Apple Sued For Patent Infringement Because Others Have Turned iPhone Into Ebook Reader

from the how-does-that-make-sense dept

Despite Steve Jobs' proud promotion of the 200 patents Apple has around the iPhone, there's been no shortage of patent infringement lawsuits filed against the company. The latest (sent in by Jon) involves a company suing Apple for daring to promote the iPhone as an ebook reader, noting it holds a patent on An Electronic device, preferably an electronic book. So apparently the fact that others, by creating software to do the rather obvious thing of allowing people to read digital ebooks on their iPhones, Apple is now getting sued?


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  1.  
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    C.T., Mar 25th, 2009 @ 7:10am

    I haven't read the complaint, but this likely is an assertion of inducement of patent infringement 35 USC § 271(b).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 7:13am

    As you should know by now the only "approved" mechanism to get app's on an Iphone is by using the apple store, and apple have quite stringent criteria determining what is allowed to be sold there. So obvioulsy if apple made this app' available then they have quite significant responsiblity for it's distribution.

    Of course the Masnicks always need to take a position which is aligned with the currently successfull and wealthy.

     

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  3.  
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    Weird Harold, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 7:13am

    "The display preferably provided as an LCD-display has dimensions such that with it approximately one page of a book can be illustrated at normal size,"

    I suspect on that basis along apple will skate, because the Iphone isn't sized to display a book page in a normal size (it's smaller than a paperback).

    However, Amazon might want to watch out ;)

     

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    R. Miles, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 7:20am

    Brag, and reap the consequences.

    Apple shouldn't be surprised about this, as well as the many other patent lawsuits which will come their way.

    Just desserts.

    And who said patents helped innovate an industry again?
    I'm still waiting for proof on this one.

     

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  5.  
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    Willton, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 7:24am

    Saw the patent

    There's a surprisingly small amount of prior art cited on the patent document. Something tells me that the PTO screwed up here. Given some of the other stories we've seen on this site, this patent is probably ripe for reexamination or invalidation.

     

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    AJ, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 7:28am

    Uhh

    Well, according to the patent, the device would have to read a page at "normal page size" and have a "relative large display". The phone has neither of those. Case closed. Besides the point that this is a completely obvious next step for your typical book.

     

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    Willton, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 7:29am

    Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    And who said patents helped innovate an industry again?
    I'm still waiting for proof on this one.


    See the pharmaceutical industry.

     

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  8.  
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    AJ, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 7:31am

    Holy Cow

    I actually agreed, and I can't believe I'm saying this, with Harold.

     

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    Mike (profile), Mar 25th, 2009 @ 7:37am

    Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    See the pharmaceutical industry.

    But not the healthcare industry.

     

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    Willton, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 7:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    But not the healthcare industry.

    Would you rather have expensive medicine or no medicine?

     

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    R. Miles, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 7:47am

    Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    See the pharmaceutical industry.
    Bad example, as pharmaceutical companies are patenting designs not even conceivable with current methods.

    If anything, it's setting health care back, not forward.

     

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  12.  
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    CT, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 7:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    This seems like a non-sequitur. Your original assertion related to innovation, not to access. Sure, access would be greatly enhanced if we stopped recognizing the propriety of patents. That has nothing to do with whether patents spur innovation.

     

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  13.  
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    Jason, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 7:54am

    Re:

    What?? How is Apple having a store infringing on a patent? That's like suing Wal-Mart for selling something that infringes on a patent. Patent infringement is between creators of things not retailers.

    Besides a patent on a e-book is utterly ridiculous anyway.

     

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  14.  
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    Weird Harold, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 7:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    I think the mistake made is assuming that the creation of a patent spurs future innovation. I think the inverse is true: The existance of patent law spurs innovation by rewarding whoever crosses the finish line first, at least with the idea.

    Without a patent system, ideas might not be made public in this manner. Inventors and scientists would be shy to speak about their new ideas in case someone else ripped them off before they could come to market or develop a use. So without patents, many of these ideas would be buried, except for those that could get financed.

    So in many ways you have to look from the point of patent backwards to see the benefit, rather then from the moment of patent forwards.

     

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  15.  
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    Michael Kohne, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 8:10am

    Umm...Palm OS phones?

    This is an awfully fishy patent. I was reading e-books on Palm OS devices well before this was issued, so they clearly can't say that they own turning random lcd-bearing devices into e-book readers.

    Looking at the patent, it appears (first claim) that the touch screen and connectedness are what they are going to have to claim on. Though, the patent does say 'said display has dimensions such that one page of a book can be displayed at a normal size', which the iPhone clearly isn't big enough for.

    I'll be interested in how this plays out, but I think these guys may be reaching a bit.

     

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  16.  
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    Matt, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 8:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    how about cheap medicine, like when thailand said "this patent is being invalidated because it is costing people's lives" I don't have that direct article but I seem to remember something like 100x cheaper without the patent being a big deal.
    http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/85/i06/8506notw8.html

    innovation, yeah, right.

     

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    CT, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 8:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    Do you ever wonder why the countries that recognize strong patent rights are also the countries responsible for innovating the bulwark of important medical innovations?

     

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  18.  
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    Dr. Funkisex, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 8:20am

    Award to the defendant

    The plantiff should be brought up for a senility hearing by a judge who loves his iphones sweet new app.

     

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    Willton, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 8:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    how about cheap medicine, like when thailand said "this patent is being invalidated because it is costing people's lives" I don't have that direct article but I seem to remember something like 100x cheaper without the patent being a big deal.

    Do you know what would have been more costly of lives? The absence of the medicine itself. When countries like Thailand do things like this, it discourages the producers of innovative medicine from distributing said medicine to those countries.

    Yes, manufacturing medicine is cheap. Inventing medicine, however, is extremely expensive. So unless you can figure out a way to inventing medicine cheaply and quickly, you're not going to get companies to discover new medicines without offering some intellectual property protection.

     

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  20.  
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    ehrichweiss, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 8:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    Do you realize that even if the medicine exists, if it is unavailable to you then it is just as good as it not existing?

    Lessee here..

    I have medicine X that cures cancer. I spent 10 billion dollars developing it. It can be manufactured for pennies. I can take 2 approaches..

    I'm going to sell it at 1 billion dollars cause that way I only have to sell 10 to make my money back.

    I'm going to sell it at 10 dollars because I only have to sell a billion to make my money back. That seems like a high number to sell but the money is recovered quicker and continues to sell at a decent rate because it's cheap and people will still continue to develop cancer since it's not a cancer vaccine.

    So let's take your approach when you develop cancer so I can shift to my model after you're dead and you don't matter any more.

     

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    Liberty Dave, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 9:04am

    "Do you know what would have been more costly of lives? The absence of the medicine itself. When countries like Thailand do things like this, it discourages the producers of innovative medicine from distributing said medicine to those countries.

    Yes, manufacturing medicine is cheap. Inventing medicine, however, is extremely expensive. So unless you can figure out a way to inventing medicine cheaply and quickly, you're not going to get companies to discover new medicines without offering some intellectual property protection."

    I agree with Wilton. And to answer his second statement about figuring out a way to invent medicine cheaper, that's really quite easy. Get rid of the FDA. There ya go, much more inexpensive drugs and research, much less people dying along with the terminally ill having the ability to try experimental drugs.

    I guess this discussion of health care is going way off topic though, sorry to add to the digression.

    And to ehrichweiss, you can't possibly begin to try and understand the financial aspects of developing drugs or how a company attempts to recoup the costs in order to pay its employees and have the ability to invest in more life saving or life enhancing drugs in the future. None of us here can for that matter.

     

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  22.  
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    mechwarrior, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 9:09am

    Re:

    We already see rampant pirate medicine killing people in poorer nations. Would removing the FDA increase or decrease the amount of pirated medications?

     

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  23.  
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    Liberty Dave, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 9:21am

    mechwarrior

    While I have no idea of the facts of "rampant pirate medicine killing people in poorer nations" I can say that pirated anything would still be illegal, even in a pure capitalist society.

    Maybe you can give some factual examples of these poor nations that are suffering because they don't have an FDA type of organization set up? I'll bet that they do have some sort of government body that's supposed to "protect the people", but they do a horrible job at it because most poor nations have a very different idea of liberty, freedom and the rule of law than we do here in the U.S.

    With all due respect, to say that getting rid of the FDA would make our country just like a poor nation is quite absurd.

    To answer your question directly I have no idea if removing the FDA would increase or decrease the amount of pirated medications. But as I mentioned, pirated medications would still be against the law, whether or not you have the FDA in place. And even with the FDA in place you still have pirated medications, correct? You said so yourself in your statement of poor nations suffering from said problems.

     

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  24.  
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    anonymous, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 9:47am

    A lot of times people here read limitations from the specification into the claims. This is one of those times, though, where all the claims themselves require displaying a book "at a normal size." So unless there's a bunch of people downloading miniature books onto the iPhone, can't see how this case is viable.

     

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  25.  
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    lulz, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 9:56am

    such a nonsensical patent

    Well, if the iPhone is guilty as charged, then netbook and laptop makers should be sued also.
    They are both devices that have an LCD display and can read eBooks at a normal book size.

    This sort of thing really bugs me about patents. It's like people are just pulling patents out of their ass nowadays. Seriously? Patenting the concept of displaying a type of digital medium on a certain device with an LCD display? How in the hell would anyone with half a brain stem pass this patent?

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 9:57am

    In regards to the eBook and iPhone, what about Amazon and Sony? There ebooks are far closer in size to a real page then a iPhone?

    As far as pharmaceutical companies, which do you think would make more money?
    A single pill to cure cancer or a pill that just keeps it at bay and it requires you take 3 a day or it comes back.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 10:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    Expensive medicine or no medicine?

    I still think it's unfair that Americans pay more for American made drugs than anyone else

     

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  28.  
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    R. Miles, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    That has nothing to do with whether patents spur innovation.
    Company "X" just filed a patent on a drug which adds amino acids to DNA to prevent future cases of children born with Downs Syndrome.

    That's made up, but as an example, this can't even be done now, as DNA technology is still evolving.

    Company "Y" just completed its R&D on adding amino acids to DNA. But, it can't do anything with it because of the patent from Company "X", which didn't even have the product to begin with.

    Who loses: Everyone.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 10:26am

    Still off-topic

    The counter-claim to patents lead to money which pays for research of drugs is, where are the "little" inventors?

    Large companies are slow moving and have a lot of waste. They are also able to hire teams of lawyers and present legal obstacles to their competitors. Arguably they need the protection of patents less.

    If the patent system works for encouraging innovation, there would be lots of little drug companies, where one or two chemical engineers had a good idea. So, my question is simply, where are all the little drug companies?

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    That is true because the pharmaceutical industry is but a small fraction, in dollar terms, of the healthcare industry. If all patented medicines disappeared tomorrow, medical dollars would only decrease by about 7 or 8%.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 10:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    Would you care to share an example?

     

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  32.  
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    Weird Harold, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 10:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    ...and then they work out a licensing agreement and the product goes ahead.

    Company X is happy because they get return on all the money and time spent to develop the original patent.

    Company Y is happy for the same reasons.

    The "masnick effect" has you thinking that patents are a solid wall. They are not. They don't stop things dead - they just reward the people who got there first. After all, if company X was producing a product, there would be no need for company Y to license from them (but in pharma they often do).

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    On the other hand, India, which has virtually no patent system, also has nearly no innovation at all. How interesting, millions of highly educated people with virtually no intellectual property, and very little innovation to match.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 10:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    When generic manufacturers being producing drugs generically, the price falls by 20% to 80%. That seems a far cry from "100x." I think someone is taking illegal drugs...

     

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  35.  
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    Weird Harold, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 10:51am

    Re: Still off-topic

    The little inventors in pharma are long gone for the most part because the low hanging fruit of the current cycle of developments are long gone. There are few simple "wonderdrugs" left.

    Also, the procedure for testing a new drug now is so significantly expensive and complicated that no small company can take anything to market that easily. Most of what you see today is small / individual labs developing basic ideas, and then selling those basic ideas on to the major companies that work on them. You don't see these little labs mostly because their names aren't on the label of what you get at the pharmacy.

    In the end, it actually has little to do with patent, and more about testing, liablity, and the cost of development overall.

     

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  36.  
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    Space Pirate, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 11:04am

    Fudge

    ...I was hoping this complaint was from an iPhone app developer who'd submitted their little app to the apple only to be denied and superseded.

     

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    mike42 (profile), Mar 25th, 2009 @ 11:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    Smoke ghetto crack much?
    India's been 3rd world for centuries, rigid cast system, no movement or creativity anywhere. Now they are being westernized, social barriers are falling, and innovation is starting to take place. $1500 car, anyone?

     

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  38.  
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    R. Miles, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 11:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    ...and then they work out a licensing agreement and the product goes ahead.
    So that $300 pill just increased to $400.

    Can't you see all the licensing system does is circumvent the patent system?

    Then why have a patent system in the first place?

    Again, the original question stands: How does a patent help with innovation?

     

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  39.  
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    CT, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 11:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    "Can't you see all the licensing system does is circumvent the patent system?"


    Patent owners are free to do with their patents as they like. Does the fact someone can rent their home out to someone undermine the concept of home ownership?

    "How does a patent help with innovation?"

    I find it difficult to comprehend how people who are clearly very intelligent wrestle with this question. To further the home ownership analogy: would you spend money to improve your property if you knew that if you left your house for even a moment that a squatter could come in and assert ownership of it?

    It costs a lot of money to develop pharmaceutical technologies. If people are not assured a means of recouping the money spent on research and development, then they will not choose to engage in such activities... leaving us all worse off.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 11:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    Ah, yes. One $1500 car, essentially a motorcycle with a shell (which, by the way, has been done by others, and far longer than India - India is just the latest; I am unsure why they are getting so much press, unless we somehow think it is a big deal to use a small engine). What will be interesting is what happens to $1500 when the "car" has to meet emissions and safety requirements in the West.

    As for "Now they are being westernized, social barriers are falling, and innovation is starting to take place," all those things (except for the *cough, cough* "innovation") have been happening for decades. I wonder what being "westernized" (whatever that means) has to do with patents or innovation?

    So, do you use meth much?

     

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  41.  
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    R. Miles, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 12:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    Does the fact someone can rent their home out to someone undermine the concept of home ownership?
    I love it when people use analogies to make a point, which indirectly defends mine.
    :)

    First, the house is a tangible product. It's there. You can do whatever you want with it. However, my example is based on the idea of a house.

    If I patent an idea for a 7 bedroom, yellow-bricked house, but choose not to build it, how did I innovate? I didn't build a damn thing!

    would you spend money to improve your property if you knew that if you left your house for even a moment that a squatter could come in and assert ownership of it?
    Again, the house is tangible. I can fully understand this analogy, if, and only if, the product in question exists.

    Let's continue your analogy:
    I'm a squatter, watching "Flip this house", and I remodel a home only to find I can't sell it because you own the patent on it but didn't build it (or have no plans to).

    How is this innovative?

    It costs a lot of money to develop pharmaceutical technologies.
    But therein lies the problem: It doesn't have to be.

    I would venture to say some of this cost is due to the very patent system when a company innovates, while another waits for it to happen, cashing in for doing nothing at all.

     

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  42.  
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    CT, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 12:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    I agree that justification by analogy is not the strongest form of argument. However, in your haste to pick apart the analogy, you have ignored the substance of the argument, namely that the research and development of pharmaceuticals (and other technologies) is extremely expensive and that the entities engaged in these activities will forgo the effort if they are not assured that they will be able to profit off of their work.

    In this way, a system of patents creates innovation in the same way that any other form of ownership fosters the productive use of goods.

     

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  43.  
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    R. Miles, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 12:41pm

    Re: x8: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    you have ignored the substance of the argument
    Not true, I picked up on it clearly. It is you who have skirted this issue about patent innovation.

    I can fully understand a patent on a product in development or even one that has been produced.

    But not one in which only an idea is patented, but nothing comes from it aside from legal issues from companies who do innovate, but don't want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to determine if their product violates a patent.

    Again, even in the pharmaceutical industry, patents don't instill innovation. There's nothing stopping any company from developing a product.

    But I would definitely say the opposite is true once a company determines a patent exists owned by another.

    That's not innovation. That's stifling.

     

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  44.  
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    CT, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re: x8: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    R. Miles

    I don't mean to sound trite, but I believe our impasse is a result of your lack of understanding of the patent system. One cannot get a patent on an "idea" -- one can only get a patent on particular embodiment of an idea. Moreover, the embodiment must relate to a process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter. An abstract idea is not patentable.

    It is true that non-practicing entities can obtain patents even though they have no intention of ever practicing the art. In some circles these parties are known as patent trolls. I submit that there is a problem in this area, but other experts in the area fundamentally disagree.

    With all that said, you are arguing about an issue on the margin. Yes, there is certainly some patent misuse out there. However, that does not undermine the fact that overall patents serve as a tremendous incentive for innovation.

    Your argument seems to be all over the map. In one breath you are saying that the ability to license ones patents "undermines the patent system." In the next, you suggest that the existence of a blocking patent stifles innovation. Your argument lacks consistency and coherence.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    If I patent an idea for a 7 bedroom, yellow-bricked house, but choose not to build it, how did I innovate?

    - You cannot patent an idea; ideas are specifically listed as non-patentable per patent law.

    - Innovation is, by definition, anything new. All patents, by definition, are innovations, though the converse is not necessarily true.

    I'm a squatter, watching "Flip this house", and I remodel a home only to find I can't sell it because you own the patent on it but didn't build it (or have no plans to).

    Wait a moment. You "remodeled" a home? So the home already exists, which means that either the home was licensed or did not violate the patent in the first place. I see no issues here. You remodel a patented house that you purchased. Guess what? Patent exhaustion applies. The house is yours to resell, even with remodeling.

    I would venture to say some of this cost is due to the very patent system when a company innovates, while another waits for it to happen, cashing in for doing nothing at all.

    Who is cashing in for doing nothing at all? Not the patentee, because they spent the money to develop a product. If anything, it is the copier who is cashing in on the abilities of someone else.

     

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  46.  
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    Weird Harold, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 1:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    R miles doesn't get it. He is so caught up on the idea of a $300 pill becoming a $400 pill, not realizing that the actually choice is a $400 pill or no pill. When I am sick, no pill isn't a good choice.

    The $300 pill is a lie, it never happened.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 1:18pm

    Weird Harold doesn't get it. He is so caught up on the idea of being the first to patent something, not realizing that it is entirely possible for two people to "invent" something independently.

     

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  48.  
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    Willton, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 1:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    I still think it's unfair that Americans pay more for American made drugs than anyone else

    Then talk to your Congressman. In any event, this belief has nothing to do with whether patents spur innovation.

     

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  49.  
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    Willton, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 1:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    India's been 3rd world for centuries, rigid cast system, no movement or creativity anywhere. Now they are being westernized, social barriers are falling, and innovation is starting to take place. $1500 car, anyone?

    Indeed, and part of that so-called westernization is the implementation of a patent system.

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Willton, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 1:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    When generic manufacturers being producing drugs generically, the price falls by 20% to 80%. That seems a far cry from "100x." I think someone is taking illegal drugs...

    Someone needs to tell Mr. ehrichweiss that he's entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    Willton, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 1:47pm

    Re:

    As far as pharmaceutical companies, which do you think would make more money?
    A single pill to cure cancer or a pill that just keeps it at bay and it requires you take 3 a day or it comes back.


    Assuming that both were out there, the former, as it obviates the need for the latter, and patients would naturally buy the former over the latter. I promise you that if a company invented a cure for cancer, it would make a killing through the sale of the cure and drive the cancer treatment medicines into obsolescence. Your cynicism lacks an intelligent basis.

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Willton, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 1:56pm

    Re:

    Weird Harold doesn't get it. He is so caught up on the idea of being the first to patent something, not realizing that it is entirely possible for two people to "invent" something independently.

    As per Webster's, the word "invent" means "to produce (as something useful) for the first time through the use of the imagination or of ingenious thinking and experiment."

    If you are a second "independent inventor," you are not producing something for the first time, and therefore not an inventor.

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 1:56pm

    Re:

    It is entirely possible for two people to independantly invent the same thing at different times - but that is a red herring in the process. If I had never seen a "1 click buy" button and put one on a website, would I or would I not be in violation of Amazon's remarkably stupid patent? (even I think it is stupid, but not stupid enough to merit ditching the system on the basis of certain issues with a small number of patents).

    If I worked really hard (I have no pharma background) I am sure that I could come up with a really good pain reliever. Let me call it, I dunno Acetaprin. I have no knowledge of pharma, so when I learn, do I suddenly get to usurp existing patents because I could come up with it too?

    No.

    All sorts of different medical advancements are the result of costly, intense, and painstaking research and testing, billions of dollars are spent each year almost totally at risk, with the knowledge that a hit on something like Viagra or the next good heart medication will pay off those research dollars and probably finance the next batch too. Without that assurance, nobody is going to put money on the table.

    Don't let your hatred for a very few parts of the system make you blind to the realities of how we got here, and how we all grandly benefit from it.

     

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  54.  
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    Tgeigs, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 3:02pm

    A new analogy

    Ok, this is from an admitted layman when it comes to IP Law, Patent Law, etc., but I would be interested to hear the problems with this example of how patents halt innovation:

    Ex.1 (w/stringent patents) -- X and Y are both developing an app that is able to list all the pizza offerings in a neighborhood. They know about each other, so they race to the finish line. X gets their first and announces the app, is awarded a patent, and informs Y. Y goes home and plays with his wang while crying.

    Ex.2 (w/o stringent patents) -- X and Y are both developing an app that is able to list all the pizza offerings in a neighborhood. They know about each other, so they race to the finish line. X gets their first and announces the app. Y looks at what they've done, and then alters their app so that you can see the list & order off of it. X begins to lose market, so they add on to THEIR app the ability to apply e-coupons. X begins to regain their share. Y sees this, knows it has to keep competing, and allows all of the previous plus the ability to add special instructions to their order. And on, and on.

    Less stringent patents don't hurt innovation, they force companies to compete, thereby increasing their need for innovation or they'll have to go away. And they CAN'T go away, not all of them at least, because you have to make money SOMEWHERE, don't you?

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 3:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    Really? Tell that to dialysis patients who take Phoslo as a phosphorous binder. This is calcium acetate. Tums. 1 month of Phoslo (3 with meals is standard, so 270) = $800. Generic calcium acetate = $40 for 500. Sure, it's not 100x more expensive, but it IS 40x more expensive. Sort of like paying $150 for a bottle of Tums.

     

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  56.  
    identicon
    Luci, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 3:15pm

    Re: Holy Cow

    Just because he's a troll doesn't mean he's an idiot! I might not like him, but I'm not that surprised to agree with him from time to time.

     

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  57.  
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    Weird Harold, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 3:58pm

    Re: A new analogy

    Well first off, you would have to show what in X was unique enough to patent. websites are not unique. databases are prior art. At best, they might be able to get some protection on a logo, a name, or something, not much more.

    It's the biggest mistake in assuming that some sort of copyright or patent would kill this sort of concept. If that was the case, there would be only one internet browser, one book store, one news site, one sports site, and one (incredibly boring) blog about technology.

    You can only patent in theory what is new, unique, and not subject to prior art. A database of pizza places, a website, and all those other things are all well covered by prior art.

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 5:49pm

    Re: A new analogy

    To answer a different way...

    (w/o stringent patents) Let's say that your pizza places are two mechanical equipment manufacturers. X develops a mechanism that yields a 50% increase in fuel efficiency, at a cost of $100 million. Of course, it takes time to prove the invention out, and by the time the tests are done Y has obtained a prototype and reverse engineered it for $10 million. Because Y has less invested, saving $90 million, they can undercut X and they immediately gain a huge chunk of the market.

    X tries again, this time developing a new car air conditioner that uses only 30% of the energy normally required for a car air conditioner. It took 5 years and $100 million dollars to develop. Company Y purchases one of the first units and reverse engineers the new air conditioner for $5 million in one year, thus saving $95 million in development costs, enabling them to undercut X by 10%.

    X continually develops new innovations, each time copied at significanlty less cost by Y. Eventually, customers, realizing they will save 20% or more on Y's version, just wait for Y to copy X's new inventions (innovations). However, X finally throws in the towel, realizing they are continuously losing market share to Y, who forever makes products cheaper because their development costs are a fraction of X's. Eventually, both industries switch from invention to innovation, focusing on trivial improvements that require little investment and gain fast payback, and the mechanical industry of X and Y stagnates, and invention becomes insignificant.

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 6:55pm

    Re: Re: A new analogy

    You are making this way too easy. First off, companies rarely build a prototype first and patent ideas second, they usually do it the other way around or simultaneously. There wouldn't be anything for Y to copy from before a patent is requested, which would make it hard for Y to do the same. Building against a "patent pending" device is a very, very risky business move, and very likely to backfire.

    It's a long story, but you really need to learn how patents are submits and granted, what the process looks like, and how in your example Company Y could find themselves massively liable as a result.

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 7:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: A new analogy

    Actually, I was assuming no patent protection...

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    nasch, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 12:30pm

    Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    This is always the counter-argument, but does anyone ever provide evidence? I'm not saying I have any the other way, but every argument I've seen in favor of medical patents says "if you remove patents, there would be no more drug research", but completely fails to present evidence of that ever actually happening.

    I'm not even saying there isn't any, just... where is it?

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    BTR1701, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 12:33pm

    Re: Inducment

    > I haven't read the complaint, but this likely
    > is an assertion of inducement of patent
    > infringement 35 USC § 271(b).

    So what are they arguing? That Apply shouldn't even be allowed to make iPhones because that might tempt others to use them to read books electronically?

    This stupid shit has got to stop.

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    nasch, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Re:

    You're assuming Company A developed one and Company B the other. Let's say Company A came up with both. Which one would be more profitable to produce? The only reason they would even release the cure is for fear of a pitchfork-wielding mob burning down their HQ if word got out they were sitting on it. If they thought they could get away with patenting the cure and only selling the treatment, they would. IMO.

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 1:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    How about the Italian drug industry? Italy had no patents on drugs until a while ago, and the Italian drug industry did no research, they just copied foreign drugs. Drug research was just too expensive and did not return the investment.

    Of course, a number of anti-IP people claim that patents "destroyed" the innovative (meaning really good copier) Italian drug industry. If your only ability is to copy well, you should anticipate that eventually someone will figure out how to slow you down, or will find a way to "innovate" around your services.

     

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  65.  
    identicon
    Willton, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 3:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Brag, and reap the consequences.

    This is always the counter-argument, but does anyone ever provide evidence? I'm not saying I have any the other way, but every argument I've seen in favor of medical patents says "if you remove patents, there would be no more drug research", but completely fails to present evidence of that ever actually happening.

    I'm not even saying there isn't any, just... where is it?


    It is found by comparing the countries that have a patent system versus the countries that do not, and then examining the volume of medical or pharmaceutical research that takes place in those countries. Of special relevance is the amount of research that is done by private entities in said countries.

     

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  66.  
    identicon
    Willton, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 4:09pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You're assuming Company A developed one and Company B the other. Let's say Company A came up with both. Which one would be more profitable to produce?

    If there were no other competition, I suppose the treatment. But we don't live in a society where there is no other competition. If Company A developed a cure and a treatment and decided to sell the treatment but keep the cure a secret, then Company A has abandoned it's right to patent the cure, thereby allowing Company B to develop the same cure and compete with the treatment.

    The only reason they would even release the cure is for fear of a pitchfork-wielding mob burning down their HQ if word got out they were sitting on it. If they thought they could get away with patenting the cure and only selling the treatment, they would. IMO.

    I suppose so, but that's just it: they'd never get away with it. When you patent an invention, you are making the invention publicly known. I don't understand why the company would patent the cure (and this assumes that there is only one cure) if the goal was to keep it under wraps. I guarantee you that the day a patent issues on a cure for cancer, it will make headline news, and that would trigger the pitchfork-wielding crowd of which you speak, many of which being members of Congress.

    In any case, it's a hypothetical that has no basis in reality because so far we have treatments for cancer but no cure. If a cure for cancer actually were patented, we'd all know about it. The fact that it's not patented is reason to believe that it's either being kept secret (highly unlikely) or has not been invented yet (very likely). And the moment that a company does invent a cure for cancer, it will hit the market the day the FDA issues an approval for the reasons I mentioned above.

     

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  67.  
    identicon
    vexorian, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 10:59am

    patenting idea

    "You can't patent an idea"

     

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


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