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Comment Re:nothing "great" about it (Score 1) 347

I quoted you the section from the very start of the statue, "useful improvement".

The statute says "NEW AND useful method etc." and "NEW AND useful improvement thereof". It needs to be both "useful" and "NEW".

Besides, Apple isn't claiming a patent on the iPhone, so whether you think the combination is "new" and patent-worthy doesn't matter. Apple is claiming trademarks and "design patents", and those criteria are different.

Most of the stuff Apple actually tried to patent (e.g. sliding unlock) fails the novelty test.

Apple is abusing intellectual property and trying to claim as theirs what isn't theirs.

Comment Re:nothing "great" about it (Score 1) 347

And yet none of the companies that had experimented with touch screen phones had had particularly great success with them. Seems like Apple must have added something to produce the iPhone's runaway success, much faster than the growth of the market.

Palm OS had been very successful with its touch screen PDAs and phones. They were having problems because they had a 16bit OS and were fumbling the 32bit replacement. Apple's iPhone was a rip-off of Palm and the other platforms, but based on a better 32bit platform. iPhone succeeded was because Palm, Nokia, and Microsoft fumbled on execution and were mired in backwards compatibility issues, and because Android was delayed due to Google's purchase. iPhone's success was temporary (and limited), and within a year, Android came out and started running rings around iOS on technology, including in the all-important touch screen keyboard input (otherwise, many people including me would want RIM-style keyboards; I can't stand Apple's piss-poor keyboard).

Comment Re:nothing "great" about it (Score 1) 347

No, I infer that nobody else had the courage or vision to make the investment and take the risk to enter the market with a phone of that design.

Oh, cut the myth making. Apple wasn't some lone company with a vision that nobody else had; Apple saw a fast-growing market in smartphones, copied the best features of their competitors, and produced a good product. And now they are trying to keep competitors out by underhanded tricks.

And I believe that it would be a good thing if the patent system rewarded companies with courage and vision to take risks that ultimately advance design and benefit consumers.

The patent system is there to encourage the sharing of technological innovation, nothing else. And as one of the biggest and richest companies, Apple hardly needs any more rewards anyway.

Comment Re:nothing "great" about it (Score 1) 347

Claiming that people thought there was a small market for these phones is bullshit. There were tons of touch screen phones and PDAs since the mid-90's and they were selling briskly. Apple massively ripped off design elements and features from Sony, Palm, Microsoft, and Nokia, plus some third party apps, in the design of the iPhone. Lots of Apple employees had phones and devices from these manufacturers.

Apple entered the market as it was growing briskly, and they had a well-engineered product, in no small part because all these other companies had already done the hard work. Even Apple's icon designs were hardly original.

Comment Re:nothing "great" about it (Score 1) 347

Why? Patent review understanding how invention work, discussing it with their inventors and deciding on what parts should or shouldn't be covered could be a quite interesting job for people with degrees in the sciences who themselves weren't particularly talented.

Yes, that's the way the system works: the patent office gets the bottom of the barrel for examiners, since there is a shortage of STEM graduates. That's why lousy patents keep getting approved.

When patents get struck down, patent holders and licensees should be liable to the tune of a significant percentage of their annual revenue, for the same length of time that the patent was in effect. And this money should be given as an incentive to lawyers in order to sue companies.

That's just a large tax applied arbitrarily.

There is nothing arbitrary about penalizing companies for filing bad patents. Nor is it a tax. The current system amounts to highway robbery, since companies like Apple (and many others) are gaming the system and obtaining temporary monopolies for inventions they didn't even create themselves; and the rest of us are paying the price.

Engineering is covered. The law is pretty clear,

The law is quite clear: patents only cover novel and unobvious contributions. Merely putting together a bunch of known parts using engineering skills into something that's working isn't patentable, no matter how much of an effort it may have been.

Comment Re:nothing "great" about it (Score 1) 347

I guess I see the UI work that Apple did on the iPhone as original and innovative and not at all standard

Apple didn't patent "the UI work", they patented specific aspects of it: sliders, elastic bounce-back, etc. Those elements were not novel.

I'd never seen anything like it at the time, and probably the ATM was the only touch interface I commonly used.

Well, that was perhaps the problem. There were tons of touch apps for Palm and Window Mobile for many years before the iPhone.

What Apple refers to in its own documentation since the Mac 128 day are Human Interface Guidelines which describe guidelines and principles, not standards.

You're confusing "standards" in the formal standards with "standards" in the "what people generally do and expect" kind of sense. Apple picked a bunch of elements innovated by others and pulled them together into a UI. They did a good job, achieved commercial success, so that particular became a "standard", in the sense that that's how everybody expects touch screens to work. There is no reason in the world to give Apple a monopoly on that.

Comment Re:nothing "great" about it (Score 1) 347

Pre-existing work invalidates a patent. That gets into the issue that patent review in the US is weak, not that patent law needs to be restructured.

Review is never going to work any better; what person with half a brain would want to work for the patent office reading this crap? "We need better review" is just a lame excuse by people who like the status quo, a status quot that gives companies like Apple a government-granted near-monopoly.

We need to change patent law so that patent laws are self-enforcing; in particular, there need to be tough consequences when companies file or obtain invalid patents, and even tougher consequences when they try to assert them. When patents get struck down, patent holders and licensees should be liable to the tune of a significant percentage of their annual revenue, for the same length of time that the patent was in effect. And this money should be given as an incentive to lawyers in order to sue companies.

Though I should mention, getting all the parts to work together is grounds for a patent.

No, it is not; that's just engineering.

Comment Re:nothing "great" about it (Score 2) 347

Pretty much everything that iPhone did years later was already available on Palm, Nokia and Windows Mobile, sometimes as part of the OS, more often from third party vendors.

The reason the iPhone took off because all that wonderful functionality was too hard to use on those other platforms: things were hard to install, the OS couldn't deal with large apps, the touch screen hardware was worse, syncing was unreliable, etc.

Apple did a better job at engineering the hardware and operating system than those other companies, but almost all the functionality of the iPhone, Apple copied from others.

Comment Re:nothing "great" about it (Score 1) 347

I'm not "singling out Apple"; Apple is suing people left and right with weak patents, and that means that those cases present the possibility for changing legal standards through precedent. If Google or Microsoft were suing people left and right like that, then we'd talk about them instead, but they aren't.

One can talk about Motorola's and Nokia's shenanigans with RAND patents, but that's a different issue: by and large, unlike Apple's patents, those are reasonable from a technical point of view but those companies are violating their commitments. Of course, they are doing so only because of Apple's actions.

Furthermore, Apple isn't like any other company. Apple has been abusing intellectual property laws and has been copying other people's inventions for a quarter century. They tried the same tactic with user interfaces, where they first copied windowing interfaces from Xerox, MIT, and others, and then tried to prevent everybody else from using them. If they had prevailed back then and managed to set a precedent, there'd likely be no Gnome, KDE, X11, or Windows today.

Comment Re:nothing "great" about it (Score 1) 347

I don't see how that invalidates my argument, namely that the Google/Apple dispute is not about innovation but standardization of common UI elements. Apple attempts to patent arbitrary interface standards to create incompatibilities; Apple isn't patenting actual innovation. And Apple can do that because they are first.

Saying that doesn't mean that there are never any innovations in interfaces. The analogy was only intended to show the benefit of standardization. But the fact that there may have been actual innovation or valid patents in the case of cars doesn't mean that what Apple did for touch screens was actual innovation or should have been patented (it wasn't and it shouldn't).

Comment Re:Just as sure (Score 1) 407

Well, you can familiarize yourself with the full report. If you read it for the information it contains instead of cherry-picking stuff that seems to confirm your own beliefs, you'll get a pretty good idea.

I did read the full report (but you apparently didn't understand it). It lists a long list of things with quantifiable consequences and then totals them up and comes to the conclusion that the total is about as much as mitigation.

To say "we did a cost/benefit analysis, and it came out a wash, but we don't like the result and there are all these other things we didn't count" is unacceptable. If the cost/benefit analysis in the report is missing significant costs, then the authors need to come up with a better estimate. If something isn't quantifiable, it isn't relevant to economic decision like spending hundreds of billions a year on mitigation.

In different words, proponents of mitigation need to either put up or shut up. Put a price tag on the loss of polar bears, put a price tag on the loss of island habitats and ecologies, etc. because that's the only rational way of talking about these kind of decisions.

Comment nothing "great" about it (Score 5, Interesting) 347

Interface standards are not about "great technology", they are about convention and usability. There's little that's ever been innovative about how steering wheels look or work, where the hand brake goes in a car, how you turn on a TV or a light, etc.; many of those are just arbitrary choices. But there is a huge benefit to having these items standardized so that consumers can easily move from one car to another. The same is even more true for user interfaces: user interfaces benefit tremendously from standardization. Apple's user interface elements aren't "great" or innovative, they simply set the standard because Apple is first.

(And most of Apple's user interface elements aren't even Apple's inventions; sliding switches on touch screens, for example, were not invented by Apple, Apple just copied them and then patented their application to unlocking.)

Comment Re:Just as sure (Score 1) 407

I don't lie, you quote selectively.

And what are those "unquantifiable losses" supposed to be? Loss of life, loss of property, loss of species, loss of arable land, disease, sea level rise, migration, etc. are quantifiable. The IPCC report looked at each of these, quantified them, made a risk assessment, and put a final price tag on everything. That's the price tag you see in that section.

What does that leave in terms of loss and risk? Not bloody much. Your claim that there are significant additional risks beyond those that the IPCC report analyzed and quantified is nothing more than FUD.

And if there were quantifiable risks that the IPCC didn't include in the total, then they did shoddy work, in which case their entire case collapses anyway.

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