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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 geekoid (135745) <> on Thursday December 05, 2013 @07:20PM (#45613989) Homepage Journal

    No, it will just harm people who don't have money to quickly get their patent into the market. It's another FU to small inventor, just like the last patent reform.

    Of course, no one has actually made any good reasoning why getting licensing for someone to use a patent is some how bad.

  • by suutar (1860506) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @07:26PM (#45614027)
    Hi, your dishwasher's design infringes on my patent, and you're using it, so you personally are in violation. Give me 5 thousand dollars.
  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @07:51PM (#45614273) Homepage

    Who were the corporate sponsors of this bill?

    The big push was from Google. Google, along with Facebook and Twitter (but not Apple) sponsors the Application Developers Alliance [], which is a lobbying group against "patent trolls".

    To understand why this matters to Google, look at where Google's products came from. Google, despite their reputation for innovation, has obtained most of their technology through acquisitions of smaller companies. Google has acquired 131 smaller companies over the years. [] Since the original search engine, almost all successful Google products came from the outside. YouTube, AdSense (DoubleClick), Google Earth (Keyhole), Blogger (Genius Labs), Android, Google Docs (Upstartle), Google Analytics (Urchin), Google Talk (Grand Central) etc. all came from acquisitions. In house, Google developed Google Wave and Google Buzz.

    As a net buyer of IP, it's in Google's interest to keep the value of patents down. They don't want a small company to be able to say no to Google.

  • by suutar (1860506) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @08:11PM (#45614445)
    copyright hasn't hindered anyone with deep enough pockets yet, in part because copyright (unlike patents) doesn't prevent you from writing your own thing that does X.
  • Re:yeah right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @08:20PM (#45614497)
    Well I would think you'd get Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen or whatever since it's a hydrocarbon chain but building chains of oil type chemicals is the hard part.
  • by whistlingtony (691548) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @08:28PM (#45614555)

    House of representatives: 231 Republicans; 200 Democrats. If 91 voted against it, and assuming they're all Democrats (I don't know what the actual breakdown is)... I'd say it has a decent chance of passing the Senate and President. To see THAT much support for something is pretty amazing, ESPECIALLY out of the House of Reps.

    Also, at this point, ANY bill that makes it through all the way is a victory. :D I think it'll get signed.

  • by swillden (191260) <> on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:29PM (#45614895) Homepage Journal

    Google Talk (Grand Central)

    Actually, that's Google Voice, not Google Talk.

    In house, Google developed Google Wave and Google Buzz.

    And Chrome V8, Gmail, Google+ (including Google+ video Hangouts), Google Wallet, Google Offers, Google News, Google Books, Google Music, Google Now, Google Keep, Google Art, Google Cloud Print, Google Image Search, Google Video Search, Google Music Search, Google App Engine, Google Compute Engine, Google Flights, Picasa, Google Translate, Google Knowledge Graph, Google Shopper, Google Currents, etc., etc., etc. (I got tired of copying entries from the Wikipedia page []). And of course there's now all of the hardware -- various tablets and phones, Chromecast, Chromebooks, Google Glass, self-driving cars, and more. Oh, and Google Fiber. Plus a bunch of other Google X projects, most of which not even Google employees know anything about.

    In addition, nearly all of the properties that began as acquisitions have been substantially, if not totally, rewritten to provide more features and to enable them to scale to massive volumes. For example, Google Maps was acquired when it was a standalone program written by two guys. It's unlikely that there is a single line of code remaining from that original app in the modern multi-platform, massively scaled system that incorporates many different data layers, including all of the StreetView imagery (another purely Google-originated endeavor).

    Actually, even if Google had simply acquired everything, it would still take a lot of innovation to rearchitect it all so it can scale for a billion users. There's a lot of purely internal innovation that is required to make all of this stuff work, like Bigtable (and now Spanner), Borg, MapReduce (and now Flume), plus all of the libraries/dev tools -- including many which have been open sourced like Guava, protobuf, Gson, Gerrit, Keyczar, and many, many more.

    "Google doesn't actually invent anything" is a popular /. meme, but it's completely untrue.

    As for why this patent legislation matters to Google, Google has always hated the patent arms race; it costs software companies money and agility, and gives them basically nothing in return.

    Google is a company of software engineers, right to the very top, and nearly all software engineers hate the ridiculousness of software patents, and the way patent trolls stifle extract cash from the people who are actually doing cool stuff to give it to worthless do-nothings. For a long time Google simply refused to play the patent game at all, until it got seriously burned. So then Google began lobbying hard for patent reform, spending millions per year, and this is just one piece of that large, multi-pronged effort. At the same time, Google realized that it had to get into the patent game itself to survive, and so purchased Motorola and some other large piles of patents, and began rewarding engineers for writing patents. But Google would really prefer to fix the system.

    (Disclaimer: I'm a Google engineer.)

  • It's another FU to small inventor, just like the last patent reform.

    The small inventor, and the little guy in general, has been FU-ed out of the game for a long time now. Patents are now all about legal fights and trolling, not innovation or rewarding it. It's time for them to die.

  • This isn't an anti-patent troll bill. It's an anti-small inventor bill.

    If so, good then; the sooner the myth of patents being for the small inventor dies the sooner everyone will finally be rid of the impediment of patents forever.

  • Re:yeah right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Artifakt (700173) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @09:53PM (#45615073)

    Every single "Trade Secret" is an attempt to get Security through Obscurity - yet some of the most massive companies still seem to love them. The original goals of having patents includes stopping people from using trade secrets instead, as the holder can't keep anything secret as part of getting a patent (it's called "failure to disclose"). Back when any patent had to have a working drawing, they were automatically rejected if there was any 'black box' element in the drawings, where some part of the operation was supposed to be a trade secret.

    So I guess i don't see why you are pointing out that security through obscurity is one of the alternatives here, as though it was stupid to suggest using it. It's not a rare option - there are, for example, thousands of commercial foods that rely on it, including formulas theoretically worth billions, as in Coca-Cola and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Lawyers who get paid $500,000 a year or more by their business clients, have built their whole reputations on advising some companies to rely on this form of security through obscurity. It's a huge part of how the current system works, even though many of these trade secrets are no longer secret at all and some of them have been cracked for a hundred years or more. (There are people who can brew up a basement batch of imitation Coca-cola to any version of the formula from the time it still included oil of lavender to "new Coke", and routinely make a hundred gallons at a time of whichever they want, and even sell it - so much for security through obscurity - but they still can't advertise that they know for sure the exact original formula, for fear they might have to explain how they got it if Coca-cola took them to court). There are world class CEOs who think patents are generally stupid, simply because they expire so quickly, and prefer trade secrets as a matter of course. Publicly traded companies frequently brag in their prospecti about how their trade secrets won't expire, as patents will, in trying to influence the sale value of their stock, and there is a whole branch of tax law involving about 2,000 IRS court decisions and nearly 100 pages of regulations and non-binding opinions just covering the tax consequences of them.

    I grant you, it does sound absurd, put that way. It's just that sounding surprised that anyone would say anything that even might encourage it is sort of like if you said you were surprised to hear that anyone advocated using helecopters in warfare instead of horses. There are, in total, literally trillions of dollars of financial pressure pushing people towards not always seeking patents, and "very important" industry insiders who think security through obscurity is the right choice, however absurd that sounds.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @10:30PM (#45615259) Homepage

    One of my senators, Cornyn, sponsored PIPA. (...) Checking on this, it seems he even tried to rewrite history, suggesting that he opposed PIPA all along.

    Sadly you get very little credit for changing your mind as a politician, either you're labeled a flip-flop who can't make up their mind, a populist who'll shift with every breeze in the popular opinion or at worst a turncoat who'll back a proposal until it gets tough and then change sides. At best you backed down because off the potential fallout, not because the initial information you based your position on was misleading or you gained any greater insight in the issue and realized your previous position was wrong. Voters tend to vote for people who pretend they are right, always have been right and continue to be right even if defeated. Having a mindset carved in stone is often mistaken for being principled.

When in doubt, mumble; when in trouble, delegate; when in charge, ponder. -- James H. Boren