact terrible, for some non-utilitarian reason. she realizes that it is being used 100% as part of a weapons system, say, and she has moral issues with that. Should she be forced to license her property out? Is not this akin to one landowner looking at the property of another and saying "hrm, i could totally use that land better, so i should be the one who owns it"

Personally, i would figure it was not the end of the world if we instituted types of mandatory licenses for certain industries/invention classes (transforming patents from rights to exclude into rights to revenue) - but it is not so simple to say "you must make X to patent X."


But if Alice has exclusive control over it, there is no free market forces to keep prices in check. Lets say without the patent she doesn't disclose anything about her invention. But other companies are free to make a competing product, potentially even a better product due to wanting to outsell Alice. This is how the free market works, you cannot have a Capitalist system without a free market filled with open competition. Patents are the anti-thesis to a free market because they provide government enforced monopolies, which have no place in a capitalist system.
 
2012-12-10 05:59:20 PM

Warlordtrooper: But if Alice has exclusive control over it, there is no free market forces to keep prices in check. Lets say without the patent she doesn't disclose anything about her invention. But other companies are free to make a competing product, potentially even a better product due to wanting to outsell Alice. This is how the free market works, you cannot have a Capitalist system without a free market filled with open competition. Patents are the anti-thesis to a free market because they provide government enforced monopolies, which have no place in a capitalist system.


Good thing we don't have a pure capitalist system then, eh?
 
2012-12-10 05:59:25 PM
Here is an example from Apple. Claims "an analyzer server for detecting structures in the data, and for linking actions to the detected structures".

It suggests that the analyzer server includes grammars, parsers, string library and string searches. That's like patenting a microprocessor that contains transistors, resistors and capacitors. There is little attempt at describing how to create the analyzer server and the drawings are just a set of 'black box' modules.
 
2012-12-10 06:04:18 PM

Theaetetus: Warlordtrooper: But if Alice has exclusive control over it, there is no free market forces to keep prices in check. Lets say without the patent she doesn't disclose anything about her invention. But other companies are free to make a competing product, potentially even a better product due to wanting to outsell Alice. This is how the free market works, you cannot have a Capitalist system without a free market filled with open competition. Patents are the anti-thesis to a free market because they provide government enforced monopolies, which have no place in a capitalist system.

Good thing we don't have a pure capitalist system then, eh?


Actually that's a bad thing. Open competition in the free market would solve a lot of problems we have.
 
2012-12-10 06:05:14 PM

Warlordtrooper: Theaetetus: Warlordtrooper: But if Alice has exclusive control over it, there is no free market forces to keep prices in check. Lets say without the patent she doesn't disclose anything about her invention. But other companies are free to make a competing product, potentially even a better product due to wanting to outsell Alice. This is how the free market works, you cannot have a Capitalist system without a free market filled with open competition. Patents are the anti-thesis to a free market because they provide government enforced monopolies, which have no place in a capitalist system.

Good thing we don't have a pure capitalist system then, eh?

Actually that's a bad thing. Open competition in the free market would solve a lot of problems we have.


isobeldebrujah.files.wordpress.com
 
2012-12-10 06:11:11 PM

Wrong Trousers: Here is an example from Apple. Claims Described in the abstract as "an analyzer server for detecting structures in the data, and for linking actions to the detected structures".


You have to go to the claims to see what the patent actually covers.

It suggests that the analyzer server includes grammars, parsers, string library and string searches. That's like patenting a microprocessor that contains transistors, resistors and capacitors. There is little attempt at describing how to create the analyzer server and the drawings are just a set of 'black box' modules.

The drawings include flow charts that a programmer can read as a guide to building the analyzer and UI. That's no different than patenting a microprocessor by including a schematic and parts list.
 
2012-12-10 06:26:33 PM

Warlordtrooper: But if Alice has exclusive control over it, there is no free market forces to keep prices in check. Lets say without the patent she doesn't disclose anything about her invention. But other companies are free to make a competing product, potentially even a better product due to wanting to outsell Alice. This is how the free market works, you cannot have a Capitalist system without a free market filled with open competition. Patents are the anti-thesis to a free market because they provide government enforced monopolies, which have no place in a capitalist system.


Let's try it this way: Imagine that Una is a landowner. She has the best soil in her region. It could grow exceptionally lucrative crops. Una, however prefers to grow pretty flowers and let her dogs run about on the property. In a free market, Mr. Duo, Ms. Tria, and Mr. Quattor can all offer to buy Una's land. And in a free market, Una can refuse to sell. Now if Una goes on an extended vacation to Greece, and Mr. Duo goes onto her land and starts growing crops and makes $1M - when he is sued for Trespass and Unjust Enrichment, he doesn't have a defense that the free market allowed him to do it. Una has a theoretically infinite monopoly on that land, and has therefore the right to exclude, just as Alice has a temporary monopoly on her invention and the same right to exclude.

Now if you want to get rid of that, without going all polemic i must stress that that isn't capitalism. Its the other one.

Also, to be fair, any discussion of IP in a "free market" without the government monopoly part is ludicrous, because Intellectual Property is a non-rivalrous, non-excludable public good, not a market good. Unless you have a monopoly to make it excludable, it has no value and exists as a non-recoverable positive externality. It is akin to discussing the free market w/r/t national defense or flood control, except worse as those goods are at least naturally somewhat excludable.
 
2012-12-10 06:40:57 PM

Theaetetus: midigod: Teiritzamna: Assume Alice invents a new widget, and it is great. Alice discloses that invention and gets a patent. Alice decides however she doesn't want to make the thing. Its too much trouble, or she has a pathological fear of factories. Whatever.

It reads to me like you're conflating two different things. Making something one time in order to gain the patent is very different from making a million of them in a factory. A patent is supposed to be the registering of a real-world embodiment of an idea, not just the idea itself. (I agree that current patent laws do not require a working model, but my opinion is that that should be changed.) Certainly no one should have to set up a manufacturing line in order to be able to patent something. But you should have to build one of them, to prove that it's possible, and to automatically create intellectual borders for that idea.

What if I'm a super-brilliant but impoverished physicist working in my garage, and I come up with a way to make cold fusion practical and efficient... but to even make a "small" 1KW reactor will require a few million in materials and deuterium? No patent for me because I'm poor?


I was wondering when you were going to pull out either the 'Lone Inventor' or 'Research University' sob stories.

It's bullshiat. It's bullshiat everytime you pull out the 'Wahwah but look what patents are defending. They're defending this imaginary scenario that I'm making up. Totally ignore the fact that more money is currently being spent on Patent settlements than actual Research and Development and pretend that the way the system is currently set up doesn't totally favor uncompetitive transfers of wealth, monopolistic practices, and disservices to the consumer and the market as a whole. Feel PITY for this hypothetical man in his garage. And I'm totally going to ignore the fact that it's a technology that couldn't be created in a garage.'

For farks sake. Start arguing proof, numbers, and benefits. Save your sob stories for closing arguments.
 
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