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Government Patents United States Politics

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 Samantha Wright (1324923) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @07:28PM (#45614065) Homepage Journal

    The bill actually does touch on the style of patent litigation used by big tech companies:

    But a number of voices, most with vested interests, have been scrambling to protect the trolls even with the concerns of the big trolls taken into account with the reduction of the bill's impact on "covered business methods." This part of patent law is used more by large corporate patent holders and thus opposed by the likes of IBM, Microsoft, General Electric, and Adobe.

    (detail [infoworld.com])

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @07:30PM (#45614087)

    Actually they didn't go far enough. There are provisions in this bill to protect business process patents because of lobbying by IBM, Microsoft et al.

    Hopefully the Senate will fix this up.

    As Obama has said he supports this bill and it has broad bipartisan support it's likely to pass the Senate easily.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @07:33PM (#45614115) Homepage Journal

    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.

    With a 325 - 91 margin it's got to make more than a few feel a bit uncomfortable about opposing it. It's also not the Apple vs Samsung sort of patent trolling, it's the scum who keep filling those courthouses in Eastern Texas.

  • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Thursday December 05, 2013 @07:39PM (#45614167) Journal

    I rather think writing to my senator did help make a difference on the PROTECT IP ACT (PIPA). One of my senators, Cornyn, sponsored PIPA. When Wikipedia went dark, I emailed his office, blaming the outage squarely on SOPA and PIPA. I was surprised and pleased when I heard he backed away, saying it needed more study. Apparently so many people wrote about the issue that he felt it was safer to disappoint his backers than tempt the wrath of that many people.

    Checking on this, it seems he even tried to rewrite history, suggesting that he opposed PIPA all along. At any rate, on the Wikipedia entry about SOPA and PIPA, he's listed as "opposed" and his former position in support is not mentioned. There's something ironic about that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05, 2013 @07:41PM (#45614183)

    "Of course, no one has actually made any good reasoning why requiring patents is somehow good."

    FTFY.

    Most patent justifications only make sense in the context of a patent regime. They're not independently supportable.

    1) Patents force inventors to publish their invention so it can be copied.
    - The real function of publication is to reduce duplicative patents, and to put potential infringers on notice. Most inventions are discovered simultaneously or nearly so, based on the natural progression of science and the technical arts.

    2) Patents provide incentive for large capital expenditure burdened by the free rider problem.
    - It's been shown time-and-time again with empirical studies that patents are unnecessary. Just like monopoly concessions are unnecessary in almost every other facet of our free market economy. Do you need a monopoly concession to open a restaurant, to prevent competitors? No. To create Twitter? No. SpaceX? No.

    3) By packaging "ideas" into transferable property, you incentive investments because the product concept can be collateralized.
    - Patents are often desired by investors, but what investor wouldn't you want to make use of regulatory property, regardless of whether it makes sense for the larger economy. Every investor wants you to maximize opportunities at your disposal.
    - More important to a company than inventions are their employees, who create those inventions. And yet, places like Silicon Valley have been shown to be more innovative than others (e.g. Boston/Cambridge), with a healthier startup and investment community, despite the fact that California out-right rejects non-compete clauses in regular employment contracts, unlike almost every other state (including Massachusetts).

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @08:09PM (#45614425)

    Once I found out that about 4-8 companies file half of all patent suits (and 90% of the troll ones), I figured it shouldn't be THAT hard to make it unprofitable for those companies to continue. Some say this bill isn't perfect, but if it manages to take enough profit our of trolling to stop those few big trolls, that largely solves the problem.

  • Re:yeah right (Score:4, Informative)

    by ewieling (90662) <ericNO@SPAMfnords.org> on Thursday December 05, 2013 @08:37PM (#45614621)
    I should have looked before I posted. <URL:http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/17-05/st_whatsinside>. Looks to me they could come very close to the formula.
  • by Beeftopia (1846720) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:54PM (#45615077)

    1) One of the big drivers behind patent reform was the National Association of Realtors [realtor.org]. The reason why is in the link.

    2) They are the 5th largest all time donor to federal politicians [opensecrets.org]. They pay both political parties nearly equally.

    3) They are the part of the Finance-Insurance-Real Estate (FIRE) sector [opensecrets.org], which as a group, "is far and away the largest source of campaign contributions to federal candidates and parties" per the link.

    Hence the overwhelming numbers. I'd be curious to see what other goodies are buried in that bill.

  • by maccodemonkey (1438585) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @10:45PM (#45615355)

    Anything with Chrome gets a "half truth" from me. Chrome is based on WebKit, and as such had a lot of stuff that was copied from Apple. I would say collaborated on, but Google put an end to that, so I'll use the word copied, even though it was a legally allowed copy.

    V8 is Google's original contribution to WebKit, yes, but it was very similar to WebKit's JavaScript engine (which leapfrogged V8 within public release in months, so V8 didn't really even bring anything unique to the table), and if you'll notice from the V8 license...

    https://code.google.com/p/v8/source/browse/trunk/LICENSE [google.com]

    "Strongtalk assembler, the basis of the files assembler-arm-inl.h,
            assembler-arm.cc, assembler-arm.h, assembler-ia32-inl.h,
            assembler-ia32.cc, assembler-ia32.h, assembler-x64-inl.h,
            assembler-x64.cc, assembler-x64.h, assembler-mips-inl.h,
            assembler-mips.cc, assembler-mips.h, assembler.cc and assembler.h.
            This code is copyrighted by Sun Microsystems Inc. and released
            under a 3-clause BSD license."

    They didn't even write the assembler, it's Suns.

    So their contribution to V8 was to bring a lot of things together, but it wouldn't have been possible with, again, outside companies and acquisitions.

    I don't have much sympathy for Google in the patents arms race. Google was aware what the rules of the game were, they were aware Apple had patented the wazoo out of the iPhone ("And BOY have we patented it!" - Steve Jobs, iPhone Introduction), and yet they copied anyway. You can complain about the rules, but Google can't say they were ignorant about the rules, and boy, these patents were unexpected. They very directly released something in conflict of patents, that's on them. I don't have much sympathy for companies that go out of their way to incur legal wraith and then complain they get sued. There is no "not playing the patent game." That's like playing soccer but saying you're "not playing the no hands on the ball game." It is what is it. Ignorance isn't a legal defense, nor is it a sound corporate strategy.

  • Re:Mandela has died (Score:2, Informative)

    by viperidaenz (2515578) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @10:52PM (#45615413)

    English-writing world does the logical thing

    That's because they don't speak English in the US, they speak American.

  • Re:Mandela has died (Score:2, Informative)

    by digitig (1056110) on Friday December 06, 2013 @08:01AM (#45617515)

    Punctuation is applied within the quotation marks, so this should be written as "then."

    In US English, true. But in British English the sentence was correctly punctuated as it stood, and putting the stop inside the quotes would be seen as a blunder (or resented as a creeping Americanism).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06, 2013 @09:38AM (#45617903)

    This is exactly the kind of idiotic "inventions" I want to see obliterated. An enhancement obvious to any expert in the field.

    I design machines all day long as a profession. Most of the time, we know years in advance of various things we can make to improve the design, we just did not implement it yet for whatever reason. Cost. Complexity. Unneeded. Add it later when everything else is operating predictable and well.

    Then comes some fool and claims to be a genuis for thinking of the same things. "Say, would it not be great to have an indicator light showing when the toaster is hot? I want a million bucks!"

    Fuck him in his Dunning Kruger ass.

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