Can We Set Up An Online Learning Class About Our Screwed Up Patent System?

from the might-help dept

There's been a lot of buzz in the last few weeks over the patent awarded to the provider of online courseware, Blackboard. The patent seems ridiculously broad and basically seems to cover the entire concept of e-learning software. So, of course, what else would Blackboard do, but sue another company for patent infringement? Blackboard claims that people are overreacting, but as people go through and breakdown the specific claims in the patent, it just looks worse and worse. There is simply no reason that this patent ever should have been issued. There is nothing in the patent that is remotely new or non-obvious -- and it's difficult to make even the slightest case that the issuance of this patent has any societal benefit. Instead, you could make a pretty good case that it's done plenty of harm. In the meantime, plenty of people are saying that the blame should fall entirely on the patent system and not Blackboard, but they are defending their decision to sue another provider. Hopefully, the growing backlash (especially from academia) against Blackboard for resorting to a lawsuit means that more universities decide to go with other software providers.


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  1.  
    identicon
    sean, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 6:12am

    Some one needs to try to get a patent that is able to cover our system of gov and then sue them and at the same time get a patent to cover the concept of a patent and then sue the patent office for issuing patents with out your permission

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Sanguine Dream, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 6:57am

    Ridiculous

    This patent nonsense is just that, nonsense. I'm waiting for someone to patent highspeed internet, the concept of the PC, and the cell phone.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Johnson, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 7:04am

    Baby & Bath Water

    There's no question that the patents clerks aren't the brightest bulbs. There is some evidence that they are rewarded for the wrong things; however, we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water.

    A friend came up with an idea, filed a patent, and contacted a manufacturing firm to build his widget for him. He has relatively low sales -- because the manufacturing firm went into competition against him. His only recourse is to sue for patent infingment. Patents are necessary things.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Nick, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 7:53am

    Patents are necessary but I believe some take it to the extreme. There should be rules stating you have to actually do something with the patent you hold ... we hear alot of stories about these patent companies that just hold patents and wait to sue. I think the Blackberry case was a result of this. When we then hear in the news that this company won 200m; this clearly justifies trying to get into this crooked business. Its a shame, there should be some more balance so we can still innovate but at the same time protect ourselves.

     

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  5.  
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    Adeel, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 7:57am

    Re:

    That is probably one of the funniest things I have ever heard.

    Sorry this is irrelevant to the issue but I just had to comment.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    feldie, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 9:35am

    In 1905 Einstein worked in the Swiss patent office. After he left some believe all patent offices everywhere started on a downward spiral. But as of late, the US patent office has become totally dysfunctional.

    Pythagoras could patent his formula nowadays and prevent anyone from checking for a right angle. No laying out a soccer field or building stairs without paying him first. What a mess!

     

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  7.  
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    Mike (profile), Aug 28th, 2006 @ 10:06am

    Re: Baby & Bath Water

    A friend came up with an idea, filed a patent, and contacted a manufacturing firm to build his widget for him. He has relatively low sales -- because the manufacturing firm went into competition against him. His only recourse is to sue for patent infingment. Patents are necessary things.

    Sounds like he could (or should) have sued for breach of contract instead. It's not his "only" recourse. competition is simply a part of doing business, and you need to be prepared to compete. That means finding trustworthy partners and vendors, and being prepared to deal with it if competition arises from almost any source.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 11:46am

    Re: Re: Baby & Bath Water

    Mike said:
    "That means finding trustworthy partners and vendors"

    You are such an idiot, Mike !

    Just where do you go to find "trustworthy partners" ?
    I can tell you from personal experience that none of those big high-tech companies is "trustworthy".
    As far as I am concerned they are just crooks trying to rip me off (they already did it)
    The only "trustworthy" company is a company owned by e.g. your uncle...

     

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  9.  
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    Mike (profile), Aug 28th, 2006 @ 3:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Baby & Bath Water

    Just where do you go to find "trustworthy partners" ?

    If you are incapable of finding trustworthy partners, don't blame me. I don't see why your bad experiences and inability to do a good job checking out partners means I'm an idiot. However, another tactic then would be to have good contracts with companies. Good contracts can help make a partner a lot more trustworthy.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Johnson, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 5:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Baby & Bath Water

    If you are incapable of finding trustworthy partners, don't blame me.

    So Mike, how many inventioins have you made? Or are you just hoping to reap the benefits of stealing others ideas?

     

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  11.  
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    Mike (profile), Aug 28th, 2006 @ 7:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Baby & Bath Water

    So Mike, how many inventioins have you made? Or are you just hoping to reap the benefits of stealing others ideas?

    Hmm. I don't count "inventions." I simply focus on innovating and making my customers happy. And we've been able to do that for many years, by continuing to focus on our customers and no worry about patenting our ideas (even though our lawyers have told us we absolutely could get patents for stuff we're doing). Why should we bother caring about how many inventions we come up with when we're doing quite well serving our customers? So, yeah, we come out with new products and features for our customers all the time, but it's based on helping our customers, not worrying about patents.

    And, before you even bother responding, if others want to take what we're doing and try to copy us and do it themselves: more power to them. We've been able to beat out competitors in the market for years, and so I'm not worried about anyone else stepping in as well. I believe we'll be able to continue to out innovate them and keep our customers happy without getting bogged down in counterproductive battles over patents.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Johnson, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 7:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Baby & Bath Water

    I simply focus on innovating and making my customers happy


    You'll forgive me for not believing that you're actually in business.

     

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  13.  
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    Mike (profile), Aug 28th, 2006 @ 8:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Baby & Bath Water

    You'll forgive me for not believing that you're actually in business.

    You do realize that this site that you're commenting on is from the company that I founded and run? The very company that doesn't exist according to you.

    It's a bit scary, by the way, that you think making my customers happy proves that I'm not actually in business. We'll have to let our customers know that six years of exceptional products and service never actually happened.

    Of course, the good thing is that we don't need your belief to keep our customers happy.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Aug 29th, 2006 @ 6:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Baby & Bath Water

    Forgive me, Mike, but I haven't seen anything innovative in your activity.
    Yes, you provide some valuable service to your customers and to the rest of us, but as far as technical innovation is concerned you have none...

    Forget about what your US patent layers tell you - USPTO has no concept of "technical contribution" whatsoever - that is why they have issued so many junk patents.
    The stuff you are doing might be patentable in the USPTO, but it is certainly unpatentable in the EPO, because technical contribution is completely missing.
    So, when you refer to patents, just keep in mind that there are 2 kinds of patents: real PATENTS and junk patents awarded to companies like yours (not your company)

     

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  15.  
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    Mike (profile), Aug 29th, 2006 @ 10:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Baby & Bath Wa

    Yes, you provide some valuable service to your customers and to the rest of us, but as far as technical innovation is concerned you have none...

    Please, I'd prefer that you not insult our tech staff -- who have done an amazing job. How do you know what tech innovation we provide? What we provide our corporate customers is not public information, and includes a fair amount of innovation.

    So, when you refer to patents, just keep in mind that there are 2 kinds of patents: real PATENTS and junk patents awarded to companies like yours (not your company)

    I find it amusing that you claim we're getting junk patents when the whole point is that we're not getting patents.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    ontology, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 5:57am

    Re: Patents

    Well Democracy has over 2000 years of "prior art' however the current amercan oligarchy is new. So you could paten that, or how to hack voting machines, then sue the government for not purchansing licenseing prior to throwing the last election.

    Then You could patent the term "Idea" and sue anyone that thinks. However you'd have to prove that only type of ideas occur and then you'd also have to isolate the part of the human genome responsiple for the part of the brian that thinks. Perfectly legal in the U.S.

    Every one else in the WGO, WTO, G8 and what not have sane laws regarding Patents, copyrights and public domain.

    I do so wish the U.S. would come of the draconian times.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    meyesme, Jan 28th, 2007 @ 5:51pm

    If you infringe, you should get sued.

    The patent system is absolutely needed, otherwise why should anyone innovate? The purpose of the system is to reward the inventor with a government granted monopoly for a set number of years (not forever). Thus if there is someone who thinks he could be more competitive then do it with your own invention, not someone else's. A lot of noise right now is from people who don't like these patent holding companies who don't use the patent but instead suit. Well, where do they get those patents, they get them from the original innovator, who got screwed because some other company got market credit for the stolen idea, and their only way of realizing money off THEIR IDEA, is to sell it to one of these companies, who have the lawyers and the know how to fight the EBAYS, BLACKBERRIES, and other large companies who claim the idea as their own simply because they have the most users. Bottom line is their's companies stealing great idea's from little people, and the little people need the protection of the patent to assure them a reward.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    rebecca, Aug 26th, 2007 @ 9:16am

    talking online

    i dot now what url is...........

     

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