If You're An App Developer And Concerned About Patents (You Should Be), Here's An Event For You

from the don't-miss-it dept

There are tons of app developers out there who are quickly discovering that there’s a major risk they face today: if your app gets even remotely popular, you’re a likely target for a bunch of patent trolls who are feeding off of the greater app developer ecosystem with incredibly broad patents for obvious concepts (even things like charging for your app). There’s a relatively new group called the App Developers Alliance that is putting on a series of patent summits across the US to discuss issues related to patents and app developers. I’ve had a few conversations with the folks putting these events together, and they look like they should be fantastic resources for those who can attend.

Software patents present significant challenges to app developers. Vague claims, product life cycles shorter than the PTO review process, trolls and general uncertainty threaten to stifle app industry innovation and growth.

Beginning in April, the Application Developers Alliance will host events nationwide for developers to learn about patents and share stories of Lodsys letters, legal strategies and litigation costs, and their ideas about software patent reform.

Each event will feature an expert presentation/overview, followed by a panel discussion between policymakers, app developers, attorneys, and other stakeholders. Events will include an open Q&A and a networking reception.

You can check out the site to see when and where the various summits will be held.

Disclosure: Techdirt and the App Developers Alliance are discussing a sponsorship/advertising deal. That promotion is separate from these events and, as always, this post is editorially independent.

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Comments on “If You're An App Developer And Concerned About Patents (You Should Be), Here's An Event For You”

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out_of_the_blue says:

Someone infiltrate and LIBERATE THEIR DATA!

C’mon, it’s no different than JSTOR or any other information-hoarders. Data wants to be free. They won’t be out anything, will still have their data. Just one of you pirates go, record everything said on some gadget, then put it up on Youtube for public benefit.

Or is there something deservedly proprietary about this data?

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Someone infiltrate and LIBERATE THEIR DATA!

No….unfortunately for your universe out_of_the_blue, it’s a legitimate problem and the App Developer’s Alliance fear development of their apps. I’m sure you’re only a bot but I recall the case of a little girl whose app was pulled because some asshole decided to claim a patent on TTS. But I’m sure you’ll somehow spin that into how the girl was some sort of pirate for needing that software to talk.

Anonymous Coward says:

you know, have you ever said anything ever in your life that agrees with Mike? Seriously, The time you waste to troll every article of the site is astounding… I never see you ever post something without an ad hominem either. You know making a post that says “I actually agree with Mike” sometime where you think its appropriate might get you a bigger reaction than your usual trolling….

As for the article itself, I actually look forward to see what might come out of the events.

Zem (profile) says:

Big Brother Protection

Considering how important app developers are now to the success of any platform (see MS paying for app developes to publish win8 apps).

Considering that the market place to sell these apps are closed systems under the platform creators control.

It’s about time the platform creators started offering inbuilt patent insurance to app developers. That way a teenage kid can still create tomorrow.

The Old Man in The Sea says:

Base your applications on the research efforts of the 60's, 70's and 80's

If your are going to write an application then base it on the research from prior to the 90’s. Specifically, note that it is based on specific areas from the relevant periods. This should go a long way to stuffing modern software patents as they will have been issued long after the relevant research was published. It makes their job more difficult because you now have the prior art to stuff down their throats.

Their is so much that was published and are all good leads for new applications. Most of my stuff is based on the research done during the late 70’s to the mid 80’s.

The Old Man in The Sea says:

Re: Re: Base your applications on the research efforts of the 60's, 70's and 80's

DARPANet was one of a number of competing technologies of the day. I had to develop systems that used the OSI Model and it had some very useful features. Our team of the time, got to the stage of being able to decode the hex bytes for the various protocol layers. This was very systematic and we could simply ignore any irrelevant packets depending on the protocol layer we were interested in. IBM’s SNA on the other hand was a bit more of a dogs breakfast (though it too had it supporters in our organisation).

We used to do little things like joining two terminals in different parts of the country and having remote conversations with little trouble other than initiating the connection protocol from each terminal. Connecting two applications was quite easy as well.

At any rate the point is that there is still much of what was being researched then that we can still use today with great effect and have all the prior art available to us.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Base your applications on the research efforts of the 60's, 70's and 80's

That is no guarantee that you will not become involved with a patent troll. The way software patents are worded make it very difficult to find prior technology based on the patent wording. Further the troll expands the scope of a patent as soon as they get them.
Also remember that on a network, using a distributed system, or a mobile system are magic words for getting a new patent on old ideas.

The Old Man in The Sea says:

Re: Re: Base your applications on the research efforts of the 60's, 70's and 80's

The whole point is that your work is based on prior art. Hence, if troll attacks you on basis of his obscure patent, then his patent is based on your use of prior art. He will have difficulty in avoiding prior art defence.

A jury (in such cases) can be be difficult to judge as to what logical outcome they will follow but at least you have got a good start.

RyanNerd (profile) says:

It's just sad

That software developers need to fear that popularity of their creations will awaken trolls whose business model resembles that of the mafia speaks volumes for how broken the patent system is.

Well, we have health insurance, auto, property, and malpractice insurance why not patent infringement insurance? Software developers could contribute to a central fund in case their apps become so popular that they are attacked by trolls. It’s just sad that this even needs to be considered.

anonymouse says:

Re: It's just sad

Younmight have a great idea there, a central place for people to claim their patent is being abused and that central body either advising that the patent is not clear enough or is too broad or is styfelling innovation, as long as to was not corrupted to either side i would say this would work very well, the problem is if either side gets more power than the other by “donating” to support the industry.

RyanNerd (profile) says:

Re: Re: It's just sad

AHHHH…I’ve created a monster. I’ve always had a problem with malpractice insurance. It drives up the cost of medical care and in MOST CASES it isn’t needed. Typically it is there to offset the cost of medical trolls that shake down wealthy doctors for money.

It would be sad that the cost of software development was also driven up because like doctor malpractice insurance — its existence is to feed the trolls.

Corwin (profile) says:

What sort of idiots

runs a business in such a way that it’s vulnerable to such trolling AT ALL?

Internet is WORDWIDE, remember? HOST YOUR APP STORE IN P2P, RIGHT THERE IN THE PHONES. No software patents applied or enforced there. I’m way past caring about all the poor idiot ‘Murrican devs and businesses who can’t figure out the meaning of jurisdiction. WHEN THE SOLUTION IS JUST THAT BLINDINGLY OBVIOUS.

But it’s “forbidden” because you have to “comply” with “regulations”? Why? Come on, try and stop the bits, BRING IT ON. Internet CAN and DOES take on censorship and WIN.
Reality doesn’t care for laws, because it’s made of things that still exist when no-one believes in them. Laws stop existing when no-one believes in them. Bits exist, I’ve seen them, but I’ve never seen a regulation pop up in my TCP packets.

As for “but devs could be raided” : hahaha lolno. They’d have to raid all of everyone who ever downloaded the Android Dev Toolkit or XCode. And all the publishers, i.e. everyone who owns a phone/tablet/whatever. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT.

staff (user link) says:

more dissembling by Masnick

‘Software patents present significant challenges to app developers’

By far the bigger issue for small firms is protecting their creations.

?Patent troll?

infringers and their paid puppets? definition of ?patent troll?:

anyone who has the nerve to sue us for stealing their invention

The patent system now teeters on the brink of lawlessness. Call it what you will…patent hoarder, patent troll, non-practicing entity, shell company, etc. It all means one thing: ?we?re using your invention and we?re not going to stop or pay?. This is just dissembling by large invention thieves and their paid puppets to kill any inventor support system. It is purely about legalizing theft. The fact is, many of the large multinationals and their puppets who defame inventors in this way themselves make no products in the US or create any American jobs and it is their continued blatant theft which makes it impossible for the true creators to do so. To them the only patents that are legitimate are their own -if they have any.

It?s about property rights. They should not only be for the rich and powerful. Show me a country with weak or ineffective property rights and I?ll show you a weak economy with high unemployment. If we cannot own the product of our minds or labors, what can we be said to in fact own. Life and liberty are fundamentally tied to and in fact based on property rights. Our very lives are inseparably tied to our property. Large multinational corporations are on the brink of destroying the American dream -our ability to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps from the working classes by building our own companies while making better futures for our children and theirs.

Prior to eBay v Mercexchange, small entities had a viable chance at commercializing their inventions. If the defendant was found guilty, an injunction was most always issued. Then the inventor small entity could enjoy the exclusive use of his invention in commercializing it. Unfortunately, injunctions are often no longer available to small entity inventors because of the Supreme Court decision so we have no fair chance to compete with much larger entities who are now free to use our inventions. Essentially, large infringers now have your gun and all the bullets. Worse yet, inability to commercialize means those same small entities will not be hiring new employees to roll out their products and services. And now those same parties who killed injunctions for small entities and thus blocked their chance at commercializing now complain that small entity inventors are not commercializing. They created the problem and now they want to blame small entities for it. What dissembling! If you don?t like this state of affairs (your unemployment is running out), tell your Congress member. Then maybe we can get some sense back into the patent system with injunctions fully enforceable on all infringers by all patentees, large and small.

Those wishing to help fight big business giveaways should contact us as below and join the fight as we are building a network of inventors and other stakeholders to lobby Congress to restore property rights for all patent owners -large and small.

For the truth about trolls, please see http://truereform.piausa.org/default.html#pt.

Iridis says:

Content ownership rights.

I can understand why people want an end to copyright and patents when it comes to this. The system have become so hopelessly skewered on the side of big business that your better off giving your product away for free than trying to make a meagre amount of money off of it. If you know how the app system works, you either have to charge a very small amount of money for your app (like 99 cents) or more likely give it away for free. Even then if you worked up a reputation and managed to create a successful app against everything in the hyper-competitive app store markets, then this sort of thing can happen?
In my opinion it really just isn’t worth the hassle. The system is so hopelessly broken now that lots of people are waking up to this fact and deciding not even to bother trying to work with it.

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