- Letter to Oliver Evans, (16 January 1814); published in The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (1905) Vol. 13, p. 66.
Letter to James Madison, August 28, 1789
http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/a1_8_8s12.... Thomas Jefferson to Isaac McPherson
13 Aug. 1813 Writings 13:333--35
Jefferson was, of course, an inventor himself, though not as prolific of one as Benjamin Franklin, who also opposed patents.
"An act of Congress authorising the issuing patents for new discoveries has given a spring to invention beyond my conception. Being an instrument in granting the patents, I am acquainted with their discoveries. Many of them indeed are trifling, but there are some of great consequence which have been proved by practice, and others which if they stand the same proof will produce great effect." - Jefferson to Benjamin Vaughan, June 27 1790 
> On-Topic: ... anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity.
(It's worth following the links in the letters above to see the story unfold.)
Now, here's where it gets interesting: Evans asserted his patent against Jefferson, and Jefferson did grudgingly pay royalties .
It's interesting how the passage years and being at the receiving end of a patent changes one's perspective .
 "He enforced that patent against many mill operators, including Jefferson. From this experience, Jefferson understood the frustration of technology users confronted by activist patent holders. Ironically, it was his Board of Arts that granted Evans the patent." - http://www.hssonline.org/publications/Newsletter2009/July_Ma...
 "Jefferson's objections to the Evans patent are difficult to reconcile with the fact that his Board of Arts granted the patent in the first place. As much as he might argue, in 1813, that the Evans work was not novel, he and his colleagues had reviewed the Evans work in 1790 and considered it worthy of a patent at that time." - Jefferson Vs. the Patent Trolls: A Populist Vision of Intellectual Property Rights, Jeffrey H. Matsuura (http://books.google.com/books?id=10Tol-c7xH4C&lpg=PT74&ots=b...)
The whole system is rigged in favor of "people" who write up patentable junk -- those who have the time to write it into patents -- whereas people who actually build things are busy perfecting the trade skills the patent system was made to protect.
OK - tirade over. Back to my new app. My wife dreamed it up and we're writing it together. When finished and released, if it does well, some fat slob -- who never wrote or programmed anything useful in his life -- will show up to shake us down.
The reason sometimes known things are allowed through is because the patent offices can find no proof that it is well known in the form of a single document before something can be called not novel. In some other juristrictions, common general knowledge in the art is more often used when it's known that something is already routine. even if there's nothing that clearly shows is, simply because it's so common.
Prior art isn't the issue.
To be patentable, an invention has to be: 1) non-obvious (to someone skilled in the art); 2) novel; 3) (other things).
Prior art addresses the novelty side of things. Not the non-obviousness side.
The requirement of non-obviousness sounds great in theory, but is in reality a joke, since the only test used is that of prior art.
It is possible for an invention to be obvious and yet for no prior art to exist. In technology one (non-obvious, novel, patentable) invention often enables a big pile of (novel but now obvious, and therefore not patentable) inventions. Using prior art as the only test for obviousness ignores this case entirely.
This is how it works in the US (and is quite frankly often quite unfair to the applicant, because the two documents may indeed have all the features, but the invention lies in the idea of combining these unrelated idea to result in something that is greater than the sum of its parts).
In most large juristrictions (excluding the US), there must be something that would lead a PSA to combine the ideas in the documents. So for example, if a claim is to features A, B, C, D and E, then to combine documents X and Y, they should both disclose say features A, B and C, and then one may disclose D, and the other may disclose E. In the US, it is very common for the examiner to find documents which disclose A, B, C and D, and then find a document that discloses E and has no relation to the first document (ie, the document is from a completely different field of endeavour) and combine them.
What this shows is that the US actually has a substantially higher standard in many ways than most countries. But the problem comes back to the prior art base; if you good citations are not found juring examination (and hey, examiners are people like you and me), they cannot make a good case that the application is not novel or is obvious.
> The requirement of non-obviousness sounds great in theory, but is in reality a joke, since the only test used is that of prior art.
Well no, it's not. If the claim is to a known idea with a well known alternative in the art (say a house put together using screws instead of nails), then that's clearly not inventive, and an examiner will object as such. These are often known as workshop improvements or well known alternatives in the art.
My question to you is that if a) the law requires evidence, and not just opinion, and b) it must be shown that something is was obvious at the application's priority date, what else is there to use apart from the prior art? Me saying "Yeah, I'm pretty sure that would have been obvious 4 years ago" is definitely not good enough, so how can I prove it without other documents?
> It is possible for an invention to be obvious and yet for no prior art to exist.
But again, the law requires that you can prove that, and if it is the case that the invention is obvious, there will almost without a doubt be some document or documents which shows this. Human beings are pretty good at documenting pretty much everything, it's just a matter of being able to find it.
The issue here is that most people don't understand the role prior art plays. They assume that it's only used for objections based on novelty, and it this is certainly not the case. Maybe many of the readers here could spend some time actually reading the objections given by offices like the USPTO and see that actually, the way they thought things should be run, but assumed they weren't, are actually standard practice.
If you believe you have proof an accepted application is not novel, or is obvious, then by all means, get on Ask Patents and submit it. But it is not, nor will it ever be, good enough to just say "Aww yeah, pretty sure I would've come up with that, now I've read their solution", which is how most people start when talking crap about these matters. The difference between "I think that's obvious!" and "Here, I have proof that obvious!" is millions of miles, and it's about time HN readers realised this.
This patent is actually on selling web site commenters the ability to have their comment appear in some kind of distinctive format, which might be a different font, or it might be appearing before the other comments.
To summarize, he says:
1. Skip the title
2. Skip the drawings
3. Skip the abstract
4. Skip the specification
5. Find the independent claims, and read them
6. Back to skipping – toss the dependent claims (any claim that starts with “The _____ of claim _____” is essentially a refinement or detail of the parent claim).
Except if they are flowcharts !
1. Read the claims.
Also, as an ademdum to 1., specifically read the independant claims (the ones which don't mention other claims) for the definition of the broadest scope they're seeking to claim.
There are plenty of comment engines that offer avatars or paid subscriber adornments but few of these are per comment, none are pay-per-comment, none offer different prices depending on the chosen style (the "dynamically adjustable" in the claim) and none let you preview the adornment at upgrade time (instead of at comment time).
The question is not whether the idea is good, whether the idea is radically different -- but whether you've seen this specific set of steps used before.
It's a little different from this patent because the "comments" aren't related to particular articles.
I bet this will be invalidated as soon as someone tries to enforce it. Easily.
But this viral market attempt suggest they will try to get money from some sucker troll before, which I'm all for.
I was going to say that there is also no method of changing a user comment on a newspaper after it has been created, but on a second inspection of the claim, there's no requirement for this within the claim. And based on that, I think you may well be right that there is a good chance of invalidation, because the system boils down to a system where one can place advertisments on specific parts of a piece of online content and being able to pay more for a better looking ad.
It's a monetization strategy, and not a particularly clever one at that. Since when is the idea of charging money for something a patentable invention? Absurd.
So yeah, patents are silly. But perhaps what's in the patent is equally troubling.
when an applicant files an application for a patent or a trademark
in a foreign country [...] the owner benefits from the same protection
and the same legal remedy against any infringement as if the owner was
a national owner of this right
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this title, whoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent therefor, infringes the patent.
(b) Whoever actively induces infringement of a patent shall be liable as an infringer.
(c) Whoever offers to sell or sells within the United States or imports into the United States a component of a patented machine, manufacture, combination or composition, or a material or apparatus for use in practicing a patented process, constituting a material part of the invention, knowing the same to be especially made or especially adapted for use in an infringement of such patent, and not a staple article or commodity of commerce suitable for substantial noninfringing use, shall be liable as a contributory infringer. <<<<
So host your site abroad and don't induce US customers to use your software within the USA. Running your software abroad and soliciting US customers to run your software on your servers abroad would seem not to be covered. Check with your lawyer; laws are often interpreted to mean the opposite of the plain meaning of the text.
And if I'm running a small startup in the US that gets sued by a troll, can I disband my corporation and set up shop under a foreign corporation outside the US (if that's feasible in my personal circumstances)?
If no, then you're probably okay. Remember "services" can mean anything including DNS, registrar services, or hosting.
Seriously. The way out is a blanket "No software patents" statement from congress; or along the line of what Twitter is doing where all inventors have to agree if their patent is used offensively (although lawyers at my company tell me that such a restriction actually has no legal standing).
It is sad this serious problem has been so poorly addressed for so long. If we are lucky in the next couple of years at least the most egregious attacks on business using a broken patent and legal system will be reduced, though even that may fail to be done :-(
Are they doing anything with this patent?
Oh yeah! I'm gonna get a patent on making patents on asserting patents. Then when your patent on asserting patents gets tried in court, I'm gonna claim prior art on your patent and get all the monies. Them I'm gonna get a patent on granting patents and sue the patent office and get royalties everytime they grant a patent.
I used the term "Software Patent" in a broader sense to include patents "Business Methods".
A troll typically holds 100s of patents and always on look out for opportunity to cash them out. If they are preemtively slammed with 100s of lawsuits for each patent they hold, their legal resources would be overwhelmed without possibility of huge rewards. It would be hard to imagine that they would be able to keep shop open for long time when everybody is attacking them for no apparent reason.
That said, it can seriously screw you over if you get unlucky: http://www.k9ventures.com/blog/2011/04/27/modista/
> I told them then that “Whatever you do next, I’m ready to back you anytime.”
Except, you know, when it actually requires backing them up? Specially this paragraph:
> the lawsuit torpedoed Modista’s financing. And since they didn’t have the money to hire lawyers to defend themselves, they had to accept a default judgment against the company
The guy gracefully pushes to the side that the reason they couldn't afford lawyers was because he personally pulled funding from them when his goose that laid the golden eggs turned to be just a very, very good goose.
Stuff like that is enraging. Free country, huh? You're not even allowed to represent yourself.
Although I didn't properly RTFA, there are may ways in which one can hook narcissistic gamblers in forums or news sites.
The price of the comment can be set in a bid-like fashion with people raising their bids and paying more and more to keep their comment first.
They can also pay to upvote or downvote comments or plain remove them.
You can have comment wars with real money in no time :).
Bitcoin sounds like a perfect fit for such a system, allowing anonymous comments as well. But haven't I seen something like this somewhere already - reddit tips , for instance ?
Looking at that site, the reasons for allowance are the claimed features of:
"...displaying to a reader, who can leave a reader comment in response to said online information, an offer associated with said online information, said offer being an offer to alter a reader comment from said free default format to a distinctive format for a fee"
*with a priority date of 6/6/2009
The system also includes a processor for executing the computer executable instructions, and a memory for storing at least the computer executable instructions.
Or advertising in general.
On the other hand, if we implemented this across the board, we could do away with these cumbersome comment voting systems!
Said US Patent system is, said, such a, said, bullshit.
Also good to know I've finally become one of the "people on HN" though for having a bit of common sense! It's good folks here, and I'm glad to be part of the community.
There are some problems with the wayback machine when it comes to patents. One of which is that if their robots are blocked using robots.txt, they will remove all previous content that would also have been blocked (or at least, the content can be removed by the author though some means). This is pretty shitty when the best citation is something from the inventor themselves, and they go and delete all history of the content.