Michael Stephen Brown and Herbert Anthony Little: you are not good people.
Paul's patent would seem frivolous now, but it wasn't then. By applying for a patent, did he position himself in opposition to progress? Seems doubtful.
Here's another example: http://www.google.com/patents/US5204966 This patent was filed in 1990. I was two years old. The internet hardly existed then. Was this patent frivolous? Should these inventors be punished according to your ethics?
So what's our criteria for a frivolous patent? Perhaps "(a) it was filed since 2010, and (b) it covers some well-known technique." Yet that's completely arbitrary. Punishing someone for violating an arbitrary moral code is a recipe for evil.
"The basic algorithmic ideas that people are now rushing to
patent are so fundamental, the result threatens to be like what would happen if we allowed authors to have patents on individual words and concepts."
- God himself, http://progfree.org/Patents/knuth-to-pto.txt
If all software patents are bunk, so are many electrical engineering patents.
If software is built on hardware, anything I represent in software can be 1:1 related to the digital circuit equivalent. It may be silly or infeasible to do so - but I could make an ASIC or FPGA that runs my latest piece of code. Maybe those wouldn't count because they're too close to the way we think of software. Okay - I lay out my PCB with just 4011s NAND gates. Is this sufficiently far from software to get me a patent for my ideas?
I think software should move towards a trade secret model and abolish software specific patents entirely. Unless you can demand to see the source code, you can never prove whether or not I used your algorithm.
That - or, software developers need to make one gigantic document of every single idea they have implemented and used. If everyone has 5 ideas a day that they implemented and wrote down, we'd hit some sticky situations where a new problem is found. And, much like the patent system, if we put it online where anyone could potentially see it, we can say that it was prior art for any future patent.
Then - as they don't have to be good ideas necessarily, we run through and make all permutations of every single word on the page, leading to every possible idea that can be thought of in that context. Prior art for everything. Or just get Pi out and start translating it to English.
And yet few people realize that. The USPTO continues to issue software-equivalent patents as well as software patents, and the courts uphold their validity, all while claiming that "real" math is not patentable, but offering no clear theoretical framework for distinguishing the two.
ASICs could be argued to be physical implementations and therefore patentable. On the other hand, when converting a software algorithm to an ASIC design involves no additional creative effort, how can the ASIC be patented?
As a good person (who doesn't want his patent thrown out when it goes to court), I would not try to submit an incomplete design and I would make sure that my filing included all of the necessary information to put the design into future generations' hands. (But not the billion dollars, of course!) Who's to say it involves no additional creative effort? I remember Computer Organization and Architecture classes as a Computer Scientist that were meant to teach me the left hand of the equation while making me aware of the tetris game that exists on the right hand side, but not bogging us down (since we were computer scientists and not electrical engineers.)
So out of self interest, maybe I should wish to be able to patent the algorithms. I know and I was raised better than that. Our pyramid schemes start and end with our brothers (and sisters) who majored in electrical engineering! Software is meant to be free, and hardware has innate marginal cost as a necessity of physics.
Remember it can be up to the patent examiner in an abstract sense with no rhyme or reason on whether or not to grant a patent, and many of the folks I hear would rather see "boots on the ground." In other words, without the billion dollars to put the fab into works: no patent for us, so no victory.
I hope that the second sentence is not supposed to be a substantiation for the first one. If anything, it's an example of why the system must be fixed.
Is this sufficiently far from software to get me a patent for my ideas?
It shouldn't give you that right in the first place. Patents were meant for engineering inventions, not for mathematical discoveries. Encoding a mathematical discovery in an engineered form does not change its substantial nature.
For the record, software patents annoy me and I don't think they should be allowed.
What benefit is there in inventing a better mousetrap if the very idea of causing inconvenience to vermin has been patented, and the only people beating a path to your door are verm^H^H^H^H patent lawyers.
While there exists a group of developers whose geographical situation and years of experience allow them to easily quit over such matters, there are plenty who aren't so lucky.
So while I am very much against software patents, I only support "naming and shaming" when it comes to those who are initiating, publically supporting or otherwise directly involved on the offensive side of patent lawsuits.
For instance, many places have departmental quotas on patents filed, and often have patents as a parameter in their quarterly/annual performance criteria.
A friend worked for a company that did code maintenance (support/bug fixing) for some embedded IBM systems. They were bought by IBM, and in the first meeting their new IBM boss said to them "I checked the company records and I see no patents. This needs to be changed." What kind of patents can you get while fixing bugs in some C code written by somebody else?
You do have a choice of where you work. "i just want to keep my job" is not a valid excuse for anything.
I'm not sure how valid this is. It might be true in most of the United States, but if you work for $GIANT_JAPANESE_AUTO_COMPANY which produces the second largest number of patents/year in the world after IBM (iirc), you have very few employment options other than said company geographically, and the corporate culture there makes it extremely difficult to change jobs at all.
Only if you don't care too much about where you work or what your work on. If you're happy to work on any old Rails app anywhere in the US, sure you have plenty of choice. If you want to work on cutting edge quantum computing close to New York, not so much.
The next problem is that the business exist in a legal system that rewards patenting profusely and broadly. A company that refuses to do this is at a disadvantage.
In addition to avoiding companies that participate in such behavior what other strategies to you think are worth while?
Google is the biggest advocate for change in the direction of devaluing software patents or at least they are easy to observe doing such.
Ones related to bug fixing? Ones concerning optimisation of code to enable lower memory use or lower power consumption or more compressed data formats or ...?
Some companies, the big players in electronics and computing for example, use patents not only to enforce the limited monopolies but also as bargaining chips enabling them to buy in to patent pools and such - like you can use these 500 patents if we can use your 500. I'm sure with some such deals some "packing" is needed to bolster the numbers and let you play above your station.
Which is too bad. Doctors do, but technologists arguably have a larger effect on the lives of all people.
In reality, neither the employees nor the employers deserve the blame. It is misguided laws that allow and even encourage this type of behavior. As the old saying goes, don't hate the player hate the game.
In a perfect world, no one would file software patents. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world. Pretending like we do will simply burn you later.
So no, I'm not in favor of software patents but I think it's ignorant to act like ignoring them solves the problem.
If you don't file the patent and someone else tries to you can challenge it with your documented prior art.
If you're trying to keep it as a trade secret you might have trouble then.
1) Don't publicize how you reject passwords (this, obviously, won't work for open source). You can reject with a generic "please choose a different one" or something similar. Just vague enough to not directly show that you're reading off a list of bad passwords.
2) Ignore the patent.
I'm a fan of 2, but fighting a troll alone is most definitely not an option. If I do get sued, perhaps I can contact all other people who were also sued (since trolls tend to fire shotgun lawsuits to see which ones buckle) and fight back together to try and get the patent invalidated.
Meanwhile, I can write to congress (have all the others do the same) and wait for it to have no effect whatsoever since, obviously, we all know that what really kills American jobs is those damn immigrants /sarcasm.
That program was written by thvv in 1994, based on much earlier work.
In this case, that happens to be preventing poor passwords. That is a concrete, real-world problem, requiring practical solutions, which these patents purport to provide (probably) novel, non-obvious variations of. For example, one of the less "decent" patents uses (what seem to be) bloom filters to track and test for poor passwords. This does not mean all uses of bloom filters are covered by it. The claims specifically cover the method of using bloom filters to test for bad passwords.
Really, it becomes clear what is covered when you simply read the claims.
Edit: An early example of a mechanical "algorithm" patent - http://www.google.com/patents/US3765263
The premise of your argument relies on the vague notion of what's a "practical" problem and what's not. I don't think that's any more tenable than any other defense of the current patent system I've ever seen. It's all vague, and exchanges like this are pushing me to a more extreme position that all patents are bogus, rather than granting that some "math" patents are connected to specific practical problems and thus patentable.
I don't tend to hear this suggested in patent-reform discussions, though, so I assume there's a reason not to go this route.
There would still certainly be patent trolls, but as a start-up, you wouldn't have to worry as much about them... if you wanted to implement a feature that other companies were also implementing, you could do so with a reasonable amount of safety: either they weren't patented, or they were and there would be noisy lawsuits going on about them, or the patents existed but were no longer valid due to lack of defense.
This is why, in principle, there is the "prior art" clause. It's just not enforced well enough in the software realm--but the mechanism to prevent patenting something widely known a posteriori does technically exist.
"Nadav holds multiple patents in areas of social mobile networking, machine learning, network algorithms, and sensor technologies. His work has been featured in both academic and popular press (Technology Review, Businessweek.com, Wall Street Journal, Wired UK, and The Associated Press, among others), and received awards of recognition (including Best and Distinguished Paper awards, Knight News Challenge, SXSW Accelerator, IPSN Extreme Sensing Competition, and three Google Research Awards)."
There is nothing wrong with patenting truly new, truly sensible solutions to actual problems, in my opinion. The problematic patents are the trivial ones that currently swamp the software industry.
Maybe it would be helpful to adapt the protection period (20 years, IIRC) to the rate of innovation in the industry?
The nature of reality as it applies to patent law is why I don't fault companies for acquiring lots of patents, but do fault them when they use those patents offensively. Google remains among the very few large tech companies I respect when it comes to patent actions.
Google acquires a lot of companies for their IP. Not so they can sue people for infringing on it, but so they can use it. The property rights create a legal structure that allows those kinds of transactions to happen. Like with any other property right, that's the value of a patent--giving people a "thing" in which they can transact, which they can book as an asset, etc. Ideally, a lawsuit only happens when things go sideways.
But it is also mutually ensured destruction for fights between big companies. You can't sue me for a billion dollars because you are infringing on 2 patents for every on of yours I am infringing. Apple vs Samsung was an example of this.
>> Finally, the chief suit responded. "OK," he said, "maybe you don't infringe these seven patents. But we have 10,000 U.S. patents. Do you really want us to go back to Armonk and find seven patents you do infringe? Or do you want to make this easy and just pay us $20 million?"
There's an old quip about a former president of the American Trial Lawyers Association (now called the American Association of Justice). When it was said that they practically own congress, he joked that he took offense to the word "practically". Even though that's an old story, said in jest, I don't hold out a lot of hope that a group primarily made up of lawyers will clean up a system that benefits their own profession.
Basically I would look at what patents the fledgling startup had filed. Make sure they didn't suck, and that there wasn't lots of prior art.
You can be a start up and get bought for nothing more than a single patent that someone wants, so making sure the patents you have are not going to fall down when a bigger company wants them was important.
Often I would also be checking who beat the company to what ever they were doing, and then check those people's patent portfolio.
We didn't worry much about things like the Fat32 patent, we worried about things like hey, this isn't a real innovation these guys just read this other guys thesis paper and knocked it off. (Like Nick at Summly did)
From there a VC could decide if they were going to double down or cut their losses.
Like linked-in, but not voluntary.
And whenever you were about to deal with someone you'd look them up on the list to see if they were bad...
I'm convinced that trademark and copyright gives us all the IP tools we need. Patents can get f'ed.
Specifying a set of forbidden passwords
How can one spend time and money for this?