Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:Conversely... (Score 1) 243

Thank you for affirming as much of my argument as you did and, also, for the corrections in the second half of that post. That's some good information, of which I was not aware. Out of curiosity, what are your thoughts on shortening the term (of both, but primarily patents, as that's your focus)?

I think patents are probably about right as is. As you note, some industries develop faster than others... but if you start basing patent term off that, then do you create different term lengths for every industry? Like pharmaceuticals get 20 years, but software gets 3? Airplanes are 15, but cars are 5? Given the number of industries and the fine delineations we could make, you'd end up with more law than the tax code... 8-bit retro indie video games get 7 months; but 8-bit retro AAA video games get 9 months... two legged walking robots get 4 years and eight months, three legged wheeled robots get 3 years and 11 months, etc. Congress would spend all of its time passing new patent term laws. And what about the cross-over technologies? Software for developing pharmaceuticals? Biological computers? Simulated cars for video games?! And what about a revolutionary new technology, where the patent is the first in a whole new industry? Hundreds of years? Or none?
20 years seems like a pretty decent compromise, particularly with the maintenance fees. One thing that could help is additional maintenance windows... Right now, you pay your fees at 3.5 years from issue, 7.5 years, and 11.5 years (with the costs increasing each time). Many software patents are abandoned before hitting that 11.5 window. But what about 5.5, or 9.5? Or even annual fees, steadily increasing? That would help encourage shorter terms for patents that are obsoleted early.

As for copyright, there are multiple parts there (copyright is often compared to a bundle of rights, with exclusive rights to make copies, distribute works, perform the work publicly, make derivative works, etc.). I think piracy - direct copies, identical to the original - is less morally defensible than, say, sampling, which falls under the derivative work umbrella. Like, if you make and distribute a copy of someone's album because you're too cheap to pay or whatnot, that's just wrong. Heck, at best, it's plagiarism. But if you sample their bass line and make a new song over it, you've created something new, and the world of art is enriched due to your joint contribution.
With that in mind, I think that the term for a derivative work should be short - like 5 years. The original artist gets to do remixes, screenplays, etc. for that period, but if they don't, then it should be up for grabs - as source for further creative works. But pure copying? That term could stay as long as it is, frankly. Let the authors exploit their original work, but let others also improve upon it.

Comment Re:Conversely... (Score 4, Informative) 243

They are written vague on purpose, because to be specific, would allow others to build upon your patent, and patent their improvements, locking you into a stale old way of building said invention, never able to improve it.

This is precisely the type of abuse, by a handful of unscrupulous assholes (patent holders being, relative to the entirety of the population, a handful of people), which I propose we amend patent laws to prevent.

And, by amend, I truly mean "actually enforce the laws as written", since they already require some degree of specificity.

I am a patent lawyer, and I completely agree. My patents, of course, are clear and informative; but yes, there are many terrible ones out there. Frankly, it's partly unscrupulous assholes, but mostly incompetent and lazy assholes: to write a good patent application, you have to understand the invention... too many patent lawyers skip that step, take whatever the inventor sent them and slap some boilerplate "in some embodiments" language on it, and file it. Heck, you can still charge the same amount as a well-written patent, but can crank it out in an afternoon! What a world!

Fortunately, the courts and the patent office are finally pushing back on this. Most of the "abstract idea" rejections under Bilski and Alice Corp and other related 35 USC 101 cases are really about badly written patents that claim "A method for doing something awesome, comprising: applying rules, by an expert computer system, to do something awesome." What rules? How does it achieve that awesome result? Fark if anyone knows... the person drafting the patent sure as hell didn't. The cases that are being upheld are the ones that go into detail about what calculations are being performed, how the thing works, the low-level specifics of what it does, etc.

That said, patent law and courts and such are glacial. It'll be another decade and change before patents drafted and granted, say, 5 years ago, expire. And patent litigation with terrible patents will keep popping up over that time. But maybe by the 2030s, things'll start looking better. \_()_/

It's debatable whether the term should be shortened; many would argue it should be extended, as was done with copyright. Personally, I believe that patents and copyright were given the terms they were originally given based on how long it took to produce and circulate a work at the time that those respective laws were written; as both now take considerably less time, yes, I agree that the terms should be shortened.

Patent term has only ever been extended twice, and the second one wasn't a real extension (the change from 17-years-from-issue to 20-years-from-filing was based on an average 3 year prosecution queue, so the result is the same). Copyright has big money publishers on one side like Sony, Disney, Columbia, etc. wanting longer term and, what, pirates? The public? No money on the other side. So your bought-and-sold Congresscritter happily votes for term extensions.
But in patents, Apple, say, wants longer terms for their own patents, but shorter terms for Google and Microsoft's. And vice versa. So you get this pressure on both sides, with no real imbalance in money and lobbyists.

Incidentally, there's a safety valve in patent term already - patent owners have to pay maintenance fees that increase over the life of the patent, or it goes abandoned. Most patents in the tech sector are abandoned long before that 20 year term expires, because, after 10 years, say, they're obsolete. It's the pharmaceutical people who try to keep them alive until the very end, because of how long R&D and FDA approval takes. Increasing those maintenance fees would have the same effect of shortening patent term in fast moving industries while keeping it long where it's needed.

Comment Re:The European Model (Score 1) 374

No potential college debt looming overhead that you could only dream of repaying if you don't make it. Which in turn means that more students are starting and our universities can (and do) eliminate brutally anyone who isn't among the best. Those degrees actually mean something.

Obviously, we have the opposite here. Regardless of the college debt, college enrollment rates are very high, but colleges don't eliminate terrible students, and bachelor's degrees mean little these days. Why do you think it's different in Europe? Is it because here, they'll keep milking tuition out of students for as long as they attend, while in Europe, budgets are fixed? And if so, do European universities really have fixed budgets that aren't based on enrollment?

Basically, why is there an incentive in Europe to eliminate students, and how can we duplicate that here?

Comment Re:That kind of pricing makes no sense. (Score 1) 374

The ONLY answer is to eliminate loan subsidies and force colleges to deliver an suitable education product at a price people can afford.

Make colleges liable for their students' loans if, say, 90% of the graduating class are not employed within their degree field within 3 years. That would force them to drastically cut admissions and start doing some economic forecasting.

Comment Re:Why do state universities have patents at all? (Score 1) 52

It's because a few years ago the US patent system was changed from "first to invent" to "first to file" which mean if the university doesn't patent it, then when they publish their work, some other company can patent it and charge royalties.

That's completely, entirely, 100% untrue. The change from first to invent to first to file simply removed interference proceedings, which is where two inventors file applications for the exact same invention, and the USPTO held a mini-trial to determine which one actually invented it first. Those are now replaced with a simple "who filed first?" rule. Big change? No. There were on average 20 interference proceedings a year, out of half a million applications.

Comment Re:Sue them Immediately (Score 1) 206

Never mind you're right, if they accused him of downloading then it's not criminal one way or the other. Only if they accused him of uploading could it be considered criminal, and it's your right to face your accuser.

That's not quite right. 17 USC 506 defines criminal copyright infringement, and it's not just uploading, but any infringement for the purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain, or by reproduction of works with a total retail value of more than $1k in 180 days, or by distribution of those works or pre-publication distribution of a commercial work. So, for example, if you were downloading hundreds of movies in a six-month period, that could qualify.
But that's not alleged here.

If you took me to court saying I punched you, this would still apply since assault can be taken as a civil or criminal claim. Remember he's only going after the accusation here, it doesn't matter that it wasn't made by the cops.

But if you took me to court, then I couldn't sue saying my civil rights were being denied, because we are going to court. The original claim by the AC is simply wrong, and likely his story never happened.

Comment Re:Video Here (Score 1) 42

The graphics are stunning for 1990. I haven't seen such cutting edge 3D since VRML:

... is this a joke? The comments make it look legit, but the narrator's getting enthused about things that have been available since version one of the Rift. And when he walks through the wall at the end and sees that the backgrounds are all 2D planes, his comment is that he feels like he's in the Matrix... which came out in 1999? Not sure if it's Poe's Law or not, but if this does represent Microsoft's prototype, they should just close up shop.

Comment Re:Sue them Immediately (Score 1) 206

Copyright infringement is civil.

Depends on the nature of the infringement. There are criminal codes that apply to it too.

If they were accusing him of criminal copyright infringement, they wouldn't send him a nastygram. They'd send the cops, probably with an Anton Pillar order to seize his computers to prevent destruction of evidence.

Comment Re:Sue them Immediately (Score 4, Interesting) 206

Oh.. for the lack of mod points.

Good for you!! people need to stand up, our rights are slowly being eroded and we are rapidly turning into a "rental" society.

Take the AC's story with a grain of salt. A complaint under 42 USC 1983 for that would be laughed out of court, because (i) no, he hadn't been accused of a criminal act, but a civil infringement; and (ii) even if he had been, he hadn't been charged with anything yet, and therefore hadn't been denied his rights to confront his accuser or see evidence against him. It's like if I hired you to paint my house and claimed you did a lousy job and therefore owed me $500 off the price; and you sued me in Federal Court because "I've violated your civil rights, because you're entitled to confront your accuser." I've never stopped you from doing so, and in fact, the fact that you're suing me is an assertion of those civil rights.
Basically, it might sound reasonable to someone who's legal education comes from television, but in reality, it would be immediately dismissed and there would be no settlement. I think the AC is just making up a cool story, bro.

Comment Re:why does this "East District of TX" keep happen (Score 1) 47

I guess that makes sense. Even with a 10% or 20% success rate, the patent trolls could conceivably still come out ahead, as long as the price of acquiring patents is less than the money they can make litigating with them. It doesn't matter that we don't hear about the cases the trolls lose, because as long as they are winning any cases at all, there is still a problem.

Pretty much. Look at it this way - this was originally a $550 million dollar decision, and they probably paid $2M to pursue it, so a net gain of $548M. A litigator can send out a "settle or we'll sue" nastygram for what, $5000? Even if they end up filing the complaint, and later withdrawing it, that's gonna be less than $20k. Heck, say they take them all through trial, never withdrawing a single case, and even spend the same amount (which is absolutely nuts, mind you, no one does that). They can lose 274 cases before they eat up their winnings from this one win.

Comment Re:Remember when Apple went full USB? (Score 1) 332

And certainly not for something new that will either 1. easily get lost, 2. require recharging at some inconvenient time or 3. die a slow death as their rechargeable batteries wear out.

Although I agree with your overall sentiment, I should point out that you're describing Bluetooth headphones here, which require neither the USB-C jack nor the beloved 1/8" TRS jack. There are USB-C (as well as Lightning) based wired headphones that are not tiny earbuds that can easily get lost, and do not have rechargeable batteries - for example, JBL makes several.

Comment Re:why does this "East District of TX" keep happen (Score 1) 47

None of that seems to explain though why the trolls win in this lower court so often? Especially in stupid cases like this where on appeals all the judges are looking at each other like "HOW did this possibly make it to us? no. just NO. Now go away."

If it all came down to "they have the time to deal with it and have the most experience", you'd expect better and more consistent judgements. Or are some of the defendants just doing stupid things? (I can't imagine Apple/IBM/MS sending incompetent lawyers to a patent trial)

Well, in this particular one, this is a changing area of law. The Alice Corp. decision only came out last year, and this trial started before that.
Additionally, there's a bit of a selection bias. Plaintiffs don't file million-dollar lawsuits on patents they know will lose, and they certainly don't proceed through trial and appeal on those patents. But even still, the average last year was less than 50%.

Comment Re:why does this "East District of TX" keep happen (Score 3, Interesting) 47

I'm curious to know why the east district of texas has gotten this notorious for being a patent troll's best friend? Not the statistics, we've seen the statistics. I want to know why it keeps happening?

My first kneejerk expectation is that money is somehow at work here...

Nope, it's easier than that:
(i) all patent law is federal, so all patent trials have to be in federal district court. That narrows things waaaay down.
(ii) venue is appropriate for a patent infringement suit any place in the US a product is offered for sale. Given internet sales, national broadcasting, etc., that's pretty much everywhere. It's also arguably central between East Coast and West Coast.
(iii) nothing happens in Eastern Texas. So there are no other, higher priority cases to get in the way. Like, if you brought a patent infringement suit in the Southern District of New York (i.e. New York City), good farking luck getting it heard. It's going to be bumped behind any federal criminal case, because those have a requirement of a speedy trial, and between financial crimes and interstate crimes, New York has a ton of criminal cases. Go to Eastern Texas, on the other hand, and they haven't had a federal murder case in years. So, ED Texas gets a bunch of patent trials because they're fast, and as a result, they also have a lot of experience with patent trials. If it wasn't Texas, it would've been someplace else boring, like Wisconsin or Idaho or something.

And after that's sorted... is there anything the feds can do about this?

Yep. #2 above is considered less powerful these days. It's much easier to get a case transferred out of Texas now than it ever has been, and under the AIA, trolls can't sue Microsoft in Seattle and Joe Shmuck, ordinary citizen, in Miami, and argue that Texas is halfway between so it's most convenient for everyone. That used to be the standard, but now, joint defendants have to be engaged in business together, and that ended that loophole.

/patent attorney

Slashdot Top Deals

Your good nature will bring unbounded happiness.