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I looked at the USPTO's Public PAIR system (https://portal.uspto.gov/pair/PublicPair) and this patent was rejected multiple times before finally being accepted. (Non-final rejection 6/7/2016, final rejection 2/21/2017, non-final rejection 1/3/2018, final rejection 1/7/2019, patent issued 7/16/2019.) Seriously patent office? You should have paid attention to your 4 previous rejections instead of giving in to Facebook's lawyers and persistence.

If you see a patent in the application pipeline that you know is bogus (obvious or prior art), you can do a preissuance submission: https://www.uspto.gov/patent/initiatives/third-party-preissu...

I challenged a patent application and it was rejected. Now, I can't say if the patent examiner already knew that the patent was both obvious and had prior art, or if my application informed him of that, but it was rejected.




To quote the legendary Judge Learned Hand from nearly a century ago (on a different but analogous subject): "Courts have descanted upon the abuse again and again, but the antlike persistency of [patent] solicitors has overcome, and I suppose will continue to overcome, the patience of [Patent Office] examiners, and there is apparently always but one outcome."

Lyon v. Boh, 1 F. 2d 48, 50 (S.D.N.Y. 1926), https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=969659756696519...


descant: to discuss at length


Prolix

Garrulify

Enucleate

Perorate

Expatiate


Such a wasteful existence. To create brief and unremarkable identities and experience rejection of expression.


Performance art?


Learned Hand writes epic prose.


He's definitely somebody who's done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, but his output dropped dramatically years ago and frankly it's been a while since he's had anything useful to say.


I was going for a double meaning. Literally a learned person's hand writes epic prose. But also the person named "Learned Hand" writes epic prose.


Not such a bad thing. Each rejection results in a narrowing of the scope and claims of the patent. The resulting claims that are granted will be far narrower than scope of the original specification.


You're talking about a non-final rejection (where some, but not all, claims are rejected), which is helpful, yes.

In Facebook's case, though—see above—there were two final rejections. A final rejection happens when all the claims are invalidated, so your submission is now vacuous.


No. A rejection on any claim can be made final after it’s gone through two “rounds,” i.e., the attorney has argued it twice (more or less). Most non-final rejections also address all the claims. There isn’t really a difference in degree or “finality” between a “non-final” and “final” rejection, despite the name! Just pay a fee for a continuation and you can argue your final rejection again.


Seems like the USPTO could use a patent for implementing exponential backoff and double the fee every time it comes back.


The fee would have to increase exponentially, and that still probably wouldn't work.


You know double is exponential right?


Ugh no need to downvote him, just wanted to make sure his mental model was in check. Exponential growth is a life skill a lot of the population lacks.


Like parking fines in some cities?


Thank you for citing the rules. Most of the comments here are based on assumptions.


Why can't a lawsuit be made immediately by owners of prior art (and I'm guessing HN, Reddit both have prior art around this..)


> Why can't a lawsuit be made immediately by owners of prior art (and I'm guessing HN, Reddit both have prior art around this..)

It's called an IPR, an inter partes review [0] in the USPTO. Most potential challengers, though, are likely to save their ammunition for if and when they get sued on the patent. (And they might quietly let Facebook know they have prior art, so as to discourage FB from getting aggressive — FB might want its patent to remain officially valid, so as to be able to continue to rattle its saber at others, instead of having invalidity officially confirmed.)

[0] https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Inter_partes_review

It's called an IPR


Overcoming a "final" rejection can be as simple as moving a sentence from one of your dependent claims into an independent one. It doesn't necessarily mean every single claim is utterly un-patentable.

Obligatory warning: I'm not a patent lawyer but I've responded to both final and non-final office actions, eventually getting a patent


it's actually worth looking at the claims just as an exercise. they are incredibly narrow, there must have been many objections here.


Hint: Just read the claims. Skip right to them, and ignore everything else. The claims are effectively the legal part, the pretty pictures and verbiage that usually precede them are essentially useless (and sometimes have little to do with what is being claimed).


> 1. A method comprising: receiving a comment from a posting user of a social networking system, the comment posted on a page within the social networking system; determining, by a processor, that the comment includes proscribed content; and responsive to the determination: identifying users of the social networking system who are connected to the posting user in the social networking system with a specified connection type, wherein the specified connection type is a one-to-one friend connection; determining, by the processor, a social networking system audience for the comment without input from the posting user, the processor determining the social networking system audience before providing the comment for display; and displaying the comment to the audience by: formatting the page including the comment to the posting user, and formatting the page not including the comment to users of the social networking system accessing the page who are not connected to the posting user with the specified connection type.

This sounds like it's not exactly shadow banning; your direct friends can still see your comment. I'm vaguely aware that they have special comment sections on "public" pages, articles, etc, that filter the giant thread down to stuff your friends actually wrote. I'm guessing that at some point, if you were banned from the page/etc, then your friends also couldn't see what you wrote. If that's true, then this is a little nicer to the banned user than a shadowban.


> * I'm guessing that at some point, if you were banned from the page/etc, then your friends also couldn't see what you wrote. If that's true, then this is a little nicer to the banned user than a shadowban.*

More importantly, it's more effective because it's less likely to be detected.

It still shouldn't be patentable because there's prior art involving a bunch of systems with various forms of audience selection such that how to implement this specific set of audience selection rules is obvious to most software developers. Patents cover how, not what, and they do not cover inventions whose implementation is obvious to most experts in the field.


> and they do not cover inventions whose implementation is obvious to most experts in the field

This is (ahem) patently not true; there are plenty of patents whose implementation is incredibly obvious. Insultingly obvious. As in, "Did that company try to patent string comparison?"

Look up the "standard network byte order" patent, for instance. It's now expired and was never enforced. The friend-of-a-friend who got that patent was heard to exclaim "I can't believe they gave that patent to me!", which should tell you a lot about the quality of the patent industry then -- IMHO it hasn't changed for the better.


To be clear, I'm talking about what the law specifies, not what actually happens. I know a great many patents are issued for things that are obvious, for which there is prior art, or that do not adequately describe a how.

They should not be, and somebody should probably be lobbying congress to address the patent office not being sufficiently strict.


"A patent for a claimed invention may not be obtained [...] if the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art are such that the claimed invention as a whole would have been obvious before the effective filing date of the claimed invention to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which the claimed invention pertains."

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/35/103


Oh, I agree with you. It's just not how the patent industry actually works.

I'm not entirely sure why, but there appear to be perverse or at least badly aligned incentives for patent examiners, and it would appear they only look for prior art in specific locations, and these aren't the ones that the industry uses.

So you get situations like someone getting a patent for putting structures on multiple lists at a time (e.g., a lookup list, and an LRU replacement list, and maybe a list for keeping track of locks) and this is something that people have been doing since rocks were young, but some nincompoop at OraGooSoftBook got a patent on it because these structures appear in OS textbooks or maybe Knuth and not anything the examiner encountered in law school, or any legal publications. And now FaceGooSoft has a legal lock on code you wrote (hey, you did diligently read all the patents relevant to your industry before you wrote a single line, just like everybody else does right?).


It's good that Europe and most of the world, except USA, does not support software patents. No need to spend countless hours in defending against frivolous patents. It's like Amazon's single click buy patent, hopefully will be struck down in future like the former.


"Software patents" are not allowed in Europe, but in practise you just have to call them "computer implemented inventions", and write them in legalese nonsense that is even less readable than a pure software patent would be, avoiding mentioning any keyword known in the fields of computer science or software engineering.

More detail: https://fsfe.org/campaigns/swpat/swpat.en.html

The law should be something like just manipulating the electronic state on an otherwise non-infringing machine is never an infringement. You have to actually connect it to new hardware.


Isn't that patent expired as of recently?


Yes it did but it lost earlier. But still wasted a lot of resources which could have gone in something of real value to nature or humanity.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/220290418_Amazon's_...


  But still wasted a lot of resources which could have gone in something of real value to nature or humanity
That's arguably 90% of law in hindsight. The problem is that humans aren't psychic, and without the legal system we have a hard time getting along.


I'm genuinely unconvinced that we would be worse off with a reduction or removal of patents' scope over much of modern monopolising in many industries. Sure, it's difficult to know with any certainty that changing the law wouldn't have bad knock-on effects, but what is clear to see is that the implimentation as it currently stands allows for some flagrant abuses.


The fact that there were several rejections before allowance is entirely, 100% mundane and normal. This is how patent prosecution works.


Yes this happens on essentially every patent a you start absurdly broad and winnow the scope in response to the rejections.


Was there a 101 "abstract idea" rejection? EDIT: Evidently not, judging by a quick glance at the Office actions rejecting the claims.


Look in Public Pair for the Office Actions. The 101 will usually be the first objection raised if it applied. There are many ways to overcome these, even in a Final Rejection, by narrowing the claims or revising the specification (however, the latter resets the priority date).


Oh but this is "on a computer"...


Why don't they just charge a $1,000,000 filing fee for a patent? Anything worth less seems hardly worth the trouble to society.


That would put patents solely into the hands of already-established corporations and the already-wealthy, making them inaccessible to anyone else.


Yeah but there are so many patents needed for the most mundane aspects of products. Plus it's prohibitively expensive for individual people who invent


Patents aren't needed for people to invent things.


No. But they allow the little guy to take on the big guy for stealing their invention.

Look at Robert Kearns[0]. He invented the intermittent windshield wiper and demoed it to the “Big Three.” They then took his idea and implemented it themselves. So he sued them and won.

Maybe removing patents would spur innovation, but what then do you do when you’re the little guy?

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Kearns


Without patents, the little guy can actually do innovative stuff with all the technology we're surrounded with. Patents are primarily used by the big players to maintain their power.

Inequities in wealth and power are serious problems. Patents are a horrible method to deal with them though. If you set out to have a goal of supporting little-guy innovators, we'd do best to institute things like UBI and universal health care.

That whole windshield wiper story isn't too far from patent-trolling situations. Big companies get sued all the time by "inventors" who got patents on things that the companies would have come up with on their own anyway. The overall net effect of patents is harm for the public interest.


I also want to abolish patents. (And I do not patent things myself, since, that would make it difficult to use. And, I am the "little guy".)




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