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Comment: Re:Probably the wrong way to fight it anyway (Score 1) 54

Combining A+B and C may not be easy, but it is obvious. This is actually the main problem I see with software patents: idea C is "with a computer", and A+B is some existing invention. Newspapers - on a computer! Alarm clocks - on a computer! Bank transactions - on a computer! Sure it was hard to program them. It's still obvious. But if securing the bank transactions requires new innovations in security technology to glue the pieces together, those innovations could merit patent D. Does not and should not prevent anybody else from making their own secure bank transactions with a different security method because somebody got an A+B+C patent covering the obvious part.

Definitely, and that should be the answer to those:
"Alarm clock, on a computer!"
"That's obvious. Alarm clocks and computers both exist."

"But this was difficult because [intricate problem that's different with computer clocks] and we had to do [intricate solution]."
"Then put that in the patent claims."

Good patent examiners currently do that, but there's a bunch of terrible stuff out there.

Really not understanding your point about pharmaceuticals. How is the benzene ring different from "including a library or function in a program [which] should have an absolutely predictable result"?

Combine a program and a library and even before hitting compile, you should be able to tell exactly what the result is. Combine a benzene ring and a hydroxide compound and even if you done it at one position, move it someplace else and it could have the opposite effect. It's unpredictable.

I do agree though that pharmaceuticals are a bit different than other patent issues, but for a different reason: selling a drug requires round after round of expensive clinical trials because of the FDA. Without exclusivity, there may not be enough incentive for drug companies to pay for those trials if a generic manufacturer can reverse engineer the same drug and sell it on the cheap without paying for the trials. Maybe the FDA should have its own special exclusivity granting system so we can peel off one of the complications of patent law.

True. Pharmaceuticals don't really seem to mesh with patent law anyway - right now, a company will defend their patent application as I did above, saying that the result of any compound is absolutely unpredictable, so therefore, nothing is ever obvious in drugs... and then when they get the patent and some competitors makes a biosimilar drug, that first company will leap up and say it's just an obvious variation on the patent and is covered under the doctrine of equivalents.

Comment: Re:Not a surprise, but is it just one ingredient? (Score 1) 420

by Theaetetus (#48203335) Attached to: Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres

In short-- dont let me stop you if you want to look into steak and beer as potential causes of telomere shortening-- but unless theres substantive results there, Im not going to start panicking yet.

Or, as I suggested, we could actually do science and do a whole bunch of tests changing or removing one variable at a time: try cola and then try clear cola, rather than your suggested "try cola, try steak, gosh, different effects."

Comment: Re:good (Score 1) 318

by Lord Kano (#48201263) Attached to: 3D-Printed Gun Earns Man Two Years In Japanese Prison

Obviously getting stabbed or strangled is just as bad as getting shot, but before somebody can stab or strangle you, they need to get up close first, and you can only get close to one person at the time.

Most of the people out there shooting people aren't exactly what you'd call marksmen. They're still getting pretty close most of the time.

And if that person happens to be bigger and stronger, there's no guarantee that it will even work. With a gun, against an unarmed opponent, it's a lot easier and quicker, even if the opponent is bigger and stronger.

That's precisely why guns are important. A 90 pound woman is not going to be able to fight off a 250 pound man with her bare hands. She'll be able to do it with a pistol.


Comment: Re:good (Score 1) 318

by Lord Kano (#48201155) Attached to: 3D-Printed Gun Earns Man Two Years In Japanese Prison

Even if it comes to pass that metal 3D printers become cheap enough for people to start whipping up high quality guns at home, people will still be willing to pay for new and innovative products.

I suspect that you do not have much personal contact with the American gun culture. I am deeply immersed in it. I see guys selling their Third generation Glocks to buy Fourth generation versions of the same model.

Despite the fact that the 1911 is old and proven technology that nearly any manufacture can copy, people are will willing to pay more money for a Kimber because they make a really high end product.

If you're going to argue that eventually 3D printing will be able to produce pieces that are identical to those that can be made by high end manufacturers, how can any law be enforced against them? Once they're out of the printer, there's no way to tell where it came from.


Comment: Re:Probably the wrong way to fight it anyway (Score 1) 54

So, if the invention claims "A+B+C" and one piece of art teaches A+B and the the other teaches C, then A+B+C is obvious. That's not very subjective at all.

I disagree here. Sometimes the non-obvious part is that C can be combined with A+B in a useful manner in the first place.

That's actually the counter-argument: reference 1 teaches A+B, reference 2 teaches C, so they're obvious? No, because combining them is a biatch and raises additional problems, or combining them is unforeseeable because they're so widely different that they result in an unpredictable result, etc., etc. :)

That argument generally works better on the pharmaceutical side, where some benzene ring with a hydroxil component may be beneficial if it hangs off the first carbon, really beneficial if it hangs off the second, and absolutely toxic if hangs off the third. Doesn't work as well on the high tech/software side, where including a library or function in a program should have an absolutely predictable result. So, instead, it's better to argue that neither reference actually teaches "B" or something.

Comment: NetBSD CVS repo already converted to git (Score 1) 241

by Dahan (#48191063) Attached to: Help ESR Stamp Out CVS and SVN In Our Lifetime
So is ESR trying to convert the NetBSD CVS repo in some weird and special way or something, and that's why it failed? Because it has already been converted and is on Github; if he needs info on how it was done, there's probably someone on the tech-repository mailing list that can help. It's been converted to Fossil too.

Comment: Re:Probably the wrong way to fight it anyway (Score 2) 54

When a certain drug, whose active ingredients were asprin and something else, had its patents about to run out the maker "invented" a new durg that was the same except that the replaced asprin with aceteminophen. Patented that. and then withdrew the original from the market.

Aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid or 2-(acetyloxy)benzoic acid. Acetaminophen is N-(4-hydroxyphenyl)ethanamide. It's an entirely different chemical. They didn't "invent" a new drug - they actually did invent a new drug.

And as you note, the two have different effects. Acetaminophen can be particularly bad for livers in high doses.

And finally, your timeline is off. The patents on aspirin expired in 1917. Acetaminophen was released in 1956. Aspirin was widely available at that time, with many different manufacturers competing.

Comment: Re:Probably the wrong way to fight it anyway (Score 4, Informative) 54

The problem is, what is prior art? It's highly subjective and as such, the law is complicated.

It's anything in the art that was published or available to the public prior to the filing date of the application. There's nothing subjective at all about it. The Model T is prior art for the Tesla Roadster. UNIVAC is prior art for the Macbook Pro.

What you seem to be referring to is anticipatory prior art - that is, art that includes every element of a claimed invention. But even that is not subjective - either it describes the claimed features or it doesn't.

What you really want to be referring to is "what is obvious?" And that's a little more subjective, but not as highly subjective as you think - under the current law, if no one reference describes everything in the claimed invention, nothing anticipates it or it is "new", but if a combination of references teach everything in it, then it's obvious. So, if the invention claims "A+B+C" and one piece of art teaches A+B and the the other teaches C, then A+B+C is obvious. That's not very subjective at all.

There is no reforming the current system. We need an entirely new system. As is, an inventor has basically no change to win. If he invents something, lawyers find a way to subtly change it to produce it without permission.

In other words, lawyers (or other engineers) find a way to invent around it. The public ends up with two ways to accomplish the same thing. Innovation is increased. Hooray!

Likewise, if they have something patented they again get lawyers to find a way to change it and extend that patent into perpetuity.

In other words, lawyers (or the inventor) find a way to invent around it, or come up with an improvement. The public ends up with two ways to accomplish the same thing, or a better way to accomplish the thing. Innovation is increased. Hooray!

Patents should be rare. Almost everything should be covered by short term copyright and trade secrets. Patents should only cover truly new and innovative tech. Smartphones are battery powered computers... there shouldn't be anything in them that's patentable.

What about the better batteries? What about wireless charging, fast charging, new battery management techniques that extend battery life, etc.? What about new transmission and data compression techniques that make that new smart phone able to communicate ten times faster, over ten times the distance, as the old model?

A new form of Fusion reactor? Ok... that's patent. I'd even propose that someone applying for a patent should have to get a court to approve the patent before it being granted.

But let's say we go with your suggestion... No patents since they'd be way too expensive if you have to go through an entire trial just to get exclusivity before you even start making your product. Instead, "short term copyright and trade secrets".

Well, copyright doesn't apply to that smart phone, because when your competitor makes one, they're making a new one, not copying yours. In fact, copyright only really works when you're copying the exact thing - rip a DVD of Harry Potter and you've committed copyright infringement. Film the Mockbuster production Larry Kotter, and you haven't. Dream Heights isn't an infringement of Tiny Tower. GIMP isn't an infringement of Photoshop. A Nissan Leaf isn't an infringement of a Toyota Prius. As a result, copyright doesn't work when people care about the implementation, but not the exact thing. It's fine for movies and music and books, but not for software or hardware.

So, we turn to trade secrets. Great, now you have to sign a contract with every piece of software or hardware you buy. And those contracts can last a lot longer than the limited term of a patent - they can be lifetime contracts. Don't like it, don't buy the software or hardware - but without patents, every manufacturer is going to insist on non-disclosure agreements and non-reverse engineering agreements, so no smart phone for you.

Patents exist to destroy trade secrets - in exchange for public disclosure, we give a limited monopoly to the inventor. The alternative is going back to trade secrets, guilds, aristocratic patronage, and companies that hire mercenary guards to keep anyone from ever discovering what goes on behind closed doors. And that's bad for innovation.

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