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Comment Re:How patriotic! Criminalizing decent (Score 1) 737

Go back and read my comments. I was not talking about the public or a real debate. I was discussing the idea that RICO could be used to prosecute groups who deliberately lie to the public for their own gain. And I wasn't focused necessarily on the scientific arguments about AGW. Either stick to the point or move on.

Comment Re:How patriotic! Criminalizing decent (Score 1) 737

I didn't say the voters aren't smart enough, nor did I advocate authoritarian definitions of scientific "facts". My point is that one could support a RICO suit argument on the grounds that certain groups and individuals secretly accept as true the very statements they deny in public, and especially where that denial is made for profit, as a form of fraud. The cause has nothing to do with the science, but the behavior of the individuals who are deliberately sewing confusion for their own gain.

Comment Re:How patriotic! Criminalizing decent (Score 3, Interesting) 737

I agree in general. But the issue here is that certain people and groups are accused of agreeing with the climate science while orchestrating public denial of the science for personal gain. Still a tough question, but when framed that this way it seems more understandable. You really can't have a "democracy of liars".

Comment Capsid Inhibitors Already Being Developed (Score 3, Interesting) 90

Check out U.S. Patent Publication Nos. 20130053267 and 20120302556 (among others from the same assignee). Capsid structures, like protein structures, can be useful starting points for drug development. Ultimately, however, the goal is to find a substance that will kill the disease without killing the patient. So far, no computer graphics package has replaced the grunt work of medicinal chemistry---methyl, ethyl, butyl, futile.

Comment Re:Don't Panic (Score 1) 175

But most small companies are incorporated and require their inventors to assign the inventions to the incorporation. Making "small entity" available only to individuals would kill all patenting by small businesses. These companies don't have big pockets either. So much then for any pharmaceutical or biotech start ups as well as most software and electronics start up. I'm all for a page limit, but 10 pages/10 drawings is way too small for most inventions. Some areas, especially pharma and biotech requrie lengthy, detailed exposition to meet the teaching requirements of the patent law. And good examiners don't read every page anyway, but look to find what's relevant based on the claims.' Life's way more complex than individuals vs. big business. :-)

Comment Re:Don't Panic (Score 1) 175

By "wait and see", I mean holding on to your patent and waiting to see if someone else's activity infringes and then seeking license fees or litigating. I think that after a suitable period patents should either be worked by their owners (i.e., make the invention your patent covers) or given up to the public, or if you want to sit on the patent then pay a large fee for the privilege.

Comment Re:Don't Panic (Score 1) 175

I've spent about half my career managing patent departments. Even the big guys will take notice of fee increases for filing and maintenance, especially the latter. I believe that a fee structure that focuses on big fees for big filers and big maintenance fees for those who sit on their patents will be a help. Many large companies have patent departments that run on quota---the more you file, the bigger your bonus---and the result is just like the old days when IBM paid programmers by lines of code---lots of bloat and little quality. Simply dealing the problem by "disposing earlier", as if we can just waive our hands and make the pendency problem disappear, will only make the situation worse. First, we'll return to the days of the Compton's patent---when the most egregious allowances become litigation burdens on the market. Second, a liberal allowance policy will only encourage big companies to file more and build their portfolios. The patent system has always had a stated policy of encouraging the examiners to work directly with the applicants to find allowable claims. But the workload coupled with a very onerous and arbitrary "quality review" that was initiated by Bush appointee Dudas have crippled that route. So, yes, we indeed need better communication. But that will not fix things by itself.

Comment Re:Don't Panic (Score 1) 175

The PTO already has a page charge for applications longer than 100 pages. While a more aggressive approach may help, the real problem is the number of applications, not the length of the applications. Indeed, for many inventions more description may be helpful from the standpoint of teaching---the ultimate purpose of the patent system---since some inventions do require a lot of description.

Comment Don't Panic (Score 5, Insightful) 175

I think it's too early to panic. Having practiced before the USPTO for over 20 years, I've seen many times how the small inventor lobby works its magic to protect the small filers. In fact, I was disappointed that the article didn't even mention the two-tier fee system, providing smaller fees for small businesses, that's been in place for many years now. The PTO needs lots of fixes, but I agree that somethings need to change with the fee structure. Large companies can game the system by flooding the system with new applications, re-filing to wear down examiners, and taking frivolous appeals. Wise changes to the fee structures, which take into account these sorts of tactics, as well as increasing maintenance fees to discourage "wait and see" litigation, will be helpful to the small guy. Hopefully the PTO will show some wisdom.

Passage of Time Solves PS3 Glitch 147

An anonymous reader writes "A quick update on the widespread PlayStation 3 glitch we discussed recently: as of last night (Monday, March 1st) the problem has resolved itself. I powered up my PS3 to find the clock was set to April 29th, 2020, but once I went into the system menu and set the date and time via the internet I got an accurate date. That seems to be the test of whether your PS3 is 'fixed' or not; Sony says you should be all set."

Google Awarded Broad Patent For Location-Based Advertising 54

Mashable has a report of a patent that just issued (6-1/2 years after filing) — apparently Google now has a lock on location-based advertising. It's not clear that the search company intends to assert the patent against any other companies (such as emerging rival Apple), but it's useful as leverage. Here is the patent. Update: 03/02 14:34 GMT by S : Reader butlerm noted that the incorrect patent was linked. It now points to the correct URL.

Space Photos Taken From Shed Stun Astronomers 149

krou writes "Amateur astronomer Peter Shah has stunned astronomers around the world with amazing photos of the universe taken from his garden shed. Shah spent £20,000 on the equipment, hooking up a telescope in his shed to his home computer, and the results are being compared to images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. 'Most men like to putter about in their garden shed,' said Shah, 'but mine is a bit more high tech than most. I have fitted it with a sliding roof so I can sit in comfort and look at the heavens. I have a very modest set up, but it just goes to show that a window to the universe is there for all of us – even with the smallest budgets. I had to be patient and take the images over a period of several months because the skies in Britain are often clouded over and you need clear conditions.' His images include the Monkey's head nebula, M33 Pinwheel Galaxy, Andromeda Galaxy and the Flaming Star Nebula, and are being put together for a book."

Police Called Over 11-Year-Old's Science Project 687

garg0yle writes "Police in San Diego were called to investigate an 11-year-old's science project, consisting of 'a motion detector made out of an empty Gatorade bottle and some electronics,' after the vice-principal came to the conclusion that it was a bomb. Charges aren't being laid against the youth, but it's being recommended that he and his family 'get counseling.' Apparently, the student violated school policies — I'm assuming these are policies against having any kind of independent thought?"

Spectrum of Light Captured From Distant World 32

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Cosmos: "Astronomers have made the first direct capture of a spectrum of light from a planet outside the Solar System and are deciphering its composition. The light was snared from a giant planet that orbits a bright young star called HR 8799 about 130 light-years from Earth, said the European Southern Observatory (ESO). ... The find is important, because hidden within a light spectrum are clues about the relative amounts of different elements in the planet's atmosphere. 'The features observed in the spectrum are not compatible with current theoretical models,' said co-author Wolfgang Brandner. 'We need to take into account a more detailed description of the atmospheric dust clouds, or accept that the atmosphere has a different chemical composition from that previously assumed.' The result represents a milestone in the search for life elsewhere in the universe, said the ESO. Until now, astronomers have been able to get only an indirect light sample from an exoplanet, as worlds beyond our Solar System are called. They do this by measuring the spectrum of a star twice — while an orbiting exoplanet passes near to the front of it, and again while the planet is directly behind it. The planet's spectrum is thus calculated by subtracting one light sample from another."

1000 pains = 1 Megahertz