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Comment Re:CBM is not the answer. (Score 1) 239

Wheels is a new concept. Inflatable tires on the wheels is a new concept. Springs on the axle is a new concept. Steerable wheels is a new concept. That just about covers it. Most of the rest of the improvements around the wheel and axle are derivative, unworthy of a patent. They don't advance the state of the art enough to merit giving their creators exclusive control.

The differential drive weeps at you.

That's what patents are about, right? They're supposed to encourage leaps of brilliance by making it practical for their inventors to profit off them. If there's no genius, just plodding iterative improvement, there shouldn't be a patent.

Not at all. You want a reward for a leap of brilliance, go get a Nobel. Patents are - to use Jefferson's term - an "embarrassment". And bear in mind that he was not only the drafter of the first patent act, but the first patent examiner. Patents are a monopoly, grudgingly granted by society, in exchange for public disclosure of the invention. They aren't a reward - they're a payment offered to the inventor to encourage them to destroy trade secrets. Absent patents, inventors would keep their ideas as quiet as possible (this is business, not academia, after all). There would be (and have been in the past, and are in non-patent regimes) major non-disclosure agreements, intense security against corporate espionage, etc. Instead of all of that inter-corporate fighting, society has said "we'll give you a time-limited monopoly in exchange for destroying your trade secret". But it's certainly not a reward. You can make the greatest invention ever known to man, and if you don't disclose it, you deserve nothing.

With that in mind, plodding improvement is exactly what the patent system is about. Say a flash of genius comes about once every hundred years... we don't need to encourage public disclosure, because it's so rare and major that you'll get your damned Nobel prize and publish papers for the fame of it. But what about the invention that takes a mere hundred man-hours to make? Well, if you keep that secret, and you have a thousand competitors in your field, they have to spend a combined hundred-thousand man-hours duplicating what you've already done. That's a huge waste for society. If instead you reveal your invention and they pick up a simple license, then those 99,900 hours may be spent on new inventions, encouraging innovation.

Basically, if you're the only person who could ever come up with an idea, then giving you a patent is useless to society. On the other hand, if you're the first person to come up with an idea by a non-negligible time period, then giving you a patent in exchange for you telling everyone else how to make and use the invention is very beneficial to society. The value of the patent to society can almost be calculated in terms of hours-to-produce/rarity: the more hours something takes, the better, but only if it's not so rare that you're the only person who will ever spend those hours.

Comment Re:CBM is not the answer. (Score 1) 239

JPEG was based on the notion that digital photographs were not pixel perfect to begin with, so why maintain that non-perfection perfectly if not doing so would make high compression rates possible. Acceptably lossy compression. This was a fresh, novel concept. The invention based on it deserved patent protection.

MPEG and MP3 took the then-well-known concept of lossy compression and ground on it until they came up with something that worked well for video and audio. After all, if the concept works for one media type, it should work for others, right? No unexpected originality, no unforeseen change to the state of the art, just grinding. Should not have been patentable.

I disagree completely. JPEG didn't patent the notion of lossy compression, nor were the MPEG and MP3 patents trying to claim "JPEG, but for video/audio" or a similarly broad notion of lossy compression. MP3, for example, exploits psychoacoustic masking across both frequency and temporal windows. It has nothing to do with JPEG wavelet-based compression.

Under your definition, a cart with wheels would be a new concept, worthy of a patent, but every vehicle since then, from the Model T to the Tesla Roadster to the Space Shuttle would simply be "the same concept, but at different speeds/altitudes" and unworthy. That's simply not true at all.

I think you're confused about what patents claim. The section at the end of each patent, with individual numbered sentences, are the claims. Patents don't claim "notions", but specific inventions, bounded by limitations in those claims.

Comment Re:CBM is not the answer. (Score 1) 239

That's why I used the word "justify" and not the word "prove."

Right now the presumption is that if a half-hearted and formulaic search turns up no prior art then the invention is novel. I want to turn that on its head: the invention is presumed obvious until you explain why it isn't in terms folks in your field agree with. Who are the people in your field and why aren't they half a step behind you?

Most applications will have something like that in the background and summary - the background says "here's what most folks in the field think, and here's a problem they've run into" and the summary is "here's how we solved it and why we're so cool".

Now, you can (and rightfully should) be skeptical of such an explanation, since the applicant is going to be biased in their own favor, but if you're not just going to plug your ears and say "I'm not going to believe you", you have to have some sort of objective standard for when they've overcome that presumption and it falls to the Examiner to rebut them.

There's an additional wrinkle - you say "in terms folks in your field agree with"... Folks now? Or folks at the time of writing the application. If something sits in a backlog at the USPTO for 3 years, during which time, the applicant has been marketing and selling their invention to everyone, all the folks in the field will now say "yeah, that's obvious, we've seen it for the past three years." How do you determine what "folks in the field" think back at the time of filing? Currently, they use prior art, since it represents all published knowledge in existence at the time, without any danger of accidentally using hindsight.

Comment Re:CBM is not the answer. (Score 2) 239

Real patent reform has three key parts:

1. Fix "obviousness." The courts didn't like the examiner affirmatively finding that something was obvious so turn it around and require the applicant to justify why anyone of average skill seeking the same result would not have found the same method. Require the examiner to affirmatively find that it isn't obvious. No justification = no patent.

Unfortunately, I think you're asking someone to prove a logical negative: the applicant has to prove that something isn't obvious by showing... what, exactly? Definitive proof that no one has ever thought of the something?

2. A person of average skill in the art should be able to implement the technology from the contents in the patent. Start rejecting packets where that isn't true. Vague or stilted language in the application = no patent.

3. Patent duration should be from application, not from the grant. Effective protection starts with the application. You can't sue anybody until after the grant, but no one dares use the tech unless they're sure the patent won't be granted. That's been abused by delaying the final grant for years or even a decade.

These are both good suggestions, and, of course, they're already in the statutes. 35 USC 112 requires that the patent have a written description that enables one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention. And patent term is calculated as 20 years from filing (or 20 years from the earliest priority date, if the application claims priority to an application before its filing date).

Comment All or nothing? (Score 4, Insightful) 239

Translation: "We love the absurd and unfair amount of power that the broken patent system gives us over any and all future start-ups and rivals, and will oppose any legislation that doesn't maintain the status quo."

No - see the summary:

An IBM spokesman told Politico, "While we support what Mr. Goodlatte's trying to do on trolls, if the CBM is included, we'd be forced to oppose the bill."

The proper translation is "yes, we want to stop the troll problem, but this nuclear option you've got goes too far. We like all of your other proposals." Just because you don't like 5% of a proposal doesn't mean you necessarily hate 100% of the proposal.

Comment Re:They are right. (Score 4, Insightful) 409

"If they don't like it, there are plenty of other jobs out there". There's always that risk I suppose. It's hard enough to get good people to go into law enforcement. Let's make it even less appealing.

I'm willing to take the tradeoff of driving away potential cops who won't go into law enforcement if they have to follow the law.

Comment Re:They are right. (Score 5, Insightful) 409

On the other hand we shouldn't forget that coppers are also persons with a right to privacy and that the ones who pick up drunks, get called to petty disputes and car accidents are notoriously underappreciated, underpaid and overworked with a high risk for burn-out. They do deserve our appreciation for that.

No, they are not. They are agents of the state, and the state has no right of privacy. When they're off duty, you're absolutely right - these GPS trackers should not be implanted in their bodies, sewn into their street clothes, or placed on their personal vehicles. However, when they're on duty, they are employees and state actors and have no right to privacy. If they don't like it, there are plenty of other jobs out there.

Comment Re:Lab (Score 4, Funny) 72

Obama's Social Security Number begins 042, a which is only issued to Connecticut residents.
This Social Security Number was issued in the late 1970's.
Lyme Disease was first identified in Connecticut in.... you guess it... the late 1970's.

Coincidence? I THINK NOT!

Obviously Obama created Lyme Disease in a lab in the 1970's, as part of his plan to manufacture fake evidence of evolution, to turn Americans away from God, to ensure he'd be able to usurp the Presidency of the United States after the new Millennium arrived.


Comment Re:I never understood the vendetta against lyrics (Score 2) 281

Right, but is it complete? Is it well indexed and searchable? Is it blocked by any corporate firewalls?, any mobile firewalls in places like the UK because of explicit content?

A reduced number of sites still means a reduced amount of ability to search for your product.

But the sites that are being blocked tend to be the ones with malware, obnoxious popups, and weird javascript. A reduced number of sites doesn't actually impair your search ability, if you're only getting rid of the chaff.

Comment Re:I never understood the vendetta against lyrics (Score 1) 281

Also I've known lyrics to a song before but not the name. Being able to search the internet based on lyrics is what has allowed me to find a song I was after.

Reducing access to lyrics is reducing people's ability to find the name of a product they wish to buy.

Go read the article again. They're only going after unlicensed lyric sites - azlyrics.com will still exist.

Comment Not taking down *all* lyrics sites (Score 5, Informative) 281

Unlike many of the posters above who are saying that this will kill music sales because when they don't know the artist or song title, they search for lyrics, I actually read the article - they're targeting only unlicensed lyrics sites. The fully licensed azlyrics.com will still exist, as will lyricfind.com and musicmatch.com. In fact, it appears that the ones that are targeted are the ones that have tons of pop-ups, malware advertisements, redirecting scripts, etc. So, good.

Comment Nice marketing coup, too (Score 5, Insightful) 254

A high-quality and detailed teardown of their own product? I think that's freaking awesome. And smart too - they know the success of the PS4 will depend on the early adopter, hard-core gamer, the type of person who has likely put together a home-grown PC gaming system and who would get excited about exactly this type of video. Well done Sony.

A detailed teardown was inevitable from someone - probably Ars Technica, for example. And that teardown comes with a review of Sony's architecture and decisions, and the review may not necessarily be entirely favorable. However, this way, the first teardown is accompanied by glowing descriptions of the hardware. Anything later is an also-ran, by definition, and will draw less eyeballs than it would have if it was first. The widest seen review now will be their own. More companies should do this.

Comment Re:It's a shame homophobephobes won't see it (Score 1) 732

The Streisand Effect certainly draws additional attention to something, but attention doesn't necessarily equate to paying-customer. In this case the movie already approaches a saturation level of publicity, and informing people of Orson Scott Card's extremely offensive bigotry certainly can reduce the number of paying customers. Like it or not, a rapidly rising percentage of the population consider anti-gay bigotry to similarly as offensive as anti-black bigotry. Most people rather avoid socializing with or giving money to bigots.


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What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. -- Bertrand Russell, "Skeptical Essays", 1928