The fees are large but an post grant proceeding isn't just a patent reexam. It's a mini-trial. There is a lot of manhours required on the USPTOs side of things.
Same thing with the mini-trial. In an ideal world the system would be a lot more efficient and cheaper for everybody.
No matter how you feel about this issue, a quick phone call to your senator can help have your voice heard much louder than any HN comment. If you have not already, put your senators' and representative's phone number in your contacts list for easy access to democracy.
There are few real "patent trolls". The EFF's list is very short. Only one law firm, Farney Daniels, is listed as having sent out more than 3 demand letters. This isn't a big problem.
You need to own intellectual property if, for example, you're writing for Apple's platform. If your idea is a success, Apple copies it and then turns off your platform access. Look what just happened to Pebble.
This is exactly the type of thing we should encourage. It gives companies a strong incentive to avoid filing frivolous patents.
The problem with this premise, of course, is that these patents are not being challenged because they are "bad", they're challenged because somebody wants to make a quick buck. They may be bad patents, because to get an IPR approved you must show that you have a fair chance of invalidating at least one claim. And statistically claims are very likely to be invalidated when IPRs are granted.
But these IPRs are filed in bad faith, so it is an abuse of the USPTO's already limited resources. So far most IPRs have been filed by parties that are actually involved in litigation and hence have strong motivation to see claims invalidated. It is yet to be seen whether the same statistics will apply for cases like these.
There does need to be a way for the EFFs of this world to challenge patents that are actively being asserted because small entities cannot afford to do so. I'd say that representing the targeted parties should be enough to give standing to file IPRs.
Another story on the front page right now talks about a class-action lawsuit against Google for age discrimination. The person that's put up to it has a pretty flimsy case, it appears ("they didn't like me after my phone screen! Age discrimination!"), but the class action may uncover something more real. Finding somebody who has a real complaint seems before starting litigation seems like a good solution, because it ensures that at least one person was harmed. On the other hand, the EFF has a good point here: most of the people harmed by this aren't going to spend the money to deal with it.
I like the idea of EFF pushing back against unfair patents, but I don't like the idea of ambitious lawyers building spurious class-action lawsuits. I'll admit that I'm not fully informed about either of these cases, but there is real value in putting up barriers to spurious cases that cost real money.
Also, I'm not sure if this is an example of crony capitalism or not; I don't fully understand the stated motivation for the legislation. The motivation seems fishy at first blush.
Shouldn't that be against insider trading laws somehow?
Even in countries that don't use civil law, intentions should still be relevant in discussing the law or its enforcement.
Also, more generally, of the two following people, who would you rather see having the biggest probability of making more money?
1. The person who has the most money.
2. The person who has the best ideas.
Without (software) patents, it seems that 1 is more likely.
Patents make it illegal to implement ideas. So if you come up with the best ideas, you are the one that is the most restricted by patents.
The notion that the patent system exists to protect inventors is a fairy tale that they used to sell the idea of such a ludicrous system of thought policing. Its origins go back centuries to when the King of England wanted to create a way for his cronies to get rich by monopolizing a certain color of dye that was profitable at the time, IIRC.
And the "all or none" idea is not logical at all to me as well.
Even if the number of inventions went down, there are always upsides. Less time and money wasted on litigation and better products for consumers.
But things like complex circuits would see drastic reduction in R&D if competitors could just make a copy.
You'd save money on litigation, but it's not that much considering the size of the industries at play.
And you'd probably see worse products after the short term.
If you took more than a cursory glance at the pharmaceutical industry, you'd see this oft-repeated claim is bullshit. Pharmaceutical companies spend billions on marketing (as well as lobbying politicians and doctors) and attempting to re-patent old drugs as their patents expire. They spend very little on blue sky, highly innovative drug development. That is mainly the province of publicly funded research labs and universities.
The one thing pharmaceutical companies actually do is cover the high cost of clinical trials. I see no reason we couldn't replace that with a publicly funded mechanism, do you?
It effects all industries that have R&D, those are just good examples.
Forget about tv, high budget video games, movies, etc. That stuff takes serious investment to make.
This is a ridiculous claim. DIY and free music culture has made a lot of unique stuff. Have you heard of the band "Bomb the Music Industry!"? That was their whole thing. Musicians already copy each other in general, but the problem would not get worse.
1. Software is math. Not "does" math, but "is" math. See Google and HNsearch for references to the endless discussions of this fact.
2. A patent on a device covers an implementation. Patents on software have been used to block entire ideas, regardless of implementation.
Based on these factors, plus many more that have been argued to death, software should be ineligible for patents, and software on a computer of any kind should not be capable of infringing any patent. Failing that, independent invention needs to be a 100% defense against infringement, and evidence of obviousness, especially with software, to release the silent stranglehold that the threat of litigation has on software innovation.
The laws of physics for macroscopic scales are very well understood. You car is as much "math" as any reasonably complex end-user software package is.
Won't work. That's a state-of-mind issue. Infringers will claim "independent infringement", when in fact they got the idea from the patented work.
I know, but that's the whole point: maybe it should (in a lawsuit at least).
With regulation, they still have the money (power), it's just utilized to tailor regulation via lobbying in such a way that they _still_ get a better chance at exploiting the resource.
As sister posts suggest, it's the implementation more than a black/white "get rid of it" approach that I'd like to see examined, but I also have doubts that given the aformentioned lobbying and political climate, regulation can be done effectively and without corporate influence. So with that said; it's a matter of tradeoffs, which outcome is going to cause the most harm in the long run?
(I don't have any great answers, just mulling over the two options. I'm mostly erring towards "no patents" because even given all the cards, I've seen big companies fail to execute on excellent ideas that small players have then locked down; where in a regulated environment, this introduces significant and often unavoidable barriers to entry. (see the home automation/3d printing patent tieup that slowed down those respective spaces for such a long time))
Samsung's Exynos is a good example. ARM is a small entity that does the hard R&D. Samsung has the manufacturing capability, but has to buy ARM's IP. Each company specializes in what they're good at, and patents mediate the transaction between them.
An idea without execution (either due to lack of motivation or lack of resources) doesn't make any money. Period, paragraph, full stop. "Idea people" are a dime a dozen.
However, if you possess capital, you execute on your own ideas, and you can invest in others' good ideas, in exchange for a return on your investment.
While I agree that patents do enable "the little guy" to succeed in some cases, they also enable the current powers that be to maintain that power.
I am a programmer. Two ideas I had were patented. The patents are owned by Comcast, my employer at the time.
We need software patent reform and sufficient funding and training within the patent office so that patent reviewers can do their job well, not obliteration of the concept. Actually, we need an overhaul and streamlining of the entire framework of legal intellectual property in the US, and in the EU, the situation is even more complex.