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Patents Education The Almighty Buck

Some Schools Welcoming Patent Firm, Others Wary 55

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-by-firm-i-mean-troll dept.
theodp writes "Intellectual Ventures (IV) will be setting up shop at the top of a Four Seasons this week as Headline Sponsor of the Ready to Commercialize 2008 conference hosted by the University of Texas at Austin. It's the patent firm's 100th university deal, though some, such as Professor Michael Heller at Columbia University, warn against such deals. '... their individual profit comes at the cost of the public ability to innovate. The university's larger mission is to serve the public interest, and some of these deals work against that public interest.' It's a follow-up to the conference IV sponsored last summer for technology transfer professionals entrusted with commercializing their universities' intellectual property, and should help IV, a friend of Microsoft, snag even more exclusive deals (PDF)."
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Some Schools Welcoming Patent Firm, Others Wary

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  • by wild_quinine (998562) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @02:57PM (#25778977) Homepage
    With laws as outrageously stupid as some of the current patent laws, it's frankly time to start ignoring them.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 16, 2008 @03:07PM (#25779029)

      With laws as outrageously stupid as some of the current patent laws, it's frankly time to start ignoring them.

      There's a much easier way. We should all just stop going to college. That's the free market approach, right?

      Extreme solutions to complicated problems always work out, just like you and I have suggested.

      • Don't shoot yourself in the foot, stay in school and push for better laws. You don't have to work for an unethical company when you get out, just those that think "ignorance is bliss" when it comes to patent law - there never was finer proof that patents offer no real protection to inventors. Software patents should be abolished so the patent office can get back to enforcing real patents.

        The number of Universities falling for this has been grossly understated. The article itself says:

        the firm recently co

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Some of us already do :)

    • by dsginter (104154) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @03:29PM (#25779175)

      With laws as outrageously stupid as some of the current patent laws, it's frankly time to start ignoring them.

      That's what RIM thought [theregister.co.uk]

    • by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @03:59PM (#25779367)

      Ignoring laws is fine as long as those laws ignore you. Unfortunately, the more people ignore the laws, the more they tend to be strengthened and enforced. The only solution to such stupidity is political.

      • Ignoring laws is fine as long as those laws ignore you. Unfortunately, the more people ignore the laws, the more they tend to be strengthened and enforced. The only solution to such stupidity is political.

        When faced with such counter-intuitive, counter-productive abuses of the legal system, I feel like holding my hands up and crying 'fuck everything', but of course that won't work. But there is some method in my madness, when I suggest ignoring patents.

        If your product is making enough waves that a patent infringement lawsuit is on the cards, move offshore and ship to the rest of the world. If a country files suit against you, pull out of that country, and don't pay. This is a self regulating system, and I

      • by smellotron (1039250) on Monday November 17, 2008 @01:22AM (#25782591)

        The only solution to such stupidity is political.

        ...or violence, French Revolution-style.

      • by cizoozic (1196001)

        The only solution to such stupidity is political.

        Ah yes, fighting fire with fire.

    • by PPH (736903)

      Not ignore. Work around.

      What with US companies giving up actually building anything and relying on patent trolling for income, odds are that they will become increasingly adept at defending their patent portfolios. Anyone wishing to innovate will have to be aware of this when developing a business plan.

      Your best bet in the IT biz is to implement an application on a web platform. Done in such a way so that its inner workings cannot easily be deduced from its interface. Then, host it off shore in a jurisdic

      • If its hardware, it will have to be designed such that reverse engineering will not reveal its inner workings. Also, offshore the final assembly to a jurisdiction that will not divulge the source of the internal components.

        That will work... http://www.countryoforiginlabel.org/ [countryoforiginlabel.org] That is only food, but there are similar requirements for all US products.

  • Jeopardy (Score:1, Redundant)

    by Kagura (843695)

    ... and should help IV, a friend of Microsoft

    Well, I'll tell you what, my friend. IV is a roman numeral, so despite your best efforts, you have won! And you wagered...

  • Its a trap (Score:5, Funny)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @03:16PM (#25779091) Homepage Journal

    what more needs to be said?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by houstonbofh (602064)

      what more needs to be said?

      The problem is that as taxpayers, we are paying for the trap, the cheese, and the rat that gets caught. And this needs to be said often, to the non-technical people that vote and make policy.

    • by aztektum (170569)

      "I got a bad feeling about this."?

  • "The primary ingredient in any relationship."
    -CJ, Dawn of the Dead
  • by GroundBounce (20126) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @03:24PM (#25779127)

    Although many patents (both software and hardware) are bogus, the basic concept of the patent system has some validity and there are conditions where patents serve the public interest by encouraging innovation and at the same time making knowledge available to the public which would otherwise be kept as tight trade secrets by companies. In the case of universities, they have been loosing other sources of public funding and so earning some money from patent licensing may not inherently be a bad thing, but there should be requirements for patents obtained based on publicly funded research that although licensing fees could be charged for use by private companies, other universities and other publicly funded research institutions should be allowed to use the technology royalty free.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      loose != lose

      The Fûhrer is not amused!

    • by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Sunday November 16, 2008 @04:16PM (#25779467)

      Although many patents (both software and hardware) are bogus, the basic concept of the patent system has some validity and there are conditions where patents serve the public interest by encouraging innovation and at the same time making knowledge available to the public which would otherwise be kept as tight trade secrets by companies.

      Yes, but the real issue here is not the patent system pre se, but that certain rogue organizations are gaming that system in a way never intended by the Founders.

      IV (and other patent troll outfits) are using the acquisition of large numbers of patents to control innovation and extract their pound of flesh from such activity, while providing little or nothing of value in return. In a sense, they're like Microsoft, who did much the same thing in the operating system / office software world. The term "Microsoft Tax" came about because of the level of control that Microsoft exerted (and still exerts) upon the sale of computer equipment and the choice of operating software, and companies like Intellectual Ventures are attempting to levy an "Innovation Tax" upon anyone or anything trying to do something new and valuable.

      The net result of this will be an increase in wealth disparity in this country, and continued decline in our research and industrial sectors. This needs to stop before any attempt to design and manufacture useful, innovative products will be stymied by cease-and-desist orders, lawsuits, and what amounts to a tax levied by private organizations.

    • by cgenman (325138)

      There is also the question of student research going into patents. I can't think of another area of the economy where one person pays money for the priviledge of doing work, which is then auctioned off to the highest bidder for an exclusive contract. This strikes me as the sort of thing that California loves to find unfair.

      • There is also the question of student research going into patents. I can't think of another area of the economy where one person pays money for the priviledge of doing work, which is then auctioned off to the highest bidder for an exclusive contract. This strikes me as the sort of thing that California loves to find unfair.

        You're right about that. Given the number of high-profile Universities in California, at some point there's going to be an equally-high-profile case on this very issue. If there hasn't already been, of course.

      • by ITEric (1392795)

        This is yet another way that the current patent SNAFU will hinder innovation. What students in their right minds are going to want to contribute their (potentially) brilliant and innovative ideas for the profits of a bunch of patent trolls? It seems more likely that they'd hold onto their best ideas in the hope that they'll someday find themselves in a position to profit from them, meanwhile putting forth work that is merely adequate to graduate.

  • I know this is a really silly idea, but I can't seem to stop dreaming.

    Universities can:

    1. Form patent pools
    2. Hire a good patent attorney
    3. Fight patent trolls
    4. Form a joint patent-holding foundation

    Darn, I've gonna stop inhaling hallucinogens, and start following the money instead!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Unfortunately, patent trolling is in the best interests of most universities in the United States. Since the 1980s, everything in America has become increasing profit-centric, including education, and there is no sign of that slowing down any time soon. Just look at how most people view college these days: a ticket to a job. Gone are the days when going to college was about studying, learning, and becoming an intellectual. The schools themselves have adopted a new attitude as well, based on making mone
  • by symbolset (646467) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @03:41PM (#25779273) Journal

    Again, patents were created as a bridge between creators and the market to promote progress. They have mutated into trolls that prevent progress. Patents are now a monster that must be slain.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) *

      Again, patents were created as a bridge between creators and the market to promote progress. They have mutated into trolls that prevent progress. Patents are now a monster that must be slain.

      I agree with most of your statement, but eliminating patents entirely may not be the solution. Patents (if properly implemented) can have a beneficial effect on progress ... the problem is not that patents are in inherently evil but that (as you say) they've been turned into something that no longer works for the public good. What's worse is that the only organization that can repair the damage caused by a malfunctioning USPTO and lawyer farms like IV is Congress ... and they're the ones that got us into th

      • by symbolset (646467)

        It's going to have to get much, much worse...

        Well this at least seems like a sure thing. No worries on this score. Lots of things are going to get a lot worse faster than most of us would believe possible.

        At least we can agree there is a real problem.

        • At least we can agree there is a real problem.

          Oh, no argument there, and I wasn't really disputing your point. I just wanted to make a distinction between the patent system itself, and the abuse of said system that is going on.

          Whether patents are good or bad is a matter of some debate, mainly because they're both good and bad. I do agree that the U.S. patent system as it currently stands is not serving its Constitutional function. Really it's operating in a way that is diametrically opposed to what the Founders intended. It took a good while, but th

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by symbolset (646467) *

            While I share your respect for the Founders' [upenn.edu] vision, the system of copyright we have now is founded in British common law [abolishcopyright.com], and in fact harks back to 1662 [wikipedia.org]. Copyrights originally carried for 27 years, and currently go for over 100 years. Thomas Jefferson considered 14 years and he was reluctant about even that and was swayed (or more likely, conceded to get a more important concession) by James Madison. Patents originated further back in ancient Greece, around 500BC [wikipedia.org] and originally carried for 1 year but now

            • Copyrights and patents have become monsters that must be slain.

              Yes. But you essentially agreed with me when you called this a "lawyer's paradise." You haven't really presented an argument against the principle of a patent system, just what ours has currently become. There I agree with you: the system has become worse than useless. However, keep in mind that the original patent system did serve us very well for a long time, and could have continued to do so. Any way you slice it, the old system would have required some modifications to be truly effective in our time, bu

  • For what it's worth, one [columbia.edu] is an Ivy League university in New York City, the other [unal.edu.co] is not [wikipedia.org]. TFS is wrong but TFA is right; the editor and/or submitter must be having trouble with copy and paste.
  • Uggh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CSMatt (1175471) on Sunday November 16, 2008 @06:46PM (#25780473)

    Anyone else see the abbreviation "IV" in the summary and immediately think "four"?

  • Every time some group of social activists and NGO's screams about boycotting this that and the other Israeli institution, particularly academic institutions I start to lobby those academic institutions to increase royalty fees they charge those self same academic and NGO groups that already reap the benefit of the research of Israeli institutions they now claim to want to boycott. So for instance if the UK Academic Union wants to boycott all Israeli Universities then they should pay 5 or 10x what they do no

  • ... the Bayh-Dole Act, which allowed the privatization of the results of research done at public Universities, needs to be repealed.

    Public money should NOT be spent to set up University professors and their friends in lucrative businesses. Not only is that unethical in the extreme, it is a mirror of what the Bush Administration has done with public funds and private interests.

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