Let me play devil's advocate.
Ideally, the legal system works best if you have optimal lawyers on both sides. The difference between the legal arguing and reasoning ability of a superstar lawyer and a merely competent lawyer is probably less than the difference between the legal abilities of randomly-selected folks, so the system in practice isn't grievously broken.
The weird part is that for the system to work, a lawyer has to contractually agree to represent a client's interest as well as possible before knowing all the facts from both sides of the case. The practical consequence of this is that lawyers end up having a duty to promote the interests of even rotten and nasty clients to the best of their ability. For all the lawyer knows, the other side's client may be secretly even worse. Lawyers are able to sleep well at night knowing that they are not in the business of deciding what's right for themselves, and so long as they obey the law and do everything legally possible to promote their client's interests, overall the system will work out better than if people had to advocate for themselves.
Comparing a lawyer to a concentration camp guard is merely inflammatory. A better analogy might be comparing a lawyer with a soldier conducting symmetric warfare, since ideally both sides are roughly equally-equipped, but still the lawyers use words and not guns, which in my view puts them ahead.
> Sounds like an ugly hack to avoid modifying software to call the 'set expiration time' function.
Often, what looks like an "ugly hack" turns out to be an elegant, lovely solution for a peculiar scenario.
In this case, the solution doesn't require modifying software, the file system, the network protocol, or other metadata. That might make it more appealing than the "obvious" solutions to the problem.
> Sure, but automatically deleting temporary files ?!?
Is every book entitled "Pirate Adventure" about the exact same story?
You can't just read the title - you have to read the claims. There's a whole lot more specific detail in the independent claims than "automatically deleting temporary files."
> The USPTO is supposed to support itself with fees [uspto.gov]. The largest fee is for reexamination, creating a financial incentive to grant bad patents (which are likely to be reexamined).
That makes no sense when you look at the statistics. About 1,000 reexamination cases are filed every year. By contrast, the USPTO receives about 500,000 new patent applications every year. The total revenue from reexamination wouldn't even put a dent in the examination process.
Here's how it actually works. When you file a new patent application, you pay an examination fee. That examination fee gets you a little ways down the road (typically two office actions), and if the case isn't allowable by then, you pay another fee for a Request for Continued Examination, which gets you another two office actions. Etc. If you reach the point where the application is ready to be issued, you pay an issue fee, and you get your patent.
In other words - the USPTO funds itself by charging you every time it needs to do something for you, and the costs line up with the amount of work required by the PTO. It's exactly like a car mechanic, right? A mechanic has no interest in doing bad work now in the hope that you'll come back with more expensive work later. It just charges you, today, based on the service that you're asking for, today.
> There's a fine line between clever and stupid. If an average programmer reads the explanation, and "Doesn't get it", it could be either. Most patents are very poor explanations for what they are about.
But the "average programmers" here aren't motivated to try to understand it. They are motivated to find that the patent is worthless, because that's what the submitter wrote about it, and that's what they are predisposed to believe. So they are prone to glance at the application and say, "well, the claims have been mangled by lawyer-speak, but it's basically something about deleting temp files, which has been known since the 70's."
> When someone advocating a position lies to me, as this submitter did, I figure the reason they are lying about the issue is because they realize that the truth doesn't support their position.
I don't think it's flat-out lying. I think it's an example of the echo chamber effect.
The community believes that patents suck, that patent examiners are inept, and that patentees are using clever tricks to patent things that aren't new. So upon encountering any new patent, the submitters here don't do the hard work of reading the patent, parsing through the difficult claim language, and determining what it's all about. Instead, they read the title, maybe glance briefly at the abstract and the claims, and come up with a "basically, it's (something really simple)" summary, and post it as evidence of their beliefs about the patent system. A bunch of commenters then accept that summary without consideration, since it's yet another example of "bad patents," so they post a supporting rant about patents and increment their mental "bad patents I've seen recently" counter by one.
Of course, that process is flawed if the summary is an oversimplification of the claimed technique. Like this submitter concluding that the very specific technique presented in the independent claims is "basically, it's deleting temporary files," or "basically, it's deleting temporary files based on a modification date." But it's accepted without question because it supports the beliefs of the group. Hence, echo chamber.
> If you had a distributed file which kept a timestamp on each of several separate chunks, how would you go about deciding when to automatically delete it? My guess is that the solution you would come up with quickly is basically the one in the patent.
Well, there are several ways you could deal with that problem. Here are some of them:
- * Deal with each chunk separately. Just let each machine decide when to delete its chunk.
- * Consider all of the chunks to have been modified as of the latest modification date on all of them. Sort all of the temp filed by modification date, and cull the oldest ones first.
- * Consider all of the chunks to have been modified as of the earliest modification date on all of them. Sort all of the temp filed by modification date, and cull the oldest ones first.
- * Consider all of the chunks to have been modified as of the average of the modification dates. Sort all of the temp filed by modification date, and cull the oldest ones first.
- * Consider all of the chunks to have been modified as of the file date listed in the shared filename. Update the modification dates accordingly, and then let each machine deal with its chunk independently of the others.
- * Consider all of the chunks to have been modified as of the file date listed in the shared filename. Update the modification dates accordingly, sort all of the time files by modification date, and cull the oldest ones first.
deriving a file time to live for the file from the path name; determining a weighted file time to live for the file by reducing the file time to live by an offset, where the offset is determined by multiplying the file time to live by a percentage of memory space storage quota used by the user profile; selecting a latest modification time from the modification times of the plurality of chunks;...
> This is supposed to be new....
If by "that" you mean the invention described in the title - "Automatic Deletion of Temporary Files" - then, no.
Patent titles are as meaningful as book titles: you wouldn't assume that two books entitled "Pirate Adventure" relate the same story, right? It's the same with patents: a completely new type of automobile engine might have the title, "Automobile Engine."
If by "that" you mean the invention described in the independent claim, which is this -
1. A computer-implemented method comprising: selecting a file having a path name in a distributed file system, wherein the file is divided into a plurality of chunks that are distributed among a plurality of servers, wherein each chunk has a modification time indicating when the chunk was last modified, and wherein at least two of the modification times are different; identifying a user profile associated with the file; determining a memory space storage quota usage for the user profile; deriving a file time to live for the file from the path name; determining a weighted file time to live for the file by reducing the file time to live by an offset, where the offset is determined by multiplying the file time to live by a percentage of memory space storage quota used by the user profile; selecting a latest modification time from the modification times of the plurality of chunks; determining that an elapsed time based on the latest modification time is equal to or exceeds the weighted file time to live; and deleting all of the chunks of the file responsive to the determining.
The author of this Slashdot post appears to have glanced at the claims, reached the conclusion that "basically, it's about deleting temporary files," and posted this rant about how the patent office granted a patent for "deleting temporary files," inspiring yet another wave of diatribes about the patent office based on a faulty assumption. Not surprising - this kind of tilting at windmills, based on factually incorrect interpretations of patents, is a daily occurrence here.
> "If none of the consoles can play used games I could see the price of games coming down. AAA titles may come out at $45 or $50 instead of $60."