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I Hope Yahoo Crushes Facebook (blogmaverick.com)
275 points by azazo on Mar 13, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 90 comments

Why are people so upset with Yahoo? Apple is still incredibly popular with the tech crowd, I bet many of these blogs and comments were written with their hardware and software, and they are currently suing just about every phone manufacturer over patents?

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?

Is OK if hate them both?

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").

> 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.

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.

HN's pro-Apple bias. The "slide to unlock" patent is just as bad as anything Yahoo is doing.

Slide-to-unlock doesn't seem like it is a fundamental requirement of modern phones, surely there are a lot of good alternatives. That makes it look a lot more like it was copied to make devices seem more iPhone line.

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.

If startups / entrepreneurs who claim to be innovative would work with the patent landscape, rather than irrationally fearing and hating it, they would find that a huge patent portfolio or broad patent like those Yahoo owns are really just big houses of cards. A true innovator can topple it readily just using innovation; and then, voila, those innovations are now patentable.

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.

Don't try to justify it, Apple has not ideals any more. I admired Jobs of what he did as a person, improving the state of the Technology for everyone. There wouldn't have been a real mobile world (including Android and WP7) like we have today.

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.

I'm not trying it justify it, but neither to I think inaccurate bashing is helpful.

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.

Apple is pretty much playing the game you play as a hardware manufacture. You pay for a lot of patents just to do business. A lot of Apple, Samsung, IBM, etc. patents are not these business process style patents. I'm not too happy about the business process-style stuff Apple or Amazon have, but I understand the rest.

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.

Apple is suing over dumb gimmicky UI patents such as slide to unlock.

To be fair, the use of this 'dumb gimmick' makes both sides look bad - is it really the only way to unlock a phone?

Couldn't HTC et al have worked around it?

Why should they have to?

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).

If there's prior art then indeed the patent should be invalidated.

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.

> If there's prior art then indeed the patent should be invalidated.

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: http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2011/12/apples-first-major...

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?

Fair enough, these broad patents indicate that they aren't showing restraint.

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.

yep, not my favorite as I said, but there are others in their portfolio that are more "solid".

People are also so upset with Apple.


remember that "people" are not one single entity. some people are pissed at apple for abusing patents. others love apple. the people who are pissed at apple are pissed at yahoo. yahoo doesn't have the fans that apple does though, so the overall tone of the internet comes across as more negative.

>Why are people so upset with Yahoo?

Because after years of inept technical execution, executive shenanigans and other corporate failures, they are resorting to trolling instead of actually doing anything innovative.

Perhaps, but facebook is trolling us all right now. I mean come on, a (free)social media platform where they make money off of other peoples ads, and now about to become "the biggest IPO ever"? lulz

The key stat is how much time an average user spends on facebook, it's taken a massive slice out of TV. That's a lot of time to show them ads for even if passively

Yeah, I don't facebook. Never have, never will.

it's not the fact that the tech crowd is upset with yahoo that surprises me, it's that they are not more upset with apple.

It's based on the crowd's judgement of merit and who is filing the lawsuit and why.

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.

The reality is Apple filed lawsuit on company that actually invented Mobile Phone (Motorola) about a silly design patent.

Facebook didn't invent anything.

In reality Apple should be the real bad guy in whole patent issue.

Facebook didn't invent anything.

They did invent some interesting infrastructure and dev-level stuff, which they've open-sourced.

Are you trying to say the iPhone changed nothing? It wasn't an innovation and innovation stopped the day Motorola invented the "Mobile Phone"?

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.

But, for various legal and practical reasons, Apple isn't suing over the things that made the iPhone and the iPad innovative.

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.

All that prior art will certainly bubble to the surface during the trial process. There is a cottage industry around finding it - kind of like bounty hunting. See articleonepartners.com, a service that lets researchers be rewarded for invalidating litigious patents.

but why is it so bad that the new CEO (I dont see that it matters he is new on the job) of any company whether Yahoo! or Xahoo! is going after another multi-billion company that he believes is infringe and making money off of someone's else invention?

I asked that 3 times and got nothing other than downvotes...

Why don't people like software patents? Because their power (total monopoly over an idea) is out of sync with the difficultly in acquiring one (stick an engineer in a room with a notepad for 10 minutes, then get a few lawyers to translate it into legal hieroglyphics).

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.

How is being able to personalise a web page innovative? It's just basic common sense. You've been able to "personalise" the desktop on your computer for decades. How does moving things to the web suddenly make it innovative. It's just like all the silly patents that have been filed that take an existing patent and just add "on a mobile device" to the end.

The patent system is broken, these are not the reasons it was created!

but this patent was not filled in 2012, it was submitted when most of us barely understood email or instant messaging. You looking at it from a wrong perspective. Please go back in time and then revise it.

I think patenting a lock slider by Apple is more ridiculous than patenting apparatus to change IM into email.

While I can't claim to speak with authority on this matter, a far more likely outcome would seem to be :

  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
Of course, MC knows this, which is what I'm sure prompted this post to begin with.

Here's how I explain the problem to my tech-impaired friends and loved ones:

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.

I also like to put it this way: software companies like to patent the application of well known tools and processes to be used for a specific problem domain.

My favorite example is glue. Everyone knows what glue is. However, has anyone used glue to hold itemX and itemY together? No? Patent!

Highly misleading. You should look into some patents and how they work, before you start spouting psuedo authoritative bullshit.

You're being rather misleading. If someone solves a problem in a different way from an existing patent (avoids their claims), their new way is not covered by that patent. Patents definitively can't claim "problems"; instead, they can claim very specific solutions to problems. Any large patent portfolio or broad patent is simply a large house of cards and any good innovator can topple the house of cards by tipping one fundamental claim.

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.

Please don't slander the people who brought us the Internet by painting them as software patent advocates.


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 e orts in a given direction when they hear rumors that some company may have a patent that may involve the technology."

I never said that TBL or Cerf were patent advocates. I am very familiar with their positions on the subject. Even though they released their work to the public with no restrictions, their work was built on top of a ton of prior art that was patented.

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.

The quickest surefire way to patent reform is by threatening Facebook users that they may have to go back to using Yahoo services. People will be revolting in the streets.

Exactly his point here. my.yahoo.com was innovative for its time, and patents are supposed to last 20 years, right? So according to the legal system in place, the public should use my.yahoo.com till around 2020.

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.

No, because non-obviousness is judged according to the time in which the thing was invented. Was it non-obvious in 2000? If it was, its patent remains intact, even if it seem obvious now.

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.

> Change is needed. However, its not going to come from our government.

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.

You are grossly underestimating the amount people would care if Facebook went offline. The world would freak out. People have memories of their lives tied up in the service with the combination of photos, friends, and messages. The pent up data generated over the years is truly meaningful.

Why would Facebook go offline?

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.

Oh there would definitely be mourning of the lost data because people don't keep backups, but I really don't think it would last that long and I don't think the mourning would lead anywhere. When people don't even care that their loved ones die enough to donate to anti-death institutes, it's hard to imagine any major effects would happen if all their data disappeared.

> When people don't even care that their loved ones die enough to donate to anti-death institutes

Err, what? Elaboration required.

Trolling, nothing to see here. Move along.

I think he's being sincere.

From http://www.thejach.com/about#sum

"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."

I'm quite serious. Compare the donations and budgets for campaign donations against institutions like, off the top of my head, the Methuselah Foundation and the SENS Foundation, Alcor and other cryonics institutes, and the Singularity Institute. Of course, people get worked up over pretty frivolous things, so maybe I am hugely underestimating the outcry. Maybe if Facebook went offline, the response might cause the US or other governments to nationalize social networking, mandate registration and monitor all communication, and provide custom-binary-format data dumps every so often on request all in the name of keeping your scrap-booking memories in tact.

I clearly got sarcasm, from that last quote. He was being facetious, if you missed that you probably missed the point of the article.

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.

Poe's Law strikes again. I guess I should have typed "I strongly suspect trolling". I went on, however, with the standard reply that patents were supposed to be about Society, not the individual inventors, because it needs repeating anyway.

> 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

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.

> At this point I suspect the author is just trolling.

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.

The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly. - Abe Lincoln

In software these days I feel like patents are analogous to chefs patenting cooking techniques and then running into the middle of another chef's dinner service and saying he can't use cream in his mashed potatoes because of the 'creamy mashed potatoes' patent #78.1 Maybe a decade or 2 ago there was more science involved in software but these days, it seems to fall more under the realm of craft - patents need not apply.

Well, recipes are patentable, so I'm not sure this example proves your point as much as you would like...

It’s the law of big numbers. When there are enough of anything issued, some good will be done.

Can we stop using the law of big numbers as an excuse for everything in the world? </pedantic>

It's a win-win situation! The public hears lots of news stories about how stupid Yahoo's patents are, Facebook gets seriously motivated to use their warchest of money to help lobby for patent reform, and at worst, Facebook loses some cash (I'm NOT feeling sorry for them).

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.

The thing is, even if Facebook used all of their cash for lobbying against software patents, there are many more entrenched companies on the other side of the fence that have spent billions already on patents and will defend their investment and "competitive advantage". That's what Google realized and they bought Motorola.

Which is why I fear that Yahoo winning over Facebook wouldn't start a lobbying war against patents. But instead, Facebook would simply become one more in the list of patent supporters.

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.

As Abraham Lincoln said, "The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly."

The current patent system is broken. That does not imply that the right thing is to have no patent system; are we sure that the problem is with the idea instead of the implementation?

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.

I'm no fan of patent lawsuits, but Apple had lawsuits ongoing with Microsoft when Jobs arrived and agreed to settle them in exchange for Microsoft making a sizeable investment in Apple. The rest is history, and no one seems to look back upon that in distaste.

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 can't make sense of the post; with the same reasoning, we should hope for the murder of a well-known celebrity so that we get better murder legislation.

I won't assess "better", but high profile trials do drive changes in legislation. From changes to kidnapping after the Lindbergh baby until the present day with "Caylee's Law", people need to have a stake (even a vicarious one) to really care about changing the law.

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.

I've read this line of reasoning many times, and it's like saying "Hitler needed to kill 6 million jews to that people would realize he's a bad guy".

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.

I really feel like this is a ploy to get a chunk of Facebook, just like they did to Google (http://cnet.co/w7IaUn). $50B? That equates to "X" amount of shares, which Y! would snap up in an instant.

For a company flailing in the water right now, this seems like a perfect play to get a good financial shot in the arm.

I do not think Yahoo winning billions will make the public realize what is at stake. Those not in tech, don't really think deeply about our dated patent system. This will just result in more lawsuits just before companies IPO. Yahoo "crushing" FB won't change much, but we can hope it will.

First of all, fuck patents. I'm in complete agreement about that (except for the bit where the author says that maybe they might be okay sometimes). I've long felt this way.

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).

If everyone earns a living wage by default, the consequence might be too many people living off the work of others. It may not be sustainable.

Maybe in practice, it will, but it's bound to generate animosity by those who do sell their labor.

Is it possible to create a business which can profit off of patent trolls? Like a patent troll bait company? I've read somewhere there is a lawyer who profits off spam using the small claim courts system, so maybe something along those lines is possible...

I do hope he is speaking entirely about software patents rather than all patents in general.

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.

Even most modern "real" (non-software) patents don't seem to be useful for actually teaching people how to implement technologies, which was one of the major purposes of requiring the disclosure.

I'd argue the 20 year long patent law in place now is way too long for a publicly granted monopoly of production.

The possible exception being in regulated industries like pharma where it's entirely possible for a drug to take 15 years to develop and test. I think healthcare and pharma probably need to be treated differently, but even there, patents don't seem to be making the world a better place, at least not in the way they were originally intended.

If you used a patent at launch system, where you could only copyright / patent something going to market, you could avoid the corner case.

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.

It is interesting to note that a large number of us on HN who make a livelyhood from building software, are fully adverse to software patents. Patent lawyers on the other hand are quite happy with the status quo.

Is he serious about consumers impacting government because they get mad about their favorite brand getting sued?

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.

I suspect this raises the value of the shell of Kodak, too (they have some imaging patents, although Apple is suing them for other imaging patents, perhaps defensively).

"If Ifs and Buts Were Candy And Nuts, We'd All Have a Merry Christmas!" - Sheldon Cooper

Someone should patent the patent creation process.

Lets see if we can get some use out of this thread:


My probably guess if China..any others?

united states foreign policy supports software patents. a large amount of the united state's exports is in the form of intellectual property, and the US government is very aggressive in pushing foreign countries to enact US style intellectual property legislation.

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.

*He is being rhetorical


He's being literal. He hopes that Yahoo wins the patent fight so that Facebook's lobbyists and the public backlash hit the current patent process firmly in the groin.

This is the dumbest 100+ upvote link ever.

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