Oddly enough, the fact that something is repeatedly reinvented independently does not appear to have any bearing on whether a patent fails the legal 'obviousness' test, because everyone is assumed to know about every patent (in the sense that they won't believe that you came up with it on your own even if you did), in spite of the fact that you get punished for having any knowledge thereof.
The whole wide world of engineering doesn't all look like Web 2.0. Innovation in "Big Engineering" is not by and large someone thinking "gee, wouldn't it be cool if we had a site that did this" and whipping up an RoR app to do it. Rather, it's PhD projects that take years of painstaking research and access to specialized equipment. It's teams of researchers analyzing reams of data and doing hundreds of experiments.
I worked at a very small tech company doing defense research, and we had individual pieces of equipment that cost as much as the YC VC fund gives to YC alums. We blew through double-digit millions of dollars just at the basic research stage, long before bringing a real product to market was on the table.
In this sort of environment, you need some way to keep other people from taking your ideas, after you've done the hard part, and competing with you using your own work. If you can't protect the designs, then all the competition comes down to who can most efficiently outsource manufacturing to China or who has the most efficient supply chain. And that's not exactly good for innovation either.
>Marvell lawyers said CMU's closing statement was "rife with misrepresentations," including suggestions that Marvell "broke the chain of innovation by not paying the royalties that they now owe," and noting those payments would be used "to fund further research, to lead to further innovation." That resulted in a short conference at the side bar, in which the judge warned "you can't dig deep into all of CMU's contributions to society and mankind."
There are tons of studies showing that IP law hampers innovation and not a single one showing it aids it.
I hope you're not implying that a lack of studies proves that patents don't encourage innovation. The explanation is simply the difference in motivation for parties on either side.
I would like to see some of these studies that show IP laws hamper innovation in general. All the ones I've seen do no such thing. It's easy to cherry pick certain fields and then try to extrapolate to patents as a whole.
The pharmaceutical industry is still the prime case for patents. When a drug takes a billion dollars to reach market, a government granted monopoly can be the only thing that makes it profitable to even bother. Please explain how a system without patents can produce the same drugs while still being possible.
What about pharmaceuticals? 'Tech' (as we use the term) isn't the only industry in existence.
It compares British and German chemical companies and explains the difference with patent laws. But any company can build a chemical factory wherever the patent laws are favorsble. In reality the difference was cultural: Germans have had a kick-ass chemistry culture since alchemy turned into chemistry.
The chapter explains dye manufacturing changes with patent laws. To anyone with chemistry knowledge, this is ludicrous to the point of deliberate dishonesty. Dyes are embarrasingly easy to discover. If you take an existing dye structure and make a tiny chemical change, the new material is probably colorful and is not covered by the patent on the original dye.
In fact, a lot of early pharmaceutical work was done by taking chemical libraries from dye companies and screening their thousands of structures for biological activity.
The argument against patents on the basis of "me too" drugs is also ludicrous. The chapter actually says that patents are damaging because they give patients too many choices: there is no need to waste the money on having all those alternatives. In reality, there is huge variation between similar drugs. Many variants turn out to work better for different people, and some variants turn out to have unacceptable side effects. The only way to find out is to make a bunch of alternatives and try them all out.
The chapter becomes even more ludicrous by saying thst the COX-2 inhibitors are just a wasteful duplicate of cheap ibuprofen. Folks, ibuprofen and related drugs kill probably a few hundred thousand people a year with side effects. They're more dangerous than Al Qaeda. (Although by bad luck it turned out that the aCOX-2 inhibitors were worse, but in a different way.)
The chapter makes the absurd claim that patents hurt drug discovery and patients, ignoring the elephant in the room of generics manufacturers. If patents were so harmful to innovation, the the generic companies would be leading they way with new drugs. They are most emphatically NOT. Except for a few minor formulation chsnges, they do nothing of their own.
Skip to the conclusion in the last paper.
That this has happened in the software industry in particular, where since day one everybody rejected the idea, is a testament to the notion that there are social and political factors which are actively spreading misinformation. Naming names might be an effective way to shunt them out of the economy by refusing to do business with them.
Where I work we are encouraged to not even look at patents, because then we would know about the "invention" leading to triple damages if we are found infringing.
This is clearly nonsense and the diametric opposite of what was intended.
I believe that the current standard for figuring out what damages should be is based on trying to figure out what deal the parties would have made had their been a negotiated license deal under the constraint that both parties feel that they MUST come to an agreement. This should take into account royalties that the defendant has paid to license similar patents before, and the importance of the patents to the defendants business. There is a whole big list of factors used to guide this hypothetical negotiation. They were established in a case involving Georgia Pacific, so googling for that along with patent damages will get more information if you are curious.
To find out exactly what happened in this case, you'd need to get records from the trial. Both sides would have had hired experts prepare damage reports that look at the Georgia Pacific factors and argue for what royalty should result. It sounds like the jury decided to go with the plaintiffs estimate.
One of my relative's husbands is a hard drive engineer.
He used to talk about how if they could eliminate one single bolt from the HDD assembly (3 cent cost) - it could end up saving millions over the total life of the production run.
$0.50 is huge
Since the jury found the infringement by Marvell
had been “willful,” meaning the company knew it
was using the patented technology, the judge can
award up to three times the verdict amount,
according to a statement by K&L Gates, the law
firm representing Carnegie Mellon.
How should we define "legal productivity"? I think that it should be measured by making victims whole and CMU was not deprived of anything by Marvell using the same pattern. The focus on arbitrary jail time and fines paid to government versus restoring victims is one thing which needs to be rebooted.
Another is the tragedy of the commons situation with free and open access to courts. This creates a long queue for trials and simply drawing out a case which has no merit is used as a weapon itself. If justice was a service being paid for and we implement a loser-pays doctrine, as has always been the case in common law, we wouldn't see a lot of these patent cases, besides the fact that IP cannot exist without a state to grant the monopoly.
> CMU was not deprived of anything by Marvell using the same pattern
CMU was deprived of a reasonable royalty under the law. What does being made whole mean if not being granted what the law guarantees?
> The focus on arbitrary jail time and fines paid to government versus restoring victims is one thing which needs to be rebooted.
This has nothing to do with patent cases. Are you saying criminal law also needs a reboot?
> If justice was a service being paid for and we implement a loser-pays doctrine, as has always been the case in common law, we wouldn't see a lot of these patent cases, besides the fact that IP cannot exist without a state to grant the monopoly.
I have no idea what you're trying to get at here. Loser-pays has some advantages, but it also has some serious disadvantages. As for IP requiring a state to grant the monopoly, I don't think anyone has ever claimed otherwise, and it has nothing to do with loser-pays. I'm just confused by your comment.
There Are so many laws it is impossible to know if you are breaking one or not.
Laws are designed by committee. We know how that works out for programming projects.
I think the volume of laws could be significantly reduced and laws could be simplified, but the law making process doesn't allow it.
Also, I don't see why the fact that it's advancing existing techniques or that it's just math somehow makes it less important. There are whole fields that are just math, such as computer science originally.
From lurking on HN, I read that the whole field of ECC's is infested with patents. There's even an example on here of a specific startup (allegedly) destroyed by an ECC patent:
«Perhaps jennichen was suggesting that since the appeal has already been filed and the verdict might be overturned, the lawyers win either way. In the end CMU may get nothing out of it after having spent millions on the lawyers.»
«Quoting from the article shared:»
«"As Brian Love, a professor of patent law at Santa Clara University, pointed out, most universities end up net losers (http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2019190) in the game of "patent roulette," with their patents costing them more money than they make."»
(Thank you 'accountswu', that is an interesting find.)
Also, is CMU partially tax funded? If so, do they really own these patents to begin with? Should they?
This case gets me thinking a bit because they are probably involved in this in part so that they can get money to do more research. It's not like they're doing this as a power play to grab more market share.
That is not consistent with how I personally interpret
http://www.cmu.edu/policies/documents/IntellProp.html but I am not a patent lawyer
> so that they can get money to do more research.
Some research requires massive public and private investment, and the rational for the technology transfer function of a university is to recoup the costs of R&D from commercial products that are legitimately derivative from these investments, so as to reinvest in the facilities and create more original knowledge that can lead to more commercial products.
Acquiring patents (or being complicit in doing so) and then litigating (even as a proxy) does not appear to be in the public interest.