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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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  • who were the corporate sponsors of this bill I wonder?

    Does anyone know if this would have any effect on the arsenals of patents encumbering smartphone or apis (ie Oracle vs Google)?

    -I'm just sayin'
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Oracle vs Google is copyright, so no. Apple, Samsung, HTC, Microsoft, Nokia, Motoroogle, etc aren't patent trolls, so no.
      • 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])

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745)

      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 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).

        • >Most inventions are discovered simultaneously or nearly so, based on the natural progression of science and the technical arts. False. There is also a factor pertaining to the VOLUME of people involved. If the field in question has 7 people working in it, it is far less likely that any invention will be "discovered simultaneously" than if there are 1E6 people in the field. 1.00001^(population) as an example. > Every investor wants you to maximize opportunities at your disposal False. Wall street
        • 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

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            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'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.

    • 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 [appdevelop...liance.org], 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. [wikipedia.org] 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 swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> 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 [wikipedia.org]). 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.)

        • 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.

          • by exomondo (1725132)

            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.

            Which is precisely what Apple did with the iPhone.

            Apple had patented the wazoo out of the iPhone ("And BOY have we patented it!" - Steve Jobs, iPhone Introduction), and yet they copied anyway.

            Which is bullshit because the context of the quote was that they "invented" this thing called "multitouch", and you are a fool if you believe that to be true. Apple tried to scare other companies off by claiming this but those other companies called their bluff in knowing Jobs was a liar and that they did not invent multitouch.

            • by Nerdfest (867930)

              The entire post is a load of crap. WebKit was started as the KDE HTML layout engine, and Google and other wrote a lot of code for it. Apple started to be dickish with accepting others changes lately, so Google forked it and most others are following their branch (even including Opera). If Google copied the iPhone with Android, then Apple copied Windows Mobile with the iPhone.

              Damn right Google is putting a lot of weight behind these anti-patent bills. Go check how many patent lawsuits Google has filed (and d

          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            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.

            Actually, Google's been good about respecting those patents. The most famous "rounded corners" patent isn't even valid on default Android - it's the custom shells that people put on, notably, TouchWiz, that violates the patent. (It didn't

        • 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.

          • "Google is good at scaling, and yes, many of the acquired products had to be rewritten to scale up."

            That's not why google buys the companies. What's important is the IDEAS not the IMPLEMENTATION of the ideas.

        • by fatphil (181876)
          Google Flights? Wasn't that just Google buying ITA?
          Picasa? Wasn't that just Google buying Picasa (there seems to be a clue pointing in that direction in the name)
          Google Wallet? So Google didn't acquire TxVia, and E-Micro's patents, they developed everything in-house?

          There are probably more...
      • by Optic7 (688717)

        I agree with a lot of what you say, but in the interest of correcting a misconception for those with short memories, Google created AdSense LOOONG before they bought DoubleClick (apparently 2003 vs. 2007). In fact, the US and EU governments had to analyze and approve the deal for fear of a monopoly, since Google was already an advertising behemoth (IIRC, the number one internet advertising company) by the time they became interested in DoubleClick. In other words, DoubleClick would just serve as icing on th

        • Whether google owns Doublecklick or not, there's a special place in my adblock configuration for that company which they can disable only after they extract my computer from my cold dead hands.

          I really wish they'd bought the company and then nuked it from orbit, like they did with a few other noxious evil outfits over the years.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @07:11PM (#45613927) Homepage Journal

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

    • 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.

      • 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 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 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.

      • Time to change "lifelong" party affiliations then.
      • 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.

        The White House supports, and 130 Dems voted for the bill. True, more Dems voted against than Republicans, but 27 Republicans voted against and 64 Dems voted against.

        My guess is that voting against this is going to be more aligned with who's getting the most money in the Senate, regardless of party lines. I could imagine both corporations and education throwing money at this, which means Republicans and Democrats will support and oppose in nearly equal measure.

    • 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 Anonymous Coward

        BEEP BEEP. You are standing in the way of progress. Get out of the way.

        You will never get what you want if you hold out for the whole pie, so take what you can get agreement on today, and then try to get it fixed NEXT SESSION.
        Besides, if someone's getting screwed they'll sue under the new law and the courts may fix it for you (aka "legislating from the bench").

        • You will never get what you want if you hold out ...

          Well, this law provides protections from big companies from small companies, but doesn't actually protect small companies from large patent arsenals used to prevent innovation, and you call this is progre-- Wait a second.

          BEEP BEEP. You are standing in the way of progress. Get out of the way.

          Ah, of course. I had always suspected, but had no proof until today, that a contingent of A.C.s were actually Vogons.

        • Considering the recent quality and quantity of legislation from the legislature this seems our best hope.

      • by Anonymous Coward

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

        Obama has said a lot of things and then done the opposite. I'm not holding my breath on this one.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    If this actually passes the Senate and Pres, I'll be shocked, shocked I say, that legislating was being done in the legislature.
  • Now is a good time to call, write, and email your senators to let them know that you want to see this bill passed AS IS.

    • Now is a good time to call, write, and email your senators to let them know that you want to see this bill passed AS IS.

      Have you read the entire bill, including current riders, prior to making that statement?

      I can't help but think there's something else in this bill other than the legislation we're discussing, and that it's likely something that would leave a foul taste in our collective mouths.

  • 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 ewieling (90662)
      Couldn't a mass spectrometer be used today to figure out the formula of WD-40? It seems to me you are simply advocating security through obscurity.
      • 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 ppanon (16583)
        WD-40 is probably composed of a fair number of organic and inorganic molecules. So while a mass spectrometer might tell you the proportion of component atoms in the lubricant, that's a long way from knowing the composition of all its molecular components. I mean mass spectrometers are cheaper now, but they've been available for almost a century (longer than WD-40) so if that was all that was needed somebody would surely have done it by now. Perhaps you might be able to distill/separate the various component
        • by Anonymous Coward

          In all probability you'd use a gas chromatograph to separate the components and then some combination of mass spec, NMR and infrared spectroscopy. If people can figure out DNA sequences, they sure can figure out some low MW mixtures.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Artifakt (700173)

        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 operat

        • A thoughtful response, but you used his phrase and shouldn't have. It's not "security through obscurity." It's "competitive advantage through obscurity." They're rather different. Different enough that I think his application of the phrase is misleading. The industry insiders are manifestly correct. They are in fact achieving a competitive advantage through obscurity. Though in the case of things like Coca-Cola and KFC (they officially changed their name, by the way, like SGI did), the obscure formul

    • While the student debt machine pumps out a great amount of money, the icing is in Grants, and Universities who can and do research work with associated patents get crazy grant money for important things..you know..like golden bulls and stuff..
    • by s.petry (762400)

      I agree with everything until you said "THAT is the part that doesn't work, not the patent laws themselves.". That is absolutely wrong, because of the whole concept of "idea" patents, which are currently legal (and have been since the first Bush).

      The Patent laws have not been working correctly since then. The same arguments we have against those types of patents today date back to the 1700s. The difference between now and then is that people passed these horrible laws which allow not just the monopoly on

    • They teach too, but research has always been a part of it. Now if you don't want them getting patents and such on research that's fine, but then you need to increase funding. Part of the issue is that states have continually cut funding to universities. If that money isn't being paid in by the state, it needs to come from other sources, either higher tuition, or more research dollars.

    • by smpoole7 (1467717)

      > 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."

      Not sure about the sign, but they do have staffers whose primary function is to snarf grant money for said university. :)

      One of my friends years ago made his living doing that very thing.

    • Doh - Weazel Piss a.k.a. releasing oil, is fairly common and goes by many names, for example R60 and Castrol Flick.
    • "WD40 is not patented."

      Even if it had been at some point,that would have long-expired, given it hit the market in 1953.

      WIred got pretty close to analysing the stuff - http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/17-05/st_whatsinside [wired.com]

      Assuming it passes, nailing patent _Trolls_ vs inventors will be the key point.

      I haven't read the whole thing but I'd be _ecstatic_ if it prevents a repeat of the rambus fisasco and pretty damn happy if there are provisions to make patent submarining illegal (or at least pre

  • 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 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.
  • 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.

  • I'm wondering what's the temperature in the Phlegethon.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/113-2013/h629

  • 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 Animats (122034)

        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.

        The worst part is the remnant of the "loser pays" provision. If you try to enforce a patent against a big company, if you lose you have a good chance of being hit with the big guy's legal bills. There's no cap on that. That provision was amended, which made it "slightly less awful", as one congressman put it. After the amendment, the new language now means you get to litigate over the legal fees. Statistically, the patent holder wins about 40% of the time, and even with a good case, it's easy to make a mist

        • It's my understanding, and the GP who read the whole thing states, that the plaintiff pays the defendant's fees only if the sued IN BAD FAITH. The little guy can freely sue the big company if they have "a good faith belief" that the big company is infringing. It's pretty tough to prove bad faith, that the plaintiff didn't think they had a case. That comes into play when a plaintiff pulls crap like lying to the court about who their client is, and forging an inventor's signature - the crap the worst paten

          • by Animats (122034)

            It's my understanding, and the GP who read the whole thing states, that the plaintiff pays the defendant's fees only if the sued IN BAD FAITH.

            Close, but not quite. "Bad faith" has a specific meaning in law. [thefreedictionary.com] It requires malicious intent. The burden of proof is on the party claiming bad faith, and it's hard to prove intent.

            That language was fought over and amended. Originally, it was loser pays almost all the time. Here's what passed the House:

            (a) Award- The court shall award, to a prevailing party, reasonable fees and other expenses incurred by that party in connection with a civil action in which any party asserts a claim for relief arising

            • Thank you for that quote from the bill as it stands now. That's good that it includes "or if .. make an award unjust".
              98% of the time, judges are pretty good at seeing who is the asshole, who is the good guy, etc. Of course 2% of the time they screw it up and in those cases various web sites scream about it while significantly exaggerating the situation.

              • by Animats (122034)

                The point to take away here is that you can generally avoid being charged with "bad faith" by not doing specific bad things. The standard in the bill is much more ambiguous.

                On the other side, an infinger can be charged triple damages for "willful infringement". A recent court decision raised that standard to "willful and reckless", which is almost impossible to prove.

    • 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.

      • It would be good if it weren't true that patents were something for the small inventor.

        Among novel machines I've looked at recently, there one was invented by a university professor, Kais Atallah (whose invention was a type of magnetic gear, to which he obtained a patent, which got the whole thing funded), Torbjörn Lembke, whose invention was a magnetic bearing, who worked in industry, had an idea for an improvement of today's magnetic gears, wrote a PhD dissertation about it, patented it before publi
    • by gnupun (752725)
      This bill looks like a trojan horse scam. The difference between a valid patent and troll patent can be very subjective. Can someone knowledgeable about the law explain how this bill affects inventors of a valid, non-troll patent? This is other than the 60% chance of paying a big corporation's legal fees if he/she loses a patent fight.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    While I do in fact feel some empathy for people who create new material in terms of copyright / patents, this is a long time coming. We can't have a functioning system when everybody and their brother can clog up the works with useless patents describing a method (but which would be completely worthless as instructions to actually do it), and without proving that they've in fact done it and it works, and without even making it available to the public in terms of continuing to sell the product.

    Also, the who

  • 70% of the representatives that voted against the bill were Democrats.
  • Now I'm kind of worried what is wrong with it. This is the chamber that wanted to bankrupt the country in order to block healthcare reform.

    Of course, maybe it just had a rider that killed ACORN another few hundred times.

  • If you ever want to explain to the layperson how damaging patent trolls are, point them to this episode [thisamericanlife.org] of This American Life.

    It's patently ridiculous...

    (Note: Although it says Part Two, it's really the whole thing - they include Part One into this episode).

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