Smartphone Wars Go Nuclear
November 1, 2013 7:04 AM   Subscribe

It begins. A consortium of mobile phone makers including Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Ericsson and Sony have launched a barrage of patent suits against Google and major Android handset makers such as Samsung, Huawei and HTC. Unlike previous patent suits from the major shareholders, these suits are on the rocket docket of Eastern Texas.
posted by Talez (100 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
When the elephant dance, the little creatures are the ones who get crushed.

I was reading about this earlier, and now I am fearful that, regardless of which company/cartel wins, it will result in higher prices and reduced features for consumers. Why does it have to be Total War?Isn't there room for more than one party here?
posted by wenestvedt at 7:07 AM on November 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


The eastern district of Texas is of course considered the single most favorable arena for patent plaintiffs in the country, so this should be just super.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:08 AM on November 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yay innovation!
posted by Artw at 7:08 AM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


The only winners are the attorneys
posted by Renoroc at 7:09 AM on November 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


This is all getting fucking silly.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 7:11 AM on November 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


The only winners are the attorneys

They balance it out by being huge, huge winners, though.
posted by Copronymus at 7:14 AM on November 1, 2013 [29 favorites]


So, for those of us who know nothing about it, anyone care to explain whether this lawsuit is justified, bullshit, or somewhere in between?
posted by kyrademon at 7:16 AM on November 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Or maybe include a link to same in the FPP?
posted by notyou at 7:19 AM on November 1, 2013


The article says the patents are about matching search terms to advertising, which means they're software patents, which puts a neutron star on the "bullshit" side of the scale.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:20 AM on November 1, 2013 [32 favorites]


So, for those of us who know nothing about it, anyone care to explain whether this lawsuit is justified, bullshit, or somewhere in between?

The lawsuit is essentially a scorched earth attack on Android. If it's successful the consortium should be able to browbeat just about every Android vendor into giving them royalties making Android more expensive than "free" which is going to be a boon for people who license a phone OS such as Microsoft. Apple is probably in it to "protect their IP" as usual and just be a pain in the ass to Android vendors and Blackberry has no other real strategy left.

Morally justified? Software patents are generally silly things because of the rate of innovation in the computing world is so insane. But then again, depending on who you ask, Google was either trying to get their hands on these patents or deliberately trying to drive up the price of acquiring them (such as their $pi million bid on the patent portfolio). So it all comes down to your opinion on the corporate equivalent school yard politics.

Or maybe include a link to same in the FPP?

That would be opinion. Including it in the FPP would be editorializing.
posted by Talez at 7:22 AM on November 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


> Unlike previous patent suits from the major shareholders, these suits are on the rocket docket of Eastern Texas.

Is this irony, sarcasm, or am I missing something? Without exception, all the patent trolling lawsuits that make the news are tried in eastern Texas.
posted by ardgedee at 7:23 AM on November 1, 2013


Is this irony, sarcasm, or am I missing something?

When Apple was trying their case against Samsung it was tried in San Jose. When Microsoft was suing everyone over Android they did it in Western Washington.
posted by Talez at 7:24 AM on November 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


The patent appears to be "be Google, once that is possible" - they put in a real amount of time on effort on following that up, and are not just trolls, clearly.
posted by Artw at 7:26 AM on November 1, 2013


A bit more info on Rockstar, including some interviews. They're a zombie company, a hunk of what used to be Nortel. Their main activity seems to be tearing apart other companies devices to look for infringements.
posted by bonehead at 7:26 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


The enemy of my enemy is my friend, indeed.
posted by the painkiller at 7:31 AM on November 1, 2013


They know they can't kill Google, so they're happy to just bleed it a little.

I suspect these numbers have changed, but two years ago, Microsoft (a Rockstar co-owner) was making more money from Android phones than from it's own headsets, and that significantly, Motorola Mobility (now owned by Google), was the only company not paying Microsoft any licensing fees.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:34 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, Apple, why have you become such a wayward soul?

I remember when you were a baby... just a tiny beige cube, at home, with your happy face and chiming coo.

I look back at those following awkward years, where it seems like I hardly saw you. No one really did, except those graphic designers and desktop publishers you were always with. But you grew, you learned, and it was part of your journey.

Then of course, there were those beautiful swan days of candy colors and brushed aluminum.

But... Now that you've fallen in with that pentium crowd, drawn by promises of instant gratification and glory, I don't know any more. The Power PC you were born with just wasn't enough anymore, I guess. Now it seems I hardly know you.

"I won't be like those guys" you said, "I can quit any time"

But when will it stop?

First one phone, then two, now there's 5 at a time?

I'm worried about you Apple... Now that you're running with these so-called "friends."

They don't care about you. They're not your family. We are.

We love you Apple.

Come home.
posted by Debaser626 at 7:35 AM on November 1, 2013 [21 favorites]


The rallying cry is always "let the market decide." Until it isn't. Rent-seeking is the real trump card.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:36 AM on November 1, 2013 [19 favorites]


Couple quick notes:

(1) With the glut of patent suits filed there, the Eastern District of Texas is NOT a rocket docket anymore; in fact it is actually quite slow.

(2) This is not, as people are probably aware, the first patent attack on Android and Android handsets; Apple spent a lot of money suing Samsung (and roping in Google) before the International Trade Commission, which moves faster and has scarier penalties (including exclusion from import into the US). Those suits were mostly unsuccessful. Apple also sued Samsung in California and won a large verdict that is currently being appealed to high heaven.
posted by eugenen at 7:38 AM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


That would be opinion. Including it in the FPP would be editorializing.

That would be a copout. An FPP can include relevant background material for context, such as link to a PDF of the actual complaint, without slipping into opinion.

Or some background on the consortium and its weapon.

Or a link to the weapon itself.
posted by notyou at 7:42 AM on November 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


Surely this....?!?!?!?

Alternatively, I look forward to these companies eating each other alive.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:43 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Previously, mentioning the Nortel deal and Google's actions therein. If I'm reading that right, it seems like this is way more of a first salvo than anything, it seems to be bound to get more complicated from here.
posted by Sequence at 7:45 AM on November 1, 2013


This is going to take years, if not decades to settle, I'd expect. NTP sued RIM for patent infringement in a similar "rocket docket" court in 2000, but final settlement didn't occur until 2012. The lawyers are going to spend half their careers on this case.
posted by bonehead at 7:47 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


It would be more fun if this were a prelude to Snowcrash-style anarchy where tech companies reject patent law and start establishing their own sovereign enclaves.
posted by Wretch729 at 7:53 AM on November 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


It would be more fun if this were a prelude to Snowcrash-style anarchy where tech companies reject patent law and start establishing their own sovereign enclaves.

Uhhhhh.... that's already happened. The patent lawsuits are just the chickens coming home to roost from that situation.
posted by Talez at 7:59 AM on November 1, 2013


Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. - Revelation 12:7-9
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:03 AM on November 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


The eastern district of Texas is of course considered the single most favorable arena for patent plaintiffs in the country,

Not by anyone who actually knows the statistics.
On, average patentees win jury trials at a high rate nationally, not just in the Eastern District of Texas; the historical rate is approximately 68% nationally. The patentee win rate for the Eastern District of Texas through November 2010 is not far off, at 73%. Patentees in other popular districts may fare just as well or even better in jury trials:

District Jury Trial Win Rate
E.D. Texas 73%
C.D. California 73%
N.D. California 66%
D.Delaware 61%
M.D. Florida 77%
N.D. Illinois 74%
D. Minnesota 65%
D. New Jersey 64%
S.D. New York 53%
E.D. Virginia 79%
W.D. Wisconsin 71%

For instance, juries in more urban and heavily populated districts, such as the Central District of California (primarily Los Angeles) and the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago), appear to favor the patentee at least as much or even more so than the juries in East Texas--debunking the popular notion that East Texas juries have an unusual affinity to find in favor of the patentee. Indeed, some of the highest win rates are in the smaller districts such as the Middle District of Florida (Orlando, Tampa) and the Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria, Richmond, Norfolk).

Moreover, because the district figures only a fraction of patent cases actually get resolved through jury trial (“on average only 2.8% of patent cases go to trial” nationally), the district figures are based on a rather small number of cases.4 The 73% win rate figure in the Eastern District of Texas is based on just 52 jury trials that reportedly occurred from 1991 to 2010. As such, the win rate may change materially based on relatively few additional cases. It seems too early to conclude, with a statistically satisfactory level of accuracy, that an East Texas jury will favor a patentee. Additionally, this means it is premature to conclude that there is a “problem” with East Texas juries.
Andrei Iancu & Jay Chung, Real Reasons the Eastern District of Texas Draws Patent Cases-Beyond Lore and Anecdote, 14 SMU Sci. & Tech. L. Rev. 299, 305-06 (2011) (emphasis added).
posted by jedicus at 8:04 AM on November 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


So, for those of us who know nothing about it, anyone care to explain whether this lawsuit is justified, bullshit, or somewhere in between?

Its about who invented searching the internet by typing in words into a search box.

Edit- Or maybe about linking searches to ads. Or possibly about who invented rounded corners.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:04 AM on November 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


NTP sued RIM for patent infringement in a similar "rocket docket" court in 2000, but final settlement didn't occur until 2012.

This is not true. RIM and NTP concluded their litigation in 2006. NTP went on to sue several other companies in 2010 and 2012. The four year gap was mostly due to RIM putting most of NTP's patents into reexamination, which (together with an appeal to the Federal Circuit), took several years to hash out.
posted by jedicus at 8:07 AM on November 1, 2013


The only winners are the attorneys

Not really. Microsoft already makes money on every Android sold. I guess now Apple will too.
posted by asra at 8:12 AM on November 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Final appeal of the patents involved in the NTP suit was still going on in 2011, was it not? In fact, isn't there still an appeal still going on for one of them?
posted by bonehead at 8:13 AM on November 1, 2013


So, for those of us who know nothing about it, anyone care to explain whether this lawsuit is justified, bullshit, or somewhere in between?

You know, this is a very complex question and a lot of people are being paid a lot of money to find an answer. I don't think that there is anyone here on MF who is able to find a meaningful answer just by glancing at a newspaper article or two.

To find a meaningful answer, you need to look at the patents involved, and in particular the claims. (Anyone who gives a definitive answer without having looked at the claims is just a blathering charlatan.) Then you need to look at the supposedly infringing technology, e.g. the smartphones. Then you need to figure out whether the devices are covered by the claims. Not trivial at all.

One common misunderstanding that journalists and other dillettantes make is that they just look at the title of the patent and read a paragraph or two and go "Oh, it's about matching search terms to advertising! I've seen something like that before so it must be bullshit." But things are usually more complex than that. One of the reasons why patent attorneys are being paid a lot of money is that they tend to have attention spans that are more than 5 minuntes long.

Of course, you can also take the position that patents in general are bullshit and noone or at least no big company should reap the profits from making an invention. Or that you should not be allowed to sell and buy patents as assets. But that position is contrary to the law, which says that you can buy patents and then enforce them.
posted by sour cream at 8:16 AM on November 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


So this may be one of those where the claim is actually legitimate under the law even if (you think) the law is dumb? Asking, not snarking.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:21 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can I take the position that software patents in particular are bullshit that stifle innovation and raise the costs of business for everyone involved, and which need to be reformed PDQ lest we doom ourselves to an eternity of ever-escalating lawsuits that do nothing but enrich patent trolls who don't produce or innovate anything?
posted by echo target at 8:21 AM on November 1, 2013 [13 favorites]




So this may be one of those where the claim is actually legitimate under the law even if (you think) the law is dumb? Asking, not snarking.

Well, you need to look at the claims to answer that, which I haven't done yet (and probably noone else on MeFi has so far). But just as I am typing this, I find in my inbox an analysis by none other than Greg Aharonian, who thinks that what is really going on is extortion:


Apple Insider reports how Google, Samsung and others are being sued by Rockstar (supposedly an anti-troll group - hahahaha - of which Apple is a major member), for infringing a family of crappy search engine patents. Rockstar had paid $4.5 billion to buy 6000 patents from Nortel. What for? More extortion? Article at:

http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/10/31/google-samsung-and-others-sued-by-rockstar-consortium-over-nortel-patents

OK, enough with my diatribes that no one cares about. Let's look at the crap patents that the IP thugs at Rockstar are knifing Google with. There are seven patents in question (in parentheses is the primary examiner):

Associative search engine
Nortel Networks
all flow from a February 1997 filing which became the first patent


6,098,065 cites 9 patents, 8 non-patents (Lintz)
7,236,969 cites 1 patent, 10 non-patents (Jung)
7,469,245 cites ZERO patents, 7 non-patents (Jung)
7,672,970 cites 7 patents, 7 non-patents (Jung)
7,895,178 cites 12 patents, ZERO non-patents (Robinson)
7,895,183 cites 10 patents, five non-patents (Jung)
7,933,883 cites 12 patents, ZERO non-patents (Robinson)

First observation. This is a grossly inadequate amount of prior art to have been found. Search engines are nothing more than databases. Prior to 1997, there is at least 30 years of prior art to search through. It is clear, that for these patents, Nortel Network considered the patent system to be a joke (evidenced by many other crap Nortel patents) when acquiring these patents, as did Rockstar, when it bought them.

So let's look at the first-born piece of crap in this family, which has only one claim:

Associative search engine
U.S. 6,098,065

Claim 1 - (AGAIN, warning warning Will Smith, looking at this claim will blind you):

1. A method of searching for desired information within a data network,
comprising the steps of:

A SEARCHING METHOD

receiving, from a user, a search request including a search argument corresponding to the desired information;

A SEARCH REQUEST

searching, based upon the received search argument and user profile data, a database of information to generate a search result; and

A USER PROFILE


providing the search results to the user

SOME RESULTS

wherein searching the database includes correlating, as a function of a fuzzy logic algorithm, the received search argument and user profile data to particular information in the database, and

FUZZY MATCHING OF RESULTS TO PROFILE.

providing the particular information as the search results.

OUTPUT

J'ACCUSE EXTORTION. THIS IS A PIECE OF SHITE TECHNOLOGY TO NOT BE CLAIMED, GRANTED, SOLD AND ASSERTED.

Seriously, did Rockstar's litigators at Susman Godfrey ever ask, more politely, at least once: "You ever check these patents out? They kind of look stupid, if you think about it."

So let me spend one minute on behalf of Susman, and search. And what did I find, that Nortel Networks, its inventors, its lawyers, multiple PTO examiners, Rockstar with its billions, and Rockstar's lawyers - what did I find in one minute that they didn't?

Improved retrieval in a fuzzy database from adjusted user input
Fukushima and Ralescu, J. Intelligent Information Systems, 1995

And how is the user's input being adjusted? BY USING HIS PROFILE. This one paper invalidates all of claim 1. Supplement an invalidity argument with hundreds of papers on fuzzy database retrieval and user profiles, and this patent is dead dead dead dead - only useful for extortion. Based on uncited prior art, there are multiple 102 and 103 attacks, all deadly. So I repeat, only extortionists would assert this claim against anyone.

...

posted by sour cream at 8:27 AM on November 1, 2013 [17 favorites]


One point that I don't think is included in software patent discussions is that the current case law makes a very strong assumption that once a patent is granted it is valid. Elements such as prior art and obviousness that seem cursory review to be a no brainier a often not important or even allowed. When a patent attack is successfully defended the reason is often on a procedural detail rather than defeating the patent, there really does not seem to be any established process to cause a patent to be rendered invalid.

(sorry, these are impressions from reading about the issues and occasionally chatting with an IP attorney, not sure I could defend my points with solid references on the short term)
posted by sammyo at 8:34 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


So I repeat, only extortionists would assert this claim against anyone.

With the earlier comment that showed 70-80% of patents are upheld, and settlement terms that are reasonable, a rational corporation would settle early.

Many of us are hoping Goggle will take them to the mat.
posted by sammyo at 8:46 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Verge: "Pretty much anybody out there is infringing," John Veschi, the CEO of Rockstar, told [Wired]. "It would be hard for me to envision that there are high-tech companies out there that don't use some of the patents in our portfolio."
posted by dirigibleman at 8:47 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]



The enemy of my enemy is my friend, indeed.


What does Google+ have to do with this?
posted by srboisvert at 9:24 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's worth noting that Apple, Microsoft, et al paid $4.5 billion dollars for these patents. And Google offered $4.4 billion. They don't offer that kind of money out of kindness and respect for NorTel's legacy. They assume that those patents had a good chance of being worth far more than what they paid.

And now 12 people in East Texas are going to decide.

Patents are good family business in East Texas. Judge T. John Ward, for instance, handled a lot of patent cases in Marshall, TX until he retired in 2011. His son T. John "Johnny" Ward, Jr. is a lawyer litigating patent cases in the same district. Judge Ward retired, but there's also Judge Leonard Davis. His son William "Bo" Davis is a patent litigator lawyer who is representing patent troll Lodsys. (The Lodsys case was given to a different judge.)

I have no particular evidence that these family relationships between patent judges and patent litigators produces a conflict of interest. But they sure do suggest a legal culture that's quite at odds with the engineering culture that's creating all these innovations.
posted by Nelson at 9:27 AM on November 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Seriously, did Rockstar's litigators at Susman Godfrey ever ask, more politely, at least once: "You ever check these patents out? They kind of look stupid, if you think about it."

The ABA (American Bar Association) has model conduct rules and one of them is 'Don't put forth a bullshit argument to a court' .

If you think the lawyers did a crap job or violated in any way shape or form the State bar - bar grieve 'em.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:32 AM on November 1, 2013


I don't know any more. The Power PC you were born with just wasn't enough anymore, I guess.

And I'd say you never knew them. Apple was born of 6502 processors.

Ask the 'Apple ][ forever'! crowd. Or the 'The Newton is a very important part of our product lineup' crowd. Or those who were looking to RedBox.

Or how about the educators market the Macintosh was targeted at - the cited graphic artists were just luck....kind of like how the lucky market of Wall Street kept the NeXT afloat.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:38 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was going to comment but the first six posters basically summed up my thoughts.*

*quite literally, the first thing that popped into my head was the fighting elephants proverb followed by happy lawyers. Spooky.
posted by ambivalentic at 9:56 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's worth pointing out that if the plaintiffs believe that they can better afford a lawsuit than the defendants, it makes sense (in a purely financial, machiavellian, game-theory sort of way) to sue regardless of whether they think they will win. If they do win, that's great. If not, well, they still come out ahead.

Even if they think that the burden of the lawsuit will be equal for both parties, it still makes sense. There's a non-zero chance of pulling off a major win, and the penalties for losing are fairly minor. They may incur a revenge countersuit at some point, but with the way things are these days that sort of thing would probably happen sooner or later regardless. It's not like Google and Samsung are the good guys here, everyone involved is an amoral corporate behemoth.
posted by Scientist at 9:57 AM on November 1, 2013


As an aside responding to the processor wars, Apple has demonstrated an amazing ability to transcend CPU architecture.

The generic PC is still tied to X86 which has changed a lot, but has a tremendous amount of backwards compatibility (to its detriment, IMO)

But Apple devices have been successful across something like 5 very different architectures: 6502, 68K, PowerPC, X86 and ARM. I find that amazing but it may be a result of the walled garden and having really loyal customers. I own no Apple devices, but I think Apple does an amazing job at some things. I think this record of successful architecture changes is one of them.
posted by jclarkin at 10:11 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


> But Apple devices have been successful across something like 5 very different architectures: 6502, 68K, PowerPC, X86 and ARM.

Cross compiling to a different architecture isn't really that hard you know.
posted by mr. strange at 10:26 AM on November 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


The article says the patents are about matching search terms to advertising

Isn't Google kinda into this sort of thing already? Unravelling competing software patents makes my head hurt, but to this layman's eyes either this is incredibly frivolous or it breaks the internet as most of us know it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton, let's see if it pays off for them.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:27 AM on November 1, 2013


"Your honor, we aren't making all the money. They are making some of it. Tell them to stop so that we can make all the money."
posted by davejay at 10:30 AM on November 1, 2013 [15 favorites]


Isn't Google kinda into this sort of thing already?

Very much so, but the patent was filed a year before Google was even founded, much less became an advertising mega-ultra-titan. So if the patent is valid, the infringement claim is fair. In the same way that if my claim to be the rightful heir of King Arthur is valid, I own Buckingham Palace.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:32 AM on November 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


With the important difference that the US government has already proclaimed you to be an heir of King Arthur, albeit without terribly good review.
posted by Nelson at 10:34 AM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Back then they probably thought they were going to be suing Alta Vista for their pot of gold.
posted by Artw at 10:35 AM on November 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


One of my ancestors had an "A" in his name and came from someplace east of Jamaica, which is basically the same thing.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:35 AM on November 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


The real issue here is that US law makes it possible to purchase a patent and then use it in litigation as though you were the original inventor.

Any suggestion by Google's defenders that Google would behave any differently in the pursuit of it's own interests is naive and ridiculous. These are commerical titans waging war on each other.
posted by epo at 10:40 AM on November 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


The actions of Rockstar should increase pressure in congress for patent reform. The absurdly broad claims presented by Rockstar will be great evidence of just out of control the system is. The notion that Nortel "invented" internet advertising is totally absurd.
posted by humanfont at 10:49 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll bet whichever genius at Google came up with that original bidding algorithm has probably gotten fired by now, or wishes they were.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:50 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


The only winners are the attorneys
posted by Renoroc at 9:09 AM on November 1 [4 favorites +] [!]


How come after a big disaster no one says, "The only winners are the doctors." After a major multi car crash, does anyone say, "The only winners are the body shops"? People who hate lawyers really like to remind people that they hate lawyers. Yes, lawyers make money by working on a lawsuit, that's what they do. So what. We have a legal system, it's adversarial, we live in a capitalist society. Feel free to try to change any of the above if you like. But please stop acting like it's the lawyers' fault, or that they are all rubbing their hands gleefully. It's annoying.

Eponysterically yours,
posted by Outlawyr at 10:50 AM on November 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Patents are good family business in East Texas. Judge T. John Ward, for instance, handled a lot of patent cases in Marshall, TX until he retired in 2011. His son T. John "Johnny" Ward, Jr. is a lawyer litigating patent cases in the same district. Judge Ward retired, but there's also Judge Leonard Davis. His son William "Bo" Davis is a patent litigator lawyer who is representing patent troll Lodsys. (The Lodsys case was given to a different judge.)

This is a pretty lazy, drive-by slander of the various East Texas judges. Judges Ward and Davis always, absolutely always, recused themselves from cases where Johnny or Bo represented a party, and everyone who has even a passing familiarity with East Texas litigation knows it.

As a corollary it was also known by nearly all trial lawyers out there that you could steer your case among the judges by hiring Johnny Ward as local counsel.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 10:51 AM on November 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


The ABA (American Bar Association) has model conduct rules and one of them is 'Don't put forth a bullshit argument to a court' .

That is a tiny hurdle to get over. Because of the presumptive validity of the patent once it's granted, plaintiff's counsel has no obligation to (and in fact may wind up committing malpractice by) questioning the legitimacy of the patent.

This is a big part of the problem with patents: one patent examiner 16 years ago - probably a guy who makes $45k/year and has a BS in mechanical engineering from State University in 1974 - doesn't have the time, resources, interest, or requirement to perform anything approaching an exhaustive prior art search. Besides, it's 1997 and he has no idea what all this internet stuff is about. But he's got a stack of these applications taller than him to get through. So he does a quick search through his file cabinets for prior art, doesn't find any, and having no concept that this patent is wildly overbroad or blindingly obvious to anyone working in the field, he grants the patent.

The company that has the patent never bothers to do anything with it. They go out of business and get parted out. A few years later the patent portfolio is bought out by another company that has no interest in making anything. But they're well aware of what they bought. So they so it to another company that doesn't make or do anything useful either. But they have backing from a cartel of companies who are on the wrong side of the innovation race. And so they sit on the patent for several more years while companies - completely independently - develop similar technology that forms the basis of an entire industry. And then . . .

*BOOM*

They use their patent like a billion-dollar club to beat their most problematic competitor into submission.

And now, because some wage slave, non-expert made a bad call almost two decades ago, an entire industry is feeling a chilling effect and the competitor who's actually making useful products has the burden of spending millions of dollars on a legal battle, effectively starting with one hand bound, to prove the examiner made a bad call.

There's no intermediate step here. No deescalation. The victim has to prove his innocence at great expense. One bad call, and billions of dollars are at stake. Of course it rarely gets that far. The trolls will get their pound of flesh in the form of royalties on a product they have done absolutely nothing to contribute to, and the only people who lose are, well, society at large.

How is any of/ this promoting the useful sciences?
posted by Vox Nihili at 11:02 AM on November 1, 2013 [22 favorites]


How come after a big disaster no one says, "The only winners are the doctors."

Because disasters don't involve doctors being hired to maim people necessitating other doctors being hired to put them back together?

I dunno, on the whole it's possibly a maligned profession. But fuck patent lawyers, first against the wall the lot of them.
posted by Artw at 11:32 AM on November 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


90% of lawyers give all the rest a bad name.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:52 AM on November 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


"They assume that those patents had a good chance of being worth far more than what they paid."

Well, yeah, but that doesn't mean that they're inherently valid. All that means is that the cost of litigation plus the expected damages multiplied by the risk of losing without those patents totals more than $4.4 billion. That doesn't mean that the patents themselves would be worth $4.4 billion in innovation or improvements to Google's business.
posted by klangklangston at 11:57 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Its very muxg a question of hiw you measure worth - outside of nuisance litigation all software patents are inherently useless, but that doesn't make the ability to harass you competitors or defend against harassment from competitors without value.

Of course sooner or later the sham will collapse and everyone will be left holding big bags of nothing.
posted by Artw at 12:06 PM on November 1, 2013


With the earlier comment that showed 70-80% of patents are upheld

That is absolutely not what that showed. It showed the patentee win rate in jury trials. Before that comes patents that never get asserted because pre-litigation due diligence shows they're crap. Or patents that get invalidated during reexamination after a lawsuit is filed. Or patent suits that get dismissed. Or patentees that lose at summary judgment. Or patents that are invalidated in a declaratory judgment suit brought by the alleged infringer. Or patents that are invalidated during a bench trial (i.e. one held before a judge). Or patents that are upheld by a jury but invalidated by the Federal Circuit or by the judge or a second jury on remand after appeal.
posted by jedicus at 12:14 PM on November 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Supplement an invalidity argument with hundreds of papers on fuzzy database retrieval and user profiles, and this patent is dead dead dead dead - only useful for extortion.

If this is true, then it will be absolutely trivial to demonstrate their invalidity, either at the PTO or in court, and the Rockstar consortium will have spent a lot of money to buy a bunch of worthless patents. Google has no need to settle for the nuisance value of litigation; it can easily afford to go through summary judgment or reexamination or both. Thus, there is no "extortion" value here.
posted by jedicus at 12:16 PM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


IIRC, it also doesn't distinguish between patent cases where the patent is affirmatively upheld and cases where the defense doesn't even try to argue that the patent is not valid.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:17 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because of the presumptive validity of the patent once it's granted, plaintiff's counsel has no obligation to (and in fact may wind up committing malpractice by) questioning the legitimacy of the patent.

This is not true at all. In fact, counsel for the patentee has an ethical obligation under Rule 11 to do just the opposite. What counsel for the patentee shouldn't do is unnecessarily question or admit to weaknesses in the patent in public, but that's very different from due diligence in preparation for litigation, licensing, etc.

How is any of/ this promoting the useful sciences?

Because the creation of that patent as a salable asset allowed the original patent owner to invest in the technology, knowing that even if they were unable to use it that they could sell the asset to others. The fact that the asset was sold in bankruptcy allowed the original investors to recoup some of their losses, and knowing that fact encouraged investors to make the investment in the first place.

If the patent is indeed upheld (and thus we may properly say that, within the system set up by society, someone at Nortel was the original inventor), then the original research was, in effect, supported by this litigation. Google uses the technology -> pays royalties to Rockstar -> which paid money to Nortel's investors (via bankruptcy) -> who paid Nortel to develop the technology in the first place.
posted by jedicus at 12:27 PM on November 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


The real issue here is that US law makes it possible to purchase a patent and then use it in litigation as though you were the original inventor.

Yeah, that's so weird. It's just like if I buy a house, I can sue someone for trespassing on my property as though I was the person who built the house in the first place.

Just as the value of a house would be greatly diminished (and thus there would be far less incentive to build houses) if later purchasers had fewer rights in the house, so too would the value of a patent be diminished (and thus there would be far less incentive both to invent and to commercialize inventions).

The fact that patents are property is a feature, not a bug.
posted by jedicus at 12:30 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


rough ashlar: "The ABA (American Bar Association) has model conduct rules and one of them is 'Don't put forth a bullshit argument to a court' .

If you think the lawyers did a crap job or violated in any way shape or form the State bar - bar grieve 'em.
"

That's so cute!
posted by IAmBroom at 12:52 PM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Outlawyr: "
How come after a big disaster no one says, "The only winners are the doctors." After a major multi car crash, does anyone say, "The only winners are the body shops"? People who hate lawyers really like to remind people that they hate lawyers. Yes, lawyers make money by working on a lawsuit, that's what they do. So what. We have a legal system, it's adversarial, we live in a capitalist society. Feel free to try to change any of the above if you like. But please stop acting like it's the lawyers' fault, or that they are all rubbing their hands gleefully. It's annoying.
"

First-responders of 9/11 aren't sitting on 30% of the net worth of the Twin Towers. Doctors don't encourage their patients to endure months or even years of hospital stays, just to increase their billable hours.

Your analogy is vainly bad.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:58 PM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is a pretty lazy, drive-by slander of the various East Texas judges.

I assume you don't mean the word "slander" in any precise legal sense. In your rush to defend the honor of East Texas Judges you apparently missed my next paragraph, where I was careful to say I have no evidence of any specific conflict of interest.

Again, what I'm really trying to say is that East Texas has a legal culture that's antithetical to the creative engineering disciplines they have judicial authority over. The patent case judges, their patent litigator sons, and the fine jurors of East Texas are all harming innovation by their friendliness to abusive patent lawsuits. Meanwhile, in the software engineering culture that's creating these patents and supposedly is being protected by the patent system, some 80% of software engineers feel that the patent system hinders innovation.

Any suggestion by Google's defenders that Google would behave any differently in the pursuit of it's own interests is naive and ridiculous.

Google is on the record as working to try to reform some aspects of the patent system, including these concrete proposals of patent licensing arrangements. They're absolutely acting in their self interest, and they don't go nearly as far as I wish they would. But Google's approach with patents tends to align better with entities that are still creating valuable intellectual property compared to the approach of patent trolls and non-practicing entities.

This NorTel suit is very complicated and involves actively creative companies on both sides. Apparently it's going to shape the mobile industry for the next few years. The saving grace for innovation is that about the time the courts work this issue out we'll be two generations further on. Maybe by then Google will be the corpse whose only value is its patent portfolio on wearable computers like Google Glass.
posted by Nelson at 1:10 PM on November 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry sour cream, but echo target is right. You might see a wealth of nuance in this, but it's all nuance around the idea of software patents, and rent seeking. It's like demanding to know what color the drug lord's car is.

Well, you need to look at the claims to answer that, which I haven't done yet (and probably noone else on MeFi has so far).

It's the internet. It's not just a bad thing that people spout off all the time with ill-informed opinions -- it's also a good thing that people express themselves quickly and energetically. It does mean that sometimes communities get themselves riled up and off on what I'm going to call a Twitter Tear. But it is also the case that many complicated situations are impossible to understand in full, yet still resolve down to being prevented through simple means.

In fact, the process of talking it through on Metafilter is part of it. It's interesting to see how people's opinions change as facts come to light. So how about we not try to stifle the discussion, eh?

From where we sit, it is difficult to see this in any way other than big companies trying to rent-seek each other, at the expense of smaller players who will have to fight against all these patents.

It is clear, that for these patents, Nortel Network considered the patent system to be a joke (evidenced by many other crap Nortel patents) when acquiring these patents, as did Rockstar, when it bought them.
Seriously, did Rockstar's litigators at Susman Godfrey ever ask, more politely, at least once: "You ever check these patents out? They kind of look stupid, if you think about it."

A lot of people have that opinion of the patent system. And they got the patent, that could be considered indicative that their assessment was correct! The very fact that these companies build up huge portfolios of patents in order to attack, and defend themselves, with was not intended by the Founding Fathers by any stretch of the imagination. It's all a gigantic perversion. It's going to keep getting more and more ludicrous until someone decides to stop it, which probably won't happen until the public will gets built up around stopping this, which won't happen until it gets silly enough to reach obviously into their lives.

Scientist: It's not like Google and Samsung are the good guys here, everyone involved is an amoral corporate behemoth.

But Google has it as part of their corporate motto "Don't be ev"-ha ha ha hahaha aaah-hahaha. Sorry, couldn't pull it off straight-faced. Still though, Android is nice, open-source, and I think will turn out to have applications far beyond smart-phones, so I guess I am on their side, holding up a foam finger with the Google 'G' on it and '#1.' But that's about as far as I'm willing to go to defend them.

jclarkin: But Apple devices have been successful across something like 5 very different architectures: 6502, 68K, PowerPC, X86 and ARM. I find that amazing but it may be a result of the walled garden and having really loyal customers.

The term "walled garden" only applies to iOS, which has only ever been ARM, and the Mac Store, which has only existed on X86-64, so it cannot really matter. "Really loyal customers" certainly is true though.

Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: Very much so, but the patent was filed a year before Google was even founded, much less became an advertising mega-ultra-titan. So if the patent is valid, the infringement claim is fair.

That smacks to me of Unisys' claim over the data compression used in GIF, yet another a result of patent lifespans being waaay too long for the information age.

jedicus: Because the creation of that patent as a salable asset allowed the original patent owner to invest in the technology, knowing that even if they were unable to use it that they could sell the asset to others.

In theory. Actually though, the people who perform real work to create the patent do so to make use of it themselves, and every time it switches into the hands of people who have no interest in it, it gets harder to justify the system as working towards any objective good, other than letting people with a lot of money get their way.

The fact that patents are property is a feature, not a bug.

That is obviously disputable just from the evidence of the post, although if patents were being handed out more intelligently it might work better. No system can be moral -- all systems can be perverted given enough corruption and/or incompetence.
posted by JHarris at 1:11 PM on November 1, 2013


Jedicus: "This is not true at all. In fact, counsel for the patentee has an ethical obligation under Rule 11 to do just the opposite. What counsel for the patentee shouldn't do is unnecessarily question or admit to weaknesses in the patent in public, but that's very different from due diligence in preparation for litigation, licensing, etc."

You're right, but taking that bit out of context misses the forest through the trees.

The private due diligence the lawyer has to perform has to do with the legal enforceability of the patent, and his ability to do what his client desires - gain royalties, settle, hamstring a competitor, etc. - within the confines of still making a meritorious argument to the court.

As is often the case with patent trolls, the patent(s) in question seriously lacks for novelty and non-obviousness, and likely should have never been granted in the first place. But because the USPTO isn't properly equipped, funded or managed, it was granted.

And so we get to situations like this (e.g. the '065 patent), where it's clear to virtually everyone involved that it's a bad patent that never should have been granted in the first place. But because the USPTO didn't perform proper due diligence on the front end, and the patentee sat on this thing for close to two decades without doing anything about it, the court has to pretend this turd of a patent is valid while Google & co. shoulder the multi-million dollar cost of proving it, in addition to risking some sort of injunction.

I agree that patents can, theoretically, promote the progress of the useful sciences as a salable asset. But that's not what this patent does. Even sidestepping the question of validity, software patents are so out of touch with the nature and speed of real-world innovation that they almost uniformly hold the useful sciences back.
posted by Vox Nihili at 1:27 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because the creation of that patent as a salable asset allowed the original patent owner to invest in the technology, knowing that even if they were unable to use it that they could sell the asset to others.

But they aren't really selling the technology to others, they are selling the right to solve a certain class of problems to others. Patents only work well if they are specific enough to only cover one possible solution to a kind of problem, so that everyone knows about that solution and can license it from the patent holder if they can't figure out a better way of implementing it themselves. Whereas patents like the ones in this case are so broad that they basically just describe the problem that needs to be solved, meaning that no one else can come up with their own solution, and that actually licensing the patent does not give the licensee anything other than the right to keep doing what they were already doing without getting sued.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:33 PM on November 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


"I suppose I can't prevent all my communications being routinely monitored by global dragnet surveillance, but I sure as fuck don't need to pay $90/mo. for the privilege. Besides, at least Tracfone straight up tells you in their name that they track you."

-yet another satisfied customer
posted by pleurodirous at 1:34 PM on November 1, 2013


From where we sit, it is difficult to see this in any way other than big companies trying to rent-seek each other

Rent-seeking would explain why Google bid on these same patents and also, particularly, why it bought Motorola:

What [Google] really wants out of Motorola Mobility is its guts: the patents.

The word “patent” was mentioned 24 times on Google’s conference call this morning to discuss the Motorola Mobility deal. Over and over, Google newbie CEO Larry Page and other executives talked about how Motorola Mobility’s portfolio of thousands of patents will help protect Google and its Android phone software from “anti-competitive threats” from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.

Remember that Google lost out to Apple, Microsoft and others in an auction of a patent trove owned by failed Canadian telecom firm Nortel Networks. Google has sounded harsher and harsher notes — particularly against old rival Microsoft – over their recent maneuvers in intellectual property auctions.


On face value, Google appears to chase patents with as much fervor and cash as its competitors, and for the same reasons.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:40 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Your analogy is vainly bad.
posted by Outlawyr at 1:42 PM on November 1, 2013


Blazecock Pileon: Yep, not disputing that. Although I note that Apple and Microsoft did fire first, if you spend billions of dollars for something one is likely to try to get some use out of it. The whole thing is rotten.
posted by JHarris at 1:47 PM on November 1, 2013


> "Metafilter: Your analogy is vainly bad."

And you should feel vainly bad!

(... oh come on we were all thinking it ...)
posted by kyrademon at 2:40 PM on November 1, 2013


The whole thing is rotten.

I'd agree that parts of it are rotten. Particularly in biotech, where the application of some patents on genomic sequences is (literally) mathematically, probabilistically insane, in that it leads to entirely overbroad protections and attendant abuses.

In a fair world, however, if we can come to some shared agreement of what an original work is, I think you should get permission to copy someone's work, and then if they ask for compensation, you should provide it if you want to use that work.

Certainly, nothing new pops out of a hermetic vacuum or Zeus' forehead or whatever, but maybe we can decide if something is "novel-enough" that someone deserves credit or compensation for it. On the whole, despite abuses, patents have probably done a better job so far in helping people play fair in society than available, non-pie-in-sky alternatives.

Maybe things are now becoming increasingly broken because the companies involved are too large. So when we try to reason about notions of fairness, we don't get to talk about the human beings involved and working with people face-to-face to resolve conflicts, but large, legal entities that operate on a playing field inaccessible to everyday people.

But that seems less a problem with the patent system, per se, and more an indictment of a broken political system that equates corporations with people, consolidates economic power over billions in the hands of a few hundred or thousand individuals, and generally provides a different legal system for those parties.

It isn't clear from this particular example why the entire patent system is broken, other than a company that is unpopular with a subset of people is involved in this specific case. Because of the scale of it, I hope we get to see more in-depth and rigorous analysis.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:59 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nelson: "Google offered $4.4 billion. They don't offer that kind of money out of kindness and respect for NorTel's legacy. They assume that those patents had a good chance of being worth far more than what they paid."

Or it was worth 4.4 billion to deprive their competitors a stick to beat them with. A beating that wouldwill be both costly and distracting even if the police come to say "Never beat Google with that stick again".

On the architecture derail: It's not like Windows has only ever run on x86. NT would run on PowerPC, DEC Alpha and MIPS R4000. I billed out a lot of time courtesy an Alpha running NT. And of course it hasn't been all roses; Microsoft hasn't yet accepted a bailout from it's major competitor to keep the company a float.
posted by Mitheral at 3:11 PM on November 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'll bet whichever genius at Google came up with that original bidding algorithm has probably gotten fired by now, or wishes they were.

Ha-ha, no they are sitting on a pile of money and will continue to do so. Why would they get fired?
posted by empath at 4:37 PM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


How is any of/ this promoting the useful sciences?

It employs a lot of lawyers and that's good, because... reasons.
posted by empath at 4:40 PM on November 1, 2013


That's so cute!

The State bar is a PR arm - they won't actually DO anything of import. I've got a letter from my State bar that when the response from my admit or deny question was not only late (therefore admitted) but was "My client will sign an affidavit saying he's not the owner if you drop the case VS him" I pointed out that was not a proper response.

Was told the lawyer did nothing wrong. Think about that for a second.....Asked a proper question and the response was "I'll only tell you if you drop the case". How was that not misconduct? Yet the bar association said that was not unacceptable conduct.

Yet the law firm sent another lawyer to the case to 'defend the firm' so they do have an effect.

All for the cost of your time and under $0.50 postage.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:45 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]



I'll bet whichever genius at Google came up with that original bidding algorithm has probably gotten fired by now, or wishes they were.


Well the geniuses were not at Google, so they were never fired. Bill Gross and his team at Goto.com developed bidding algorithms and basic concepts for Adwords. Google copied the idea and a patent lawsuit was filed. This was ultimately settled for 2.7 million shares of Google stock. Yahoo got the stock because they had purchased Goto for $1.63 billion (then renamed Overture). At the start of this saga Bill Gross was incredibly wealthy from a series of tech ventures.
posted by humanfont at 8:09 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


In a fair world, however, if we can come to some shared agreement of what an original work is, I think you should get permission to copy someone's work, and then if they ask for compensation, you should provide it if you want to use that work.

That is not the purpose of patent according to the Constitution, which is, in exchange for telling us how some technique was done, you get an exclusive right to use it for a limited time. The exchange breaks down if the technique is entirely visible; we don't get anything for the right given. If we accept what you suggest as right -- and I am not sure that I do -- then patents are a poor way of providing it. Software patents fail this test because software can be decompiled.

On the whole, despite abuses, patents have probably done a better job so far in helping people play fair in society than available, non-pie-in-sky alternatives.

That's an assertion that could use backing up. This is not (just) attacking your position; if this could be proven, it'd be genuinely useful. But anyway, I don't think most people here are against patents generally, but they aren't fond of this use of them.

It isn't clear from this particular example why the entire patent system is broken, other than a company that is unpopular with a subset of people is involved in this specific case. Because of the scale of it, I hope we get to see more in-depth and rigorous analysis.

We believe patent system is broken for reasons ranging far outside this instance. Have we all already forgotten the Unisys GIF situation?
posted by JHarris at 4:44 AM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm of the "I hate it when mommy and daddy fight" school when it comes to apple/google lawsuits, and I'm not against patents in general, but I think software (and business method) patents are absurd and need to be done away with.
posted by empath at 6:40 AM on November 2, 2013


That's an assertion that could use backing up. This is not (just) attacking your position; if this could be proven, it'd be genuinely useful. But anyway, I don't think most people here are against patents generally, but they aren't fond of this use of them.

What are alternatives to technology patents? Stalinist collectivism ended up with a lot of dead and imprisoned people. Putin's gangstocracy ends up with dead and imprisoned people. I guess you could try getting rid of them or try to set up something that works like the fashion industry, but even fashion designers are going after patents to protect themselves from knockoffs, and it doesn't look like getting rid of patents is going to be a starter unless we scrap private ownership altogether. So what's it to be? I'm not sure there are easy answers that are also tenable. What do you have in mind to replace it with outright?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:01 PM on November 2, 2013


"What are alternatives to technology patents? Stalinist collectivism ended up with a lot of dead and imprisoned people."

LOL wut
posted by klangklangston at 12:15 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, prior to 1996 the United States was a Putinesc gangstocracy? Or was it just a Stalinist collective? I mean we all remember those dark days of 1995 when dead software engineers filled the streets, well those that were lucky not to spend 10 years in the gulag for daring to innovate.
posted by aspo at 12:17 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It would be either wrong or (to be a bit more charitable) called "moving the goalposts" to say the patent system began in 1996.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:21 PM on November 2, 2013


1996 was when the patent office revised the rules on what was patentable which led to the profusion of bullshit software and "business process" patents. But I guess that was preferable to the soviet horror that was not allowing patenting mailing a scanned document to a coworker.
posted by aspo at 12:38 PM on November 2, 2013


There are a lot of claims the entire system of patents was broken, so I asked a fair and honest question about what to replace it with, and your answer is to move the goalposts of that discussion. Fair enough.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:50 PM on November 2, 2013


BP, I can sympathize with the desire that people who do good work should get rewarded for it. But if anything that is the Marxist idea, that the people who did the work should get the benefits -- the system we have, for good or ill, often rewards for reasons we find nonsensical. Like owning capital, like having billions of dollars and the ability to buy out rafts of patents from bankrupt companies.

There are a lot of claims the entire system of patents was broken, so I asked a fair and honest question about what to replace it with, and your answer is to move the goalposts of that discussion. Fair enough.

Oh come now, that's being snippy. Please point to the flood of claims that the entire system is broken, because they aren't in this thread.

I would think the answer is obvious: having nothing would be better than this, that is no patent system at all. Industry would get through; in fact, it would flourish, because everyone would immediately copy the best ideas, and ultimately what would probably happen is the richest companies would do the best (since they have the most resources available to reverse engineering). But that's how it is already!

You don't have to go that far; better than that might be abolishing the 1996 rule which allowed nearly anything invented by a person to be patentable, we've had plenty of evidence now that was a bad idea. Or, what apso said.

To reiterate what I stated above, if examining a public thing, other than your on-file patent application, itself makes your process obvious, the patent should not exist. That includes software, business method, and yes, aesthetic design patents -- if the design really is novel, then it shouldn't be easy to figure out its good aspects just by looking at it.
posted by JHarris at 1:09 PM on November 2, 2013


"so I asked a fair and honest question about what to replace it with,"

Fair and honest questions don't generally imply that our choices are the current system or a totalitarian gulag nightmare.
posted by klangklangston at 1:10 PM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fair and honest questions don't generally imply that our choices are the current system or a totalitarian gulag nightmare.

I was very clearly pointing out the history what had already been tried and failed, not setting up a hyperbolic either/or. It's okay to admit there are no easy answers to this problem.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:29 PM on November 2, 2013


Having no software patents would absolutely and positively be better than the current system because the current system achieves nothing of any worth whatsoever and works contrary to it's stated goals.
posted by Artw at 3:15 PM on November 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Bp, you are hilarious.
posted by empath at 3:24 PM on November 2, 2013


Blazecock Pileon - for the present system to work the staff would have to be paid well enough and spend long enough on possible prior art. Add in some penalties for not submitting prior art perhaps.

The Trademark part of USPTO has on the application a section about fraud. When such fraud evidence was submitted (aka your electronic signature BS allows anyone with under $500 to pretend to be someone else on one particular application I'm watching) the Trademark arm said such was not a consideration to reject a trademark,

Impersonating another (identity theft) to assign ownership to another is not a valid reason to reject a trademark - think about that.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:31 AM on November 3, 2013




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