Want To Create A Simple App To Tell You Where Someone Is Calling From? You Can't, It's Patented

from the promoting-the-progress-yet-again dept

Someone who prefers to remain anonymous, sent me a story that I hear all the time these days. He was getting annoyed with not knowing who was calling his Blackberry, so he figured he'd write a simple app to do a standard database lookup in order to pull up the info that would at least let you know where the caller was from, based on area code. It's the sort of thing that software programmers do all the time: see a need, write a simple program to solve it.

Except for the patents.

As he started to write the app, he figured he should take a quick look around to see if anyone else had done so... when he came across the fact that someone had written that app, but thanks to a patent threat, it had been shut down. In fact, the patent holder, Cequent, has sued a few others who dared to create such a simple database lookup app themselves. The patent itself describes an incredibly simple database lookup... yet, now no one else is allowed to create such an app.

The purpose of the patent system was to create the incentives for inventors to invent products that likely would not have been created otherwise, in order to help "promote the progress." Yet, when it's being used to prevent an engineer from writing a simple app that could have occurred to anyone, based on a simple database lookup, doesn't it seem like there's a pretty big problem?


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  1.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 11th, 2009 @ 12:01pm

    Of course

    All the money is with the people who want to impede (others) progress.

    Simple, when you get down to it.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 12:13pm

    Re: Of course

    wealth envy much?

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 12:13pm

    Bogus Patent, Bogus Examiner

    Any USPTO examiner who couldn't see that this is a simple database look-up should be drawn and quartered, and so should the attorney who filed this steaming pile of dung. This has been STANDARD PRACTICE with databases and programming since at least 1950. I personally have written a half-dozen applications that use this exact same "technology." The obviousness of this patent is clear to my fucking dog, and he's not even a programmer.

    Where's the damned EFF? What next, patent looking up a name in a database? Or a price, a UPC, or the name of a patent-troll company?

     

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    R. Miles, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 12:24pm

    Re: Bogus Patent, Bogus Examiner

    I'm still stunned any software can be patented.

    It's stupidity at its grandest.

     

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    Yohann Sloborski, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 12:44pm

    Patented?Write it and post source code.

    I'm not really a programmer, but I love the open source community. If I'm going to write a program that's already been patented, I'd write it to be just as good if not better, and post the source code anonymously for all to have, use, modify.

    If it's patented, I'm not going to get any money, but everyone out there can sure benefit from my effort. Microsoft doesn't have a patent on "Operating Systems" so they can't stop UNIX or Linux. Why not post source code of an app that others would find useful?

    I say if there's software out there enforced by patent, write an equal or better one and release the source code to all.

     

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  6.  
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    Mischa, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 12:45pm

    Even if it was a valid patent, given that claims 8-10 are all about comunicating with a central server for updates, would a phone# lookup app really be violating the patent if there was no central server?

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 12:50pm

    SELECT PLACE
    FROM DIRECTORY
    WHERE AREA_CODE=NUMBER[1:3];

    Did I just violated their patent?

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 12:51pm

    Re:

    true enough. But none of the other attempts to create this had a server component either, but they were still sued.

    They are using their big hammer to scare everyone else away. I wouldn't be willing to go to court over what is likely to be a very small market (relative to legal costs, at least). Would you?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Patented?Write it and post source code.

    I was the one who brought this up.

    If you are willing to finance my legal costs when then track me down, I'm happy to write the code and post it to SourceForge or the equivalent.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 1:12pm

    I'm failing to see the problem. Someone wrote it, patented it. Done.

    This guy who "wanted to write a quick app" did so NOT for his own ease of use....but to PROFIT from it.

    Sorry...the other guy beat you to it.

    If he REALLY wants to write this app to make HIS life easier, he's more than welcome to do it. He just can't sell it.

     

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    micmac, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 1:16pm

    Any App for sale?

    This news item is missing the most important info: is such an application actually available from a licensed source? Or is the patent hold just watching for people to sue?

     

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    Frank Stallone, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 1:18pm

    purpose of patent system

    The purpose of the patent system is not "to create the incentives for inventors to invent products that likely would not have been created otherwise." There are many purposes, but a more accurate characterization would be to incentivize inventors to exert effort and commit resources to developing technology, knowing that the government will offer them a fixed-term monopoly for the technology.

    And anyone is free to write source code and post it publicly. The source code itself is protected by copyright law, not patent. As long as you don't copy the patent owner's source code (copyright violation), you are free to independently create your own code. You cannot, however, compile it and sell the resulting program (patent violation).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 1:19pm

    Re: Any App for sale?

    Nope. No such app exists for the Blackberry from any source.

     

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    Pete Austin, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 1:19pm

    Prior Art

    I wrote almost the exact same thing, before this patent. The only real difference was that my program handled Post Codes (British Zip Codes), not telephone area codes.

    The original use was that, when lots of people replied using a comment form, their requests were automatically routed to the geographically-closest office.

    It's so obvious that probably hundreds of people have written similar programs.

     

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    Dana King, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 1:22pm

    Re:

    My question is this. Did the guy that has the patent, create anything or is he just sitting on this idea and not producing anything from it, except suing people when they write apps.

    I say, that if you just go around suing people for creating something you just sit on, then you should loose that patent. Create something dang it.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 1:23pm

    Re:

    the problem is that this is an extraordinarily stupid patent. People have been doing database lookups for all sorts of things for a long time. To pick out one specific instance of a database lookup and say that this was non-obvious and novel just makes no sense at all.

     

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    Jimmy Schmitz, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 1:28pm

    I don't see how an obvious program such as this can be patentable.

    I never even heard of this patent before, but back in 2000 when I was running an internet business that sold items, I would get several calls on my phone from customers following-up on their shipments and some who just had general questions.

    Since I had Caller ID and since most people calling me had their phone numbers in my database (running on MySQL) -- before even picking-up the phone -- I was able to quickly enter that person's phone number into a PHP form and have it return results of what state they were calling from, who they were if they already made a purchase and were possibly calling regarding that purchase.

    This would save time for me since I could tell if they were calling regarding an order on file or if they were calling because they just had general questions.

    I don't see how an obvious program such as this can be patentable.

    I tend to even remember calling the Television Cable Company several years back, and if you were calling from a telephone number that you setup your account with, they would instantly transfer you to an account services department, instead of giving you the (unknown number) new account services run-around.

     

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  18.  
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    TW Burger, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 1:28pm

    Re:

    Yes, it seems you just SQLed yourself into patent infringement. Naughty-naughty programmer, how dare you code the patently obvious!

    Seriously, this patenting of software that is just an extremely basic and obvious and minor code function is ridiculous.

    Microsoft would have patented the "blue screen of death" if they thought there was any money in it. I should patent the for-next loop.

     

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  19.  
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    Dave, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 1:41pm

    Re:

    Good Point

     

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  20.  
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    Bear, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 1:44pm

    Re:

    The original article said nothing about the engineer in question trying to profit from his app; it said he "was getting annoyed with not knowing who was calling his Blackberry." That sounds like it was for his own personal ease of use to me.

     

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    James (profile), Mar 11th, 2009 @ 1:49pm

    Re:

    exactly. I was going to make this comment then I found yours. i used to take art in high school and would make all sorts of "concert" t-shirts with silk screening. As long as they were for my use and not for sale nobody could do anything. It was funny when I would wear a home made shirt to a concert and the t-shirt sellers would wig out and ask where I go the shirt since they were not selling them.

     

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    hegemon13, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 1:52pm

    Re:

    Doesn't matter whether he planned to profit from it. There is nothing wrong with that. He created the software completely independently. Patent should not be about "beating" someone to anything. It should be to encourage innovation. Allowing one guy to lock up an idea as simple as a database lookup is outrageous. And for those who say you can't patent ideas, here is a perfect example of someone who has. It does not matter what you are "supposed" to be able to patent when the USPTO is willing to rubber-stamp every half-assed notion that comes across their desk. In practice, the patenting of ideas happens all the time, as it did here.

    This patent is clearly invalidated by prior art, anyway, but the legal force of the company is too costly for an average at-home programmer to stand up against. Plus, the timeframe and process for challenging a patent is ridiculous. The lawsuit could drag on for years and cost many thousands of dollars.

     

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  23.  
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    TechToad, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 1:55pm

    Work Around

    Wouldn't the solution to this problem be translation code?

    A generic Macro/API interface to the phone that the user can easily control. ie. write generic code that could achieve the desired outcome, but leave it up to the phone owner to plug the components of the process together. Surely that way the coder cannot be sued and only the phone owner will know if they have violated the patent.

    eg.
    Component 1 Phone call attribute trigger
    - have an incoming call trigger that can run a thread.
    Component 2 customisable database lookup thread that will display the result of a query on one phone call attribute - make this a selectable number of characters from the attribute.
    Component 3 the database table a list of area codes to names - or phone numbers to tunes.... etc.

    Allow the user to "connect" the parts together to make their own app.

    Phone call attributes selectable could be Incoming call time, current call duration, incoming phone number, GPS position at time of call.

    Thread actions could be to display the query, play a tune based on the query etc.

    So the end user plugs it together and builds the application to suit.

    If the user wants to violate patent, its not the developer's problem.

     

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  24.  
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    recursivecall, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 2:02pm

    patent idea

    Hey, I want to file a patent for the process of obtaining patent rights to an idea that I didn't actually do any research for so that I can sue anyone else who implements it and make money off of their hard work.
    It's so obvious it would work!

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Work Around

    You should patent that idea.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 2:09pm

    Offending code will be removed as soon as we find a non-patented way to do it. ;)

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Bogus Patent, Bogus Examiner

    Any USPTO examiner who couldn't see that this is a simple database look-up should be drawn and quartered,

    You mean ALL of them? How would the patent system function then? Maybe that's why we should just get rid of the patent system.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 2:17pm

    Re:

    If he REALLY wants to write this app to make HIS life easier, he's more than welcome to do it. He just can't sell it.

    How's that? It would still be patent infringement. There is no exemption for non-commercial use in patent law.

    You really don't seem to know much about patent law. Maybe you should read up on it before making ignorant comments about it.

     

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  29.  
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    SimpleTruth, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 2:27pm

    F*** the Patent

    Maybe someone leaves the code for such an app on a developer site. Maybe the app gets created by a bunch of people countries were the long arm can not find them. Maybe the market is flooded by such applications. Maybe the app is out there and the patent holder gets F***ed. Maybe they deserve it.

    This is a work of fiction maybe an idea and is not promoting the execution of any illegal actions.

     

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  30.  
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    PaulT (profile), Mar 11th, 2009 @ 2:55pm

    Re:

    You're really that clueless? OK...

    1. AKAIF, patents don't have exceptions for non-commercial use. It's unlikely he would have been tracked if he wrote it and kept it to himself, but even if he gave it away for free, it would still be a patent violation (which is why Microsoft keeps threatening Linux distros, among others, though they're yet to act on their threats). Besides which, I see nothing in the article about intending to sell it, just some due diligence from a patent-aware programmer.

    2. The patent rules are meant to exclude ideas that are "obvious to a practitioner skilled in the art", or whatever the wording is. Put bluntly, this is an incredibly obvious tool that should never have had a patent granted in the first place.

    3. Has the patent owner made such a tool? It doesn't look like it. The only thing that the patent holder seems to have done so far is to sue anyone tries to make a similar product, not to make a product themselves, which has led to the need for such a tool in the first place.

    "If he REALLY wants to write this app to make HIS life easier, he's more than welcome to do it. He just can't sell it."

    Sadly, this sentence shows you up as being a fool with an all too common attitude in the proprietary software world. In their minds, there are only two reasons make software - for profit or to keep to yourself. The open source attitude of "scratching your own itch" then sharing your solution with anyone else who might need it is utterly alien to these people...

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 3:01pm

    Re: Re:

    That's what it SOUNDS like....an ease of use. Well...he can write anything he wants for his own personal gain. I think this story is poorly told. We don't know anything about the actual patent and what is precisely patented, we don't know what the patented holder is doing or has done with the patented, nor do we know WHY this guy was looking for the patented.

    If I were to guess....I'm guessing it was TO MAKE MONEY...not to make HIS life easier.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 3:07pm

    Re: Re:

    Ok. So what you're saying is....EVERYTIME someone writes something at home, or builds something in their garage...they are expected to research through the patent office to see if it's "legal" for them to make it?

    Is that what you do?

    Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 3:15pm

    Re: Re:

    Ok PAULT.

    So I'm clueless, huh??

    READ THIS...1953 RULING on Patent Law:

    Doubtless experimentation will usually have an ultimate commercial objective; where it ends and infringement begins must often be a matter of degree. If the person concerned keeps his activities to himself, and does no more than further his own knowledge or skill, even though commercial advantage may be his final goal, he does not infringe. But if he goes beyond that, and uses the invention or makes it available to others, in a way that serves to advance in the actual market place, then he infringes.


    Your little rant: I vote FAIL.

     

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  34.  
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    Ken, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 3:19pm

    An act which apart from this subsection, would constitute an infringement of a patent for an invention shall not do so if -

    it is done privately and for purposes which are not commercial
    it is done for experimental purposes relating to the subject matter of the invention.

    What is this guy bitching about? Make his app...use it on HIS phone....and move on....nothing to see here.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 3:21pm

    Re: Re:

    An act which apart from this subsection, would constitute an infringement of a patent for an invention shall not do so if -

    it is done privately and for purposes which are not commercial
    it is done for experimental purposes relating to the subject matter of the invention.

     

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  36.  
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    Steven, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 3:29pm

    Already Been done

    This application is used every time any phone bill is printed. You can buy the NPA/NXX data for the purpose of writing this application. Calling cards use this application with the additional calculation of cost per minute of the call. I have writen this application for a company that sold it more than 15 years ago. Almost every company in the telecomunications industry has a version of this application. Too much prior art. The patant will eventualy be thrown out.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 3:31pm

    The patent holder is attempting to market a system to *telcos* that performs this function. What they are doing is attempting to try and inflate the value of their telco/server based system by squashing any attempts to implement this same functionality on the device side.

    Who ultimately gets screwed is anyone who wants this functionality because:

    1) no telcos are buying the server based system
    2) no independent developers can step in and provide the functionality at a lower price point (at least one implementation was freeware)
    3) if some telco does ever pick this up, subscribers will end up paying a monthly fee for the privilege

    All because of a patent that shouldn't have been granted in the first place because the technology IS obvious and it most definitely had been done before. And, the patent would very likely be thrown out if someone were to challenge it, but since there's so little money that could be made from making the challenge (remember, there's a freeware app that would be available if not for the lawyers) nobody is going to challenge.

    And that leaves everyone poorer.

     

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  38.  
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    jo mama, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 3:52pm

    he should be able to use it as long as he doesn't try to make any money off it. but i don't know for sure.

     

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  39.  
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    PaulT (profile), Mar 11th, 2009 @ 3:53pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm sure I said the opposite of that... Yes, it's f***ing stupid, that was the gist of my post.

     

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  40.  
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    PaulT (profile), Mar 11th, 2009 @ 4:01pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "But if he goes beyond that, and uses the invention or makes it available to others, in a way that serves to advance in the actual market place, then he infringes."

    That's the main point. There is nothing to suggest he was going to use the tool commercially. He may well have intended to give the tool away, free of charge, possibly as open source. Whether that would advance him in the marketplace or not is highly debatable but, if so, I'm somewhat dismayed that a ruling from 1953 can be used against free software... it's a world that the judge in that case could not possibly have conceived of.

    However, that doesn't change the facts that this patent should never have been granted in the first place, and that it's being used to attack those who actually created the tools rather than open up the marketplace for an actual invention or product.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 5:03pm

    Re: Re:

    I wouldn't even say it was due diligence I'd say it was him following the programmer's first rule: Be lazy, don't reinvent the wheel when someone else is giving it away.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 5:54pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    So I'm clueless, huh??

    If you think that New Zealand patent rulings apply in the US, then yes, you are indeed clueless.

    Your little rant: I vote FAIL.

    Fail, you absolutely did.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 5:56pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ok. So what you're saying is....EVERYTIME someone writes something at home, or builds something in their garage...they are expected to research through the patent office to see if it's "legal" for them to make it?

    That's the way the law works in the US.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 5:58pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    An act which apart from this subsection, would constitute an infringement of a patent for an invention shall not do so if -

    it is done privately and for purposes which are not commercial
    it is done for experimental purposes relating to the subject matter of the invention.


    UK law doesn't apply in the US.

     

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  45.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 11th, 2009 @ 6:30pm

    Oy.

    Once a patent it granted, it is absolute (barring a review. That costs.) It doesn't matter if your application is 'non-commercial' or not. It is a government-granted monopoly. (Yeah, there's a whole other end of the gov't that is sometimes dedicated to busting those monopolies. YMMV.)

    Yes, being fraking obvious should make a patent a non-starter. But the people interested in having silly patents granted is still a larger pool than all of you, so they (usually) win.

    Finally, you're a butt-munching peon, and your stellar idea is not going to be allowed by the powers-that-be to be catapulted by the patent system into Bill Gates/Steve Jobs territory. Especially since you don't want to do any actual work.

    Get used to it.

     

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  46.  
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    Yohann Sloborski, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 8:18pm

    It's all just 'ones' and 'zeroes'

    Since software is nothing more than 1s and 0s in compiled form strung in a unique sequence, and copying a program is illegal, then I want to patent the following sequence:

    1011

    Every time that comes up in a program ANYWHERE, I will demand payment every time it's used.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 8:41pm

    Re: It's all just 'ones' and 'zeroes'

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 8:42pm

    Does anyone have a patent on a Hello World script yet?

     

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  49.  
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    Vincent Clement, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 10:00pm

    Re:

    The problem is that perhaps the patent shouldn't have been granted in the first place. Seems a growing portion of patents are nothing more than database lookups.

    Explain how looking up an area code should be patented in the first place?

     

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  50.  
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    Greg M, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 10:53pm

    Patents were introduced to bargain a fixed term monopoly for the disclosure (or "making patent") of ideas that would otherwise have been kept as trade secrets. That bargain (and hence patents in general) just doesn't make sense when you start offering it for things that couldn't be kept secret in the first place. I defy anyone to keep secret the algorithm described in the article!

     

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  51.  
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    bowerbird, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 1:41am

    folks, this is a joke.

    there's no such patent.

    but you really believed it, didn't you?

    because the patent office has done so many stupid things,
    it's not outside the realm of possibility that they did this too.

    it's the patent office that is the big joke these days.

    and i think they know it, too. they're just rubberstamping
    all the applications as approved, until we have no choice
    but to turn the whole system upside down and throw it out.

    -bowerbird

     

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  52.  
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    Azrael, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 2:18am

    Re: Re: Of course

    Greedy bastard maybe ?

     

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  53.  
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    Chris, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 5:48am

    Re: Patented?Write it and post source code.

    But Microsoft is suing TomTom for infringing on a kernel design used in their Operating System. TomTom is using Linux.

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 6:02am

    Re: Re: Patented?Write it and post source code.

    kernal design?
    I thought it was about fat32 and other such nonsense

     

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  55.  
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    Chris, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 6:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Patented?Write it and post source code.

    Right, I only half-assed the comment. There are 5 patent infringments on things such as Memory Access that are coded into the Linux Kernel used by TomTom.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    identicon
    moelarry, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 8:12am

    simple

    the solution is simple...buy the app from the owner, or if he wants to write one for his own use it is unlikely he will have any trouble. much to do about little. get over it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    identicon
    moelarry, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 8:13am

    much to do about little

    the solution is simple...buy the app from the owner, or if he wants to write one for his own use it is unlikely he will have any trouble. much to do about little. get over it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58.  
    identicon
    nasch, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 9:06am

    Re: purpose of patent system

    The purpose of the patent system is not "to create the incentives for inventors to invent products that likely would not have been created otherwise." There are many purposes, but a more accurate characterization would be to incentivize inventors to exert effort and commit resources to developing technology, knowing that the government will offer them a fixed-term monopoly for the technology.

    I see two differences. One, he said "products" and you said "technology". Two, he specified products that would not have otherwise been invented and you did not. So are you splitting a very fine hair, or are you saying the patent system is intended in part to incite inventors to invent things that they would have invented anyway even with a patent system?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    identicon
    nasch, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 9:06am

    Re: Re: purpose of patent system

    event without a patent system. duh, sorry

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 9:10am

    I must have missed a key point somewhere, but by my reading of the patent claims they are directed to hardware and not to a software.

    Of course, it would also help if someone actually provided links to all relevant correspondence and prior lawsuits. The former is notably absent, and the later at Justia can only be accessed via Pacer.

    Facts matter, and at this point in time they are largely missing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    identicon
    George Fragos, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 10:59am

    NPA location DB's are older than dirt

    Long before smartphones were a wet dream free data bases with area code vs location were available. I specifically recall one DB available for a Palm OS application. Today's patent system is a disgrace.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 11:24am

    Re: much to do about little

    please read before commenting. The patent holder doesn't have any products that use the patents. Also this is something so bloody obvious and common that it should never have become a patent.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 1:00pm

    Re:

    Sure... and if were to go to court, you could most likely win your case.

    But, if you are a FREEWARE author releasing this to the public, where, exactly, do you get the revenue stream to fight this?

    They have a patent (applicable or not) that they are using as a club to beat on individual developers to ensure that no alternate solutions to their carrier based product are offered to the general public.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
    icon
    KGWagner (profile), Mar 12th, 2009 @ 1:22pm

    @TW Burger

    >>...I should patent the for-next loop.

    Do it, before Microsoft does. Somebody at MIT patented the doubly-linked list not too long ago. Those have been around since memory was addressable.

    It should also be noted that part of the latest "patent reform" legislation that is up for review has a clause to allow "first to patent", rather than "first to invent". If that's made into law, prior art will no longer be an infringement defense or be useful for invalidation of currently issued junk patents.

    Once that happens, and chances are it will, there will be a gold rush where everything ever done in software with a computer will have a patent applied for. The USPTO's backlog will run out to 100+ years.

    Hell, you may be able to patent variable assignments such as:

    10 let MyRetirementFund=0
    20 let MyImagination=50,000,000,000
    30 let MyRetirementFund=MyImagination

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Mar 12th, 2009 @ 2:18pm

    Re:

    I must have missed a key point somewhere, but by my reading of the patent claims they are directed to hardware and not to a software.

    Does that change the fact that people are getting sued?


    Of course, it would also help if someone actually provided links to all relevant correspondence and prior lawsuits. The former is notably absent, and the later at Justia can only be accessed via Pacer.


    Considering the clear chilling effects that were created by the patent holder, I don't see why that would matter at all.

    Facts matter, and at this point in time they are largely missing.

    Consequences matter. And I like how you just love to ignore them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 4:20pm

    Re: Re:

    Since it seems most comments are predicated on the "invention" being software, a bit of clarification was considered to be appropriate.

    As for your comment responding to "facts matter", it is logically impossible to ascertain the pros/cons of this situation without a factual predicate, and to the extent such a factual predicate is available, it is hidden behind the Pacer wall (which is all the more reason to provide free and unfettered access to public documents).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67.  
    identicon
    Mahadev, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 6:55pm

    For friendship

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
    identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 9:33pm

    Patenting simple apps

    As a patent attorney, I totally agree with you. This is NOT what the founders had in mind when the Constitution was written!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 7:28am

    Re: Work Around

    You have just violated a patent (in option 2, as that would still require a database lookup based on area code at some point!)....look around some lawyers are looking for you...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70.  
    identicon
    USPTO, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 7:31am

    Re: @TW Burger

    How dare you infringe on a patent.. @@#@#@! that is already patented

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71.  
    identicon
    Amit, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 7:37am

    Re:

    Great idea...beat me to it if you can..I can see $$$ before my eyes. So may books and tutorials use hello world scripts

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Patent Attorney, Mar 15th, 2009 @ 8:12pm

    Re: @TW Burger

    KGWagner said: "It should also be noted that part of the latest 'patent reform' legislation that is up for review has a clause to allow 'first to patent', rather than 'first to invent'. If that's made into law, prior art will no longer be an infringement defense or be useful for invalidation of currently issued junk patents."

    Sorry, had to jump in to correct this. The "first to patent" rule (aka "first to file" rule) has a couple of advantages over the current "first to invent" rule. First, it will bring the US into conformance with the patent systems of almost every other country in the world. The U.S. system often causes the bad result of one company owning rights to a patent in every country outside of the U.S. and another company owning the U.S. patent. As a prospective licensee of the patented technology, you have to obtain licenses from two companies, either of which may decide NOT to grant a license. Second, the "first to file" rule eliminates the expensive practice of interference litigations at the USPTO, which are used to decide who is the first inventor. For many reasons, interference proceedings are unfair to small inventors and tend to favor large, well-funded corporations.

    The "first to file" rule has absolutely no effect on patent infringment or invalidity defenses.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73.  
    identicon
    Kris, Mar 16th, 2009 @ 6:24am

    techdirt.com at sweebs.com

    Hello,

    Please add your site at http://www.sweebs.com. Sweebs.com is a place where other people can find you among the best sites on the internet!
    Its just started and we are collecting the best found on the net! We will be delighted to have you in the sweebs listings.

    Regards
    Kris

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  74.  
    identicon
    Mike that understands IP, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 4:03pm

    Sigh.... If it was so important for this guy to create the application, he could have done so. If he sells it, that's his problem, as he would be intruding on someone's patented subject matter. Why can't you understand that it is perfectly OK for someone to patent something? What kind of details do you have or did you have when this patent application was filed? If you have something that would invalidate the patent, file a reexam. It's not that difficult. If the guy that wrote the "little app" just wanted to use it for his own edification, which is what you hinted at until you implicitly said he wanted to market it - if he didn't want to market it, no need to do a patent search as the patent holder would not have known. Again, leave IP law to the IP lawyers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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