Innovation has no value to the public if you don't produce and ship a good product. In my opinion the company that actually ships something should always have the upper hand because it's good for consumers. Patent reform should follow a use-it-or-lose-it model. If a company comes up with an innovative idea, ships a product, and that product stays on the market (in one form or another) for many years they probably deserve to own the patent. If people are buying it then it must be halfway decent. If they never produce a shipping product they shouldn't be able to hold the patent hostage. If they decide to stop selling a product that uses the patent someone else should have the opportunity to dust it off.
Fashion and food were traditionally not protected by patents because to make a cake or a dress, one only needed an oven or a sowing machine. On the other hand, complicated manufactured goods needed patent protection because the factories needed to produce them would cost millions to build, and a small inventor could never raise the money without patent protection.
In the age of computing, the cost of the equipment to create software is negligible, so it's far more optimal to not grant patent protection.
Is that really true? I don't know I am just asking. I personally don't think capital investment should have anything to do with the patent. It's like giving no value to the innovative technologies made by people in garage. Just doesn't make sense to me.
On a side note, do you consider time as capital investment?
Yes. Or more precisely because clothes and food are too "utilitarian".
"Lessons from fashion's free culture"
"Copyright law's grip on film, music and software barely touches the fashion industry ... and fashion benefits in both innovation and sales, says Johanna Blakley."
Fashion doesn't need strict copyright enforcement because by the time you've reverse engineered something and put it into production, it's already wildly out of date.
You can see how Apple applies this principle to their main products, aggressively innovating so that by the time their products are copied, which is inevitable, they have already obsoleted them.
Software can be duplicated at effectively zero cost to produce an identical copy. It also has a much longer lifespan for mature packages (Office, XP, etc.), where people will use the same software, plus or minus patches, for five years or more.
There needs to be some kind of reasonable limitation on what people are able to do with software that they purchase, so at the very least a form of copyright is required, not unlike protections offered to books.
The real thorn is that software patents are mostly preposterous, with very few requiring actual innovation to produce. It's like trying to patent a plot twist or a character quirk and then suing all authors that use it.
copyright protects the expression of an idea, while a patent protects the idea itself
I hope that it will now become clear to the world at large that a patent without any intention to produce a product is simply a waste of time and money. I'd much prefer it if all these patent filing clowns would keep their 'research' locked up in their vaults and called them trade secrets, that would give nobodies like me a chance at just getting on with our jobs without stepping on someones patented toes.
- write software, and
- don't stand to benefit directly from software patents.
So, even if we had IBM step in with its portfolio of 30,000 patents (and growing by 5000 each year) and snarl up the entire industry to prove a point, Allen would be like "whatever" and soldier on, because he makes nothing.
The research and resultant patents in this case were in the public record for all to see, read, and if they found the idea useable, free to contact the patent holder to discuss a deal.
The patent systems a broken mess - no argument here. But a firm that actually did research on specific items, kept track of a relatively small portfolio and then selectively went after some big boys isn't as much of a patent troll as those who just buy up thousands and thousands of them and muscle people around.)
The problem with trolling is not that properties that can be sold and monetized by the new owner. It is that ideas are being treated as (material) property. Ideas can be formed by multiple persons independently, and any given idea can be shared among any number of thinkers without diminishing the strength of the thought. In particular, you can have submarine patents that nobody realizes they're infringing until the day the troll emerges from under his bridge to tell the whole world to pay up. Or, one can be granted a patent on an idea that's actually quite common and obvious, and this patent can back up a threat of costly and risky litigation, effecting the coercive transfer of money from productive members of society to patent-system-abusers.
Innovators need access to scarce material goods and they have limited lifetimes, but extending our effective scheme for managing scarce resources to the ideas they develop is not working so well.
He does license patents, if IBM can prove one the licensed patent is based on one or more IBM patents, they could counter sue.
If that really is true, then Paul Allen isn't infringing, the people who are licensing from him are.
Also, what could be the point of such a lawsuit? Surely Paul Allen cannot think that he can have out-of-court settlements (no cross-licensing since his company does not produce anything) with all the listed companies. Some of them will surely fight back.
Yes, quite. Paul Allen had an excellent reputation up to this point. He always struck me as the one with the interesting projects, such as backing Burt Rutan.
> Some of them will surely fight back.
all of them will fight back.
If you have valid patents that read on various valuable products, and you can bank roll a credible law suit asking for injunctions and not accepting any other kind of relief, that might create enough chaos to get the attention of law makers.
The breadth of this is certainly something to give food for thought, this is not an 'ordinary' patent troll lawsuit.
Part of me has Paul Allen as a very nice and visionary guy and part of me reminds me that he didn't exactly distance himself from microsofts illegal practices during the Gates' years.
And "patent trolls" tend to collect and file tons of almost meaninglessly broad patents and hten send armies of analysts and lawyers to look at them and find some small or big fish to sue, depending.
In this case, the patents were filed by Mr. Allen's venture itself, a venture created as a think-tank to do research and come up with ideas - which were then published (via the patent mechanism) for the world to see, and potentially license - all they had to do was keep an eye on the patent system and contact the right people to ask for a license.
This is amusing. Here's some history on the company. Interval Research was an R&D outfit that Paul Allen founded back in the 1990's. You've never heard of it, because they were incredibly secretive. So hush-hush that when they went belly-up no one outside of the company knew about it. Literally. It took months before the Press finally got wind of it.
The place was a great place to be if you were doing research. Literally "let a thousand roses bloom". Unfortunately, they were horribly mismanaged. Allen blew hundreds of millions of dollars, mostly over budget, before he finally realized that he wasn't getting anything out it. They wanted to be the next version of SRI. Unfortunately, that didn't turn out.
Top management was, at best, incompetent. At worse, downright crooks. They hired some people on certain terms, and then shortly afterwards said "Opps - we really meant to hire you at a lower level". Truly a boneheaded move. Fortunately it didn't happen to me, but the look on people's faces when they found out was unforgettable.
Interval did some really amazing stuff; years ahead of its time. But they could never get the products out to market (though they tried), mostly due to amazing incompetence on the part of the lead engineers. You know the type. Big egos and no talent. Perhaps there was an exception to that rule, but I don't recall it.
I'm not surprised that Paul Allen has turned into a Patent Troll; it will be the only way he can get his money back. The only thing surprising is that it took him so long. But he never impressed me as being the sharpest knife in the drawer. As for other history, they had a number of big names there, from many fields. In tech, you may have heard of Lee Felsenstein if you're familiar with history. Their office was in the Research area of Palo Alto. Near Stanford, down the street from the Wall Street Journal, between Page Mill and Hillview
Despite that unfortunate ending, I still look back fondly on Interval. They paid well, too. I made lots of money off of Paul Allen. Thanks, Paul!
If they didn't knew they had these patents, how could the other company know ?
This type of pattent 'mines' will have the consequence to scare to death companies. Foreign companies will stay away of US just to avoid the risk to step on such mine. And US companies may move their business in countries with much less risks (i.e. europe, Asia).
FTA: "Notably missing from the defendants' list are Microsoft, in which Mr. Allen remains a major investor"
Wonder if microsoft has a deal with Allen or if he just doesn't want to sue the company he has a stake in.
This could easily be spun as Allen as the attack dog against microsofts competition.
He's not suing microsoft because he'd be shooting himself in the foot. He might have a deal with them to license it, or he may just be letting it slide (he can always sue them later). Same with google.
He's under no obligation to enforce his patents - it's up to him.
HEY PAUL ALLEN, GO FUCK YOURSELF!
U.S. PATENT NO. 6,263,507
U.S. PATENT NO. 6,757,682
U.S. PATENT NO. 6,788,314
U.S. PATENT NO. 6,034,652
- 6,034,652: Attention manager for occupying the peripheral attention of a person in the vicinity of a display device http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect2=PTO1&Sec...
- 6,788,314: Attention manager for occupying the peripheral attention of a person in the vicinity of a display device http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect2=PTO1&Sec...
- 6,757,682: Alerting users to items of current interest http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect2=PTO1&Sec...
Seriously, start looking through the patents filed on Google (I started with one of these Paul Allen ones, then moved on to others filed by others but which were cited) and came to the conclusion that this is all ridiculous.
Here we see that Apple could possibly sue anyone for invoking the "mouseover" or "hover" events: http://www.google.com/patents?id=mPYiAAAAEBAJ&printsec=a...
While I wholeheartedly agree with protecting IP, to me that is more of a copyright issue (not ripping off code) rather than ideas.
Ultimately what it means for us is: Go forth and code. Create whatever you want and ignore the patents out there. If you are successful, and a patent troll sues you, you can come to an agreement (license or otherwise). Really, no worries here.
Any policy you think of is going to have ridiculous loopholes and require companies to have patent 'watchdogs' who will need to search out fledgling products to make sure they're not infringing on any patents. These company watchdogs will have to justify their wages... by making even more patent lawsuits than there are now.
Fuck, even implementing the patent I would be happy with.
Requiring some minimum revenue before the patent counts for you is a great way to have your patents wantonly violated by larger firms before you can get started. Software startups are too agile for patents to matter much, but that's not as true for other industries.
"The technology behind one patent allows a site to offer suggestions to consumers for items related to what they're currently viewing, or related to online activities of others in the case of social networking sites.
A second, among other things, allow readers of a news story to quickly locate stories related to a particular subject. Two others enable ads, stock quotes, news updates or video images to flash on a computer screen, peripherally to a user's main activity."
Hopefully it draws attention to software patents flaws. If government were hesitant to move away from them altogether maybe they could try a 2 year trail of no new patents or something.
It's hard to imagine Allen owning any technology Google or Apple are using...
I nearly choked. Are you shitting me? Marketplace doesn't allow you to "steal" others technologies. How would they feel about others infringing their search engine patents. Before anyone go wild on me, let me make it clear I am not supporting Mr. Allen or software patents or even know if there is a patent infringement here. All I am saying is if there is an infringement, I don't get this Googler.