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The Story Behind Recent Patent Reform 102

rmstar writes "In an article titled 'The Spoilsmen: How Congress Corrupted Patent Reform,' Huffington Post reporter Zach Carter takes a look at the story behind the recent patent reform effort. It is an interesting and scary account of just how broken the legislative process is when it comes to intellectual property."
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The Story Behind Recent Patent Reform

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    • by drb226 ( 1938360 )
      While what you say is true, I have a hard time blaming anyone for messing up legislation that is based on a broken concept like "intellectual property". If it isn't tangible, how can you "own" it? Rather than saying "you can't", as they probably should, they instead weave all kinds of nonsense legislation around the flawed concept.
      • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @02:49PM (#36988942) Homepage

        No, you can own tangible things, like a share in a company, or a debt someone owes to you.

        I think you're confusing intangibility with non-rivalry. If something is non-rivalrous, it means that multiple people can possess the whole of it without lessening the possession of anyone else. An idea is not rivalrous because if Alice tells her idea to Bob, she doesn't lose it, but rather they now both have it.

        • No, you can own tangible things, like a share in a company, or a debt someone owes to you.

          I am currently to believe that a share in a company is indeed an intangible good. It's not something you can hold in your hands. Mind you, you may have a piece of paper or something similar that represents it, but the share itself if not a tangible object.

        • Exactly.

          This one article by itself is excellent; there have been sufficient others in recent years. Or, of course, one could read law, an exercise I cannot recommend even thought one might have the time and the stomach for it. Things have gotten seriously that bad. (I know. I had to become expert viz. copyright regarding software lending libraries circa '90)

          I apologize for not reading all of the comments, some of them sure to cogent and on point, and certainly more insightful and learned than this, but

      • I don't see why you can't. You don't really "own" anything. You simply believe that you do (and laws may state that you do).

        • the difference between intellectual property and real property is the fact real property can be taken away from you. No one can "take" an idea away from you, they can only copy it.

          I can take your car, kick you out of your house, but I can only ever copy your trademark, copyright, or patent.

          • Yes, well, what stops someone from believing that all copies are theirs and theirs alone? I don't agree with owning ideas, but I don't see why it's impossible when "ownership" is nothing more than a state of mind (you believe that something is yours and yours alone and the law agrees with you).

            • How can you prove there isn't another copy ever? once you show it to someone it is copied into their memory. the only way to be sure is to kill the person.

              Also since most ideas are derivative of previous work, the probability that someone else had a similar idea is very very high.

              Bell, was the first to file for patent on the telephone.
              Wright brothers weren't the first to fly, but the first to take off with a motor., and they were the first to patent it.

              America was the first to build and deploy a nuclear b

              • How can you prove there isn't another copy ever? once you show it to someone it is copied into their memory. the only way to be sure is to kill the person.

                I didn't claim that it makes sense. I only claimed that it was possible for someone to feel that way. They could take a less drastic approach and only believe that digital copies belong to them, for instance. Again, I myself think that intellectual property is ridiculous. I'm only claiming that "property" is just an idea itself.

        • by bky1701 ( 979071 )
          Ownership of ideas is ludicrous. Enforcement of such ownership is censorship, plain and simple. No one should be behind this kind of thing.

          I have said it before, and I think people got the wrong message, but I will say it again: eventually we will look back on copyright and patents like we now do on slavery. Slavery, too, was an important part of our economy, which was utterly immoral, and many understood it was wrong. Slavery just happens to have been a LOT worse. However, it will happen to copyright/pa
          • I truly hope you're right. But I doubt it will happen in our lifetime. And it might never happen. It seems like, in order for it to happen, corporate power over government would have to decrease, but it seems like it's only increasing, all over the world.

  • scary? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jodka ( 520060 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @02:27PM (#36988670)

    It is a... scary account of just how broken the legislative process is...

    Scary? You think that is scary? No, this [] is scary.

    • by Ksevio ( 865461 )
      No that's just a cool visualization of large numbers. Showing the GDP of the US would have a similar effect.
      • by Jodka ( 520060 )

        Not scary? You apparently do not comprehend the implications.

        Not including future increases in planned U.S government spending, solely to fund spending which government has already promised to Social Security beneficiaries, Welfare recipients, Medicare and Medicaid recipients, recipients of government pesions, U.S. debt holders and other groups, every household in the U.S. today will have to pay, on average, an additional $1,016,774.00 more in taxes than what they pay at current rates. That is, on aver

        • by Ksevio ( 865461 )
          But the vast majority of that will be health care costs. It just shows that we need REAL health care reform. The scary thing is that the legislative process is so bad that it takes greater than a super majority to pass anything meaningful.
        • The wealthiest people in this country pay less taxes now than at any time this century. Maybe that's the problem.

          Supply side economics is the reason for the short fall not the existence of social security or medicare. The people who put such thoughts into your head know this is true. The short fall is intentional, the hoped for result is a mob of fools clamoring for their own demise.


  • by Anonymous Coward

    Seems to me that Congress is bought and paid for by the oligarchy, ditto every state legislature, therefore democracy doesn't work any longer.
    Ditto all of our chief executives -- it isn't an accident that Obama is little different than Bush in most of his policies, actually worse in civil liberties for US citizens.

    US governments at all levels no longer adhere to the US Constitution.

    US governments are therefore completely illegitimate, as bad as any Middle Eastern gov controlled by an obvious strongman.

    The p

    • Then who did you vote for last election? Did you vote independent or third party? Did you vote at all? Because it should be apparent to everyone here that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are going to help anyone but themselves and the rich.

      I can say proudly that I have voted in every General Election since I've been old enough, and I've been voting against both the Dems and Reps all this time. I keep wondering just how bad Congress has to get before enough other voters wake up and join me.

      • by iceaxe ( 18903 )

        I applaud your windmill tilting skills.

        Alas, the oligarchy has the voting masses controlled via television lies, and by this even more than by direct corruption (poorly disguised as campaign funding) controls the elected government. And they like their tame monkeys in Washington, and will not replace them.

        The system has been hijacked.

        • I applaud your windmill tilting skills.

          It's better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.- E. Debs

      • by dryeo ( 100693 )

        Voting third party doesn't help. In my country I voted for the fourth party along with a lot of other people. Suddenly they're the second party and the first thing they did was change their platform to be much like the old party they replaced. Most of the things they removed from their platform were the reasons that I voted for them.
        A couple of elections ago the provincial right wing party self-destructed. Suddenly third party did well with a bunch of unknowns getting voted in. The members of the right wing

  • winners and losers alike are seeking the "sudo chown" permission through a social hack of federal regulators. These frequency and scale of these vulnerabilities have increased as the patent system has expanded in both size and complexity. Federal regulators with current sudo privileges (trusted system administrators) are divided as to which GRP to assign. Since both democrats or republicans owe their elections to many groups, the CHOWN assignment is not straightforward. As 2012 election deadline approache
  • Pathetic. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MaWeiTao ( 908546 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @02:56PM (#36989024)

    Wow... That article has left me aghast, but I'd be lying if I said I was surprised.

    What really surprises me is that anyone can remain loyal to either party. But I know what the mindset is for most people; "my guy might be bad, but at least he's not as bad as the other guy." So while people continue to delude themselves politicians keep screwing everyone.

    By reveling in their own ignorance Americans have abrogated their responsibility to politicians, sometimes intentionally sometimes not. And when that happens the government starts making decisions for us, and inevitably they're going to do what's in their own best interests. So we get stuck with crap.

    And the sad thing is that patent reform should be a no-brainer for anyone, regardless of political ideology. I mean, even a staunch believer in the free market should fully support the revocation of most patents. If a corporation can't remain competitive without the government stepping in to protect every little idea they come up with then they deserve to fail.

    • Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos!
    • Or as the late great Douglas Adams put it:

      "I come in peace," it said, adding after a long moment of further
      grinding, "take me to your Lizard."

      Ford Prefect, of course, had an explanation for this, as he sat with Arthur and watched the nonstop frenetic news reports on television, none of which had anything to say other than to record that the thing had done this amount of damage which was valued at that amount of billions of pounds and had killed this totally other number of people, and then say it again, because the robot was doing nothing more than standing there, swaying very slightly, and emitting short incomprehensible error messages.

      "It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see..."

      "You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?"

      "No," said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, "nothing so simple. Nothing anything like so straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people."

      "Odd," said Arthur, "I thought you said it was a democracy."

      "I did," said Ford. "It is."

      "So," said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't the people get rid of the lizards?"

      "It honestly doesn't occur to them," said Ford. "They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates to the government they want."

      "You mean they actually vote for the lizards?"

      "Oh yes," said Ford with a shrug, "of course."

      "But," said Arthur, going for the big one again, "why?"

      "Because if they didn't vote for a lizard," said Ford, "the wrong lizard
      might get in. Got any gin?"

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      If you don't vote third party -- I don't care who -- you're part of the problem. No exceptions. Any vote for D or R is a vote for corruption.

      • by JBMcB ( 73720 )

        Not exactly. There are mavericks. Look for the members that the other members call crazy. Those are the people to vote for.

        • by iceaxe ( 18903 )

          Except that most of them actually *are* crazy.

          Try this - find the person whom you think has the best ideas, and the most credibility, and vote for them. Of course, it will have to be a write-in, because the system is rigged against anyone not belonging to and conforming to the dogma of one or another group seeking only its own power.

        • by makomk ( 752139 )

          The trouble is that a lot of them are crazy - you kind of have to be in order to think you stand a chance of getting into power that way, aside from anything else - and they're generally not as maverick as you might think either. Especially once the money starts rolling in...

        • by Yakasha ( 42321 )

          Not exactly. There are mavericks. Look for the members that the other members call crazy. Those are the people to vote for.

          And what do the mavericks do once it becomes inconvenient to be a maverick?

          John McCain's presidential campaign says it all.

          Even The Maverick was shown to be a fully owned subsidiary of The Republican Party.

          • by JBMcB ( 73720 )

            They stand by their principles, otherwise they are not mavericks.

            Dennis Kucinich brought up impeachment as a possibility for Obama, for ignoring presidential responsibility to ask congress for permission to bomb the crap out of Libya.

            Ron Paul votes down nearly every piece of legislation he doesn't agree with, even when it's backed by Republicans.

      • by wwphx ( 225607 )
        I saw a great bumper sticker a few weeks ago. To paraphrase: Government is like a car, R moves it backwards and D moves it forwards.

        Though now days I don't think it makes a lot of difference.
    • by Phrogman ( 80473 )

      The problem is that while democracy might seem to be the best of all options with regards to how one obtains a government, without an educated population who is willing to understand the problems and elect politicians who can resolve the issues in the most intelligent and beneficial means, we get a government that is really not much better than that which any other system might produce.

      Essentially, it looks like that for the past 30 years the US Government has been spending money it doesn't actually collect

    • "By reveling in their own ignorance...."


      Unintentional or no, the American people have been derelict in their duty, since the days we turned the factories from tanks and machine guns towards cars and refrigerators. Every generation has gotten worse. Part of what I saw since grade school in the Fifties was the denigration of the slightest attempt by anyone to learn anything. One might show a guy how to lace up a glove or throw a curveball, but don't ever make the mistake of raising your hand in c

  • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @03:06PM (#36989200)

    I can not see a moral, nor ethical, reason for honoring IP laws in the US. I've held this view for a while, but articles such as this simply reinforce the idea. Every citizen has a moral obligation to ignore laws which have been bought and paid for by corporations. Every single politician in Washington has accepted bribes and they have made sure that the Supreme Court allows them under the name "campaign contributions". The entire system is corrupt and no longer has a mandate to govern.

    • Sure makes you think, doesn't it.

  • by paulsnx2 ( 453081 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @03:07PM (#36989208) [] Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. The scientists, who are members of the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer, used computational and analytical methods to discover the tipping point where a minority belief becomes the majority opinion. The finding has implications for the study and influence of societal interactions ranging from the spread of innovations to the movement of political ideals.

    So all we have to do is educate 10 percent of the population and make them understand patents are bad.

    It gives me hope.
    • Patents are not bad. However, our patent system is seriously flawed, and has been corrupted.

      Unfortunately, I think we've got a long way to go to get to 10%.

      • A kidney removal tool as a concept or idea isn't bad either. But should the wide spread application of kidney removal tools on random healthy young children be adopted in the interest of profit by large corporations.... Well, that might certainly contribute the impression that such tools would be "bad".

        You can understand the confusion one might have about patents which can only remove products from the market, regardless of the total lack of intention or knowledge of infringement on the part of product
        • Patents weren't intended to protect the interests of big companies, they're intended to protect the interests of individual inventors. Apply for a patent, publish the info, use the patent to help bring products to market, and prevent bigger, better funded competitors from using your idea without paying you a royalty.

          That the system is broken (patents issued that clearly shouldn't be, etc.), has been corrupted by big money, and has been abused by "patent trolls", doesn't make patents bad or evil. It makes fo

          • And you are wrong. Patents are not intended to protect the interests of individual inventors either. You are confusing the MECHANISM with the GOAL. Read carefully

            To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries. (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution)

            Promote progress. That is the goal. When you have a goal, then you may use some strategy to reach that goal, i
            • " securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

              I'm not wrong. Yes, the goal is to promote progress, and yes the mechanism is be protecting the inventors. I have nothing confused, you assumed things that I didn't say. You want to argue semantics, but the fact is they are intended to protect the inventors, just like I stated.

              Your experience at IBM demonstrates my point quite clearly. Had the patents been yours (as the inventor), not

              • intent - noun
                1. something that is intended; purpose; design; intention: The original intent of the committee was to raise funds.

                What is intended by this clause is to promote progress. There is no stated intent for the government to protect the economic welfare of authors or inventors. In fact, no citizenship requirements are attached, so we have applied these protections universally, not just to American inventors and authors, because, again, the intent is to promote progress.

                If we can promote p
      • by iceaxe ( 18903 )

        I doubt 10% of the US population knows what a patent is, never mind comprehending the flaws in the system.

    • Yes, all the lawyers and people in office.

    • I'm glad you can still maintain hope.

      From circa '95 'til 2000 I polled an adhoc universe on the simple question of when the Millenium would arrive. Out of perhaps 500, eight or nine got it right. [sigh] When otherwise supposed grownups can't even count to ten, just what hope is there?

  • For those of you who didn't read the whole article:

    "A one-size-fits all system doesn't work in the 21st Century," says Manheim, before acknowledging: "The problem with that argument is that it might violate international law."

    Unfortunately, tailoring patent laws to better suit different types of technology may run afoul of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), a treaty that countries must sign in order to join the World Trade Organization. Article 27 of TRIPS reads:

    • To be honest, if I look at the decisions of the chambers of appeal of the EPO, I don't see them influenced heavily by the language of TRIPS. They frankly don't give a shit. Drug patents have been allowed in all industrialized nations before, and frankly, the are legitimate, given the massive development costs these days.

      From my European perspective, the main problem in the US is not patent law as such, but a insane litigation system, inflicting costs on small-time guys that they just can't bear, thereby op

  • "Amid 9 percent unemployment, Congress was bickering over two check-processing patents."

  • Grandfather it in like this: if you file a patent by the rules of Patent 2.0, then you can no longer sue or be sued using the Patent 1.0 system. Furthermore, you have to abandon all existing Patent 1.0 lawsuits. In exchange, any Patent 1.0 lawsuits filed against your organization are void.

    How much would that level the playing field?

  • by MountainLogic ( 92466 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @08:43PM (#36992808) Homepage
    There is a very simple way to reduce corporation's back room influence on congress. Only allow companies to register as limited liability entity if they give up some of their personhood rights, including making campaign contributions. There, I fixed democracy for you. Go check out corporate personhood if you need more details on how twisted this has become.
    • That's an interesting idea. But what if rich executives and board members of corporations made the contributions personally?