Software Patents

  • jay-h

    SSCoach

    Points: 18816

    Our patent offices have really lost sight of:

    'non obviousness'--really how can one NOT say that 1 click shopping, encrypting purchases or emailing a scanned image are obvious!

    Limited scope, specifity-- patents are getting successfully applied to technologies that DID NOT EXIST when the patent was filed. BTW I have patented an anti-gravity flying machine, if anyone figures out how to build it, they owe me big royalties.

    On the mirror side of the limite scope issue, it seems that prior art is often not considered relevant it it does not directly use the same technology as the patent. This is a bizarre one way interpretation: if a prior art is not exactly the same, it's patentable, but if it's patented, if an implementation is not exactly the same it's still a violation.

    And don't even get started on 'business model patents'.

    Really if the PTO actually started making patenting represent real tangible contributions rather than a bunch of stuff for lawyers to get employed, many of our problems would be resolved.

    ...

    -- FORTRAN manual for Xerox Computers --

  • jay-h

    SSCoach

    Points: 18816

    Interesting tidbits. An outfit that claims to hold patents on podcasting and playlists (based on the fact that the inventor operated a cassette by mail operation years ago) has subpoenaed EFF for a complete list of all donors to it's anti patent troll campaign.

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/01/podcasting-patent-troll-fighting-eff-wants-donors-names/

    And someone else who claims to have a patent on download before release movie viewing:

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/01/meet-the-inventor-of-the-week-patent-troll-owns-pre-release-digital-movies/

    These are NOT people whose inspiration produced something new. They did nothing whatsoever creative (except file legal papers). In both these cases if my comments above were applied more vigorously to EXISTING patent law, we would not have these problems.

    ...

    -- FORTRAN manual for Xerox Computers --

  • teresalinus

    Valued Member

    Points: 69

    I favor software patent laws.The time is different now,we are in the world, where every other big industry is now making a disastrous use of patent laws which prevents the smaller one to become successful.In such a case, I believe, It is a compulsion to patent the ideas if you are at the initials stage or about to apply your ideas.

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 720359

    teresalinus (2/18/2014)


    I favor software patent laws.The time is different now,we are in the world, where every other big industry is now making a disastrous use of patent laws which prevents the smaller one to become successful.In such a case, I believe, It is a compulsion to patent the ideas if you are at the initials stage or about to apply your ideas.

    Except that isn't what happens in many cases. In many cases the basics of software building are compromised because so many things are patented that small companies can have a hard time building software. They can't afford to license the "obvious" software parts that have been patented.

  • Eric M Russell

    SSC Guru

    Points: 125094

    Steve Jones - SSC Editor (2/18/2014)


    teresalinus (2/18/2014)


    I favor software patent laws.The time is different now,we are in the world, where every other big industry is now making a disastrous use of patent laws which prevents the smaller one to become successful.In such a case, I believe, It is a compulsion to patent the ideas if you are at the initials stage or about to apply your ideas.

    Except that isn't what happens in many cases. In many cases the basics of software building are compromised because so many things are patented that small companies can have a hard time building software. They can't afford to license the "obvious" software parts that have been patented.

    I don't know how the patent process works, but it seems to me that before a pending patent is awarded, it should be approved by a panel made up of a revolving pool of industry experts. The process shouldn't be entirely driven by lawyers on the side of the applicant and clerks on the side of the patent office. I know that patent office clerks have expertise in one more areas and are trained in how to do stuff like research pending patents, but the process really should involve industry peer review.

    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

  • Gary Varga

    SSC Guru

    Points: 82166

    Eric M Russell (2/18/2014)


    ...

    I don't know how the patent process works, but it seems to me that before a pending patent is awarded, it should be approved by a panel made up of a revolving pool of industry experts. The process shouldn't be entirely driven by lawyers on the side of the applicant and clerks on the side of the patent office. I know that patent office clerks have expertise in one more areas and are trained in how to do stuff like research pending patents, but the process really should involve industry peer review.

    Sounds interesting. Now that's a strategy that could work.

    Gaz

    -- Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen...they're everywhere!!!

  • teresalinus

    Valued Member

    Points: 69

    Eric M Russell (2/18/2014)


    Steve Jones - SSC Editor (2/18/2014)


    teresalinus (2/18/2014)


    I favor software patent laws.The time is different now,we are in the world, where every other big industry is now making a disastrous use of patent laws which prevents the smaller one to become successful.In such a case, I believe, It is a compulsion to patent the ideas if you are at the initials stage or about to apply your ideas.

    Except that isn't what happens in many cases. In many cases the basics of software building are compromised because so many things are patented that small companies can have a hard time building software. They can't afford to license the "obvious" software parts that have been patented.

    I don't know how the patent process works, but it seems to me that before a pending patent is awarded, it should be approved by a panel made up of a revolving pool of industry experts. The process shouldn't be entirely driven by lawyers on the side of the applicant and clerks on the side of the patent office. I know that patent office clerks have expertise in one more areas and are trained in how to do stuff like research pending patents, but the process really should involve industry peer review.

    But the thing is we should try to find the solutions and not to focus on problems. Simply, I would say that if the patent law is providing so many privileges to the big industries then they could be helpful to the small firms. The only thing is to; find the ways for patenting the ideas. They have competent patent experts who suggest them the best possible ways to patent the inventions and help them to compete with the other big Industries. We lack these experts and in turn lack the success.

  • teresalinus

    Valued Member

    Points: 69

    teresalinus (2/18/2014)


    Eric M Russell (2/18/2014)


    Steve Jones - SSC Editor (2/18/2014)


    teresalinus (2/18/2014)


    I favor software patent laws.The time is different now,we are in the world, where every other big industry is now making a disastrous use of patent laws which prevents the smaller one to become successful.In such a case, I believe, It is a compulsion to patent the ideas if you are at the initials stage or about to apply your ideas.

    Except that isn't what happens in many cases. In many cases the basics of software building are compromised because so many things are patented that small companies can have a hard time building software. They can't afford to license the "obvious" software parts that have been patented.

    I don't know how the patent process works, but it seems to me that before a pending patent is awarded, it should be approved by a panel made up of a revolving pool of industry experts. The process shouldn't be entirely driven by lawyers on the side of the applicant and clerks on the side of the patent office. I know that patent office clerks have expertise in one more areas and are trained in how to do stuff like research pending patents, but the process really should involve industry peer review.

    But the thing is we should try to find the solutions and not to focus on problems. Simply, I would say that if the patent law is providing so many privileges to the big industries then they could be helpful to the small firms. The only thing is to; find the ways for patenting the ideas. They have competent patent experts who suggest them the best possible ways to patent the inventions and help them to compete with the other big Industries. We lack these experts and in turn lack the success.

    Let me try to answer your question in a very simple way.Suppose you have an idea, for example a mobile application, which you find worthy and therefore you disclosed it.Any of the user present on web can copy it or publish it claiming it as their own Idea.In such a case you denied with the access to your ideas.There are some legal terms like software patents which helps you to own your ideas legally.

  • x

    SSC-Insane

    Points: 23578

    teresalinus (2/20/2014)


    Let me try to answer your question in a very simple way.Suppose you have an idea, for example a mobile application, which you find worthy and therefore you disclosed it.Any of the user present on web can copy it or publish it claiming it as their own Idea.In such a case you denied with the access to your ideas.There are some legal terms like software patents which helps you to own your ideas legally.

    Abstract ideas cannot be patented.

  • jay-h

    SSCoach

    Points: 18816

    patrickmcginnis59 10839 (2/20/2014)


    teresalinus (2/20/2014)


    Let me try to answer your question in a very simple way.Suppose you have an idea, for example a mobile application, which you find worthy and therefore you disclosed it.Any of the user present on web can copy it or publish it claiming it as their own Idea.In such a case you denied with the access to your ideas.There are some legal terms like software patents which helps you to own your ideas legally.

    Abstract ideas cannot be patented.

    That's what we're told. But when people (trolls) actually DO get patents on scanning to email, music playlists, releasing movies to subscribers before they hit theaters, automatically encrypting purchasers information for online sales (Even having Whitfield Diffie testify about the history of encryption did not save Newegg)... that does not seem to be the case.

    The common sense meaning of 'abstract idea' does not seem to mean what we think it means.

    [all of the above are currently in the courts, some have already produced substantial licensing money]

    It is simply become far to risky for entrepreneurial folks these days. I can guarantee you that Kickstarter is scanned daily from sleazy lawyer trolls to big name entities like Rockstar-- just looking for someone else to target.

    ...

    -- FORTRAN manual for Xerox Computers --

  • TomThomson

    SSC Guru

    Points: 104773

    My feeling about software patents is that they are a total disaster and will continue to be a total disaster until the world's patent offices all take to rejecting patents for things which are glaringly obvious, looking seriously for prior art, and automatically rejecting claims and descriptions which are written so as to obfuscate. That's not going to happen, because to do that job would require far more patent clerks with far greater technical skill and knowledge, and no country could afford to divert that many engineers and scientists from industrial and academic empolyment into patent clerking. So the best course is to abolish the rotten things altogether.

    Would you believe that a patent applied for in the 1980s could "protect" the "invention" of something which first appeared as pure mathematics in graph theory decades before, had a highly efficient algorithm for it published in CACM in 1962, and was described in Volume 1 of Knuth's "The Art of Computer Programming" (published in 1968)? If you don't believe that, you don't know anything about how software patents currently work! It happened, and it's the sort of thing that happens all the time.

    It seems to have become standard practise to attempt to patent well known stuff, obfuscating it by inventing new names for the components instead of calling them by their well-known names. Sometimes (rarely) a court will notice this and kill a patent, but even in so blatant a case as the "shopping trolley" patent the first court upheld the patent despite having all the evidence and expert testimony and it was an appeal court which reversed that decision, so relying on the courts to repair the incompetence of patent offices is not a good bet.

    Tom

  • x

    SSC-Insane

    Points: 23578

    jay-h (2/20/2014)


    patrickmcginnis59 10839 (2/20/2014)


    teresalinus (2/20/2014)


    Let me try to answer your question in a very simple way.Suppose you have an idea, for example a mobile application, which you find worthy and therefore you disclosed it.Any of the user present on web can copy it or publish it claiming it as their own Idea.In such a case you denied with the access to your ideas.There are some legal terms like software patents which helps you to own your ideas legally.

    Abstract ideas cannot be patented.

    That's what we're told. But when people (trolls) actually DO get patents on scanning to email, music playlists, releasing movies to subscribers before they hit theaters, automatically encrypting purchasers information for online sales (Even having Whitfield Diffie testify about the history of encryption did not save Newegg)... that does not seem to be the case.

    The common sense meaning of 'abstract idea' does not seem to mean what we think it means.

    [all of the above are currently in the courts, some have already produced substantial licensing money]

    It is simply become far to risky for entrepreneurial folks these days. I can guarantee you that Kickstarter is scanned daily from sleazy lawyer trolls to big name entities like Rockstar-- just looking for someone else to target.

    The law intends that you do not patent abstract ideas. I imagine that the patent office will probably not be able to stop all instances of dishonest abuse of the system. And we can all probably think of any number of instances of jury trials gone bad that fail to protect us against dishonest actors.

  • teresalinus

    Valued Member

    Points: 69

    Patent law has become something we are told about, but not followed.

  • teresalinus

    Valued Member

    Points: 69

    The patent law maker should classify the things to be patent and should decide it to carry under suitable law. This initiative will motivate the inventor also.

  • allinadazework

    SSCarpal Tunnel

    Points: 4365

    What happens when two different people have the same idea? Who owns the idea then - the first one to patent it?
    If thoughts can evolve out of a group or a culture then it seems to me that patents are just a way of appropriating the means of monetising ideas that come out the broader culture/society/science etc.
    The other thing to consider is that patents and IP are often about ideas and this concept clearly does not give as much value to the people who have to realise those ideas and enhance them and bring them to market sensibly.
    Just because one person has an idea to do something doesn't mean that someone else shouldn't have that idea also in fact it's very likely.
    The idea that one person came up with a great idea in a vacuum and should have sole rights to it's monetisation is rubbish. Clearly they have been influenced by the culture and people around them - should they get some credit too?

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