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What do you think about all the patent suit and countersuit battles going on between companies such as Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Apple, Samsung, Oracle, HTC, Yahoo and Facebook, among others?

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It's been said by pundits (and I agree) that the selling and trading of patents has devolved into a scramble to see who can sue the fastest for patent violations. Patent law needs a major overhaul or it's just going to get worse.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Confusion only.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If it keeps the lawyers busy and off the streets, how can it be a bad thing?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Patents have been "invented" in order to create an incentive to publish new ideas, so that the public as a whole can profit from them. The protection period of 20 years was a compromise suitable for the technological development rate more than 100 years ago. These days, progress is much faster and product development cycles are often even shorter than the period from application to grant of a patent. Therefore developers simply cannot check for patent violations when designing their products. They have no time to do so, if they do not want to delay their products so much that they would have long become obsolete in the market. Patent protection periods must be adapted to the rate of technological development, otherwise they become a severe impediment to technical development - which is just the opposite of what their purpose was.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It's a business model known as "patent trolling," and has become part of every large tech company's strategy. Unless the laws are reformed (or removed completely) it will continue, as it is profitable, otherwise they wouldn't engage in it.

A typical example of some well minded law, or government intervention into the marketplace, that has negative consequences.

Patents were not created so the "general public" could profit. They were "invented" at the behest of business to protect their intellectual property. The public would benefit the most if there were NO patent laws, and anybody could take any idea and improve on it ever so slightly. It's one of the things that led the industrial revolution. Few inventions of that time led to any wealth for the inventors, but a large amount of wealth for the general population.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

gaijinfo Jun. 05, 2012 - 06:31AM JST. It's a business model known as "patent trolling," and has become part of every large tech company's strategy. Patents were not created so the "general public" could profit. They were "invented" at the behest of business to protect their intellectual property.

In principle, a software developer starting a new project faces a similar problem. He needs to know if the software he is planning to create will accidentally infringe on anyone's patents. But whereas looking up to who holds patents related to a particular piece of software is difficult and expensive. It's so difficult, in fact, that the vast majority of software developers don't even try.

Unfortunately, software patents don't scale well. It's hard to predict which aspects of a software product someone might try to patent. It's even harder to predict which terms a patent lawyer might use to describe these concepts. So searching by keywords is likely to uncover only a fraction of relevant patents. Who needs to worry about infringing software patents? The patent system simply doesn't scale up to an industry as complex and decentralized as the software industry. And if it's practically impossible for firms to avoid infringing software patents, it's unfair to punish them for their failure.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Therefore developers simply cannot check for patent violations when designing their products.

That is just nonsense. I deal with patents. The patent office finds any prior art if the attorney doesn't. It's their job to do so. The developers might not have time to look for possible violations, but that's why they have IP departments; and why they consult patent attorneys.

These days, progress is much faster and product development cycles are often even shorter than the period from application to grant of a patent.

Ever heard of the Patent Prosecution Highway? Or ISAs?

I think the litigation we've seen lately is a good thing. It helps to make inventors think up more innovative technology, which is a good thing for everyone.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The patent office finds any prior art if the attorney doesn't. It's their job to do so. The developers might not have time to look for possible violations, but that's why they have IP departments; and why they consult patent attorneys.

Probie, I don't know what kind of industry you are working in, but your comments seem out of another world.

99.9% of all patents are small incremental improvements to prior art. Most developers aren't even aware that what they are doing could be worth a patent or might infringe on a patent held by somebody else. It often seems to obvious to them. That's the first hurdle. The second is that developers often have a hard time to document what they have done. Creating additional documentation so that somebody could check whether they might infringe patents is too much burden (and nobody pays for it).

Then let's look at the 18 months it takes until a patent application is disclosed. Before that time is expired you can't see whether you violate somebody's patent because you don't know of it. On the other hand, if you had the same or similar idea and didn't apply for a patent (see above) after such a long period you have your first products already in the market and the development of the next generation is so far progreesed that when you now notice that you infringe the patent it's already too late to change it.

I have never seen any IP department with the resources to check whether own developments might infringe the patents of others. Not even in large companies with several tens of thousands of employees, let alone smaller companies who cannot even afford the luxury of such a department. Nobody checks other companies' patents except the few cases where the shit has already hit the fan (or to find out what kind of products they might be working on, but that's another issue). And because everybody works this way or rather has to work this way, the only countermeasure is to apply for as many patents as possible which allow you to quickly find something to countersue. That's where the patent wars come from.

Ever heard of the Patent Prosecution Highway? Or ISAs?

How does it help me to check whether I infringe other people's patents? What does it help me when my competitor wants to keep his patent application unknown for as long as possible?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I listened to a really good podcast from 'This American Life' called "When Patents Attack" that spent an hour talking about this issue. Got the feeling that all this litigation does a good job of stifling innovation

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Probie, I don't know what kind of industry you are working in

Patent prosecution, mainly translations J-E/E-J of technical documents and office actions/opinions.

but your comments seem out of another world.

Really? Saying that "The patent office finds any prior art if the attorney doesn't. It's their job to do so. The developers might not have time to look for possible violations, but that's why they have IP departments; and why they consult patent attorneys.", is different to what you say here:

I have never seen any IP department with the resources to check whether own developments might infringe the patents of others. Not even in large companies with several tens of thousands of employees, let alone smaller companies who cannot even afford the luxury of such a department.

...in what way??? The IP departments consult people to find prior art, stuff they don't find, the examiner does (or rather, should)

Nobody checks other companies' patents except the few cases where the shit has already hit the fan (or to find out what kind of products they might be working on, but that's another issue).

Yeah, that's why they pay patent attorneys to help the show that what they have has an inventive step and how it's different to the prior art.

99.9% of all patents are small incremental improvements to prior art. Most developers aren't even aware that what they are doing could be worth a patent or might infringe on a patent held by somebody else. It often seems to obvious to them.

That's why they patent everything just in case. Even patenting a small step can block someone else from patenting something that would compete with your invention.

On the other hand, if you had the same or similar idea and didn't apply for a patent (see above) after such a long period you have your first products already in the market and the development of the next generation is so far progreesed that when you now notice that you infringe the patent it's already too late to change it.

That all depends on how narrow or wide the claims are.

And because everybody works this way or rather has to work this way, the only countermeasure is to apply for as many patents as possible which allow you to quickly find something to countersue. That's where the patent wars come from.

I completely agree with you.

How does it help me to check whether I infringe other people's patents?

It helps you a lot, mainly it helps you not end up in litigation.

What does it help me when my competitor wants to keep his patent application unknown for as long as possible?

Again, I agree with you but, the PPH and ISA comment was to the guy talking about it taking so long and not being able to check for patent violations when designing their products.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Patent is another way form of protectionism that damages free market competition. It promotes corporatism and creates monopolies. Just like any other intellectual property law patents should be abolished and businesses to allow compete properly.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Patent is another way form of protectionism that damages free market competition.

No, wrong. Please explain how.

It promotes corporatism and creates monopolies.

No. It rewards inventors and allows them to get money for sharing their knowledge.

patents should be abolished and businesses to allow compete properly.

So, the small business' and inventors who would get rich from licensing the patents they own would not be able to "compete properly". And the items that small factories make, that are paid for by large manufacturers will close because the manufacturers don't get revenue from their IP so they can't afford to pay outside parties to do work for them.

Just like any other intellectual property law

So, if you got conned into buying a fake product that cost next to nothing to make and fell apart fast, but you bought it for the price of the original item, you wouldn't care?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

This is all based around the software, Forget that.

you want or not want kaizen? not difficult to convert frequency to a simple glass and with a new device to open a new game in the world of telecommunications.

regular glass that turns into a picture. mirror, captures the image in real time videophone. tempology new, new old times. frequency, frequency, frequency.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Patent and copyright systems of the world are broken beyond hope. They simply need to be very specific on what IP is and how long it actually needs protection. No sense in 70 year + copyrights (40 year copyright for commercial use is fine, if only 10 year before non-commercial use is legal) or 20 year patents on software (typically 5-10 years is more than overkill), the fields are evolving so fast that copyright and patents now stifle innovation rather than promote them. Who wants more remakes of the same movie, or a company monopoly on a pop up notification box?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Can we just get along?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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