FWIW, as much as I hate[d] VB.NET, Paul Vick was (is?) clearly a superstar - both in terms of coding and writing.
His blog post reminds me why I get so mad at Microsoft using patents against Android OEMs. During all my years at MSFT, employees were always told that patents were necessary for the reasons Paul Vick stated - you had people like Eolas and zillions of other trolls trying to get you and you needed a portfolio to play defence.
With the Android issue, that changed. MSFT suddenly started using patents offensively as a strategic tool. While I totally get why this is smart ( and I'm stunned at how effective it has been), I feel they violated an implicit social contract with a lot of people who worked to get them those patents.
It's going to be interesting to see whether Google does the same swerve down the line and not just stick to using patents in defence.
No, that can't be right. I hope you're just misremembering that, but the whole problem with patent trolls is that you can't use your own portfolio for defense.
A large patent portfolio is a good weapon against other giants in your industry: IBM, Apple, Oracle, Google, (and once upon a time) Sun. Those people basically can't sue you for violating one of their patents if you have several thousand of your own: they're bound to be in violation of at least one of yours, and it's a mutually-assured-destruction scenario.
A patent troll, on the other hand, doesn't do anything. They can sue you with relative impunity, since there's almost no chance that they're doing anything that you can use against them. The size of your own patent portfolio doesn't even enter the picture.
1) patent it before the other guy does, so the troll has nothing to sue you with, and
2) patent everything and hope that one of your patents overlaps with the troll's.
IBM of all people used to do this for ideas they did not think were worth patenting. By publishing them they stopped anyone else from getting a patent on those ideas. IBM published a magazine for 40 years that is a treasure trove of prior art:
Now anyone can do defensive publication on this site
I used this strategy with some GPS cell phone ideas I had in 2003 and I "published" them myself
Google is already swerving. They're interested in utilizing the Moto patent portfolio to implement 2.25% of total device cost fees on FRAND patents.
In fact, they're already moving forward with that against Apple, which would net them (based on Q42011 sales) over $500,000,000 a quarter, or in the $1.5-2.0B per year on the iPhone alone.
It's no wonder Google is moving forward: That's likely as much or more money than they make on their own Android OS!
When presented with a portfolio of patents, Google behaved not like it has spent years telling everyone they should behave, but instead exactly like they have long since fought against.
Violated what? LOL...Patents are for protecting you from infringement, so you retort/attack when you're patents are abused...What the hell is Apple doing when Samsung/Google got "inspiration" from the iPhone?
MS is built on selling Software and protecting it is their responsibility to their Shareholders!
(Didn't work out so well: he left a couple of months later, and that job turned into a nightmare for other reasons.)
Since mathematics isn't patentable, can you invalidate a patent claim by showing that it is equivalent to a mathematical formula? And if so, by the Church-Turing thesis, wouldn't any Turing-complete program be representable in lambda calculus, and therefore be unpatentable?
You can not patent that formula, but you can get a patent on beams made using that formula. With that patent in hand you can stop anyone from making, selling, or using those beams.
Claim 1: A system for determining if two operands point to different locations in memory, the ...
Claim 15: A method for producing executable code for performing ...
Claim 21: A computer-readable medium comprising computer-executable instructions for ...
Dependent claims by definition include at least one of the above.
PS: I am not a lawyer. Never have been.
Still, it seems a pretty silly patent... :-/
In software, most of them are.
It's bad enough that the USPTO will rubberstamp everything with the right fees, but that they can issue patents on concepts that are far outside the original intent what patents are for.
Yes, developing software involves "invention" in every sense of the word, but if you can patent algorithms, why can't you patent mathematical formulae or proofs?
I don't support software patents but I have a problem with the whole "it's patenting a mathematical formula" argument.
Essentially, software implementations of algorithms cannot generally be patented either because they are simply an expression of the algorithm in a particular language. The fact that this language can be interpreted by a particular hardware device does not change the situation. The hardware is a pre-existing piece of general-purpose commodity hardware that is easily interchangeable with any number of other pre-existing pieces of general-purpose commodity hardware, up to and including a human being equipped with a pen and paper, and therefore cannot really be claimed as part of the patent.
A physical device which implements the algorithm can, of course, be patented. And a hardware/software combination where the computer is an integral part of the mechanism (e.g., it cannot in principle be replicated by a human with a pen and paper) can also be patented, so Amazon's 'One-Click' patent is safe. However, simply tacking on the phrase, "Written in a programming language," does not take an unpatentable idea and make it patentable.
Clearly you have never prosecuted a patent application. Yes, examiners make mistakes sometimes, and patents issue that shouldn't. But your statement is just nowhere near being true.
35 U.S.C. § 286 Time limitation on damages
Except as otherwise provided by law, no recovery shall be had for any infringement committed more than six years prior to the filing of the complaint or counterclaim for infringement in the action.
In the case of claims against the United States Government for use of a patented invention, the period before bringing suit, up to six years, between the date of receipt of a written claim for compensation by the department or agency of the Government having authority to settle such claim, and the date of mailing by the Government of a notice to the claimant that his claim has been denied shall not be counted as a part of the period referred to in the preceding paragraph.
Ridiculous patents like this for "ifnot" are one thing, but patents for very useful software functionality and features are another. Don't be so quick to dismiss their usefulness in encouraging innovation.
Look, as soon as it's released, it will be copied by those who already have market penetration in that space, leaving the big USP of "cool software feature" as something useless, and no longer a USP.
Instead of releasing them out, which is what I'd like to do, I just keep them to myself. Something which I would rather not do, but I see no other way of gaining value from them.
Good software is rewarded (even more so in today when there's instant distribution), don't worry about your competitors.
(I dislike software patents myself and agree with you, though, that, for a variety of reasons, we'd still see plenty of innovation without them.)
For example, a new, innovative, OS going against Windows. In this case and without software patents, Microsoft would just copy the features that make it special, leaving the R&D investment as a waste, unless software patents are available of course.
Edit: Looks like I'm getting downvoted for no reason. Good luck with your collective circlejerk HN. I'm out.
Perhaps it's because you're using most likely a non-patented browser that fetches a non-patented hypertext format (HTML) via a non-patented application protocol (HTTP) built on a non-patented network stack (TCP) by connecting to a non-patented web server (HN) written in a non-patented programming language (Arc), and you're using this stack to argue that people have no motivation to innovate in software if patent protection is unavailable.
Or perhaps it's because you're trotting out that old argument that software patents can help the little guy compete against big players. But so far the only "little guy" success anyone can point to was Stac Electronics, a publicly traded company for whom a $9.7 million sales quarter was evidence of declining business. That's not little: http://articles.latimes.com/1994-06-22/business/fi-7159_1_pa...
Yeah, there seems to be a lot of that these days. People down-vote for disagreement, as opposed to just spammy posts. It's really kinda sad for a community that should be open to discussion and critical thought.
Unfortunately, temporary often ends up being effectively forever when it comes to software, and the system has been gamed by lawyers. Sigh.
The documentary by This American Life about patents had an IP researcher claiming that over 1/3 of all patents ignore prior art, just by comparing identical text between them: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/android-app?destination=radi...
If TypeOf obj IsNot MyClass Then
If Not TypeOf obj Is MyClass Then
Really? They patented something for BASIC? Also, I'm pretty sure patents do serve a useful purpose, because first nobody cares about whether something is protected by patent or not, they'll find a way to rip it off. What patents do is put these technologies and developments into the public record.
I think the propriety of patents is problematic, but without them we would potentially be in the dark about how certain new inventions work. It's important for things like medicine, but software patents are a bad idea because they lead to patent trolling and lawsuits over things that are obvious solutions to common problems.