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back to article Obama's patent troll proposals: Long on talk, short on walk

The White House has issued five executive actions and seven legislative recommendations to act against patent trolling. but while the president has done what he can within the limited scope of the executive's powers, it's nowhere near enough and relies on Congress to try and stop the problem. Executive orders (EO) are limited in …

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Anonymous Coward

Baby/bathwater

"Possibly the biggest hole is not asking for some kind of requirement for patent litigants to actually produce something related to the patents they are contesting."

Are you suggesting that an inventor has only two choices: to either produce a product, or sell the patent outright? Is it not acceptable for someone to legitimately license a patent to one or multiple producers??

The issue is with SOME non-producing entities.... there are clearly legitimate patent models where the inventor is compensated by producing entities. Banning non-producing entities just because they are non-producing is NOT the answer.

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Re: Baby/bathwater

An inventor would have produced a prototype, even if they did no more.

The problem NPEs haven't, instead they have bought the patent rights from somebody else and in many cases never produced anything vaguely related or even in the same field of expertise.

So perhaps a tighter definition would be that any patent assignee must produce a product (or prototype product) they have created or directly commissioned in order to commence any court action.

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Re: Baby/bathwater

Agreed. This 'analysis' contains much of the same barely correct 'argument' that surrounds online patent discussions. There are no easy fixes for the system & most changes will have stack on impacts for non software related patents. The patent system involves a lot more industries than software but most of the proposals floated disregard those interests with ideas that would flatten everyone but the software players.

I say down with software patents all together as they are having the opposite effect they were intended to have: Incentivizing creativity and innovation. They are crushing innovation and it is time the software industry swallowed some of its own medicine and changed to 'meet the needs of an evolving global market'.

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Re: Baby/bathwater

I think this is the heart of the issue and the most difficult to parse. For example, what if IBM gets a patent on some form of SDN, but never creates a product the exploits that patent. Instead, they do something with OpenFlow. Is IBM a troll? Certainly not, but how do you differentiate? You could say that the have to actively participate in the industry in which they hold patents. Actively participate would mean producing products and services in that industry.

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Re: Baby/bathwater (@ ARP2)

The solution would be to grant patents only if the inventor can show a working prototype, or in the cases where the invention is too complex to make without the help of big financial backing, a working 'in silico' simulation. That would also take care of the issue with too-generically worded patents.

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Re: Baby/bathwater (@ ARP2)

But I think the trolls could easily pay to create a mockup or demo of whatever patents they've bought. it would be a few hundred thousand extra. If we're talking "original" inventors, that's often the case, except with business method patents, which are the most difficult since there's no easy way to create a prototype (which may be your point).

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Meh

Re: Baby/bathwater (@ ARP2)

I've been considering another perspective on this issue.

What if you invent something, but you decide that the invention isn't fit to be used - is immoral or unhealthy. Should you be allowed to hold the patent and say that X is not to be made.

I can see arguments from both sides. On the one hand, you invented the bloody thing, so why shouldn't you have power to veto it. On the other hand, who are you to tell me what I can and cannot use?

I'm guessing it would be relevant what it is that you've invented, but I doubt laws would be made for that as that'd make the laws incomplete - how can you predict what people will invent?

Anyway - not really relevant to the discussion I guess, but I've just been considering the matter.

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Re: Baby/bathwater - FIXED

An patent holder may only claim royalties if they are:

• The originator of the idea (or perhaps the original filer?).

• Selling a product incorporating that patent.

No other patent holders are entitled to royalties.

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Congress may be more cooperative than you think.

Last time I looked, there were a half-dozen or so proposals floating around aimed at patent reform, most of which has bi-partisan support. Many in Congress have been waiting for President Obama to clearly indicate what types of reforms he would like to see. Now that they have it, I imagine we'll have a decent bill before the end of the current Congressional term.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Congress may be more cooperative than you think.

Oh my! Stop! Really, I'm dying here!

<breath/>

OK, I really needed that laugh at the end of the day, thanks.

Wait.

You were serious?

You really think Congress could deliver a meaningful patent reform bill before the end of term? Without it being handed to them (along with a large stack of cash) by industry lobbyists who are just fine with the system-as-it-is?

Oh, you poor, deluded soul....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Congress may be more cooperative than you think.

Seconded.

The amount of money contributed by law firms is dwarfed by the amount of money contributed by tech firms. So as far as the carpet bribing is concerned that has already been done.

I suspect you are going to see a bill in a few months or less.

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Re: Congress may be more cooperative than you think.

"Many in Congress have been waiting for President Obama to clearly indicate what types of reforms he would like to see."

Precisely. And the opposing party will proceed to howl against President Obama's proposals. To do otherwise would contradict their perfect record of a five-year gridlock. Congress is no longer capable of action beneficial to the nation; all has been sacrificed on a funeral pyre of political conflict. No cause, least of all patent reform, is sufficient to survive that insanity.

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Happy

Re: Congress may be more cooperative than you think.

"Many in Congress have been waiting for President Obama to clearly indicate what types of reforms he would like to see."

Can I have some of what you're smoking please?

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Devil

Re: Congress may be more cooperative than you think.

Posted for the second time today....

The definition of an honest politician is "one that stays bought".

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A truly good start would be

...to ban software patents.

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It is all about perspective

"Reform of the patent system is desperately needed, and it's hurting the US economy to the tune of billions of dollars a year. Even worse, much of this money is being funneled back into filing more and more lawsuits, ensuring that the problems will be ever-growing."

- or, if you are a patent lawyer then -

"Keeping the current patent system is desperately needed, and it's benefiting the legal industry (and hence the US economy) to the tune of billions of dollars a year. Even better, much of this money is being funneled back into filing more and more lawsuits, ensuring that the benefits will be ever-growing."

The US patent laws are there for the benefit of the USPTO (and the revenue it generates for US) and is highly beneficial to the patent lawyers.

Patent lawyers make money out of filing, but the real money comes from fighting in patent disputes. Low quality patents (and trolls) cause more disputes, so where's the motivation to change the current system.

Any recommendations for changes will have to come from some committee which will be heavily stacked with people knowledgeable about patent law - in other words the patent lawyers - who have little interest in changing anything.

Unfortunately Obama is just running a line. Talk is cheap, but achievement is much harder.

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Meh

Re: It is all about perspective

The USPTO actually has a running annual break even budget where current revenues from fee collection are equal to the next years budget increases. It is one of the few agencies that actually pays for itself. It is most certainly not a revenue generator for the government... Here's their budget (PDF): http://www.uspto.gov/about/stratplan/budget/fy12pbr.pdf

Patent law and the USPTO is there for the protection of ideas and if you don't count software, those laws and the USPTO do a pretty good job. The biggest improvement to the system would be to make software ineligible for patent protection.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It is all about perspective

PTOs everywhere, including USA, are not revenue generators. At best - they break even on fee revenue.

As far as the lawyers are concerned, US patent law industry needs to be brought in line with the rest of the world. That will solve that problem

The number of frivolous patents on this side of the pond is much more for a reason - to become an Eu patent attorney you need to have a tech degree first (usually some industry experience as well) and study patent law later and that study is hell. I have the utmost respect for anyone who has successfully survived through EPO paper A, B and C. Each is half a day _OPEN_ book: filing, opposition and (if memory serves me right) responce to examiner on a technical topic you see the first time. Fully understanding engineering notes of an inventor in 4 h and writing that up as correctly filed claims for a patent? Nuts... I have tried that a couple of times with my own work and it took me like a week (and I knew what it is about).

I have worked with both Eu and US patent attorneys and frankly I have yet to meet one which will pass that exam. The emperor has no clothes - the _STANDARD_ of the industry in the USA is too low. The current proposal does _NOTHING_ to address that.

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Opposites

If the opposite of pro is con then the opposite of progress is congress...

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Re: Opposites

Beat me to it.

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At least...

...they are talking. Yes, that isn't much, but as is said, "The journey of 1000 (insert units here) begins with a single step."

My solution: No software Patents! If you really want to get a patent, put it in dedicated hardware!

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Anonymous Coward

Congress will never let this happen because there is too much money flowing from these trolls into the pockets of congressmen. The Congress of the US is totally sold out to big business.

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Anonymous Coward

"no way in the current political climate that the House and Senate will work together on the issue"

Retarded? Doesn't bode well for 'mericans. Makes you all look silly!

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Mushroom

Deterrence

The ins and outs of good patent law escape me but I can think of a punitive measure for violators of the law which should be far more effective than fines- voiding/expiration of the abused patent. Relieving them of their revenue stream (and any possibility to regain it later) should scare them more than the half-guessed value of potential damages. If your kid* goes round shooting at people with a bb gun you take it off them**.

*<insert chav parents rant>

**A work colleague's seen the armed response unit turn up to a kid shooting a bb gun at people leaving an off licence. Apparently this is very funny to watch.

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