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Poland's oldest university denies Google's right to patent Polish coding concept (pap.pl)
322 points by Jerry2 on Aug 20, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 81 comments

I'm not understanding how Google and employees is claiming to be the original inventor here.

Each inventor must sign an oath or declaration that includes certain statements required by law and the USPTO rules, including the statement that he or she believes himself or herself to be the original inventor or an original joint inventor of a claimed invention in the application and the statement that the application was made or authorized to be made by him or her.


How is Google+Co the original inventor?

The patent application clearly contains concepts from their discussion with Duda, which they didn't disclose while applying, but was pointed by ISA reviewer: https://register.epo.org/application?documentId=EZ46ZRSY2014...

ps. hot today reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/programming/comments/6uuqcd/google_...

Likely they are patenting their use of ANS rather than ANS itself. You can patent anything if you get specific enough. For things like video formats it actually works because it keeps others from creating decoders/encoders.

Applying it to video is one of the most obvious applications and it pretty much just slots in as a module, replacing huffman coding or arithmetic coding.

I think you are correct: ANS is an entropy coding method, so a patent shouldn't be able to claim a new use for encoding some specific type of information [1]. Also, Duda's paper even exemplifies the obvious use case for video compression [2].

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inventive_step_and_non-obvious...

[2] - https://arxiv.org/abs/1311.2540

Unfortunately, that's not the case, at least as the patent office currently sees things. There's thousands of patents for H.264 and HEVC that amount to "code a certain bitstream symbol with CABAC this certain way".

If that's the case, that's a terrible perversion of the intended purpose of patents. The progress of science and the useful arts would probably be better served by putting the entire patent system on hiatus for a few decades.

Yeah, that's always tricky, but you are still missing the point. It's not using it for video they have to prove is non obvious but how they are using it for video. Given the elite mathematical skills you'll need to understand all of this I suspect they'll be able to protect it.

Good reference on this patent:


The genius of ANS is that it isn't a difficult concept to understand. It's a cleverly designed look-up-table. The only really difficult part is the proof of certain parts of the codec window.

But is it difficult to understand for a patent clerk, with a massive time crunch and likely not-incredibly-deep knowledge about information theory? Software patents are dangerous for many reasons, but the fact that they're so easy to get is quite worrying.


Claim one: none of the transform block stuff etc. is new. The only thing added is:

> processing a binary flag or bit using the Boolean ANS decoder to generate an output value for the binary flag or bit using the ANS state; and

>processing a token using the symbol ANS decoder to generate an output value for the token using the ANS state;

That's just slotting existing ANS implementation as a module. Other entropy encoders were used in that exact stage prior to this.

The other claims 2-8 just add on ANS optimizations that aren't video specific whatsoever. Things including using a bytestream instead of a bitstream.

If any of those were a significant invention by the filee (I'm not going to rule that out, someone please chime in if there was one), why didn't they also patent their application to the entropy encoding stage of image encoding? Or the entropy encoding stage of all sorts of other compression applications?

I haven't read through all the others below claim 8, they look similar with the main variation being using instructions stored in "non-transitory memory" (hardware decoders), but there might be something more video-specific there.

The patent describes not just "slotting in", but one way in particular. Note that if you were to "slot in" ANS into the current AV1 codebase, for example, it wouldn't actually read on this patent because AV1 codes its coefficients differently.

I didn't say it covered slotting it in to anything. I don't read your comment as showing how it is slotted in one "way" in particular, but rather how it is slotted into one thing in particular.

The system has changed - it's first to the patent office, now, and vast amounts of intellectual property is being legally stolen.

Yes it is now first to file, but that is only to determine the inventor in the case of multiple independent inventors.

As before, it is still illegal to file for a patent you did not invent without the inventor's consent.

You do have to claim you thought of it on your own, just a lot later, true - but that's trivial to do, and impossible to disprove.

For example, it's perfectly okay to patent an idea in use a thousand years ago, nowadays, as long as most people in that field haven't heard of it; thanks to recently truly perverse judicial decisions.

Publication doesn't help unless it's highly publicized, either. Theft is genius now.

Wow, fuck Google. They really should consider re-adopting "Don't be evil" for PR proposes at the very least.

(This isn't too say other companies don't pull the same shit; fuck them all just as much)

There is a difference, other companies don't bother making moralistic claims about good and evil in their PR. Google did, so I think it is fair criticize it according to the standards it set itself up with.

Call me radical, but I think "don't be evil" is a standard we should ideally hold all companies to, whatever their PR says.

It shouldn't really be a high bar!

Has google ever filed a patent suit against someone other than in defense? What's more is they have purchased licenses to defend public use of formats.


How is that relevant to an attempt to patent something that's in the public record?

Well, the us has moved to first to file. It could be they are just protecting it from being patented by someone else.

Also, until you see the patent app, you don't really know what they are patenting exactly.

...but ffs! The reason is that Google is encouraging their employees to file patents, just as everybody else, since the patent system in regards to software patents is really just a pissing contest - they need patents to hit each other in the heads with, and it doesn't matter if it's obvious implementations of things that people with a common sense will figure out in 10 minutes.

In this case it took a while to figure out the smart thing, and it took 10 minutes to find an application to patent.

I worked for a company that probably infringed on an existing telecom patent that was more or less equivalent to looking in another sock drawer if you can't find a matching sock, but as it was related to "an apparatus or method" for "locating subscriber registry data" it was apparently novel enough to require a patent.

It took me about 1 minute to come up with the solution as an obvious solution to a simple problem so it was clearly just rubbish.

The patentee had about 2 million other patents, so if someone had actually cared we could potentially have infringed on several more patents and run out of money long before we could win.

But Google doesn't do that. That's worth something, right? It's easy to take the moral high ground, but I wanted to point out how it looks to the quiet objective people reading.

My experience with Google is that the claim should probably be "Google doesn't do that at the moment".

Google doesn't do what?

If there's prior art, what's the difference if a system is first to file or first to invent?

Because prior art is a defensive patent invalidation or prevention technique. If Google doesn't file this patent a troll will, and they will aggressively sue companies (Google included).

Google is doing what it has to to protect itself. Blame the system.

They could have cc'd Jarek Duda, and avoided the appearance of pulling a fast one on the real inventor, putting their name on someone else's homework. It just looks sleazy.

Filings under first to file is still subject prior art from any existing patent or publication. The only publication that won't count as existing prior art is a publication from the inventor his or herself under a one year grace period.

Well, the us has moved to first to file.

Sure, a land-grab model, but the frontier was not fair to everybody, and in fact was pretty harmful depending on your politics.

If they have to keep growing at the rate the stock market price demands for them they will soon sue other companies to make money.

We can't possibly know that, and that's one of the worst strategies for long-term profitability.

Side note. When I was preparing biographies of Abraham Lempel and Jacob Ziv (the inventors of LZ77 and LZ78), I read an interview with Lempel. He was asked why they hadn't patented their algorithms. And he replied like this: we're scientist, our goal is to improve the world, not be rich. His answer surprised me. They clearly knew that the invention is remarkable and would be profitable, but deliberately made it free.

(For those interested in data compression, https://encode.ru is very active. This thread covers the rANS patent problems: https://encode.ru/threads/2648-Published-rANS-patent-by-Stor... )

Please consider not showing that forum to people who are not working in compression. It is a rare beauty that could easily fall into Eternal September.


I stumbled upon this edit war concerning Huffman Coding article on Wikipedia [1], where the ANS algorithm author (Jarek Duda) justifies his edits back in 2007 as a way to "shorten the delay for its [ANS] current wide use in modern compressors, leading to unimaginable world-wide energy and time savings thanks to up to 30x speedup."

Sounds dramatic, but today it seems like he had a point. The other guy (guarding Wikipedia against self promotion) has a point too, though.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk%3AHuffman_coding

Today's Google is a sugar coated evil corporation. "Don't be evil"... pathetic.

Along with the kiddie play-school design. Some creepy psych things going on there.

#3 168 points 7h IOCCC Flight Simulator

#72 280 points 6h Poland's oldest university denies Google's right to patent Polish coding concept

(had to scroll to middle of 3rd page)

(and it's #1 on Algolia 24hs top)

Makes sense, perfectly explainable.

Any story that puts Google in bad light is heavily censored on HN.

They should just change their name to Umbrella Corp. http://residentevil.wikia.com/wiki/Umbrella_Corporation

This is related to the ANS patent of Google, which was previously discussed at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14751977

This post had 251 points in two hours. It was no 1 post for some time and now it was downgraded to 42ND position in the list. 2 hours after posting with 251points. How is it possible????

Google employees flagging it en masse.

This. Read some interesting comments that I agreed with only to see them flagged after some time. Great work Gogglers. You "showed us" who is boss.

Can anyone explain Google's rationale here?

As I understand the US patent system, patent trolls can and do make these sorts of patent filings all the time, and the legitimacy doesn't matter, because their victims can't afford to defend themselves in court.

Isn't it irrational not to file patents like these?

Or is Google planning to use this patent "offensively?"

Only Google can explain their rationale, but it's fairly safe to expect that they won't, at least until the whole application process is done.

Your interpretation is one of the plausible scenarios here. It's one in which Google wins, whether they are granted the patent or not. The Polish researcher and his university don't agree, but perhaps they have never been on the receiving end of a patent lawsuit. Yes, I'm very, very jaded.

People keep saying defensive patent but it's more likely fattening their video codec patent portfolio. This helps them stay in the game in the future as part of industry patent pools/alliances.

Google has never used a patent offensively. Hell even Waymo was more about theft than patents. But HN turns rabid in these situations rather than understanding Google has to do this to prevent trolls from doing it.

>Google has to do this to prevent trolls from doing it.

So you believe that a company as powerful as Google deserves more consolidated power. No, thanks.I will stick with the possibility of getting sued by a troll than handing that power to Google.

No, but they've never used that power whereas trolls always use it for bad.

The fact that you'd rather have a troll own it than Google is literally retarded. That's like advocating you'd prefer North Korea have nukes than the US, because the US already has too much power.

Why would you rather be sued in real life over a theoretical fear? Is absurd.

>theoretical fear Profit is always the bottom line. Google isn't some humanitarian project. Get your head out of the clouds.

HN turns rabid, rightfully so. Even with so-called good motives, which are not even proven. And to be clear, in no way there can be a good motive here: their pledge is limited to Free and Open Source Software, its not even sure this pledge is binding, and EVEN if they really do limit their use of this patent (would have it been misattributed to Google by error), I don't think they would EVER pay the real inventor the value they gain from obtain from having it in their stockpile, even less if they do want to use it after another giant attack them.

Their history dictates their motives, and having never offensively used a patent as of the moment they clearly have good motives.

You are attacking the player, not the game. Software patents shouldn't exist. But in reality they do, and as of this moment I would much rather Google own the patent than a troll.

I will never ever buy the "we are forced to do evil things for the greater good" argument.

Especially behind real inventors' back.

You can't just dictate your own distorted ethical vision just because you are too big.

Edit: plus I don't even give a shit if they limit their use of this patent to defend themselves against competitor claims. Clearly even in this limited case this patent still would have (a very good) value, so at least propose the REAL inventor to patent it and sell ultra limited right for that purpose for a few millions. Then this would be kind of ethical.

Google, the universal evil company.

(That's where you realise emojis lack a pinky finger, that could become google's logo).

I don't understand how companies can be so bold as to file for patents on things that are already in industry use by more than the filer of the patent.

Does the article mean ENcoding and not just coding?

It's interesting that arithmetic compression and its variants seem to be a favourite of those looking for something to patent. From the description of ANS, it looks very similar to the QM/Q-coder for JBIG/2, JPEG, and JPEG2000, which was patented by IBM a long time ago (since expired.)

Someone should stop the monopoly of google in computer science and AI. Otherwise its going to be dangerous.

More than 90 % of its revenue comes from ads so I don't see a way they would be affected. The only valuable brands are Youtube and the search engine(android could even operate as a nonprofit funded by Google). Progress but hardly a "win".

Make it spin off YouTube, Maps/Earth, Translate, its public cloud, GMail etc etc.

Yes but most of those services gain traction from the search engine. Google2 could quickly use FOSS code to integrate similar products to those that they would lose and even if they would be a MVP that would still do the trick. See what I mean ?

Its the level of integration thats the problem, the way they can leverage dominant positions in markets A, B and C to conquer market D.

Why this news, posted 2 hours ago, slided from front page to 40th position in about 2 minutes? It's got 251 points, 52 comments which is way more than anything on the front page?

Same here, I saw it at the top, after I read the comments and refreshed the main page, it was gone I found it on the 46th spot.


I stand by their right to dismiss employees that make the company look bad. I also stand by their right to remove content that is might mislead people into doing something that would harm themselves (https://www.reddit.com/r/conspiratard/comments/5vwedb/google...).


No, your original assumption is incorrect. Depending upon the context, you don't necessarily get to decide what offends you.

That sums up the current political climate pretty well and it doesn't bode well for our kids.

Yes I do. I also have the right to ignore you when you say stupid shit like this, or call you out on it like I am now. You have exactly the same right.

> I also have the right to ignore you

Not if he is your boss and just fired you.

Yep, because you don't have the right to be both employed and say whatever you want. Welcome to real life.

What better slogan if they really planned on being evil.

It is not unlike the Cloudflare banning some crazy right wing website recently and publicly claiming it dangerous for a company to become the online arbiter for speech, while the CEO behind the scenes is sending memos how it was his decision and just something he wanted to do etc.

I think it a pretty common pattern for the perpetrators to claim officially to very much against the things they might be accused of. Some of that might even work at the unconscious level. And I think corporations also have a kind of unconscious mind (all the unwritten rules, culture and hidden incentives).

One could almost be forgiven for thinking that "good" and "evil" are simplistic labels that don't match well for what in the end are usually complex situations that rational people might interpret differently.

Are CloudFlare still serving content for ISIS? Who are engaged in genocide and slavery right now.

Sorry, but I wouldn't trust an article written by the Polish state media. The title of the article, labeling the idea a "Polish coding concept", clearly presupposes that Google's claim was baseless.

It is fair to bring up Polish state media and the tendency of Poles towards nationalistic bias. If anyone didn't get that then this comment is useful. Just bear in mind that Google PR is on the other side of the argument. It was usually a safe bet to side with Google but given recent trends it may be a good idea to look at the merits of the arguments.

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