Aside from the fact it's not a web thing, how is this different? Or is that difference somehow enough for people to choke down their bile and keep using apple products?
I originally was going to post something about banding together and boycotting Yahoo but then remember the HUGE apple fan group that lives here.
Apple is worse than Yahoo IMHO (considering this is like Yahoos first suit) and yet no one cares. So why do people care about this?
But seriously, the thing is that the phone market has never been "free" in the sense that the web has been free. Since to become a carrier you have always needed a significant capital investment in hardware, the model of also needing to pay patent-rent for your software has been just a piece of this. But creating a website has been the freest possible activity - even having your own server only involve nominal expenses and nominal control relative to becoming a phone carrier.
Further, the web is currently the closest thing to a free press that exists today. Anything to exerts control over this is doubly compared to the certainly objectionable activity of extracting patent-rent from a given industry.
I think this argument shows Yahoo is at least as bad in its action as Apple here (even though I actually have been Yahoo-sympathetic and Apple-hostile up till now). Censoring the App Store is an abusive, monopolistic practice but it still left the web, anything that puts breaks on the web itself is maximally terrible (that terribleness greater-than-or-equal to other problems so I'll still accept the answer "they're all bad").
What about things like amazon's 1 click patent. They are a web company.
I can find in 1 second on google a 1999 case where they used that patent
I don't know what you are talking about.
Customizable user pages, and activity streams are a lot harder to work around for modern web applications. The fact that there aren't a lot of alternatives also suggests that they are obvious technologies. If Yahoo really owns those things, how many modern web applications are not vulnerable.
It's true that 'slide to unlock' seems like a superficial feature, but that's actually a point in Apples's favor.
By pursuing superficial claims, they aren't trying to blow the competition out of the water by claiming ownership of fundamental ideas - they're just trying to stop them making products that feel like imitations of their brand.
I am reminded of star wars in this case: The more you tighten your grip, Admiral Tarkin, the more systems will slip through your fingers.
I don't see any more what Apple's major goal is. if they would hold to their premise: "Create the best user experience" they wouldn't do stuff like that.
They are being sued too (and were sued first by Nokia) in this dirty patent war. I think it's naive to expect them to simply ignore all that.
It is possible for them to both try to build the best products for the consumer, and simultaneously act like a business operating in a tough environment.
This patent is about as business / software process as you get. It is just a consequence of solving a problem that would be solved the same way by anyone of with skills as a product of normal training in the field. Like "One Click" or "IsNot", it is really hard to understand why the rules were changed to allow this type of thing.
Couldn't HTC et al have worked around it?
Some of their customers want it, it is a trivial idea and there's video proof that Apple didn't invent it anyway (Neonode N1m).
Whether their customers want it is irrelevant. Sadly there is no good criteria for what is 'trivial' or not, and that is a big problem with the current system. I don't think slide-to-unlock is any more trivial than the crank, but it's not my opinion that matters.
My point is that if its just a 'gimmick' i.e. not important, then HTC should be easily able to work around it.
The fact they haven't suggests that either it's hard to come up with a good alternative, or they are intentionally copying Apple.
It's worth noting that Apple suing over superficial things is more about preventing direct imitation. They aren't trying to kill their competitors by claiming fundamental technologies. I think this is actually evidence of a moderate approach.
Yes, but we know that doesn't always happen (and demonstrably isn't happening in some of Apple's lawsuits).
> It's worth noting that Apple suing over superficial things is more about preventing direct imitation. They aren't trying to kill their competitors by claiming fundamental technologies. I think this is actually evidence of a moderate approach.
That's not true. Apple is suing over plenty of fundamental, ridiculously broad patents as well, but (with the exception of the "clickable-actions-in-text" patent) we happen to not be talking about them here (in part because Apple lost on some of the more fundamental patents they've asserted).
Here's an article from two months ago that describes some of what Apple is suing over:
Quoting the article we have:
- "one on layering an object oriented application on top of a procedural operating system (i.e. Mac OS X on top of UNIX)"
- "a method for dynamic object message passing translation"
- "automatically recognizing certain data structures and offering actions for that data (i.e. "Data Detectors")" (what I've described as "clickable-actions-in-text")
- "a method for performing realtime signal processing within a non-realtime OS"
Apple happened to lose at the ITC on 3 of these 4 (the only one still standing is "Data Detectors"/"clickable-actions-in-text"), but this is clear evidence that Apple is suing over fundamental technologies (I'd say fundamental ideas, which is even worse) as well as superficial ones. Given that "Data Detectors" dates back to the Power Macintosh help system, I suspect Apple is using every bit of patent ammunition they have. I certainly don't see any evidence here that Apple is showing restraint.
I'll emphasize again that "Data Detectors" is something that virtually every email client since the mid-to-late 90s does when they make URLs and email addresses clickable, specifically because the idea is so obvious and obviously useful. Should they all have to stop because Apple took an obvious idea to the patent office first? Even when Netscape did it months before Apple in Netscape Navigator 2.0b1?
Oh, I almost forgot. HN just infringed on Apple's "Data Detectors" patent here. Should they stop?
However my point was that 'swipe-to-unlock' seeming to be about something 'trivial' doesn't in itself make Apple look bad, and that still stands. It's not an example of Apple abusing the patent system whereas the others are.
If they've lost on the broad patents, then that's a sign that the system isn't as broken as we think. Arguably the fact that they've been tested and found wanting actually improves things.
Also, I'd point out that your concern seems to be primarily about the criteria for obviousness, which I agree is severely problematic, and is only going to get worse if we switch to first-to-file.
Because after years of inept technical execution, executive shenanigans and other corporate failures, they are resorting to trolling instead of actually doing anything innovative.
That is to say, Yahoo is viewed as non-innovative, and their action is viewed to be the result of a new CEO intent on aggressively finding pennies through any means including just by lawsuit. Meanwhile, most of Yahoo's team is apparently against this action.
So, it's the context. If you drop the context and equate Apple to Yahoo, then it's easier to arrive at: why is everybody upset when a company files a patent lawsuit.
I bet the same people upset about Yahoo also find Apple's lawsuits to be distasteful. Apple is viewed as a very innovative company, so they're given slack when it comes to suing over issues related to innovation.
Facebook didn't invent anything.
In reality Apple should be the real bad guy in whole patent issue.
They did invent some interesting infrastructure and dev-level stuff, which they've open-sourced.
Sure, the iPhone is a mobile phone but it's no way any more similar to what Motorola invented than how similar Motorola's mobile phone is to the original landline phone.
Instead, they're suing over ticky-tack nonsense that other people did before like:
- "slide-to-unlock" (Neonode N1m)
- clicking to call phone numbers they detect in text messages and email (Palm Treo among many, many examples - especially if you look at analogous desktop functionality like recognizing URLs in email that makes the concept obvious)
- tablets that are black rectangles with rounded corners (Knight-Ridder concept tablet from 1994, the movie version of 2001, ...)
Perhaps if more people were aware of exactly what Apple was actually suing over they'd be less supportive.
I asked that 3 times and got nothing other than downvotes...
But you are correct that nobody really cares when the defendant is a multi-billion dollar company. Facebook can look after themselves just fine. If Yahoo were suing a startup, the backlash would be far stronger.
The patent system is broken, these are not the reasons it was created!
I think patenting a lock slider by Apple is more ridiculous than patenting apparatus to change IM into email.
1. Yahoo sues Facebook
2. Facebook settles for some large-though-not-crippling amount of cash
3. The public forgets and moves on, since no-one's actual day-to-day user experience is affected (and we collectively do lack a bit of an attention span)
4 [epilogue]. Companies are further incentivized to leverage patents in the pursuit of financial gain
In 2012, software patents don't cover solutions. Rather, they cover problems. Anyone creating a solution to that problem must pay licensing fees. This takes large amounts of money from the people actually solving problems and improving the world, and gives it to people who don't do anything to advance human progress. If the law isn't repaired, my fear is that other countries will far surpass the USA in our lifetime.
My favorite example is glue. Everyone knows what glue is. However, has anyone used glue to hold itemX and itemY together? No? Patent!
Further, the state of software patents in the U.S. and globally has been brought about not by laws, or by the establishment or the powers that be, but by inventors appealing the USPTO to get their inventions patented. Twenty years ago (the previous generation of tech nerds - the yahoo's even) these people that brought us the internet had to fight for their ability to join the technology landscape through patents.
Now, the common consensus among their descendants - at least the cheeky ones on the internet - is that that work must be destroyed for no other reason than vague opinion.
Vint Cerf: "The openness of those protocols and their availability was key to their adoption and widespread use. I think if Bob [Kahn] and I had not done that - if we had tried to, in some way, constrain and restrict access to those protocols, some other protocol suite would probably be
the one we'd be using today .... The fact that it wasn't
patented, I think, was very important."
Tim Berners-Lee: "I mention patents in passing, but in fact they are a great stumbling block for Web development. Developers are stalling their eorts in a given direction when they hear rumors that some company may have a patent
that may involve the technology."
For example TCP IP was a derivative of prior communications protocols either developed for private for-profit enterprise or the defense industry (Xerox, Bell, IBM, etc). In nearly all cases they were patented and exploited, but not really for the public's use; TBL and the other forefathers did have access to (or even helped write) the published prior art though when they were inventing the internet.
So in this case it doesn't really matter whether they were for or against software patents; because without patented prior art they would have had nothing to build off of. The success of their invention did indeed come from their superior execution (releasing it to the public) but since then they have become more hypocritical than Steve Jobs in claiming that software patents would have been a hindrance to the internet.
I agree, what could really be any other purpose for patents? Is a judge going to say, 10 years into a patent, "well, our process thought this was novel 10 years ago, but it doesn't seem so novel to me now"?
The problem is that this 20-year term makes no sense in software, if the public wants to use the latest and greatest thing.
And I'll point out that novelty and non-obviousness are two different things in the context of patents. The majority of software patents seem to fail the latter the majority of the time. Novelty is more of a wash.
Nor will it come from putting yet another sacrificial lamb on the pyre.
> If Yahoo were to be awarded 50 Billion Dollars from Facebook, I think consumers may take notice. And don’t think that 50B should be an impossibility.
I don't think consumers would bat an eye. So long as facebook.com remains online, they won't care. If it goes offline, they'll migrate to Twitter, or back to MySpace, or Google. There is enough competition to Facebook right now that if they vanished overnight people wouldn't clamor for their return for very long.
> This is what patents are for, right ? To protect companies with original IP from smarter, faster, aggressive companies who catch the imagination of consumers and advertisers. What else could patents be for ?
At this point I suspect the author is just trolling. Nice job. It doesn't take much research to learn that patents were meant to encourage inventors to share the details of their inventions to Society, so that Society could benefit in X years instead of waiting X+delta years for the chance something gets reinvented and shared freely.
If Yahoo won, they'd probably wind up owning Facebook (or maybe just owning a controlling stake). They're not stupid enough to take it offline and while they might screw it up with mismanagement, that happens over time.
Err, what? Elaboration required.
"Can you sum up your core views in a short package so I don't completely misrepresent you when reporting second-hand?
My real view is simple. I'm a transhumanist Singularitarian in the Good sense, or the Yudkowsky sense if you prefer. Anything that gets in the way of a positive Singularity is bad. [snip] Even though I'm an Anarchist you'll see me supporting national health care because there's a decent chance we'll get really long life this century and the less people who die the better."
It's a broken system and change needs to happen. After the quiet period for Facebook, they should really try and make aware the flaws of the patent system by explaining what each of these ten patents relates to. After reading the 5th obvious one, I stopped reading, so perhaps the next five were really innovative...
But yeah, you totally missed the sarcasm in that sentence.
Isn't that a consequence of what he's saying? Patents are meant to encourage inventors to share. Yes. But how are patents suppose to achieve that? It encourages inventors to share by protecting others from executing the ideas faster and better. If you assume that the original inventor was always faster and better at executing his ideas. Then we wouldn't need patents to encourage inventors. They would share anyway because they wouldn't be afraid of the competition.
So I don't think yours and his description are mutually exclusive. You're just completing his explanation.
It's sarcasm. The author knows this isn't what the patent system is intended for, but they think it is what the patent system has become.
Can we stop using the law of big numbers as an excuse for everything in the world? </pedantic>
If I thought that Yahoo might come out of this with a new source of cash I'd be worried about the perverse incentives to misuse patents... but I don't see ANY way this works out for Yahoo.
I think that it would be better if Yahoo loses remarkably. Such as that it becomes reference for future judges to take better caution with software patent lawsuits. Which would slowly "reform" the system, instead of a fast revolution with new legislation. One can hope.
Can we talk about what an ideal system would look like instead of saying that what we have now is broken and therefore nothing can work? Isn't debugging broken systems what we're supposed to be good at here?
I've tried to come up with a reasonable patch for the current system:
I'm sure that there are problems with it, but at least it's a starting point.
The difference? Tech news cycles, including blogs and online papers, now report news 24/7 just like CNN/Fox, etc, and are pretty relentless.
Personally I don't understand why any of those patents were issued in the first place, and perhaps a start for reform would be to get people who have some experience working in the industry into the patent office.
I think Cuban is right here, if you take away people's Facebook, they're going to want to know why, and they're going to be pissed when they find out.
No, the correct action would be to fix the system, not to cause a catastrophe so that "regular people" realize anything. Those who need to know already know.
I guess the author already knows that and uses this reasoning to prove a valid point, but I'm firmly against it, it's a fallacy.
Sorry for the Godwin.
For a company flailing in the water right now, this seems like a perfect play to get a good financial shot in the arm.
However, in the last year or two, I've become much more interested in more thorough change to the system in its entirety, for its own sake, not just because intellectual property law is stupid.
(Although you can use essentially capitalist economic logic to defeat the concept of intellectual property (meaning that capitalism and "free culture" (or whatever you want to call it) are not necessarily incompatible with each other), I don't think it will be possible (or desirable) to reform intellectual property law without also dismantling the state and (actually existing) capitalism. Or at the very least, the institution of wage labour, whereby nobody (at least by default) has access to food and shelter (the necessities of survival), because those things cost money, and people don't automatically have money, so just to be allowed to survive, they have to sell their labour. A living wage for everyone would make redundant the (invalid, anyway) argument that intellectual property rights are necessary so that creative people can earn a living, because "a living" won't mean "money" anymore.
(As an aside: I think intellectual property is a (failed) attempt by capitalism to deal with externalities, which it is unable to do in its unrestrained form. However, there are so many externalities, and if you were to try to fully take them all into account, you would probably end up with a fully managed economy, which seems to be the antithesis of what most capitalists want.))
So basically I'm coming at this from an anarchist perspective, and when I look at this stuff now I'm seeing things that I didn't see before I became an anarchist.
> Change is needed. However, its not going to come from our government. The lobbyists have taken over. One of the symptoms of the illness patents have caused the technology industry is the explosion of lobbyists pushing the agenda of big patent portfolio holders. They are not going to let our lawmakers give an inch.
It's not at all uncommon to read things like this, in fact it seems entirely uncontroversial. Governments seem to have lost all legitimacy a long time ago (did they ever have it?). People don't even seem particularly upset or angry about this, it seems just to be a fact of life.
> Rather than originating in Congress, its going to take a consumer uprising to cause change. What better way to create a consumer uprising than to financially cripple and possibly put out of business the largest social network on the planet ?
So then this is what really baffles me. "Consumer" and "uprising" in the same sentence. Why is the most imaginative form of resistance that anybody who opposes intellectual property rights can come up with always just a boycott of the relevant corporations? Ask anybody in the radical environmental movement how much personal consumer choices have helped slow climate change or transition our culture to a sustainable way of living. They've done fuck all. Why does nobody ever say that we need to organise a strike, or riot in the streets, or ever do anything more radical and direct than alter our personal consumer choices? I'm not necessarily saying that a riot is the best way to change patent law, I'm just pointing out how there seems to be this underlying idea that "internet" activism/politics is completely separate from "real" activism/politics and that the idea of connecting the two doesn't seem to occur to most people (in either world).
Maybe in practice, it will, but it's bound to generate animosity by those who do sell their labor.
There may be issues with non-software patents but under any system their problems are trivial in scope and solution space compared to software patents.
It is a good practice in general. You can only patent that that you can actively push to market in a reasonable time frame (even if it is in small quantities). Under a policy like that, drugs couldn't be issued patents until after they pass the FDA, but the FDA could internally have rules against letting someone else copy a design and pass it through faster.
I guess that would make copyright law easier at the expense of bureaucracy.
Consumers vote with their dollars - a massive change in spending habit would be required to impact congress. Voting consumers get a say in which congressman get to be bought off by lobbyists - not sure that helps. I'm not sure I get how anything would change unless executive branch saw risk of re-election (like what happened with PIPA/SOPA).
I've also wondered, since corporations are people with 1st amendment rights, how does a patent not infringe upon freedom of speech? Would love if there was some basis of judicial review that could effectively influence IP laws.
What countries DO NOT SUPPORT SOFTWARE PATENTS?
My probably guess if China..any others?
sure, China and Russia can choose to ignore software patents, but if they do they're going to get hit with embargoes and tarriffs when they try to trade with the US.