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Apple has been granted a patent on organising shopping lists, but not on shopping itself despite appearances. At a glance the design does look like it covers lists of desired products, gathered by either scanning barcodes with a phone camera, waving a mobe over wireless NFC tags or typing in product descriptions. However, even …

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why the bloody hell can you patent stuff like this?

ludicrous

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Because if you do then no one else can use the idea ever again without paying you money..

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"Because if you do then no one else can use the idea ever again without paying you money.."

Not true, of course, I think you meant during the patent lifetime of ~~20 years

The whole thingis still Bl**dy stupid !

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Coat

It is ludicrous but apparently by changing words you can make a new patent.

Last decade has been replacing the word "wired" to "wireless" and this next decade will see the trend of replacing the words "mainframe" with the word "cloud".

A lamentable affair and one were the moderation of the posts on this forums recieve more dudiligants than the patents being mentioned.

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I'm getting fed up with the volume of ignorant comments on patents

Yes there are many bad software patents out there, but there are many that aren't. But there are far more instances of news stories suggesting ridiculously broad patents have been granted and then failing to quote the patent claims, which almost invariably aren't nearly as broad as the headlines proclaim. At least on this occasion (pretty much a first even though it's easy to do) The Reg have linked to the actual patent record. However read the claims and it's immediately clear the patent is more specific than The Register have stated in the headline (and this is ALWAYS the case). The headline "Apple patents shopping lists" is factually a lie and link bait for those who all too often want want to be outraged and who have little interest in checking the reality.

To understand everything in the independent claims (claims that don't reference other claims) needs to be interpreted as a logical and. To infringe a product or service must be doing everything in aggregate (e.g. X and Y and Z - everything referenced by the claims). So this patent relates to shopping lists, but relates to constructing shopping lists from barcode scanning AND searching for best price deals AND organising the results to identify a minimal number of shops the user can visit to purchase the items AND where the user can specify the max number of stops he/she is prepared to put up with. Hardly a patent on the broad concept of shopping lists as the Register have stated in their headline.

I actually agree many software patents are bad, but I'm now far more tired of the pathetic ad-nauseam repetition of the "I'm just off to patent air" form of joke. I've had to file for patents as part of my work and I can assure readers the period of the broad software patent is well and truly over and if it's so easy to find patents as broad as patenting air, I suggest if you want to be rich and a bit unethical, an application should be made quick. Broad software patents were the result of unfair in-filling because so many companies failed to understand patents could be registered for software during the 80's and early 90's and the companies that did, filed for already known (but all too frequently undocumented) techniques. That unfair (and oftentimes unethical) in-filling is now complete and those patents are still in effect anoying people, but more recent patent applications are all far more specific.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm getting fed up with the volume of ignorant comments on patents

Ain't no such thing as a good software, or method, patent.

It's directly because of software patents that the entire damned system needs to be abolished. You really think Einstein should have been able to say that an object's mass and energy are interelated with a universal constant, now pay up if you want to use that, bitch?

Software, where you really can patent math and logic. Well. Where you can now.

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FAIL

Yes, this patent is not as broad as the headline suggests...

But that doesn't negate the truth of the first poster's incredulous assertion, that it is *ludicrous* that someone can be issued a patent for "constructing shopping lists from barcode scanning AND searching for best price deals AND organising the results to identify a minimal number of shops the user can visit to purchase the items AND where the user can specify the max number of stops he/she is prepared to put up with."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm getting fed up with the volume of ignorant comments on patents

"So this patent relates to shopping lists, but relates to constructing shopping lists from barcode scanning AND searching for best price deals AND organising the results to identify a minimal number of shops the user can visit to purchase the items AND where the user can specify the max number of stops he/she is prepared to put up with. Hardly a patent on the broad concept of shopping lists as the Register have stated in their headline"

Obvious! Trying to patent what everyone one already does. It IS a patent on the broad concept of shopping.

This is exactley what we already do and the american patent officewill grant another useless patemt making them look even more foolish.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm getting fed up with the volume of ignorant comments on patents

It's a symptom of how low the debate has sunk that somebody downvoted this neutral and reasoned argument. Thanks for the clarity, SuccessCase

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm getting fed up with the volume of ignorant comments on patents

But,

Does anyone remember the days when innovators just created products, built companies, hired people, and increased overall wealth? Now that seems like a pretty difficult thing to do. Why? Because regulation, patent Lieyers and all the crap that goes with it are stifling what was once a bright and exciting place to be.

No amount of lawyer-speak is ever going to bring those halycon days back., which ended when Apple decided to sue Microsoft for stealing THEIR "look and feel". Now, instead of creating things, innovators will just have to keep looking over their shoulders, keeping their eyes peeled for people who add no value while trying to add value to an economy that badly needs some CPR:. Result? less innovation, less investment, less risk taking, less jobs.

Q. How many patent lawyers does it take to suffocate an economy?

A: 2, and then they replicate exponentially to feast on the corpse (I think I made that one up myself, but you can use it for free)

Q: What do you call a 1000 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?

A: A bloody good start (TM)

Bleehh!!!

I'm getting fed up with people who believe patent wars are helping the industry. They are not. They might incrementally help the patent holders (usually massive rent-seeking corporations) and their lawyer friends but they aren't helping you and me bub.

The "patent" described above could pass for an idea, but is certainly no breakthrough,.

I've heard better ideas developed after a few beers in the pub.

Apple will probably never even develop this "product". They will wait for some other sucker to do it and then sue them.

Sorry mate, but software patents are the worst thing that ever happened to the industry, People should only be able to patent things that exist, not IDEAS. Once the software EXISTS it should protected by COPYRIGHT. Get it ? What in the world went wrong?

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Re: I'm getting fed up with the volume of ignorant comments on patents

"You really think Einstein should have been able to say that an object's mass and energy are interelated with a universal constant, now pay up if you want to use that, bitch?"

Is the perfect example of "I'm off to patent air" You can't patent that and Einstein couldn't have patented it !!!!

You're acting like that Harry Enfield character. "If Nigel Mansell came over my gaff, and wheelspun his Mercedes all over my lawn, churning it up so chunks are flying, I'd say OI NIGEL NOOO!"

Your complaining about something is hasn't been the case since the BT hyperlink patent.

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Re: I'm getting fed up with the volume of ignorant comments on patents

"Obvious! Trying to patent what everyone one already does. It IS a patent on the broad concept of shopping."

But isn't that the same for the Black and Decker workmate patent? Can't you just say that was patenting a desk combined with a clamp and is obviously something you want to do? Yet it's always been held up as one of the best examples of a hardware patent. Please do tell me, do you think that patent should never have been granted?

All patents appear obvious in hindsight.

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@wyatt

You can't patent ideas.

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Re: I'm getting fed up with the volume of ignorant comments on patents

It's a patent on location based services. Going to be fucking pretty much unenforceable. Given the detail I guess it's going to be hard to call it a mere software patent as it sounds very much like an end-to-end logistics solution. That would be fine but it would also be a bit like patenting bus routes. Oh shit, probably given them another idea.

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Anonymous Coward

"Neutral and reasoned argument"?

Rubbish! SuccessCase believes that there is a case to be made for software and process patents, but does not, in fact, make any such case. S/he asserts that the vocal opposition to such patents is based on a faulty belief that they are overly-broad. This is not the case: most critics believe that ALL software and process patents should be disallowed, not just the "overly broad" ones.

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Devil

Just wait

If you thought this was ludicrous, I'm going to patent a business method for monetizing this and many other patents so when anyone tries to use or infringe them for profit, I'll get paid. Muhahahaha!

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Re: "Neutral and reasoned argument"?

Here's my argument for software patents - wrote this post some time ago:

"During the Web M v's MPEG LA smack-down don't forget the argument for patents - even software patents"

http://broadstuff.com/archives/2428-During-the-Web-M-vs-MPEG-LA-smack-down-dont-forget-the-argument-for-patents-even-software-patents.html

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Meh

Re: I'm getting fed up with the volume of ignorant comments on patents

So?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm getting fed up with the volume of ignorant comments on patents

""Obvious! Trying to patent what everyone one already does. It IS a patent on the broad concept of shopping."

But isn't that the same for the Black and Decker workmate patent? Can't you just say that was patenting a desk combined with a clamp and is obviously something you want to do? Yet it's always been held up as one of the best examples of a hardware patent. Please do tell me, do you think that patent should never have been granted?

All patents appear obvious in hindsight."

Did you manage to keep hold of any straws?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What in the world went wrong?

Compaq reverse-engineered IBM's BIOS. IBM and buddies went crying to the politicians after it was found that their copyright was not violated.

What went wrong is that the politicians paid attention to them.

Unfortunately, despite IBM's more modern open-source credentials, at one point they were more Microsoftian than Microsoft. Some would say, they still are.

I still don't see how allowing software patents has had any positive effect whatsoever. Plenty of negative effects, though. Asides the non-stop lawsuits, it's overloaded the rest of the patent system to the point where the entire thing is terminally ill and the kindest thing anybody could do is apply a .50 explosive round to the brain.

And that's where allowing software patents has got us.

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But look how innovative apple is

Next you'll tell me Apple will find some magical way to create a spread sheet AND sort the data by dates AND then be able to make a pie chart with said data AND then print the data for use within an office! What a brilliant company.

And don't even come to me saying that Google would already have an application that does pretty much all of these features. Because if they did, they're blatantly copying apple, and their (soon to be titled) iShopper app. (I bet Google would copy that too and just call it Shopper. Blatant Copyright infringement.)

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Re: But look how innovative apple is

@mr great sage

I'm afraid you seem to have misunderstood how patents work. Everything linked by each AND has to form a single unified technical invention and not simply be a series of externaly connected technologies. The aspect described by each clause has to be "internal" to a single thing being patented that has technical effect. Try coming up with a correct example to show us all how easy it is. Don't worry if you can't. Very few do because you have to be genuinely innovative and genuinely have thought of something new to achieve it. I know every remark I make here will get downvoted, but I also know no one will be able to rise to the challenge and actually provide an example showing how easy it is and what a con it all is (and with an invention for which there is no prior art). If it's all so immoral you should have no difficulty publishing your invention here because presumably it would be wrong to apply for the patent.

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Re: I'm getting fed up with the volume of ignorant comments on patents

You should listen to this podcast story from the Drabblecast

http://www.drabblecast.org/2012/06/25/drabblecast-247-how-i-crippled-a-world-for-just-0-01-cents/

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Re: Yes, this patent is not as broad as the headline suggests...

So basically what everyone who has ever gone shopping for more than one item with a range of possible shops available has done, then, but with added barcodes? Whoop de fucking doo.

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Go

Yay!

Someone patented NextTag, Google Shopping, etc, etc. Only real "innovation" is that it can do this automagically for a whole list of items rather than one at a time....Oh, and the best route for brick'n'mortar shopping. Personally, I think Buy.com -> Amazon.com -> Half.com makes for an easier driving route.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @wyatt

A patent is usually on a process. So it's not so much an idea but an idea on how to do a specific number of actions to achieve an outcome.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Neutral and reasoned argument"?

Killing software patents assumes that nobody has ever done anything clever in software that deserved protection.

Writing software, testing it, marketing it and supporting it costs a lot of money if it is going to be a popular application. If you are a small software start up then you would go bust in no time as Microsoft, Oracle or IBM could just copy what you have done.

Why would anyone try to do anything clever if someone else was allowed to copy it without doing any hard work? it sounds to me like those who dislike patents are the sort of people who like plagiarism. Almost as if they think "Why bother to do your own work when you can just repackage what someone else has done?".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What in the world went wrong?

Don't forget to save a few .50 rounds for the patent trolls.....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Neutral and reasoned argument"?

"Killing software patents assumes that nobody has ever done anything clever in software that deserved protection."

What's wrong with copyright? Under copyright, you can't just rip someone off and pass their work off as your own. Even if you want to write something that does a similar thing to a competing product, that is hard work. You don't just click your fingers and see a derivative product pop into existance.

I'm sure you've heard the argument a million times, but software is basically math and logic. Not only that, but computer science is an incredibly fast moving field. Applying patents to algorithms, algorithms that might be obsolete next year, is an insane idea. The resulting mayhem, where it's impossible to do anything at all with a computer without the very real danger of some troll shaking you down for cash or devouring your business whole, surely should speak for itself?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: SuccessCase

Like one click shopping? Or perhaps "addition" will be patented next?

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WTF?

Ye gods...

Is anyone else getting really fed up with this nonsense?

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Re: Ye gods...

Yup!

I wonder if I can patent the idea of patenting stupid/obvious things?

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Re: Ye gods... @Steve

No, you can't patent it 'cos there's prior art... oh... hang on... tell a lie, it's the USPO isn't it? Go ahead, then...

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Google must be spitting blood

This is EXACTLY the kind of thing that they make money out of (take a look at Google Shopper), but cleaned up into a coherent package.

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Re: Google must be spitting blood

then they can show prior art then.

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Re: Google must be spitting blood

Not from 2008 they can't, and definitely not in the form described. It's little more than a barcode lookup and price search app as it stands.

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????

Erm, if I enter a product name in google it gives me a list of places to get it from and the best price under the heading of "shopping results for X"

I'm not sure its been there since 2008 though i guess.

Still FFS why do they keep granting vague process' patents!

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There are excellent reasons

Patent examiners are overworked, and it takes far less effort to grant a patent than to do all the paperwork required to delay it. Rejecting a patent just means it will come back with a few words changed. Remember the purpose of the patent system is to divert money from R&D to lawyers. A good patent should be really obvious so there will be plenty of infringers. A better patent has plenty of prior art so plenty of businesses are already profiting and ripe for some nuicance litigation.

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Childcatcher

Re: Shopping

Before Google had a shopping tab we used to insert the word "price" into the search to get the same list. OK so it could not be ordered by price, but...

Oooh! Does that mean I have prior art?

Money money money give me money money money.

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DHL, UPS, FedEx

Would all have been running software like this for years for their logistics ops, likely guys like Tesco, too for delivery and stock scheduling

Total assclownage from all involved

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Anonymous Coward

Re: DHL, UPS, FedEx

Your right, at least I know DHL over 20 years ago were using radio (probably longer) to transmit collection details for drivers, probably advanced a long way since as well. Route planning been around since the earliest computer leasons in the traverling salesman example.

One can only wonder if Einstien was about if this would of got passed him and is just plain old silly.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: DHL, UPS, FedEx

they even minimize the number of left turns (in the us) their trucks do, because they found right turns faster and safer...

so maybe apple will only do left turns across lanes of traffic... to avoid prior art.

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Anonymous Coward

time for patent office to take a stand

and send the application back with the words "Too f_____g obvious" written on it.

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Re: time for patent office to take a stand

More like time for it to hire competent staff. Twenty years too late is better than thirty.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: time for patent office to take a stand

Its not just obvious its basically a warehouse pick list with shops instead of shelves.., these have existed with optimized route planning for years!

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They also have a patent on what now?

Do me a lemon!

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Anonymous Coward

It's an application

not yet a patent

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's an application

"not yet a patent"

Opening line of the article reads "Apple has been granted a patent... " on the f cking obvious again.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's an application

My mistake! I'm so used to adding that comment to stories where it's true that I just added it here through sheer force of habit.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's an application

And has a negative impact on how other perceive your judgement.

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