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Patent Troll Bill Clears House With Huge Majority 138

Posted by timothy
from the with-what-riders-attached dept.
snydeq writes "The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Innovation Act, dealing trolls a severe blow despite opposition from universities looking to protect patents, InfoWorld's Simon Phipps reports. The act cleared the House of Representatives with an overwhelming majority of 325 to 91 despite opposition from the organizations most likely to feed new patents to the trolls. 'So bravo to the Innovation Act. It's far from perfect, as the EFF documents and as I commented before the holiday. But it's a step in the right direction, and the tidal surge of support it's seeing suggests legislators' appetite for proper patent reform is finally growing strong enough for them to contemplate substantial change.'"
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Patent Troll Bill Clears House With Huge Majority

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  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Thursday December 05, 2013 @07:14PM (#45613957)

    The House has got it spot on. Now for the Senate and President.

    It's pretty much a fact that the Dems (of which I have been a lifelong member) both own the Senate, and are owned by many of the people (universities, high tech, and so on) that value patents.

    The Senate will not pass this, and what a shame.

  • yeah right (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @07:39PM (#45614175)
    "Among those apologists was the EVP of the Association of American Universities, whose press briefing Tuesday took the stance that patents are good for research."
    Holy crap I don't even know where to start with that one. First of all, I remember when universities were for teaching. They seem to be under the impression that they're product manufacturers or R&D branches of some non-existent company. I wonder if they have a sign outside the door to the labs at these universities that say "forget teaching students, we need money! Welcome to the R&D Dept."

    Oh and here's an idea. If you're doing research and want the final product or some related technology protected, don't let anyone know about it. In other words, don't file a patent. WD40 is not patented. The reason the company stated for that is so it's harder to reverse engineer the formula because if it had a patent, the recipe be out there for everyone to see. Nobody has, to this day, ever successfully figured out how to make a knock off of WD40.

    Now the article states that this reduces the ability for 2 different universities to coordinate for fear of ripping the ideas off from each other. How about they either have professors teach students things like for example if they were some sort of university OR they become secret-protecting, profit-driven R&D company that only cares about making a profit off newly developed products. Just pick either one or the other and go with it instead of pretending to be both. Patents + universities don't mix because universities are acting like regular companies when they're not. THAT is the part that doesn't work, not the patent laws themselves.
  • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @07:55PM (#45614313)

    Not much seems to be done about these draconian copyright laws we have.

  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @08:41PM (#45614643) Homepage

    This isn't an anti-patent troll bill. It's an anti-small inventor bill. It's designed to make it more expensive to enforce patents. That won't affect Google vs Apple vs Microsoft, etc. It just makes it harder for a little company to enforce a patent against a big one. That was the intention. (The Leahy bill in the Senate isn't that bad, but the Goodlatte bill that just passed the House is awful.)

    This bill has been pushed through by a hate campaign against inventors. It's a well-funded campaign, and it's suckered in many people. The money is coming from Google and Facebook, who are hiding behind front organizations such as the Application Developers Association and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF's effort is funded by Google and Facebook, with $2 million laundered through a clever legal trick. [cnn.com]

    There are very few real "patent trolls". The EFF has tried to identify every one they can, and they only found 15. [trollingeffects.org] They started a campaign to attack "trolled patents" in court and at the USPTO, and and they only found one. [eff.org] There are a few other broad patents being enforced aggressively, notably Ultramercial. That's about it.

    Using that thin basis, the "patent troll" problem has been hyped as a major threat. There are hate sites aimed at inventors:

    • "Trolling Effects" (EFF) [trollingeffects.org] "Trolling Effects is a resource for those who have been targeted by patent trolls. Here you can learn more about these bad actors."
    • The American Association of Advertising Agencies [aaaa.org]: "These are not companies in the traditional sense that employ workers or create, market and distribute products or services; rather, they are legal entities whose sole purpose is to threaten with patent claims and then secure expedient - and lucrative - settlements based on these claims."
    • Application Developers Alliance [appdevelop...liance.org]: "Even the worst and least-expensive old patents are used like extortionist sledge hammers."

    I used to respect the EFF, but once they took Google's money, they, too, turned to the dark side.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:33PM (#45614943)

    No, inventors are not the target of this legislation. I am an entrepreneur, multi-startup founder, product creator of products that have shipped hundreds of thousands of units and products that have failed (always important to add). I hold over a dozen patents or patents pending. I have also had my startups threatened by patent litigation from trolls. A lot of things about creating companies and products are difficult but being assaulted by patent trolls is one of the worst because there is nothing the entrepreneur can do except pay off a thug or pay off lawyers to defend against the thug. Either way, the small inventor loses crucial capital, focus and energy.

    I've read the current language of the bill and there is nothing there that harms small inventors. Everything there makes large-scale patent trolling less attractive as a business model. As a small inventor I have no problem disclosing my ownership in my patents. I have no problem specifying what product I believe infringes one of my patents and in what way. I have no problem with a judge being able to shift court costs to the losing party, if the judge determines that party was not acting in good faith in bringing the suit. I wouldn't bring a suit in bad faith, nor abuse the discovery process or otherwise try to egregiously abuse legal tactics to run up costs. That's what trolls do. Not legitimate inventors. All of these provisions PROTECT me as a small inventor. Trolls generally go after small companies because they are the ones that must settle because they can't afford a costly defense.

  • by recoiledsnake (879048) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @10:09PM (#45615159)

    From http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A54564-2005Feb25.html [washingtonpost.com]

    At long last, Robert Kearns's battles with the world's automotive giants have come to an end. Kearns, who died Feb. 9, devoted decades of his life to fighting Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Corp. and other carmakers in court, trying to gain the credit he thought he deserved as the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper.

    From a basement in Detroit, where he devised his invention, to Gaithersburg, where he moved in the 1970s, Kearns carried his lonely fight all the way to the Supreme Court, one man against the might of the industrial world and a patent system he believed had let him down.

    Robert Kearns fought for years to be credited as inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper. (The Washington Post)
    By the time he died at 77 at Copper Ridge nursing home in Sykesville, Md., of brain cancer complicated by Alzheimer's disease, Kearns had gained some vindication in the form of $30 million in settlements from Ford and Chrysler, but he never got what he had sought from the beginning.

    "I need the money, but that's not what this is about," he told Regardie's magazine in 1990. "I've spent a lifetime on this. This case isn't just a trial. It's about the meaning of Bob Kearns's life."

    All he wanted, he often said, was the chance to run a factory with his six children and build his wiper motors, along with a later invention for a windshield wiper that was activated automatically by rainfall. In the end, his courtroom battles cost him his job, his marriage and, at times, his mental health.

    Kearns, who had a doctorate in engineering from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and had taught engineering for 11 years at Wayne State University in Detroit, was no weekend tinkerer. A native of Gary, Ind., he grew up near the giant Ford plant in River Rouge, Mich., and always thought of the auto company as a place that welcomed someone with ingenuity.

    He got his idea on his wedding night in 1953, when a champagne cork struck him in the left eye, which eventually became blind. The blinking of his eye led him to wonder if he could make windshield wipers that worked the same way -- that would move at intervals instead of in a constant back-and-forth motion.

    After years of experiments at home and on his cars -- "If it ever rained," his former wife, Phyllis Hall, recalled yesterday, "I had to drop everything and go out with him in the car" -- Kearns believed his invention was ready.

    He applied for patents, mounted his wipers on his 1962 Ford Galaxie and drove to Ford's headquarters. Engineers swarmed over his car, at one point sending him out of the workroom, convinced he was activating the wipers with a button in his pocket.

    Ford's engineers had been experimenting with vacuum-operated wipers, but Kearns was the first to invent an intermittent wiper with an electric motor. After a while, however, Ford stopped answering his calls, and Kearns was left on his own.

    In 1967, he received the first of more than 30 patents for his wipers. In 1969, Ford came out with the first intermittent wiper system in the United States, followed within a few years by the other major manufacturers.

    After working as Detroit's commissioner of buildings and safety engineering, Kearns moved to Gaithersburg in 1971 to become principal investigator for highway skid resistance at the old National Bureau of Standards, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

    In 1976, Kearns's son bought an electric circuit for a Mercedes-Benz intermittent wiper, which Kearns took apart, only to discover it was almost identical to what he'd invented. He had a nervous breakdown soon after.

    He boarded a bus, with delusions of riding to Australia and being commissioned by former President Richard M. Nixon to build an electric car. Police picked him up in Tennessee, and his family checked him into the psychiatric ward at Montgomery

  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:01PM (#45615483) Homepage

    Picasa acquired by Google [nytimes.com] - New York Times, 2004. "'They came to the conclusion that it would be easier to buy this business than to build it themselves. It's the type of acquisition you can expect Google to do more of in the future.'' The self-driving car technology was acquired from Stanford, along with Sebastian Thrun. Google did do a lot with language translation in-house; that's probably the most innovative area. Most of Google's big-name products, though, came from elsewhere.

    Google is good at scaling, and yes, many of the acquired products had to be rewritten to scale up. Still, Google Earth today looks a lot like the Keyhole Earth Viewer I had in 2003.

A motion to adjourn is always in order.

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