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It's difficult to say where the fault lies. I would rather live in a world of patents than not, if we insist on sticking to the idea of not forcing research and discoveries into the public domain. What would have prevented this particular case?



Usually when you create a patent there's no expert from the government who can verify that your idea is actually novel. Or complex enough to constitute an invention.

So you can easily register something, write it in an unreadable way and sue people for it.

Additionally there's a corrupt area int Texas where judges and lawyers have a very high tendency to rule in favor of patent trolls, because they'd have no jobs without them.

Here's an easy proposal: Let anyone claim patents for everything. If someone sues you for patent infringement it's their job to proof you infringed on their patent. And it's their job to proof their idea is complex enough to constitute a patent. And it's their job to proof their idea is novel. After the patent holder invested some money to show all these things; They can start to sue you.

This puts the assumption of innocence back in our justice system like it should be. And makes sure less people get patent trolled, since trolling now is a lot more expensive then sending out thousand of spam letters.


Just for anyone reading this, this is not how the patent system works anywhere in the world. Patents are examined by an examiner who is an employee of the government who exactly says that the patent is novel and non-obvious, that's what they do! No countries have a simple registration system for enforceable patents, that would be insane


"Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, known as the Copyright Clause, empowers the United States Congress: To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

The trade off with patents is that the author will, in exchange for a limited monopoly, reveal his invention to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts". In the case of software patents, the things that are patented are not worth this trade off and, IMO, are a net drag on Progress.

As a developer, I'm making Progress in spite of patents. Software patents are a bit like giving tax breaks to oil companies when we are awash in cheap oil - the cost isn't worth it.

Whenever a client wants to patent what I've done for them, I grit my teeth and fill out the paperwork they ask me to. My reluctance is partly because I know it is making the world a worse place for developers and partly because I feel ashamed that they would consider it patent-able - like getting your crayon drawing put up in the Louvre.


you've created a false dichotomy. the question isn't whether patents could create net public good... depending on the implementation they could.

but the current system in the US, which it forces on the rest of us via trade agreements, is completely bonkers.

this is the fact: the public in countries where copyrights and patents are granted have voluntarily given up their prerogative to copy or implement a work or an invention in return for the public good of dissemination of those ideas (which might otherwise be "locked up").

As with everything else in the US, big corporations have co-opted the system using lobbyists, and public good is harmed by actions such as this.

And in the era of the internet, is dissemination and publication as valuable as it was in the past? I would argue that it is not.

it would be fascinating to hit the reset switch: delete all IP, patent, and copyright code from the legal system, and see the real effects it's having on the economy. having said that, it's probably too drastic of an action to take all at once given the far-reaching effects it would have. but it's the right direction to move in, for sure.


Just FYI, the "big money" lobbyists in Washington are largely in favor of crippling the patent system. Large companies are generally the ones sued for infringement, usually by smaller companies.


For example, the EU patent principles (which don't grant software patents at all) would have worked fine in this case and work quite well in other cases as well.

You definitely could argue that for pure software features copyright and trademarks is enough, and granting patents on them doesn't facilitate innovation but likely slows it down.


This is an obvious feature for just about any user, making it nonpatentable by the criteria of USPTO, as far as I understand it. This is also not novel, though it is very useful (for the other 2 criteria).


The problem with that in the USA is that you are burdened to prove that in court as a defendant, and you also have to pay your legal costs (lawyers etc.) even if you win the case. The costs are huge, so only the big guys have to afford defending themselves!


Absolutely, but I'm more talking in the initial patent approval than the litigation afterwards.


> This is also not novel

What other tiling WMs included a gui menu in the title bar to select the layout?




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