David Muir's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

from the just-because-this-is-true,-doesn't-mean-that-is-true dept

The favorite posts we choose are undoubtedly influenced by our experience. So here's a quick rundown of my background: I'm Canadian. I went to school for Radio and Television Arts and briefly worked in print and radio journalism. I was involved in and managed software development at IBM for two decades. Now I'm a real estate agent. (Along the way, I spent ten years as an auxiliary police officer in Toronto.)

Real estate agent and ex-cop you say? Some of you have two reasons to stop reading right now! But I hope you continue on.

It is no shock that trademark and copyright law affected my first two media-related career choices. But it is a bit of a surprise to see the way it affects my current career. Facts are not subject to copyright. Real estate's Multiple Listing Service (MLS®) is essentially a database of facts and most real estate boards try to claim copyright over the entries. Lately the fight has been more focused on consumer privacy than copyright. But no matter what, gone are the days when a real estate agent's key contribution was "I know something you don't know." My success in this career hinges on the same points Mike's been saying: Connect with people (fans!), be human, and be awesome. The business models that will work in real estate, as in many other industries facing a disruption by the Internet, are based on adding value by being an enabler and not a gatekeeper.

I noticed a theme that influenced the rest of my favorites: Just because this is true... doesn't mean that is true. For all you students of philosophy, some of these are examples of logical fallacies, mostly non-sequiturs. Some are just plain overreaches.

As a general example: Just because copyright law exists doesn't mean it should always be enforced to the fullest extent. Nor does it mean that every business setback requires a new and tougher copyright law to compensate.

Just because you can sue or threaten to sue someone, doesn't mean it is always the right way to go. This week we've seen the UFC take on its own biggest fans and a magnanimous pair of actors smooth over the PR mess left by litigious lawyers.

Just because Louis CK found a formula for success doesn't mean it is the only answer -- or even the best answer. The naysayers who say things like "only a business model that makes money should be used" have not wrapped their heads around the idea that one-size does not fit all -- and how will you know what makes money until you try it? Plenty of non-intuitive ideas (like free-to-play MMOs) have proven to be big moneymakers. We are in a period of transition which means a lot of experimenting should be happening and must be encouraged.

Just because some job-seekers are desperate enough to give up their social networking login information doesn't mean that employers should ever ask for it. But it also doesn't mean that we immediately need a new law. If you don't care about your personal information and you want to work for a place that violates privacy so cavalierly: by all means, give 'er.

Just because innovation happens regardless, doesn't mean the current patent system isn't a huge hindrance. The cost of patents, even ones that are non-obvious but trivial, is that people waste effort solving the same problem over and over. There's also the very real issue of forcing proprietary (non-standard) products to market. Imagine if all the World-Wide Web and Internet standards had been patented instead of being developed via RFC.

And finally, in the article that saddened me the most and one that sickened me (do anti-favorites count?): just because some people are despicable does not mean the law should be twisted to punish them an extra amount. So in the first case, as sad as a suicide is, and as much as jerks and bullies make life hard for everyone, we have to be careful about pulling out a bigger stick than is necessary because of our emotional response to the tragedy. In the second case, we can't start putting people in jail for being fascinated by horrible things.



Reader Comments (rss)

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2012 @ 1:40pm

    "The cost of patents, even ones that are non-obvious but trivial, is that people waste effort solving the same problem over and over."

    That is never a waste. The first solution to something is often not the best. There is potential that without patents, efforts would not be made to find the alternate solutions, and instead those efforts would go towards perhaps refining a weaker existing solution.

    "My success in this career hinges on the same points Mike's been saying: Connect with people (fans!), be human, and be awesome. The business models that will work in real estate, as in many other industries facing a disruption by the Internet, are based on adding value by being an enabler and not a gatekeeper."

    The thing is that it has nothing to do with "tech" in any sense. All businesses are about finding customers and satisfying them as best you can. It's not something that Mike discovered, he's just turned a phrase that some of the younger readers here could understand. Remember, real estate is about selling, and not about technology!

    "Just because this is true... doesn't mean that is true."

    Perhaps you can explain that one to Mike and Marcus. They seem to need a refresher on that from time to time.

     

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      TtfnJohn (profile), Mar 24th, 2012 @ 4:21pm

      Re:

      "The thing is that it has nothing to do with "tech" in any sense. All businesses are about finding customers and satisfying them as best you can."

      The problem isn't that you're both, in your own way stating the obvious but that some businesses tend to forget that statement which is a large part of the growing problem people have with the "content" industry who seem convinced that because they hold a copyright on something that they no longer need to pay attention to the second half of your second statement.

      This happens with companies who have a near monopoly on some sector quite frequently. At one time IBM built PCs were the Rolls Royces of desktop machines and laptops. Then they decided to change a standard they set with the first PC and introduced the Microchannel system to add expansion cards to the motherboards and charging a large amount for other PC makers to use it effectively led to the creation of the PCI bus we have now. That was done by a combination of poor marketing on IBM's part and excessive fees on the portions of the MCA bus they held patents on. The rest of the industry rebelled and eventually the PCI was born.

      Most, if not all of this could have been avoided had IBM marketed the bus downstream better to clone makers than they did and reduced the royalty requirements to use it. All of this led to 9 years of competing bus technologies in IBM class desktop machines and the simple fact that because of that prices stayed higher because of that confusion and competition between, in the end, two patented, bus designs. (Although the PCI bus is essentially free to use by downstream manufacturers and mother board makers.)

      I do agree with you the first solution often isn't always the best and working around a patent has often led to improvements. Although, as I mentioned above, that isn't always the case in the short term. Or even the long term. PCI performance was on par with MCA and not significantly better.

      The problem for people, many times, is even finding what patents may exist on something that works alike to what they're working on which can take an enormous amount of time and cost. The USPTO hasn't figured out simple things like cross-indexing to shorten that search in any way.

      In the tech industry, since the forced introduction of patents, we have faced the problem of unqualified patent inspectors granting patents where enough prior art exists to make up the Rocky Mountains and more at least in part to pressure to grant as many patents as possible as that's the main way the USPTO stays funded. And then these questionable patents head off to non-performing companies that warehouse them and pull them out only to initiate court action. The infamous patent troll. I'd love to hear an explanation of how that is somehow good for the development and implementation of new ideas and processes in writing and distributing software (closed and open source). It's also a fiction that working around a patent to get a better product would have no incentive to get better ideas into the marketplace. Companies, developers and inventors would do it anyway. Largely because the last two cases are filled with creative people who will just do it and companies because they want to put out a better product.

      The appearance of the patent troll is symptomatic of a system that is broken. And the fear of them is real even if most of the patents could be successfully challenged given enough time and money.

      Both real estate and technology are about selling. Technology doesn't advance if a market doesn't develop for new applications that software and hardware companies can't sell or license in one form or another. In the end everyone needs an income.

      Except patent troll! ;-)

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 8:15am

        Re: Re:

        "In the tech industry, since the forced introduction of patents, we have faced the problem of unqualified patent inspectors granting patents where enough prior art exists to make up the Rocky Mountains and more at least in part to pressure to grant as many patents as possible"

        I'll agree with you half way here. The patents granted were often done so by inspectors who just were not up on the art(s), and sort of took things at face value. The research tools (as well as everything that comes with the internet, including sort of peer based review, as it were) certainly changes that to a greater or lesser degree.

        Since patents have a VERY short shelf life (15 years), most of them will expire before long and the issue itself goes away. I think of it as sort of a bad haircut, if you give it a while either you like it or it grows out and you try again. Clearly, there were some very poor patents granted, but also thankfully they will go away soon enough.

        "The appearance of the patent troll is symptomatic of a system that is broken."

        Actually, I think of patent trolls as buyers in a dollar store out those fishing in the bargain clearance bins. They are often the buyers of last resort for many patent holders who either have never done anything with a patent, or have no idea what to do with it. The trolls pick them up, interpret them grandly, often file extensions or modifications on them to give them an even wider scope, and then attempt to turn them into money. They are bottom feeders in the same category as ambulance chaser lawyers, basically giving the original player a few dollars so they can really screw it to the insurance companies. It's ugly and nasty, but totally legal (and sad).

        The IBM case is a perfect example of why patents don't block things, and really do spur both innovations and new players to enter the market. Not only are you talking a bus here, you are also talking everything down to and including the bios (AMI), case makers, and everyone else in the party.


        While it was never "patent" per se, The standard form factors for PC cases, example, didn't come overnight. The first few tries sucked, it took a long time to develop decent standards that allowed all motherboard companies to build boards knowing they would line up and install in cases, and so on. The early ones sucked to work on, now it's as easy as snapping together lego.

        Patents in the end hinder those who want to be hindered, more than anything. There is almost always another way, another concept, another process. Those who want to achieve something will come up with a way, those who wanted the free lunch with rue the patent system and wonder why they have to pay.

         

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          Cowardly Anonymous, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 3:43pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The tech industry moves faster than the patent approval process (3-4 years for software patents). What good can possibly come from a patent that isn't official until after the industry as a whole has moved on to better things? It doesn't prevent your competitor from scooping you, because that saga will be over and done with by the time you can take legal action. Instead it will be the innovators that expand upon the system you patented who get crushed.

          No, we can't enforce patents prior to the conclusion of the approval process. That would mean a lawyer could file for a bogus patent and use that filing to go after people who don't have the time/money for a court case (thus settling) with absolutely no oversight at all.


          It doesn't matter how short the lifetime of a patent is if it has outlived its usefulness by the time it enters into effect.

           

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          TtfnJohn (profile), Mar 25th, 2012 @ 5:51pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Actually, I think of patent trolls as buyers in a dollar store out those fishing in the bargain clearance bins. They are often the buyers of last resort for many patent holders who either have never done anything with a patent, or have no idea what to do with it. The trolls pick them up, interpret them grandly, often file extensions or modifications on them to give them an even wider scope"

          I don't entirely disagree with you here but there is no denying that they have blocked, if not new invention, then innovation.

          "Patents in the end hinder those who want to be hindered, more than anything."

          When you're stuck in a court of law defending yourself from a patent troll it's hard to say that the company defending itself if wanting to be hindered. For example say Blackberry.

          The thing is that the original PC was made with "off the shelf" parts because IBM wanted to make/set a standard. Except for the BIOS they didn't patent or copyright anything all very deliberately. The only copyright they held was on the BIOS. Even the motherboard size and case form factor was set to be standardized so that IBM could source from anywhere.

          None of that means that opening the case or working inside it, even to install an expansion card was easy. It wasn't.

          Compaq, one of the original clone makers, was challenged, sued, for copyright infringement and had the balls to take it to court. They proved to the court that they had "clean room" reverse coded the BIOS, didn't violate IBM's copyright and the flood gates opened.

          That the case form factor was a success is undeniable in that it's still used today in all desktops no matter the size of the case. The improvements you cite are refinements of the original form factor. Many by IBM itself before it exited the desktop market.

          (Incidentally I'd argue that some of the "improvements" to the desktop form factor are actually worse than what we started out with.)

          It was the move from ISA to MCA that caused IBM's disappearance from the desktop market as it was then it was IBM charged a license fee to clone makers because the held a patent on one or two peripheral portions of it. They applied for a patent for the MCA but it wasn't granted until the PCI was granted its. (I know you mentioned that but I thought I'd make things clearer for those reading along the order the patents were issued.) The group that developed the PCI bus then opened it up by allowing anyone to use it without paying a license fee. AMI did get to make the MCA BIOS but as you say there were lots of other players at the table.

          The most important thing to remember is that the original IBM PC and every PC IBM released until they exited the market was, on the hardware side, essentially what we'd call open source. Part of the reason was economic because the "heavy iron" part of IBM weren't at all convinced that these small computers could be profitable or would ever amount to much and weren't prepared to fund a lot of the development. So the PC group standardized everything imaginable in order to get and attract providers for things like expansion cards and so on. In doing so they provided the specs for everything but the BIOS. The decision was deliberate. And the PC took the business world by storm dragging a small software company called Microsoft along with it.

          The original leader of the PC Division either resigned or was pushed shortly before the MCA came along, if memory serves, when it was impossible for even the main framers to ignore the profitability of that division.

          The desktop PC was as much a success as it was because it wasn't encumbered by lot of "intellectual property" (an unknown phrase at the time) that might have impeded it on the hardware side. Even considering that people on the supply chain in big companies knew that "no one ever got fired for buying IBM" and did, smaller companies bought clones which were less expensive.

          And here we are today. With PCs more powerful than the mainframes that existed when they came on the scene. The result, in many ways, of the PC Division of IBM and it's essential openness brought us here, even if it lacks the sexiness of Apple products it's practical and does its job remarkably well.

           

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          mischab1, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 11:12am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Everything is relative. 15 years might be a very short time span to a whale, but it is unfathomably long to a fly. Tech's lifetime is closer to the fly then the whale. In 1997, people were still using Windows 95. The Windows operating system has gone thru 5 generations since then.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2012 @ 6:41pm

      Re:

      Without patents there is a very good chance that more innovation would occur.

      Open source proved that.

      http://www.shapeways.com/blog/archives/995-3D-Printing-Bone-on-a-budget!.html

      http://www .physorg.com/news/2011-10-iphone-high-quality-medical-imaging-device.html

      How much you wanna bet that those reserachers are using open source software to make models and correct lense distortions for their work?

      Open source platforms spawning new more effective ways to produce insulin.
      http://www.fiercebiotechresearch.com/story/open-source-platform-spawns-cheap-insulin/2010- 06-01

      Open source coming to the rescue of not profitable drug discovery but life saving.
      http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0010056

      Open free care.
      http://www.patchadams.org/

      Hombrew NMOS FET Substrate Contacts using Conductive Epoxy
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYAk7rIaQb8

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2012 @ 7:22pm

        Re: Re:

        All of your examples generally don't extend things in particularly useful ways, more "gee, we can do this" sort of ways.

        You have to remember that there is no single right way. Trying to say "patents block innovation" is like saying "the sun stops the moon from working" - yet we know that we would not be able to see the moon in the sky at night without the sun to light it up.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2012 @ 7:35pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          How about the World Wide Web?

           

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          Leigh Beadon (profile), Mar 24th, 2012 @ 8:43pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          How is developing cheaper insulin for the developing world not "particularly useful"?

          And... what? Patents are to innovation as the sun is to the moon?

          Oh I get it - you mean you worship them both as inscrutable bronze age gods. Quick: better hurl some insults at me or the Great Patent might not rise in the morning.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2012 @ 9:54pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Oh, you still work here?

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 4:01am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "How is developing cheaper insulin for the developing world not "particularly useful"?"

            How is it PARTICULARLY blocked by a patent?

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 5:15am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The very first patent on insulin was taken out only to block the production of insulin by an earlier Russian scientist.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 5:19am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                To be precise, Banting didn't want Paulescu's insulin extract being sold in America/Canada, (for excuses of safety, but no such problem existed), and took out a patent. Every royalty from that patent went back into diabetes research, so it wasn't for the cash that he took money out of his own pocket to make a patent :/

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 8:02am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Yup, I get all that - but since the patents on insulin have long since passed, I am not sure what Marcus is ranting on about now. He's pretty imprecise at times, especially when he's making arm waving claims with little to back them up.

                   

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                    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 5:09pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Right, because decades and decades of sick people's money spent on expensive insulin promotes progress. Yep.

                    The worst part is that insulin development couldn't even move forward until after the patent expired, because researchers receiving grants from it were tied to using Banting's method, and developing better variations to get insulin. So insulin researchers were tied up doing something that was obsolete before they even started!

                     

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              Leigh Beadon (profile), Mar 25th, 2012 @ 11:50am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              How is it PARTICULARLY blocked by a patent?

              Interesting. In the comment I replied to, your only point was that the examples were not useful. Reframing the argument now are we? You've been caught out as the heartless bastard you are, thinking that lifesaving inventions are not useful - so you're trying to gloss over that.

              So transparent. So sad.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 12:30pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "So transparent. So sad."

                I don't know, I think it's pretty sad that you think insulin is still under patent. Certain newer types may be, but the basic idea has been around for 80 years or so. So if you want to bring up an example, how about stopping being a pathetic whiner and actually explain yourself?

                Is it too much to ask?

                 

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                  Leigh Beadon (profile), Mar 25th, 2012 @ 12:47pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I don't know, I think it's pretty sad that you think insulin is still under patent.

                  I don't. I'm calling you out on your dismissal of it as not "particularly useful" - because I think it speaks volumes about your values, or rather lack thereof.

                   

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                    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 3:20pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    I am sorry, dunderhead, I am not following you. Since Insulin isn't generally under patent, "particularly useful" doesn't enter into it.

                    I really don't get where you are going or what point you are trying to prove. Yes, insulin is VERY useful, so? So is Penicillin, bu that's been around a long time too. Neither is particularly bound by patent, are they?

                     

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                      Leigh Beadon (profile), Mar 25th, 2012 @ 3:37pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Since Insulin isn't generally under patent, "particularly useful" doesn't enter into it.

                      Weird, then, that the usefulness of the other AC's examples was the only thing you commented on originally, neglecting to say anything about their patent status.

                      Yes, insulin is VERY useful, so?

                      Weird, then, that in your original comment you said it wasn't.

                      Time to pry your foot out of your mouth.

                       

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                        Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 5:44pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        No, I am trying to figure out where you guys are going, in a discussion about patents, and then rolling out a bunch of stuff that isn't patent anymore. Not sure what it is - useful, useless - patents aren't in the way.

                        Can you try using english once in a while?

                         

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                          Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 12:37am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          The innovations that came before you were only possible because they were not blocked by patents, it just show that your argument that without a granted monopoly nobody would invest anything or try to do anything, and it was showed to you how without patents people would still search for innovative ways to do something and those things are very useful, which you argued it was not.

                          Is that hard to grasp?

                           

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                            Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 12:28pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                            No, because without patent, the potential is that there would have been nothing to "work from" to start with. They are claiming this as some great set of victories over patents, yet without patents, they would have started at ZERO, and thus would likely have achieved little.

                            It's sort of typical around here - ignore how you got there, just bask the in the result.

                             

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                              Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 6:56pm

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              Again your potential was proven wrong by open source, have you looked at the size of open source today after the short decade they have been doing business?

                               

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                          Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 12:58am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          Signs of severe pwnage:

                          - Confusion/Disorientation.
                          - Blurred vision.
                          - Shame.
                          - Uncomfortable sensations.
                          - Feelings of inadequacy.
                          - Trying to change the subject so others look away from it.
                          - Hope that nobody noticed.
                          - Empty look.

                          ps: I'm not a doctor, but upon seeing some of those signs I generally advice people to go seek help, professional help if the symptoms endure for more than a day.

                           

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                      Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 7:12am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Quote:
                      I really don't get where you are going or what point you are trying to prove. Yes, insulin is VERY useful, so? So is Penicillin, bu that's been around a long time too. Neither is particularly bound by patent, are they?

                      Exactly and because they are not, people can use it and bring things to market quickly, anyone with a good idea can come an use it, anyone can improve upon that first concept and use it, without having to worry about laws or others trying to stop them because they can't keep up.

                      Patents stop others from doing something that is all they do and they stop innovation because they make everybody need to ask permission to some other entity/person, they also create uncertainty in the market place since you can today patent just about anything even things that have been patented before and the scope of it keeps growing along with the penalties for being found guilty of infringement which raise the bar for entry into the market, which of course doesn't stop people from doing it, just stop people from being able to monetize their work which causes economic loses which is not new it is something that we have known for centuries now since we have abandoned mercantilism.

                      Lets just see how patents are harmful.

                      After getting a patent any manufacture knows it got others by the balls and can ask any price they want since they are the only ones who can make it and so they do.
                      CTV: Drug to prevent preterm birth goes from $10 to $1,500

                      Quote:
                      An awkward silence ensued. The blue suits did not even confer among themselves. They just sat there, stonelike. Finally, the chief suit responded. "OK," he said, "maybe you don't infringe these seven patents. But we have 10,000 U.S. patents. Do you really want us to go back to Armonk [IBM headquarters in New York] and find seven patents you do infringe? Or do you want to make this easy and just pay us $20 million?"

                      Source:Forbes: Too many patents are just as bad for society as too few. by Gary L. Reback(Patently Absurd), 06.24.2002

                      Quality of patents:

                      Youtube: Patently Absurd Cone
                      For more search for "patently absurd" and a lot of videos will show up.
                      There is something wrong, when people are using the patent system as a source of inspiration for comic videos.

                       

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                        Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 12:30pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        The Sun quote is really funny, mostly because there is absolutely no proof, except from a single guy trying to slam patents.

                        NICE!

                         

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                          Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 6:57pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          You mean like yourself that says things and proves nothing?
                          I agree is funny.

                           

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2012 @ 9:07pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You mean, transforming cellphones into medical devices is not useful?

          Research for diseases that are neglected by big companies is not useful?

          Finding new ways to train surgeons and prepare them more cheaply is not useful?

          Making healthcare cost less is not useful?

          Discovering that you can manufacture microchips in your house may not be that useful now, but it may become in the future.

          Now about the patent thing, well when was that a granted monopoly actually not used to stop others from doing something, it is the very nature of that thing to stop the use of something thus stopping progress, freezing it in time.

          What you effectively said is that if the sun is blocked light will still get to where is needed.
          I hate to break it to you but unless somehow the light is bended to go around the blockage or the blockage is removed there will be no light, patents do the same thing they block the work that could be done, they block the competitors and without competition there is no bright spots in any market.

           

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            Atkray (profile), Mar 24th, 2012 @ 10:11pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            but patents!

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 4:00am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "You mean, transforming cellphones into medical devices is not useful?"

            Useful? Not sure they are actually getting used as medical devices, first off, and second, honestly, it would be better done on a phone using a more open operating system, rather than the closed Apple universe, don't you think?

            Some of your other examples are "sure", but I am not sure that patents would have blocked any of them from happening, so I am not sure of your point.

             

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              Richard (profile), Mar 25th, 2012 @ 6:09am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Read the history - almost every technological advance we have ever had has been held up or crippled by greedy or control freak patent holders. I'm not goint ot list the examples because it is much quicker to list those that weren't. The few that haven't have been in cases where for some reason the people who could have caused trouble with patents chose not to. Examples of this - the jet engine, the world wide web and the safety match.

               

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                Jay (profile), Mar 25th, 2012 @ 9:48am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                That is the problem. His entire incentive in being critical of open research is because he makes money through the patent system. So he goes into long diatribes about how the patent system is great, but never pulls out examples of his own in how they have helped the respective industry flourish. Then he uses his crypto-talk to show how he is better than others much to most people's annoyance. He's not here for a discussion. He's here to protect his own self interest.

                 

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                  identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 12:33pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  "That is the problem. His entire incentive in being critical of open research is because he makes money through the patent system."

                  You fail again Jay. I don't work in the patent field, nor do I specifically profit from patents or research related.

                  swing and a miss. Would you care to try again? Clearly your post was an attempt to paint me as a bad guy. Too bad you just don't know me.

                   

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                    Jay (profile), Mar 25th, 2012 @ 12:52pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    No, I just go by the idea that you have the incentive to ignore actual research and keep up your BS.

                    No person is as ignorant as you are by trying constantly to reframe arguments and not answering questions unless they are paid to do so.

                    I honestly don't think you're a bad guy. Just a blowhard that ignores research to keep up your own pedantic view of IP law.

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 3:29pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Again, point out where i am wrong.

                      It's important to remember too, it's not a one sided argument. Did the existence of patent mean that more research was done in a given area, or that it was developed faster?

                      Look, open source works SOMETIMES. So does patent. If people choose to operate in an open source area, more power to them. It's not an exclusive thing. Moreover, the people working in the open source arenas are often doing so in their spare time, away from their regular paid jobs.

                      Not everything has a pure profit motivation, not everything is done ONLY for money. It doesn't add up to the patent system not working. Rather, it seems that most of their work is based on refining things that have come out of patent, not really developing new fields, but refining existing ones. Seems that they might not be there without the system to start with.

                      I would be interested to see who is paying to get these new medications tested. Someone is paying the bills!

                       

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                        Jay (profile), Mar 25th, 2012 @ 4:51pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        Show evidence of patent working. India and Brazil work far better without IP laws. This has been shown countless times on this sure. It's also been proven that the consequences of patent law have led to over pricing of drugs and shortages of supply.

                        And this has been explained countless times to you. The largest example of patent law killing people or causing drastic reactions is with the birth control debacle, where the price changed overnight from $10 to $1500. Or how about Sweden eliminating their patent system in the 19th century? Or how about the NPR report "when patents attack?" Or how facebook wastes money on useless patents? There are plenty of examples but you consistently ignore them to be obtuse and pedantic.

                         

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                          Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 5:49pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          "Show evidence of patent working. India and Brazil work far better without IP laws."

                          Of course they are Jay, because they are sucking the blood of those countries that do have patent system to encourage development. Much of India's famed drug business is knocking off generic versions of patent drugs. Do you honestly think they would have such a good time of it if the developments weren't made and paid for elsewhere?

                          While it's not that obviously, the price of your medicine in the US includes a little premium because part of the worldwide market is lost in India.

                          Your examples are amusing, but honestly, in a system with millions of patents, of billions of products, and millions of companies, there will always be some negative. I don't let the few negative instances blow out a system. Why would you?

                          Remember, the electricity at your house probably goes out once or twice a year (power failure). if it goes out 2 times, that is 2/365 = 0.5% failure rate. Damn! You should cut off yoru power, because clearly it fails more than the patent system does!

                           

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                            Jay (profile), Mar 25th, 2012 @ 7:09pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                            Congratulations. You have no evidence of your belief and expose the fact that you're full of shit as usual. I pity you. That paradox-inducing crumple zone of yours seems to be the size of Alaska right now.

                             

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                              Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 5:34pm

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              Jay, you just don't get it: The lack of patents and copyright always work better in places that are (a) net consumers of IP, and (b) aren't contributing anywhere near as much back as a result. Brazil and India both have little risk here, they can use patent medicines from other countries, have their local industries knock them out cheaply, and keep all the profits above the cost of materials in the country. You don't think perhaps they tax them, do you?

                              You only have to look at Japan in the past, and China now: When they were far behind and impoverished, they ignored patents, copyright, and everything else to move ahead. As soon as they start to actually produce some of their own NEW IP, they start to get defensive. China has shifted so fast, that it's truly amazing. The clamp down on copyright and patents in China is coming pretty fast, considering how far the system was the other way no even a decade ago.

                              India will likely never change, because it seems the country took joint vows of poverty and stupidity. They will probably always be behind. Brazil has some hope, but even then, corruption and crime is such an issue, you never know.

                              Now, if Brazil and India didn't have access to everyone else's work, their systems would likely fail. They depend too much on everyone else to put the money on the table and the efforts to make the advancements, and then they just copy from that and smile.

                              It's like a guy taking a final exam by looking at the person next to him taking the test, and writing the same answers. He may get a good score, but if you put him in a room alone, he would likely get nothing.

                              You cannot claim the lack of patents is a good thing by these examples, because they depend on patents existing elsewhere - the are perennially leaning over and cheating off the smart student's test sheet. That just isn't fair, is it?

                              No paradox, just a reasonable concept. I know you don't want to hear it, but hey.

                               

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                            Cowardly Anonymous, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 7:48pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                            Each failure from the patent systems has a rather steep cost for the person being sued. If your electric goes out, that won't ruin your business. The cost of failure is very important.

                            Consider, for example, the systems that control the launch of nuclear missiles. A single failure of the wrong type would be catastrophic. A 0.5% failure rate would be entirely unacceptable.

                            In the case of the patent system, some innovators are being abused by the failings of a system where it is dubious if it even provides a net benefit when it isn't failing.

                             

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                Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 10:42am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Every time I've asked IP extremists on Techdirt to provide an example of a good patent, with evidence that such an innovation would not have occurred without patents, they have serious difficulties.

                We can provide many examples of bad patents and historical examples of how patents have hindered innovation, they have serious problems providing examples of good patents.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 12:32pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Good patents? Many of them are. With more than 7 million patents assigned, the list would be rather long.

                  Are you too lazy to go look?

                   

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                    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 1:39pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    You do understand that the vast majority of patents are considered garbage don't you?

                     

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                    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 8:09pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    I'm not the one claiming any of the patents are good, so the burden is not on me to prove a statement that I claim to be false.

                    and the vast majority of patents never make it to product (by the patent holder and in general) and every patent that doesn't make it to product (by the patent holder) is a bad patent and should be invalidated because it's not used for anything useful. So the majority of patents are bad patents.

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 8:11pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      (to prove true a statement that I claim to be false).

                      and notice how you still haven't provided a single example of a good patent .... because you can't. Instead, you just wrongfully shifted the burden for me to defend your position.

                      Seriously, with logic like yours, whoever is paying you minimum wage to shill is getting seriously scammed, because you are doing them a disservice.

                       

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            •  
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 1:35pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              You didn't it read it did you?
              They used the iPhone but the lenses used can be attached to any cellphone since it is a simple plastic sphere with a rubber band that gets the image adjusted in software, now somewhere someone has a patent for that probably, further if you can't be sure, you just show how harmful the patent system is, since nobody can be sure no one has taken a patent somewhere that could affect that, not even if you expend millions to analyze all those millions of patents already granted which grows at a pace of a quarter of a million annually. That uncertainty is what makes the system so perverse, you could be infringing without knowing and you would be punished for it.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2012 @ 3:31pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                probably. Yes, let's give up because someone probably might maybe perhaps kind of sort of might maybe have a patent on it.

                You must have a hard time getting out of a men's room bathroom stall without a map.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 12:33am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  No lets give up because if we lose something in this we lose everything that we have worked and build so we are not going to take that risk.

                  That is what a granted monopoly does it discourage people from trying.

                   

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    •  
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      JMT (profile), Mar 25th, 2012 @ 1:47pm

      Re:

      "The first solution to something is often not the best."

      It's a safe assumption that the first solution is never the best.

      "There is potential that without patents, efforts would not be made to find the alternate solutions, and instead those efforts would go towards perhaps refining a weaker existing solution."

      Luckily for us as a species, that "potential" is rarely if ever realised. Engineers and inventors are always looking for better ways to do things, and it's not because of patents. It's simply a myth that the patent system is the main driver of invention and innovation. Human nature already does that.

      "The thing is that it has nothing to do with "tech" in any sense."

      Did you miss the "disruption by the internet" bit? You did quote it...

      "All businesses are about finding customers and satisfying them as best you can. It's not something that Mike discovered, he's just turned a phrase that some of the younger readers here could understand."

      Mike has never claimed he "discovered" it; why would you even suggest that? He has simply stated what he believes will work. It seems pretty damn obvious that connecting meaningfully with your fans or customers and giving them a reason to buy from you or use your services will make you more successful, but apparently a lot of companies and people flogging their wares don't see it that clearly. You sound perilously close to a curmudgeonly "get off my lawn" type by suggesting this is a message dumbed down for kids. It's a serious message for anyone selling something, whether it's physical goods, services, music, or whatever.

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 25th, 2012 @ 10:50pm

      Re:

      It's not something that Mike discovered,

      Can you point out where I've ever said I "discovered" it? I haven't. In fact, I've actually said the exact opposite: that this is the same way people have made money for ages. I'm just pointing it out in a simple to understand way that helps people grasp what they should be doing.

      I see in a few of your recent comments that this is your new direction of attack. To pretend I claim that I came up with something "new" here. I have not, nor have I ever claimed that what I'm saying is new.

      I'm sort of at a loss as to why you've gotten so desperate that you can't even respond to what I actually say, and are now just making shit up entirely.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 12:33pm

        Re: Re:

        "Can you point out where I've ever said I "discovered" it? I haven't. In fact, I've actually said the exact opposite: that this is the same way people have made money for ages. I'm just pointing it out in a simple to understand way that helps people grasp what they should be doing."

        You act like you discovered something amazing, some new thing, when it really isn't new. Why don't you point out the history, rather than letting it dangle like you discovered some whole new thing?

        Seems you like to backtrack pretty fast when called out on it. Careful though, you have to pry Marcus out of your ass before you back up too far, it might hurt his neck.

         

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    c0c0c0 (profile), Mar 24th, 2012 @ 2:21pm

    Just because some job-seekers are desperate enough to give up their social networking login information doesn't mean that employers should ever ask for it. But it also doesn't mean that we immediately need a new law. If you don't care about your personal information and you want to work for a place that violates privacy so cavalierly: by all means, give 'er.


    However you are also giving up the privacy of your friends, and your friends friends. Which is something that they have not given concent to give up. What if one of my facebook friends is talking about a personal family issue or their drug habit, does their issues reflect your ability to do your job, your personal situation? Is that respective employer now required to report my friends drug habit? People have different lives, their work life, their friends lives, their family life, and these lives rarely mix, and have different social aspects. You may curse around your friends, but not your family. My personal relatoinships with my friends, aquaintances, and facebook friends are of no concern to my employer. Evaluate me on my work performance, and past experience. I am currently a contractor with a government agency, and just to get that job they had to do background checks that to me were far too personal, at least they didn't ask me to give up my social networking and blog user name and passwords.

     

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      TtfnJohn (profile), Mar 24th, 2012 @ 4:45pm

      Re:

      While I'm used to security clearances and background checks I'd have to say that I would pass on an employer who wanted to know my logins to social networking sites. For exactly the reasons you outline.

      Just why they want to know is beyond me. Unless they want to be sure that I don't day anything horrible about them. Never mind that I have enough in the way of ethics not to in a public forum.

      As long as what I do on my own time doesn't affect them it's none of their business. And I'm not stupid enough to log into facebook while at work. ;-)

       

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      Mike C. (profile), Mar 25th, 2012 @ 6:43am

      Re:

      Not only the privacy issue, but consider the discriminatory information the potential employer now has access to. At a minimum, many people add birth year as part of their profile (I don't, but I know many who do) which then gives the employer access to age. If the candidate doesn't get the job, can they claim age discrimination? How about someone who hasn't "come out" in public, but has in private in a select social network circle?

      To be honest, I believe the potential discrimination lawsuits should really be scaring the crap out of employers over this issue.

       

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        TtfnJohn (profile), Mar 25th, 2012 @ 7:27pm

        Re: Re:

        I'd guess that for most of them the thought of that kind of lawsuit would get them to back off.

        During last year's federal election up here in Canada one of the parties was demanding social media logins from it's candidates and the public backlash was immediate. Not to mention the tongue lashing they got from the federal privacy commissioner.

         

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2012 @ 6:46pm

    Innovation occurs despite crippling exclusionary laws not because of it.

    ps: I was channeling the RIAA folks.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2012 @ 8:16pm

    Ugh I hate PAY TO WIN MMOS! I mean some are alright when they just sell shit to make the game play more smooth such as inventory space.

    When we see them come around with the best items in the game in the shop only and not boss drops it just brings shame to them.

    I have no problem spending to support a game I like but look at conquer online. I have someone in my family that's spent over 20 grand on it just to be top ranked. Sure there is a little skill involved in it until you drop 20G and you're almost like a hacked char.

    So many people waste that kind of cash in games like that and insane amounts of hours.

    Really if you want to be the best in a game it should be acquired by a lot of game play&studying the game not thousands of dollars lol...

    There is where FPS are great except for some of the Fin cheaters..

     

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    Little Joe (profile), Mar 25th, 2012 @ 1:55am

    True so True ----I think --- as a man thinketh so he is ----i think ----THINK? i think someone once said that --I think THE COMPANY ?

     

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    igrof (profile), Mar 25th, 2012 @ 6:10am

    Copyright nonsense

    How about a fact that a large numbers of actors,musicians,and various artists whose work is "guarded" are against it and publicly express their feelings about it?Since famous musicians get about 20% of their income,where goes the rest of the money?It is a common knowledge that glamour and houses,cars,even cloth rented for the time being who's defending whose "wrights"?Or own account?It is not the creator or a writer who takes the cream of their work!Think about it and make Your opinion...

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 7:48am

    I must agree with the last paragraph of this article, discipline is best served cold. Failure to do so results in over discipline and that causes additional damage. Discipline must meet but never exceed the crime irregardless of any laws in place because, once again, that just causes damage and that damage causes a rebellion against your authority.

    Respect must be obtained, not fear.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 7:05pm

    Quote:

    You only have to look at Japan in the past, and China now: When they were far behind and impoverished, they ignored patents, copyright, and everything else to move ahead. As soon as they start to actually produce some of their own NEW IP, they start to get defensive. China has shifted so fast, that it's truly amazing. The clamp down on copyright and patents in China is coming pretty fast, considering how far the system was the other way no even a decade ago.

    That is exactly when things start to slow down when you put blocks on front of creation of wealth. A great example of that is ol' USA and Europe :)

    Quote:
    India will likely never change, because it seems the country took joint vows of poverty and stupidity. They will probably always be behind. Brazil has some hope, but even then, corruption and crime is such an issue, you never know.

    The stage of development of Brazil is like the USA in the 50's and 60's with the same amount of corruption and crime.

    Quote:
    It's like a guy taking a final exam by looking at the person next to him taking the test, and writing the same answers. He may get a good score, but if you put him in a room alone, he would likely get nothing.

    So copying is not really a problem except for the guy doing the copying, because when things change he won't be able to adapt right?

    Quote:
    You cannot claim the lack of patents is a good thing by these examples, because they depend on patents existing elsewhere - the are perennially leaning over and cheating off the smart student's test sheet. That just isn't fair, is it?

    Yes I can, I even go further and say that patents is what is holding back a golden age for developed countries.
    I see open source and how they increase their knowledge and quality in such a short term and keep adding new capabilities and thriving, which is in stark contrast with the glacial pace industries protected by patents are doing it.

    No paradox, just a reasonable concept. I know you don't want to hear it, but hey.

     

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


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