Instead, things progress and something is needed. But, rather than an open standard being developed which everyone can use, the first one who patents it wins. Everyone else is hurt and the patent is sold to a troll who then abuses it.
The truth of the matter is that ideas are cheap; the hard part is capitalization.
This is not even slightly true. Try studying some math.
Furthermore, non-patent readers wind up infringing anyway. I would argue that someone completely unaware of the patent, coming up with the exact same system means that it is in fact obvious, and not really novel.
The second point is covered by prior art.
Additionally, if you read any of the software patents, they are written in intentionally obscure, outrageously dense and purposely obfuscated language, as to sound more generic and vague and capture more "space". They have tons of claims which repeat the same thing with tiny variations, they describe most mundane things as if it were huge novelty, and they are made as hard to read to a common person as possible without switching to Sanskrit. They never increase sharing of any information and never are written with this goal in mind.
That can't be true. There are about 50,000 new phds a year, all of their dissertations are public. Those are all required to be novel, right? so clearly, it's not the only incentive. There are many incentives, recognition, fame, and funding to name a few.
> Patents increase the sharing of information, they do not reduce it.
Ok, sure, but reading the patent creates a minefield for any future work. Was it your idea or did you read it in a book? Some people can answer this question remarkably well, remembering the source for every concept they employ. If on the other hand, you're not good at this, reading patents is very dangerous. Triple damages encourages not reading patents.
> The second point is covered by prior art.
No, an infringing idea after publication of a patent is by definition not prior art. It can be a completely independent discovery, but it's still infringing. Again, independent discovery seems to indicate, to me anyway, it's obvious.
Do you know of anyone who has had a software development problem, searched a patent database, found a solution in the database, then implemented that solution? I know that I never have, if people actually do that I'd be interested to know what sort of problems they are working on.
You don't look at mp3s patents to build your own awkward version of a sound compression algorithm, you just use mp3
And compression is really close to pure math to start with.
Not true at all. Huge amounts of mathematical research, scientific research, fashion design, and culinary innovation are shared with the public every day without absolutely no patent protection. When was the last time you read a story in a newspaper about a patent filing? How useful was the information in that patent to anybody?
It does not imply that narrow niches where patents can work do not exists, but it requires that any statement about benefits of patents must be backed up with credible data. And so far I am not aware of those.
They are cheap because we let them be cheap. There should be markets for ideas just as they are for goods! We're at at a very "socialist paleolitic" stage when it comes to the "economic system for ideas"...
But start to divide it based on what composition it has, where it is, how much it costs to transform quality Q1 water to quality Q5 water and so on. Then you can get to placing bets on wheter there will be enough water at place P1 and time T1 etc. Then, at the consumer level, you have bottled water with different packaging, aesthetic values and trustworthiness associated with it etc.
And you can suddenly sell 0.5l of water for $10 even if the planet is full of it :)
I imagine one day we'll have the same for "ideas", but more complex. We'll have "idea casinos" betting on implementation successes of various ideas. Meta-casinos betting on the casinos net profit. Derivatives-of-derivatives-of-derivates... if you want to use stock-market terms ...you get the point.
Things can be cheap in a "country-side market" based purely on selling things "mixed up", unsorted and unrated. Attach ratings and bets and estimates to them and... it's a whole new an much cooler game to play :)
First the law expressly forbids a patent on ideas.
As to the second half of your sentence, I am not sure if you meant execution is the hard part of having an invention or literally having capital to bring an invention market is the hard part. If you meant the later, I agree. Moreover, I think that is one of the strongest reasons for patents in most industries.
The Movie Flash of Genius provides a good example to highlight my point why patents are good and level the playing field for the little guy. Professor and part-time inventor invents the intermittent wipers for cars and brings his technology to Detroit only to have the existing car manufacturers simply steal his idea.
Kearns never intended to manufacturer the wiper much less manufacture cars to install his wiper, rather just license his awesome invention...that fits the definition of troll, but was he a patent troll? What if he did want to manufacture it, but simply didn't have the capital to begin mass production on the Detroit scale...would that make him any more or less a troll because of his subjective intent? Finally, if he did have the capital to actually take his wiper to market, in a world without patents why would he invest in bringing the invention to market when the big car manufacturers or existing wiper manufacturers are simply going to eat his lunch?
The whole concept of Apple, the most valuable company in the World, calling anyone a patent troll is crazy and basically the same corporate strategy the big car manufacturers used against Kearns, claiming his invention was obvious and just combinations of known prior art. Yet Apple and the big corps escape being consigned to being patent trolls themselves despite the fact that they hold more patents that are either complete bs or purposely withheld from the stream of commerce (like oil companies buying up alternative energy patents to keep them from coming to market). Like when Apple defensively extracted nearly $2 Billion from Samsung for violation of their rectangle with curved edges patent (which was subsequently over turned). Apple is sitting on over $200B in cash, they could have licensed or bought this patent, just as Ford and the others could have done with Kearn's wiper. But lets get serious, these are the same companies that determine if faulty parts should be replaced by comparing the cost of a recall compared to the projected cost of anticipated wrongful death claims. These big companies make the same calculated risk in stealing other people's intellectual property versus paying for it.
Perhaps the great irony of Apple's unwillingness to pay for someone else's invention, it forced Apple to innovate and ultimately produce a competing technology that didn't violate the patent. Moreover, this patent actually fostered innovation for a competing product, and while Apple and others may claim Apple's innovation isn't as good as the patented invention, it shows Apple's true colors where they aren't really claiming the patent is stifling innovation so much as stifling their ability to simply violate someone's better invention without paying for it.
Most of thing patent trolls claim to be their "intellectual property" is a banal rent extraction by managing to sneak a patent claim on either idea long accepted in industry or some tweak of an existing idea which when, when somebody else arrives to it completely independently, becomes their big payout. Like trolls claiming they invented clicking on links, online ads, peer-to-peer networking, shopping carts, and everything else in the world. They do not serve any useful function, they do not produce anything needed by anybody, they are just parasites and rent-seekers abusing the inefficiency of the law to their private benefit.
The sooner they would be completely destroyed and their craft becomes as respected as spammers and 419 scammers, the better.
This cost goes way beyond trolls, by the way. The examples you gave about Apple are also part of my argument that patents have gotta go. Those big companies want to get rid of patent "trolls" but they want to keep patents for themselves to use. It's the moral equivalent of disarming the public and then setting up a military Junta now that there's no means to fight back.
Only in the sense that you can't forbid anyone else /having/ an idea, just that you can forbid them doing anything with it.
In software, it is definitely the idea that is protected, not the specific implementation - otherwise, copyright would be enough.
If that were the case, Apple couldn't circumvent the patent in question by changing the implementation from peer-to-peer to server relayed. In other words, its not the idea of a Facetime/video chat that is patented but the implementation of how the video chat is done.
In the non-software world, it might be like saying denim pants have a problem because the stitched pockets always rip under the weight of tools, so I patent the idea of pants with pockets that don't rip. The idea alone can't be patented, but definitely Levi Strauss' jeans with rivets was eligible for a patent. And if Levi didn't have the capital to begin manufacturing his own denim pants with rivets and instead tried to license his patent to an existing pants manufacture, and instead of paying they just stole Levi's idea, it wouldn't make sense to label Levi a troll, pretend his patent isn't valid and otherwise stifling innovation. Moreover, the idea should foster innovation, because if I can't do pants with rivets, fine I try pants with staples and we will let the market decide what they like better.
Here is another software example, I filed a patent for the automatic calculation of legal fees based on information contained in a charging document (e.g. speeding ticket or criminal complaint). Now anyone can have the idea that it would be great if law firm staff wasn't required and legal fees could be automated, but ask them how they could automatically calculate legal fees and all the sudden the idea is not so obvious.
The proof of it is that you say " I filed a patent for the automatic calculation of legal fees based on information contained in a charging document". That's not a method, it's a result. You abused the system to own a result, as opposed to specific way to achieve that result.
You are correct it is not a method...it is a description for purposes of the thread. Do you think a patent application can be granted without specific claims or as you call it the specific way to achieve that result? That is not how the law works, I don't own the result and I didn't file a 1 sentence patent application seeking to protect a result to abuse the system so I can sue someone if they figure how to accomplish my result.
My application is ~10-20 pages and fully details the claims/methods to produce the result and if granted it is those claims/methods that will be protected, that is how the law works. Nevertheless, if the methods used to achieve my result are so obvious (or I justed added n+1 to some obvious ways) I welcome you to explain how I achieve the result or even some of those obvious/direct ways to do it. No offense, you won't, why do I know that? When I tell seasoned lawyers (people familiar with the industry/prior art) about my invention they don't believe it is possible to achieve my result, much less believe it is just some added step on a obvious way. Even when I showed my invention in action, the partner and associate who filed my application (obviously both attorneys but also EE and CS backgrounds) couldn't figure out my methods (how it is done) I had to explain it.
I find the people who typically rail against the current patent system have never: a) filed a patent, b) been sued by a patent troll, or c) had an original idea/invention stolen by a big company. I am not suggesting reform isn't needed and that bad outcomes don't happen, throughout the thread I highlight Apple's rectangle with rounded edges I was against (I even have old HN posts where I rail against that patent before USPTO over turned it), but what do you honestly believe has happened more often: patent troll lawsuits or big companies stealing inventions?
Right, but the way you refer to it shows that you think you have a good claim on the entire result, not just one or two methods.
> That is not how the law works, I don't own the result
No, you just own all the ways you came up with to achieve that result. If you named all the obvious ones, then you effectively do.
Otherwise you'd have said "I have a patent on using NLP techniques to do XYZ" or something.
> I welcome you to explain how I achieve the result or even some of those obvious/direct ways to do it. No offense, you won't, why do I know that?
That's what you would say. If it's true, your patent is one in a million.
If there is a non-obvious element in any given patent it's almost always the result. Once your boss tells you to automatically calculate pricing from charging docs you have the same tools as everyone else.
> I find the people who typically rail against the current patent system have never: a) filed a patent, [...]
Well, my company's lawyer filed my patents... But I still think it's an entirely counterproductive system.
I've always been ordered not to read any patents, except ours. Any theoretical gain to society from information sharing is obviously not happening in practice.
> Apple's rectangle with rounded edges
That's more akin to a trademark though. That is supposed to cover a result, not the technique of achieving it.
> what do you honestly believe has happened more often: patent troll lawsuits or big companies stealing inventions?
A better question than mere frequency would be, which do I think has been more harmful - All patent trolls, or all "stolen" inventions.
And an even better question would be, which one do I think we could fix, and with how much incidental damage.
But in practice, is entirely about broad ownership of ideas. An intermittent wiper is a neat idea, but not at all hard to design.
Yes, in this story the inventor found a 3rd-party (Mercedes) part using almost his exact design but that simply proves how obvious the solutions are.
Similarly, slide-to-unlock (etc) are absolutely, worthlessly, trivial technical ideas. It's good UI perhaps, but it's harder to decide which direction users should have to swipe than it is to actually implement.
> Moreover, this patent actually fostered innovation for a competing product
No, it forced worthless UI changes. Like making one car company use a joystick instead of a wheel.
> simply violate someone's better invention without paying for it.
And this is the crux. You think that it's an invention, as opposed to a UI standard. What technical details most impress you about it? What, other than the UI element, do you think is novel?
I understand why the patent office doesn't require a model anymore, but it would be kind of cool if there was a demonstration aspect to the application process.
That would be inadequate in my opinion. No doubt some NPE are particularly vile, but producers abuse patents, too.
Producers like to manipulate the narrative by focusing attention on NPEs and pretending that NPE are the cause of all patent abuse, even while the producers themselves are abusing patents.
Perhaps a better gate - where your patents has to be _actually_ innovative, as determined by peer review.
No, just for the difference between the cost of developing system A' that could have been developed instead of A had it not been for the requirement for going around patent of company B that has since been invalidated. But good luck estimating that. Also since you're liable to pay for the consequences of future invalidation of you patent, the damages should be capped to the profit you've earned so far from the pattern to make things sensible.
> It would be like demanding that your competitor subsidize your R&D
This seems pretty fair if you've been on the market for much longer and did a lot of R&D. It would also move the balance a bit from competition to cooperation even if it would be labeled as anti-capitalist by some. It would also incentivize you to open-source and patent something, instead of keeping it closed but not patenting (both keeping all implementations of a patented algorithm closed and patenting it should not be allowed, at least one open-sourced fully working proof of concept should be required). You could still get a profit from the patents that came out of your R&D, even if your company failed, but a younger competitor that benefited from your exploration succeeds, which would probably incentivize more R&D spending! To go even further you could force attribution of pattents to individuals and never companies (even if they could end up owned in majority by your investors and not yourself), so that a company's bankruptcy and debt don't also suck the "profit from invention" into its black hole.
...but of course, I can't dream of such sensible systems of law until we have an above-human-level-AI actually writing the laws for humans to follow, hopefully for our own good :)
(not sure if this is the case here)
> Upon the launch of the iPhone 4, Jobs stated that Apple would immediately start working with standards bodies to make the FaceTime protocol an "open industry standard".
claims Wikipedia. Other websites also highlight the "open standard" it was supposed to become:
But this isn't too broad. Looks like a very specific issue to this trial... not even this patent claim or case, let alone a broader implication for patent claims in general.
It sounds like VirnetX's lawyers simply referenced a previous case too often in the judge's estimation, and so he's throwing the verdict out, meaning a retrial would be necessary. Case doesn't seem to set any precedent (or, what precedent it does set on referencing previous trials might cut both ways for patent plaintiffs and defendants). Noting regarding merits of claims or anything as far as I can tell from the reporting.
If anyone more expert can weigh in or correct, that'd be appreciated too!
(Edit: better link)
A link about Trump and Clinton opposing: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/pushing-tpp-president-obama-a...
Don't get me wrong, patent trolls are menace of tech world deserving to be tarred and feathered. But truth is, PTs are not main beneficiaries of broken system. Main beneficiaries are Big Tech Corps (APLN, MSFT, GOOG, ETC). Coincidentally, those companies have enough leverage to fix this system if they wanted to. Problem is - they don't.
That's why I root for Patent Troll every time.
Sadly, that is not likely to happen.
IIRC, Apple lobbied for patent 'reform' that targeted NPEs, while leaving producers completely off the hook for patent abuse.
Incidentally, this seems so... capricious. The judge presided over a trial during which a previous trial (that was OK to mention) was mentioned too many times? Maybe he should have just stopped that while he was presiding, rather than waiting until later? It almost looks like he was surprised by the giant size of the verdict, and worried it might focus too much attention on the travesty that is East Texas, so he's looking to get out on a technicality?
I don't see any justification for this.
> The judge presided over a trial during which a previous trial (that was OK to mention) was mentioned too many times? Maybe he should have just stopped that while he was presiding, rather than waiting until later?
'Maybe judges should never make mistakes' sounds like a great plan but you might want a backup plan and one better than accusing them of capriciousness when they do make mistakes.
> It almost looks like he was surprised by the giant size of the verdict, and worried it might focus too much attention on the travesty that is East Texas, so he's looking to get out on a technicality?
It almost looks like he fucked up and Apple's highly paid legal team had him dead to rights and rather than be reversed by a higher court he took the medicine himself.
> Apple consented to the consolidation
IANAL but seems like you don't understand the difference between consent and objecting to but preferring consolidation to trying the cases out of order.
> there is nothing in this order to justify a new trial
The judge goes into detail on how mentions of the earlier trial were used in the consolidated one to "gratuitous" prejudicial impact, including the repeated mentions to infringement by FaceTime 1.0 when that finding had been reversed. He quotes several of these at length, goes on to cites multiple precedents, then goes into detail why VirnetX's cited precedent doesn't apply to this case.
I don't know about his design in particular, but I have the mechanical and electronic skills to design something that would likely infringe on his patent and I haven't read the patent or even looked at a breakdown of a hoverboard. The patent probably doesn't meet the novelty requirements.
When I read that these are jury trials, it seems to me that East Texas must have an army of people who now know quite a bit about patent law having sat through so many of these cases. Strange specialization.
Judges are a vital part of three branches of government. Their power relies on respect, not guns or ability to write laws. The reason for contempt of court laws, whole circus with black robes, "your honor" is to create appearance of "wow, those people are important". Because they REALLY are a very important part of good governance. They just don't have muscle to prove it to you. And you don't really want them to have to rely on muscle of executive branch. Because in case of you vs executive, judges need to be impartial, independent, having their own weight in society.
Unless you know something we don't, you should not imply that this judge is corrupt.