I think maybe its time for all technology companies everywhere to boycott a certain district in East Texas. Don't ship there. Geolock all services so they aren't useable there. Hell, if Hulu can keep the Canadians out, this should be easy.
If nothing else, it would send a message to the people living in that area that their local courts have been hijacked to do some very unfortunate things. It would send a pretty good message to other jurisdictions as well : "make a national nuisance of yourself, lose your interwebs."
Want to stay out of patent court? Don't mess with Texas.
As much as I hate patent trolling, I'd hate politics and ridiculous laws to restrict the free flow of information more instead of less.
Its like a synthetic variation, not a logically novel form of argument. The flow is cutoff when the supply is witheld. The supply is withheld when the flow is cutoff. Etc.
I was trying to say that noonespecial's suggestion for "technology companies everywhere to boycott a certain district in East Texas" isn't about net neutrality as schmichael objected because net neutrality is about intermediaries blocking or throttling access to services, whereas as the boycott noonespecial suggested would be by the providers of the service.
And there are other laws/policy ideas beyond net neutrality to consider.
I was responding to a comment about network neutrality to say that it didn't apply. I wasn't discounting the possibility there could be other issues, although if Wikipedia decided to block access in Texas for a day (perhaps only allowing access to pages about patents, prior art etc.) I think that would be for the public good.
Net neutrality is not, per se the issue. it is one policy x of a set [X]. The argument/stratgem maybe far too narrow in scope to address the entire set [X], if for no other reason that its technical reference x not [X]. That was part of the larger point being made. There are alot of [laws] one may be breaking at the same time. If you are cute withrule Z an equally-hypertechnical look at law W might not be good. And if you try to undermine some of them (viz: a sythetic transaction) they are structured to see through to the end effect (don't care about the structure). So, if you are cutting off [insert name here] services to legally protected classes, for example, net neutrality might be the least of one's worries. And it might not matter the method. etc
Just something to think about. Also, this comment doesn't have anything to do with texas or whatever. Its just a general precaution. The issue is one of pre-texted market collusion, which being subject to abuse, is a dangerous precendent to allow.
What is a sythetic transaction in this context? I tried googling it but couldn't find a good definition.
If net neutrality applied to service providers, Wikipedia would have been "guilty" of violating the ethic of network neutrality just for its boycott action earlier this year on the Internet blackout day to drum up opposition to SOPA and PROTECT IP Act.
. . . and "net neutrality" attempts to solve a problem by treating the symptoms rather than the infection itself, anyway. The real problem is governmental enabling and encouragement of monopolistic service providers. The fact such organizations may "abuse" the monopoly powers created and defended for them by governmental support is a side-effect of much deeper socioeconomic pathologies.
It's akin to Amazon pulling their affiliate program from California to avoid sales tax. I don't see how net neutrality factors in here.
Net neutrality is about the /network/ being neutral to what it carries. The network should deliver skype, or google, or HN, or whatever, and treat them all the same. The network operator shouldn't get to charge Google for the privilege of using its pipes, just because Google is a big company with lots of cash.
The OP was suggesting something entirely different: That tech companies (and, yes, websites), should boycott this district of Texas.
That's no different than AmazonFresh being available only in the Seattle area.
A little fear in a court that if they start hearing a bunch of bogus patent cases and generally being troll friendly might make half the internet become inaccessible from their jurisdiction might not be a bad thing. Yes, that's pretty unfair to a lot of people, but unfair seems to be the currency of trade these days.
They also have helpful local rules, like the one that lets people file a cover sheet with the clerk a day early, getting a case number and priority. So even if you anticipate the lawsuit, you can't get out of EDT, as Cisco found out once upon a time.
But is it legal? I know it is not legal to refuse serving based on e.g. skin color, race or gender. And it's legal for a US company to refuse business with Canadians.
But is it legal for e.g. a California company to refuse to treat East Texas, or the whole of Texas, equal to North Carolina?
I don't think there are any federal laws demanding equal treatment of different polities by private (rather than state) actors.
The entire point of patents, as delineated in the U.S. Constitution, is "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." So patents are a means, of securing an end, which is "the progress of science and useful arts". Is anyone actually arguing at this point that our current patent regime is accomplishing this end? Would the world be a better place if git and github did not exist, and the only entity that could use the technologies in these patents were the patent holders?
All through history patents have always hindered innovation and progress, and there is plenty of research to back this up:
I think it should be obvious by now for anyone that we are well past the point where the system is fixable, the only solution is to abolish it or it will again become captured by trolls, oligopolies and lawyers and used to crush anyone doing anything innovative and useful.
> trolls, oligopolies and lawyers
Every member of that group is well funded, highly connected, and very aggressive.
They are ready to devote untold resources to crush your sentiment and should that fail, to redirect your reform efforts into a more palatable outcome.
Every piece of legislation is a compromise between competing interests and their competing interest guarantees that the system will never be abolished.
A far more successful strategy would be to chip away at the fringes. Add restrictions and more bureaucracy until the system becomes cumbersome for even the most resourceful player to use. Bit by bit, piece by piece. Add complexity until it collapses on its own.
++@betterth Because Apple is more positively perceived by media, lawmakers and general public in comparison to unnamed companies which are quickly named as "trolls", Apple's patent wins created more sympathy towards patents. By "paved the way" I just mean that, in public opinion, patents are justified, because people think "Apple deserves to sue others, so patents must be good".
Apple themselves files one of the lowest numbers of offensive patent lawsuits -- it's just a confirmation bias mixed with the massive publicity that Apple gets.
Just because you hear about EVERY one of Apple's lawsuits doesn't mean that Apple is "paving the way"!
I hate the knee-jerk "blame Apple" nonsense that is so pervasive! What is Apple doing that is so groundbreaking to patents?
I argue that the weaponization of patents, something APPLE TAKES NO PART IN, is a far worse problem. Google buying up Motorola for their patent portfolio and loaning them out to partners like dirty nukes... and APPLE is the leader of patent nonsense?
You know, I've looked all through the Constitution, and while there's some stuff about promoting the progress of science and the useful arts, I don't see anything about starting thermonuclear wars against competitors. Can you help me out?
Do you see anything about pots calling the kettle black?
Remember, Apple sued Samsung with patents made in house with Steve Jobs name on it.
Samsung sues with standards essential patents and patents it's bought like warheads for the sole purpose of using in court.
And you want me to believe that Apple is the cancer?
Apple carries blame but this is just like Foxconn -- Everyone uses them, only Apple gets the blame.
Why would that be so? Wouldn't all the groups continually fix what you chip away and then some?
Bit by bit, piece by piece. Add complexity until it collapses on its own.
Do you have a more detailed description of how to break the patent system by adding more regulations to it, such that the special interests do not, or can not remove them to continue the system?
Ah. Divide and conquer. Lawyers love rules/regulations/complexity because it usually means more $$$ for compliance efforts. You exploit a conflict of interest between the patent holder and their legal representation.
They will be fighting each other, while you weigh in for the most onerous changes.
> Do you have a more detailed description of how to break the patent system by adding more regulations to it
The problem with the patent system is that it works. You apply for a patent, you get a patent, you bash somebody's head in with the patent.
What you need is to insert many, many pain points along the way. Enough pain points and complexity that the system as whole, no longer functions.
The path to that is to find allies for each particular pain point. There will always be some group that will benefit through additional regulation. If that weren't the case, there would never be any regulations. All regulations are meant to make somebody's life better.
For example, the regulation for seatbelts in cars made seatbelt manufacturers happy. Etc, etc. Somebody always gets a cut, somebody always benefits.
So you systematically support and push regulation and promote the benefactors of said regulation. Your only challenge would be to come up with some beneficial reasoning for said regulation, to cover up the naked interest of the particular benefiting party.
Essentially, you just regulate it to death.
Forexample, slavery didn't end because one side convinced the other. Slavery ended because capitalism changed the economic power balance such that there was more money siding with the end of slavery.
The same will happen to IP. Patents will only end when there's a clear stronger economic power more interested in the end of patents.
We just need to make things even more complex until lawyers absolutely cannot predict the outcome of litigation. At that point enforcing patents can become a dangerous proposition.
IMO complexity through abstraction enables most of the evil in the world.
This is true, but until a point. Eventually if a system becomes complex enough, it must collapse. The elite are still human and they still have limitations. Even now, no lawyer is capable of committing the entire body of law responsible for the patent system to memory, nevermind actually grasping all of it.
> The more complex you make patent law, the harder it will be to defend against
The more complex the system, the more contradictions it contains. The more contradictions for you to exploit.
On the contrary, if we had an extremely simplistic system, the small fish would just be told NO with no recourse. Today, they can find reason after reason to counter-sue, appeal, file forms, etc.
Mind you, I'm only a fan of bureaucracy when I'm trying to destroy a particular system.
The author - or one of them, at least - Michele Boldrin is a very bright guy, who also does a lot of writing in Italian here:
And has a hand in starting a political movement in Italy, here:
He also happens to be from Padova, my home away from home in Italy, although I've never had the occasion to meet him, as he lives and works in the US.
Worth noting though, that the book itself does not appear to be available under a free license...
Most of the drug development costs come from the byzantine approval and regulatory process.
And for the government to pay for it by going around granting monopolies to private institutions is a very inefficient and plain insidious way of doing things, as can be seen with how new drugs are just old drugs with the smallest possible change to grant a new patent which come out exactly when the old patent expires, and many other ways big pharma exploits the system to create a oligopoly.
And this is not any grand conspiracy, is the natural result of regulatory capture and the incentives created by the patent system.
Going up one level though - how much has society truly benefitted from the billions (trillions?) of dollars that have been spent on developing new drugs? This is admittedly a field I know very little about, but to what extent are improvements in quality of life / life expectancy in the U.S. in the past 40 years due to new drugs, vs better diet, exercise, reductions in smoking, better emergency medicine, occupational safety regulations, safer cars, etc?
Well the obvious answer would be through some form of tax based scheme that then plows the money into research primarily based on clinical need, which funnily enough is how a hell of a lot of the drugs that are actually useful get developed currently. But expanding these kind of solutions is very unpopular in the states from what I gather, apart from in the case of weaponry, so how about some form of kickstarter for medical research? People throw loads of money at products that don't and may never exist on there, so you should be able to get tonnes of cash by just repeating the word "cancer" a lot.
 I went off and found some figures on this:
"In 1999 the National Cancer Policy Board conducted a survey of federal and nonfederal sources of cancer research funding [ 11]. The board found, for the fiscal year 1996/1997, that the total amount spent on cancer research funding was US$5.165 billion. The three major contributors were (1) federal funding, US$3.060 billion (almost entirely from National Cancer Institute); (2) industry funding, US$1.6 billion; and (3) funding by nonprofit organisations (e.g., Howard Hughes Medical Institute, American Cancer Society, Komen Foundation), US$305 million."
So, for cancer at least, government and charity funding combined, dwarfs the amount spent by the pharmaceutical industry on research in the US.
You can't sell medication without FDA approval. Right now patents don't factor in to it, but if patents were eliminated the FDA could implement a similar scheme exclusively for medication.
How about taxes? Drugs that are useful for millions of people can be subsidized --internationally even.
It will make the system even less commercialized (i.e prone to go for quick bucks and BS drugs instead of proper medicine).
Most of the more expensive drugs are of marginal utility anyway. Basic sanitation, running water, staple vaccination and such have much more to do with the general health and long living than even much touted breakthroughs like "heart surgery".
Not to mention that billions have been spent for BS like Viagra and ADD (non)drugs, while 60% of the world's population doesn't even have basic food and vaccines.
That last fact is particularly disturbing when you consider that many doctor end up learning most of what they know about new drugs entering the market from the marketing literature sent to them by pharmaceutical companies. That literature is regulated, and in most cases accurate, but it is also biased.
What "ample evidence"? The USSR? For one, they had a mighty fine space program.
Second, one example of central planning, that also carried other kinds of rubbish with it (cutthroat politics at the top level, being enforced on a backwards, non adequately industrialized country, dogmatic ideology, and having to fight a foreign superpower) does not "ample evidence" constitute.
Central planning != 20th century communism. We have much better examples of central planning, successful ones, in the western world.
No, but certain people think they would be richer. Unfortunately the idea of increasing general wealth through the expansion of the commons is one that also makes the same people scared shitless, even if they themselves benefit. If you view the economy as a zero sum game, which might hold true, but only if you include the entire universe in your economic model, then you can only do better if others do worse. So those who hold that as a principle cannot even conceive of the idea that things like git being available might just be better for everyone as they genuinely believe that a gain by the majority is a loss to themselves.
This is the best way of putting this point I have ever seen.
5978791: Data Processing System Using Substantially Unique Identifiers to Identify Data Items, Whereby Data Items Have the Same Identifiers.
6415280: Identifying and Requesting Data in Network Using Identifiers Which Are Based On Contents of Data.
6928442: Enforcement and Policing of Licensed Content Using Content-based Identifiers.
7802310: Controlling Access to Data in a Data Processing System.
7945539: Distributing and Accessing Data in a Data Processing System.
7945544: Similarity-Based Access Control of Data in a Data Processing System.
7949662: De-duplication of Data in a Data Processing System.
8001096: Computer File System Using Content-Dependent File Identifiers.
8099420: Accessing Data in a Data Processing System.
All software infringes something, so it should get interesting. Hopefully the absurdity will stink so badly that even the U.S. congress will do something.
Apologies. This comment is not worthy of a HN regular, but I am feeling really cranky these days.
It's also largely controlled by old money and Eastern money, not nuevo riche California tech money.
2. Patentocalypse is a great way to kill off startups that actually succeed and open source projects, so big business campaign contributors will keep congresscritters from doing anything about it.
3. This won't really hurt the big public corporations too much, once the dust settles a little, because they'll just reach detente to avoid mutually assured destruction.
If something changes things for the better, it will almost certainly be the general public ultimately reaching a point where everyone ignores patent law altogether, thus making it irrelevant.
INFRINGEMENT OF U.S. PATENT NO. 5,978,791
On November 2, 1999, United States Patent No. 5,978,791 (the “’791 patent”)was duly and legally issued for an invention entitled “Data Processing System Using Substantially Unique Identifiers to Identify Data Items, Whereby Identical Data Items Have theSame Identifiers.” PersonalWeb was assigned the ’791 patent and continues to hold all rightsand interest in the ’791 patent. A true and correct copy of the ’791 patent is attached hereto asExhibit A.13.
Google has infringed and continues to infringe the ’791 patent by its manufacture, use, sale, importation, and/or offer for sale of its products and services utilizing Google’s Query-Serving System and Google’s File System and its contributing to and inducement of others to manufacture, use, sell, import, and/or offer for sale infringing products. Google is liable for its infringement of the ’791 patent pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 271.14.
What else left to patent? "Method and apparatus to read a bit"?
One file system that comes to mind using the approach described in the patent is Venti though: http://www.stanford.edu/class/cs240/readings/venti-fast.pdf
In fact, before the growth of the internet, Identifying and Requesting Data in Network Using Identifiers Which Are Based On Contents of Data would sound almost exactly like a long winded academic description of finding a book through the public library inter-lending network.
And then, the next time this shit happens, the patent defenders would all go “How would these children get their basic needs met if it weren't for patents? Why do you hate children?”
It would be glorious.
Someone should take away Level 3's patent card. And PersonalWeb really ought to be liable for abuse of process.
Saying that this patent is invalid because it uses hashing would be similar to invalidating every patent describing a device made of iron because iron was invented before.
It also appears that this is the second round. (From 2011)
I hope that patent trolls raise a stink and enforce their rights because it will hopefully lead to change.
UPDATE: see comments below.. I was incorrect in that he enforced prohibition. It was liquor sales on Sunday that he was enforcing as police commissioner in new york.
The Presidents who were in office during Prohibition where Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Franklin Roosevelt assumed office on March 4, 1933, when the effort to repeal it was already well under way. On March 22, weak bears and wines were legalized, and in December of that year Prohibition was repealed. I don't think there was ever any vigorous enforcement under Roosevelt. You must be thinking of someone else.
Still enforced where I live, in Bergen County, NJ. A suburb of NYC. All retail outlets (other than groceries and restaurants) must be closed on Sunday. Definitely no alcohol sales.
> Anyways, he vigorous enforced this law.. playing into my original observation that he wanted this law rolled back.
The laws are still vigorously enforced and I don't think they're doing it because they want it repealed. Although they're enforcing them for entirely different reasons.
Prohibition took effect after Teddy Roosevelt died - during the Woodrow Wilson administration. It was repealed in the first few months of the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration in 1933.
This will waste a lot of time and money for something that shouldn't even exist.
> United States Patent No. 6,415,280 "Identifying and Requesting Data in Network Using Identifiers Which Are Based On Contents of Data."
This sounds alot like hashing the contents of a file to get and identifier for it. If anything it sounds like maybe Git itself violates this, but I thought that Git hashed the difference between all the changes of a commit to get the hash. Some of the others sounds equally obvious at first glance.
I don't really understand why they are suing Rackspace for the Github service other than the fact that it is hosted by Rackspace and it seems they are an easy target since they are based in Texas along with the plantiff putting them in the same jurisdiction.
It seems like some of the more generic patents related to "Controlling Access to Data in a Data Processing System," "Distributing and Accessing Data in a Data Processing System," and "Accessing Data in a Data Processing System" could apply to lots of other services and cloud providers anyway. Why not go after Amazon or someone else that does Git hosting?
Hmm... We used that to shard the MySQL databases for our WordPress setup too...
Oops... I think the image asset deduplication method I used at the portal I worked for infringes on that. It's a Brazilian company, so, good luck for them.
Yep... They still use it:
I'd say that this particular troll is going to get stepped on pretty hard, and all of these patents are going to be invalidated.
In the end, when a dupe was uploaded for the second time, the uploader would be rewarded by not having to edit any metadata - as they would be redirected to the original asset page.
If someone ever uploads a second, valid, JPEG that collides in md5-space with a previously uploaded one, the sysadmins in the app group will receive an e-mail commemorating the fact someone defeated our deduper.
It's probably both.
Git creates hashed objects for individual file revisions, as well as tree objects referencing many individual file objects and commit objects which reference those tree objects.
Edit: replying to the comments. Licensing for a nominal fee isnt pure, but it is practical. It would certainly discourage the trolls. I dont think you can put something in the public domain if you are only a partial owner.
If someone were to charge me 'right of way' tomorrow to leave my house and the cost would only be $1 I wouldn't pay up, I'd shove them out of the way. There is not 'right' price for extortion.
Licencing them for a nominal fee is still reserving the right to change your mind. Is a bit like saying that you aren't going to use the nukes, but you want to keep them around just in case you feel like obliterating anyone in the future.
How about the press release:
Or a scribd document of the court filing:
"We are located in East Texas, and we are developing innovative technologies and products. We have a team who is responsible for some of the web’s most popular software and applications, and we own some really amazing patents."
I want 10 billion from the folks suing Rackspace for patent infringement, for infringing my patent, of suing for patent infringement.
"PersonalWeb has been working closely with the University of Texas at Tyler and other
community participants to develop products in the search, social network and content
BDE CEO Kevin Bermeister said, “We are excited by this next phase in the business and are
looking forward to working with PersonalWeb to pursue development, licensing and
participation in businesses that use our patents for content addressable storage, cloud
computing, search, social networking and other important developing technologies in the
rapidly growing distributed computing category.”
There are more infringements but they all seem pretty trivial and variations of each other. They're related to data duplication and access permissions.
* Data Processing System Using Substantially Unique Identifiers to Identify Data Items, Whereby Data Items Have the Same Identifiers.
* Identifying and Requesting Data in Network Using Identifiers Which Are Based On Contents of Data.
* Enforcement and Policing of Licensed Content Using Content-based Identifiers.
* Controlling Access to Data in a Data Processing System.
* Distributing and Accessing Data in a Data Processing System.
* Similarity-Based Access Control of Data in a Data Processing System.
* De-duplication of Data in a Data Processing System.
* Computer File System Using Content- Dependent File Identifiers.
* Accessing Data in a Data Processing System.
The rest of the document (linked above) just says that they want reparations for damages incurred from these 'patent infringements'.
There was merit in the concept of file deduplication, especially in distributed file systems, as I'm unsure if this existed as prior art since I can't find any reasonable literature before 2000. I'm pretty sure someone had created a file deduplication script in UNIX at least 20-30 years prior, but I can't find references to that work, so I'll assume none exists and give this patent the benefit of the doubt. Though the 'uniq' command in UNIX could be trivially used to implement this if you consider the use of MD for file uniqueness checks, so even that credibility is questionable. For example, fill a file with contents such as:
<md hash> <filename>\n
For all files in the filesystem, then uniq on the first N characters where N is the length of the md hash, and use -d to display duplicates, then remove those files. This can also be used as the mechanism for "attaching a substantially unique id to a file" as well as half of the claims in the first patent, which to me makes a strong argument that it was obvious.
However, everything else about it describes an obvious application and implementation of a hash table using a "substantially unique" hashing method, which could easily be described by MD5 which was published in 1992. For that reason, at least half of the claims in this patent are covered by prior art, and so the patent is, IMO, far too broad to be considered valid.
It's an 'obvious' patent troll, I doubt these patents would even hold up in court but 'till then...
The problem here isn't patent protections. It's bad patents. We're still going to see submarine patents for the next ~16 years, and I'm sure patent trolls will exist beyond that (unless there is reform), but the patent system isn't the problem here. It's just that so many bad patents get through.
I could understand "inevitable consequence", but I can't see where you get "core aspect". Explain?
But you're right, these people have no shame. But it's just not the patent troll, it's also a host of lawyers and judges who have interest in this stuff going on.