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Comment Re:Industry can survive without patents (Score 1) 147

I've provided a reference that clearly states that highly competitive industries can survive just fine without patents, [even if as you point out, related industries use patents].

Although true, that "industry" does not analogize to the rest of the world. From your article, F1 doesn't use patents because, if they get a patent on a technology, all of the other competitors will vote to have that technology disallowed. That simply doesn't exist in other industries, and without that sort of punitive over-arching regulation of an industry, there's no reason to suspect that the F1 experience should apply elsewhere.

And there are plenty of references here on /. that corroborate my statement that people do not look through the patent applications due to the risk of triple damages.

Yes, but that's mostly out of date. The law on willful infringement is changing, quite reasonably too. At this point, merely reading a patent application will not be enough to support a finding of willful infringement.

Comment Re:Goes to show ya (Score 1) 175

Not quite. If we start reading patents, it opens up liability for treble damages should we be found in violation of a patent. For example, we're investigating patents, there's that doesn't have prior art, a few months/years later we're found to be in violation of that patent. At that point their lawyers say "hey, you guys were looking at patents and should have known about this one. Triple the damages!"

And at that point, your lawyers say, "yeah, we knew about this one, but we investigated and reasonably believed we did not infringe because of (a) and (b). We also thought the patent was invalid because of (c) and (d). Therefore, we did not willingly infringe your patent, both because we did not think it applied and because we thought it was shiat."

Willful infringement has gotten very, very hard to prove lately. Merely reading the patent is not going to be enough.

Comment Obviousness is a different argument (Score 2) 147

Even LZW compression is fairly obvious to a skilled programmer. I remember there were several similar compression algorithms around at the time it was patented. It's not an especially good algorithm, it's just more famous (mostly thanks to the patent wars that surrounded it).

Leaving aside the argument of whether LZW is obvious or not, that's not what the article is talking about. Basically, in an incredibly simplified nutshell, there are 4 separate and independent requirements you have to pass to get a patent, and failing any one of them will result in a rejection or invalid patent. They come from four different statutes:
35 USC 101: the invention must be a useful method, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter;
35 USC 102: the invention must be new - i.e. never done before;
35 USC 103: the invention must be non-obvious;
35 USC 112: the invention must be sufficiently described in the patent application to enable someone to make and use it.

You're saying that LZW fails the 103 requirement in that it was obvious... that's a different argument. What this argument is about is whether all software should be excluded from the definition of "method" under 35 USC 101: whether the most novel, most non-obvious, most freakin' revolutionary bit of software in the entire universe should still be ineligible for a patent, because it's software.

The GP post says that yes, maybe that revolutionary software alone should be unpatentable under 101, but if it's part of firmware for an EPROM, then maybe it should be allowed.

Comment Re:Not a difficult task... (Score 2) 175

I think this is actually a bad example, because to infringe on a patent, you actually have to infringe on all the claims.

That's absolutely incorrect. You have to infringe each and every element in a claim, but only have to infringe a single claim to infringe the patent.

But I think that was just a misstatement, because you have it right here:

This is actually a less broad patent, because it would only cover cars, with wheels, that used the engine that ran on water. So if you then took the engine that ran on water, and used it to make a generator (which isn't a method of transportation), you would no longer be in violation of the patent. Similarly, if you used it to make a boat motor, you wouldn't be in violation of the patent, because your boat most likely doesn't have wheels.

To paraphrase, if the claims are:
1. A.
2. The method of claim 1, further comprising B.
3. The method of claim 2, further comprising C.

... then to infringe claim 1, you need only do A. To infringe claim 2, you need to do A+B. To infringe claim 3, you need to do A+B+C. If claim 1 is invalid and too broad, then you can still infringe claim 2 by doing A+B (if it's not invalidated over other prior art). You don't need to do C to infringe claim 2 or infringe the patent.

Comment Re:Like source code (Score 1) 258

To clarify:

The instructions (or CAD drawing) are copyrightable. If the finished object is considered a work of art, it is also copywritable (but separately from the CAD or instruction file). If the final object is an object of utility, it might get a utility or design patent.

Your clarification is wrong: the design patent cannot cover any functional aspects of the object, merely the aesthetic ornamentation... which is a "work of art" and is covered under copyright.

Additionally, in your "clarification," you use the term "copywrightable". There is no such term. "Copyright" comes from a right to copy. Not copy that has been written. Copywriters are entirely different things.

But those are all separate things. I have seen here on Slashdot a lot of people confusing them.

Yes, but you're not helping with that.

Comment Not a difficult task... (Score 4, Informative) 175

... by Joel's own logic. FTFA:

Have you ever seen a patent application that appears ridiculously broad? (“Good lord, they’re trying to patent CARS!”). Here’s why. The applicant is deliberately overreaching, that is, striving to get the broadest possible patent knowing that the worst thing that can happen is that the patent examiner whittles their claims down to what they were entitled to patent anyway...

An example might help. Imagine a simple application with these three claims:

1. A method of transportation
2. The method of transportation in claim 1, wherein there is an engine connected to wheels
3. The method of transportation in claim 2, wherein the engine runs on water

... Now, suppose you invented the water-powered car. When you submit your patent, you might submit it this way even knowing that there’s prior art for “methods of transportation” and you can’t really claim all of them as your invention. The theory is that (a) hey, you might get lucky! and (b) even if you don’t get lucky and the first claim is rejected, the narrower claims will still stand.

What he's done is equivalent to finding "a method of transportation," knocking out the ridiculously over-broad claim, which Joel describes as "a long shot lottery ticket". The narrower, dependent claims may still be patentable.

Additionally, this was the first office action in this patent application (not an issued patent, contrary to the /. summary). Would the Examiner have found this piece of prior art or another piece of prior art that knocks out that over-broad claim? Almost certainly, again according to Joel's logic. In fact, the Examiner went on to using 5 other pieces of prior art to address the dependent claims. Any of those could well anticipate the independent claim too.
Is it a good thing to crowdsource prior art searches? Absolutely. But people doing the search can't stop at just a single piece of prior art to knock out the one over-broad long shot lottery ticket claim. In Joel's example claims, finding prior art describing a method of transportation may allow you to run a victory lap and get a Slashdot story, but it does nothing for invalidating the claim to an engine that runs on water, which is really what the patent is about.

Comment Re:totally government spin (Score 1) 668

the story was leaked by a government minister that there was a lot of welsh people getting measles when in reality there was no epidemic at all. its all scare tactics by the newspapers and the government who in reality want you to be scared of breathing so that you do what they want you to do.

In related news, polls find 7% believe the moon landing was a hoax.

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Comment Re:You .... (Score 1) 668

Modern society counteracts evolution by protecting the weak and stupid.

Ironically, this is also exactly what vaccinations do.

Actually no. What vaccinations does is modify selections pressures for us to survive in an environment which includes vaccinations. Specifically it has two effects. (1) It lowers the selection pressure for an immune system which can inherently avoid/survive infection by these particular diseases, and (2) it adding a selection pressure for immune systems which strongly respond to vaccinations. In our modern society an immune system with a strong and generalized response to vaccinations has HUGE evolutionary value. It means an immune systems which is powerfully equipped to leverage external technology (vaccine development) to defeat novel deadly threats in the future. The evolutionary value of fighting off a specific disease is peanuts compared to the evolutionary value of strong mehcnisms to defeat generalized future threats.

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Comment Re:You .... (Score 1) 668

Modern society counteracts evolution by protecting the weak and stupid.

No, it doesn't. And this is a meme that needs to be killed off.

Modern Society certainly alters the Natural Selection criteria, but altering what is selected does not diminish the process of evolution. Scientists have identified recent and current positive evolutionary selection in humans in a wide range of genes. This includes genes for metabolism, sensory perception, immune system, reproduction, neural development, and more.

For example multiple different genes for lactose tolerance arose in various parts of the world, they have been spreading for a few thousand years, and they continue to experiencing positive selection today. Another notable example is that scientists have detected that genes for bipolar disorder and related mental illnesses are currently experiencing positive selection. People with bipolar or similar disorders are more likely to engage in unprotected sex, to leave the resulting child to be raised by the other person or by family members, and go on to repeat the process with multiple partners. And I deliberately raise this particular example to make a point - if you fall out a 4th floor window the laws of physics don't care whether you think broken bones are a good thing or a bad thing. Just like Evolution and other laws of nature don't care whether you think bipolar disorder is a good thing or a bad thing. Human evolution has not stopped. Humans are evolving to better survive and reproduce with our modern milk-grain-highfructose-highfat-highsodium based diets. Humans are evolving to better survive and reproduce with our high-technology highly-complex highly-diverse high-mobility society. And yes, that includes evolutionary exploration of mental illness as a means of increasing reproductive rates. A strategy which is working at least in the short term, and with an unknown long term outcome. The human species has achieved the success it has due in large part to the strategy of parents placing a huge investment in producing a small number of highly successful children. And regardless of our opinion on things, evolution is still going to blindly explore the high-risk-high-payoff strategy of trading quality-of-offspring and care-of-offspring in exchange for quantity-of-offspring. Because humans are still actively undergoing evolution. Any and all genetically-influenced traits expressed by humans are subject to positive or negative evolutionary selections if those traits have any direct or indirect impact on the number of long term descendants we leave behind.

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Comment Re:This news is about 3600 years late (Score 2) 384

Aside: Something that has occurred to me of late (while watching discussion about the Zimmerman trial, actually), is that I think humans have a tendency to fit real-world events into neat, narrative structures that have the same three-act form as good stories. I'm wondering if any news story that achieves really broad penetration of a large population's collective psyche doesn't end up getting "adjusted" until it fits a smooth, memorable narrative arc. This became apparent to me in the case of the Zimmerman trial when I realized that those who argued for guilty and not-guilty verdicts were discussing two rather different versions of the narrative, each of which followed a traditional storytelling arc, and neither of which was overly concerned about including facts that didn't fit the arc. The whole sequence of events, especially when the focus is on the actual evidence, makes a rather lumpy, disjointed tale with false starts and inconvenient edges, but the pro- and anti-Zimmerman stories are both much smoother.

Not "humans", but "Westerners", primarily because we're so used to that three-act structure in Western media. Asian movies frequently show a four-act structure - see Kishotenketsu.

Comment Re:Fundamental issues (Score 2) 92

I think the patent office shouldn't get the money for patent applications. They should have a budget independent of the number of applications they process with a minimum goal for each year to get through that's reasonable.

Sure we'll have a backlog, but when you can't get everything through and the patent office doesn't have a financial incentive to rubber stamp patents anymore it might cause change.

Another idea, give patent reviewers an incentive (bonus) when they find prior art for a patent.

The patent office makes money off of rejections, and therefore has a financial incentive to reject applications and have people re-file new ones. This explains why, for example, they initially rubber-stamp 85% of patent applications "REJECTED". This is as opposed to your implication that they allow everything.

Also, patent examiners are graded on a point system, and they receive points for rejecting applications. It seems like your suggestions are all already implemented, and therefore may not actually address the problem.

Comment Re:Fundamental issues (Score 1) 92

Patenting software is not a fundamental problem. Patent trolls are not a fundamental problem. Instead, these are the results and effects of the true fundamental problem, which is that the patent system itself is patenting anything that comes along that has no obvious conflicts, if even that. It considers its duty to be simply to record the patent ... and take all the money.

If true, you would expect to see 99% of patent applications immediately allowed. Instead, 85% are initially rejected. Apparently, the system considers its duty to reject patent applications until they're properly narrowed.

If something is truly innovative, then without the inventor having done it, it is likely to not have been done at all for many years (when based to genius thought), or for a substantial investment into the work needed to come up with it (when based on a huge amount of work).

I disagree with that definition. "Truly innovative" things may be due to a spark of insight, and then not require significant work. For example, I bet most any engineer now could draw a schematic for a working internal combustion engine on a napkin. Does that mean it wasn't truly innovative when it first appeared?

This "truly innovative" definition of yours has no support in the patent statutes, nor in case law. As a purely subjective definition, it also creates a tyranny of intellectualism, in which inventions may be judged unworthy simply because we dislike their field. Maybe we see a new cancer drug as "truly innovative", but not a new children's toy, regardless of the actual invention.

The vast majority of patents are not true innovation. Most of them are just broad brushes of things they see as inevitable and coming, anyway.

In hindsight, everything looks obvious. The difficulty is in proving that something is inevitable before it's already here.

Comment Re:Beware what you ask for... (Score 1) 92

In the second case one of three things can happen. He can file and be awarded an overly broad patent which is clearly just a rewrite of prior art at which point he sells it to a patent troll or he can file and be awarded a small patent on something unique but unfortunately can't do anything with it because a patent troll already laid claim to the industry standard stuff he built it on top of.

The third thing that could happen is that the guy realizes he's screwed and his idea will never make it past the startup phase - so he gives up and goes back to work to a corporate gig.

The fourth thing that can happen is he gets a patent on his invention of a "unique quality" and then sell that to a patent troll or a large corporation manufacturing the relevant device. Your second point seems to ignore this possibility.

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