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US Dir. of Citizen Participation Patents the News 66

Posted by timothy
from the overlay-of-obvious dept.
theodp writes "Ex-Googler and now White House Director of Citizen Participation Katie Stanton is charged with promoting open public dialogues. Last Thursday, Stanton and Google snagged a patent on displaying financial news. Google explains that Stanton's invention — Interactive Financial Charting and Related News Correlation — will 'facilitate and encourage the user's use and understanding of financial information,' which does jibe nicely with Stanton's appointment to Obama's New Media Team. Too bad it'll be encumbered by a Google patent until 2027."
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US Dir. of Citizen Participation Patents the News

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  • Prior Art? (Score:3, Informative)

    by longacre (1090157) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @10:18PM (#30967510) Homepage
    Google isn't the only site that displays news on stock charts this way, and I don't think they were the first.

    Examples:
    SmartMoney [smartmoney.com]
    MarketWatch [marketwatch.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Grond (15515)

      Google isn't the only site that displays news on stock charts this way, and I don't think they were the first.

      The examples you give don't implement the claimed invention. Look at the way Google Finance renders a stock chart [google.com]. There is a large detail chart and a smaller chart below it. The smaller chart has an adjustable, slidable 'window' which the detail chart shows in, well, more detail. The broadest claim basically refers to this two chart sliding window approach. There are narrower dependent claims

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by NoddyK (202715)

        This line is from a header file for a charting object we wrote in a windows desktop app written in MFC // Inception - 2.13.96

        It does exactly what is described in the patent, chart with shields on it that you could click to link to corporate events and news stories, a smaller version of the chart with sliders to allow you to set the date range, and so on. Of course, the product is no longer sold, so that properly means you can reinvent the wheel where software is concerned

        Stupid patents

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Grond (15515)

          It does exactly what is described in the patent...Of course, the product is no longer sold, so that properly means you can reinvent the wheel where software is concerned

          No, you can't, that's the whole point of prior art. Patents do not allow someone to take inventions out of the public domain. It (generally) doesn't matter if the prior art is still on sale or not.

          More specifically, if there was software that did exactly what is claimed in the patent (i.e. is anticipatory prior art), and that software was

          • by NoddyK (202715)

            I know we had a large manual that described this and all the other functionality in the app, but unfortunately, i don't have a copy. Shame really, would be fun to see what happened

            • by mattr (78516)

              Unless you are a troll, I don't understand why you don't say the company name, the application name, and give website and street address. And why you are so defeatist despite apparently having the answer to breaking this dumb patent? Come on, if you are telling the truth then how about telling everybody what your clue is about? (Or are you holding out so you can settle with Google?)

              • by NoddyK (202715)

                The company went belly up about 4 years ago, and the product was an English product (although it was sold in the US, which i think makes it valid for patents). I have the source code and a copy of the executable for the product but I am unable to run it, need a DLL for a 3rd party add-in (IMW3232D40.DLL). I have tinkered around with rewriting in VS2008, and removing the library, but there are a lot of compile time errors, and it uses the Jet DB engine so all the DB code needs to be redone. This is why I don

    • so? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Google isn't the only site that displays news on stock charts this way, and I don't think they were the first.

      since when has that stopped companies from patenting the "technology" they "invented".

    • by reebmmm (939463)

      No offense, but you clearly didn't RTFP. In order to be good prior art (anticipating art), the relevant art must include all of the elements of a claim. You can make an obviousness argument if you can find all of the elements in two or more references. To help you out, I've broken down the first independent claim into manageable pieces. You'll quickly notice that neither of your examples are even close:

      1. A system for providing financial information about a target entity in response to a user request, comp

  • Misleading title (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wuhao (471511) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @10:33PM (#30967594)

    The summary doesn't go into specifics as to what has been claimed. Basically, Ms. Stanton worked at Google, and was part of the team that developed Google Finance. What's been claimed here is essentially the placement of flags at points on the stock chart, along with some other specifics of Google's stock chart presentation.

    Laying aside opinions on the patent system and this patent in particular for a second, I would say that the title is highly misleading: the "news" is not patented, nor was the filing made by the named inventor of record in her capacity as Director of Citizen Participation. Google is obligated to list all individuals who played a dominant role in the inventive process, and apparently it was felt that Katie Stanton was just such an individual.

    Since I consider Google Finance to be a fantastically well-designed resource that communicates a lot of data very succinctly, I guess I'd say that this recommends Ms. Stanton's ability to communicate information, even in a very abstract sense. That said, I suspect that this is the last I will ever hear of her, or the office of the Director of Citizen Participation.

    • Re:Misleading title (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dredd13 (14750) <dredd@megacity.org> on Saturday January 30, 2010 @10:47PM (#30967646) Homepage

      Also, while we're rattling off the factual errors, she's no longer the Director of Citizen Participation. She moved to a position in the State Department a couple months ago.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by radtea (464814)

      Thanks--we all know that every /. patent story is full of lies, and I appreciate you taking the time to figure out which specific lies were in this one.

      Rob Malda et al believe deeply in the fundamental soundness of the US patent system, to the extent that it wouldn't surprise me that they held substantial portfolios of non-trivial software patents themselves. You can tell this is the case because every single patent-related story on /. is substantially false: either the summary is full of lies about what

      • I wonder if there are some legal ramifications to this - say if Geeknet were to own software patents on some innovation, these articles that basically attack the idea of the validity of software patents could be used under the principle of estoppal to argue that since Slashdot (part of Geeknet) doesn't believe any software patents are valid then Geeknet loses the ability to argue its patents are valid.

        Hmmmm....

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)
          In short, no. Estopel only applies to statements made about your actions. If you say 'I would never sue someone under this law' then that is very different from saying 'I believe that this law is unjust'.
    • Google Finance is a decent site, but calling it a fantastically well-designed resource is a bit of stretch. It does some of the things Google does well, like aggregate financial news from many other sites. It displays public data in a fairly clean Google fashion. But as a financial resource, it is quite primitive. I wouldn't recommend using it to make an real financial decisions. Even someone deciding how to re-balance their 401k for the year would be well advised to use more than what Google Finance c
    • I was annoyed at the title malfunction, too.

      Anything that is copyrighted to the U.S. government can be freely disseminated and it's fair use. I would think the same applies to patents.

      My erroneous conclusion was that the Dept. of Citizen Participation was somehow protecting a portion of content, probably in an effort to get them to participate in something or other, like, I don't know, a discussion board, without worrying about getting sued for copying a paragraph from an Associated Press article.

      And beyond

  • by Grond (15515) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @10:58PM (#30967680) Homepage

    As others have pointed out, this patent is basically describing the sliding, adjustable window and news flags features of Google Finance, so it's unlikely that this patent would play much of a role in Ms. Stanton's new job. But if the government wanted to use the invention described in the patent for some reason, it has an automatic license to do so. 28 USC 1498(a) [cornell.edu] gives the federal government (NB: not state governments) a license to use any patented invention. The patent owner can sue for reasonable compensation but cannot enjoin the government from using the invention.

    As a side note, 28 USC 1498(b) gives the government a similar right to use copyrighted works. In that case the copyright owner's damages are limited to reasonable compensation plus the minimum statutory damages, so no overinflated damages for government copyright infringement.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      As a side note, 28 USC 1498(b) gives the government a similar right to use copyrighted works.

      Best argument I've heard yet for ignoring copyright! I mean, we are talking about a government by, of, and for the people, right?

      • by dissy (172727) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:04AM (#30968206)

        As a side note, 28 USC 1498(b) gives the government a similar right to use copyrighted works.

        Best argument I've heard yet for ignoring copyright! I mean, we are talking about a government by, of, and for the people, right?

        I hope not. At this point, a corporation is more of a person than I am in the eyes of the law :{

        • Nah, we real people still have criminal law. Wouldn't want to treat corporations equally in that sense, would we! :P
          • by jc42 (318812)

            [W]e real people still have criminal law. Wouldn't want to treat corporations equally in that sense, would we!

            Reminds me of a study I read about, back in the 1980s I think, of the legal punishments of corporations convicted for actions in which people died. The bottom line turned out to be that the fines imposed by the courts amounted to somewhat over $300 per death. They also didn't find any cases in which the corporation's officers were tried for anything.

            There's been a bit more inflation since then, bu

      • close... (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        we are talking about a government by, of, and for the rich people

        There, fixed that for you.

        • we are talking about a government by, of, and for the rich people

          But they're not gonna stay rich if we all ignore copyrights ;-)

  • by cvtan (752695) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @11:04PM (#30967714)
    So she worked at Google and got a patent in 2006? Nothing unusual about that. Why is this news?
    • He's organizing a secret Bolshevik style plot to overthrow the government by passing health care legislation! And hiring people who used to work at companies that file patents! Or something...

  • Picky, picky, picky, but new patents issue on Tuesdays.
  • by marquinhocb (949713) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @11:35PM (#30967842) Homepage Journal

    Have you ever seen Google sue offensively? Cuz I haven't. It seems Google uses their patents for defensive cases (i.e. so someone else can't sue them), not as a patent troll. At least, that's been the rule so far.

    • by ChipMonk (711367) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @12:11AM (#30968000) Journal
      They also said "Don't be evil," and had an anti-censorship statement in their FAQ, until they decided to go into the People's Republic of China.
      • by ajs (35943)

        They also said "Don't be evil," and had an anti-censorship statement in their FAQ, until they decided to go into the People's Republic of China.

        1) and that continues to be their moto (which their employees are reminded of endlessly) and continues to be their reason for working with China to try to open communications. Unlike Yahoo! (who turns over dissidents as a matter of course) Google is so uncooperative that China had to start a major international incident to get dissident information out of them by stealing it.

        2) Oh and in this case you're dead wrong about the patent being in any way used for offensive purposes. Google's membership in the Ope

  • Does the Federal Government really want to "facilitate and encourage the [citizens'] use and understanding of financial information?" After all, if citizens do that, they just MIGHT figure out how the Wall Street banksters and fraudsters, and their bought-and-paid-for friends in the government (at all levels and in both parties), have been fleecing them for years, while milking off massive bonuses for themselves at taxpayer expense.

    And if that happens, I foresee a big jump in the sales of torches, pitchfor

    • You do not have to worry about these silly liabilities such as patent infringement.

      The only person who loses is the American worker.

      Time to fire the incumbents in 2010 and 2012.

      • by MikeURL (890801)
        Like Massachusetts did? They were so angry that they hacked off their nose to spite their face.

        I wish the 3rd parties in America were not so anemic. I also wish people would just vote 3rd party without being too concerned about WHICH 3rd party. At this point pretty much any new force in government would be good. It literally can't get worse.
        • Yes, because electing a woman who would allow a popo who raped his 20 month old niece with a hot curling iron off scot free for a political favor from a relative is someone we want in the Senate

        • by frdmfghtr (603968)

          I wish the 3rd parties in America were not so anemic. I also wish people would just vote 3rd party without being too concerned about WHICH 3rd party. At this point pretty much any new force in government would be good. It literally can't get worse.

          I agree that the other parties need to be considered more by the voting public. I think a lot of people are seeing how the Republican and Democratic parties, as a whole, have both gone too far towards their extreme ends of the political spectrum and how the candi

          • I consider myself a democrat still but supported Brown.

            I supported him not because of his political beliefs but to scare everyone in Washington. Special interests should be a non partisan issue both Obama and McCain hate, but wont do anything about (or can't).

            The health care debate angered me greatly and proved what was wrong. Yes people die each day without health care yet I will be damned if my tax dollars go to subsidize drug companies and grant them monopoly powers.

            Go Brown and everyone on both sides be

    • by h00manist (800926)
      I think most people learned enough about wall st during the crisis. They did nothing. People don't know how to organize, they are afraid of government and corporate spies and sabotage, misinformed of the real causes, and ignorant and greedy, looking out for their own good, incapable of having a cool-headed debate and analysis of situations... it's pretty sad.
  • ( Oil | Corn | Stock | Gold ) prices ( rise | fall ) on ( Middle East sabre-rattling | earnings release | Lindsay Lohan arrest | natural disaster ).

  • Don't bother reading the summary - it's a bunch of twaddle.

    Here is what the patent covers:

    1. A system for providing financial information about a target entity in response to a user request, comprising: one or more computers configured to provide a user interface including: a main chart for showing a graph of financial data over a first time period; a second chart displayed concurrently with the main chart, and for showing a graph of financial data over a second time period that includes the first time peri

  • Patenting a government process while on government time? I didn't think that was even legal, but if it is, then 'we the people' own the rights to the patent anyway.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by e9th (652576)
      Ms. Stanton was working for Google, not the government, when the patent application was filed back in 2006.
    • by dsoltesz (563978)
      It's legal if you're patenting it for the government. However, the patent predates Stanton taking a job with the government, so the question is moot.
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @12:24AM (#30968054)

    Patents filed these days receive a 20 year term from the earliest effective filing date. In this case, the application was filed 24 February 2006. That would mean its expiration date (assuming the assignee pays the maintenance fees) would be 24 February 2026.

    However, due to delays by the USPTO, there is a patent term adjustment. The USPTO calculated it at 686 days, which would mean that the patent actually expires (approximately) 11 January 2028.

    Finally, a recent court decision (Wyeth v. Kappos) concluded that the USPTO was calculating patent term adjustment incorrectly. This means that the patent may be due a (slightly) longer adjustment. Ultimately, I'm not entirely sure what the correct expiration date is at this point.

    In any case, the expiration date is definitely not in 2027.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:44AM (#30968724)

    When employed at Google, Ms. Stanton worked on user interface design, and yes her employer sought a patent for one of her inventions (that she created as part of a team of other workers).
    She was required to assign her interests in the invention to her employer---that's 100% standard.
    I'm not aware of any employer that say: "Oh, if you invent something, you get to keep it or patent
    it yourself, or give it away as you see fit...."

    Does this previous employment, which anyone in their right mind would consider an important
    resume line, now eliminate her from serving in the White House? Does the fact that
    she's creative, and had to earn a living, prevent her from later working in the public
    interest in government?

    We should hope not, since government surely needs talented people.

    Is there some sort of "purity test" implicit in this article? I.e., anyone who has ever applied
    for a patent---either personally (at enormous expense), or because of one's work---is NO LONGER
    qualified to work in any position that lets them give something back to society? I think
    that's the tone of this submission. That's certainly the conclusion one draws from the wording.

    Yes, the patent system is complex, outdated, silly and not what we need. But do you know
    what else we DO NOT need? Patent trolling on slashdot. We also don't need silly
    "purity tests" that only allow patent virgins to work in public office.

    What we DO NEED is talent, creativity and passion in public officials. I'm glad that highly
    talented people like Ms. Stanton can decide to change her career, give up the high paychecks,
    and work in government, serving the public. It's a shame there are idiots (and I use that
    word carefully) who diminish her public service, because she once worked for a company.

    What would the article author have us think? Perhaps only starving artists should serve in
    government? Well, that wouldn't do, since the good ones bother to register copyright on
    their valuable works.... Perhaps that will be the article author's next topic to attack.
    Perhaps then we should have government ranks only filled by those who never held a job in
    a large company, never did anything of value (worth having their employer seek patent protection),
    and never wrote or composed anything of value, else they'd have tarnished themselves with
    a copyright notice.

  • by H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @07:52AM (#30969468) Homepage Journal

        Obama's administration submitted a Bilski brief, and Obama's made a statement about wanting to enforce US patents overseas. I'm starting to document the administration's software patent related stances here :

        swpat.org is a publicly editable wiki, help welcome.

  • after you left the company. I received the approval for one about 3 weeks after I left the company who really owned the rights to the patent. I was just one of the "named inventors" even though I had a mostly administrative and management role in its creation. I had been working for the company to secure that patent with appropriate lawyers for 2+ years.

  • So what? I get that some FOSS types really don't like patents, especially software patents, but where's the news in this story? It's not like she raped her dog. Nothing especially heinous, unusual, or hypocritical happened here.
  • Like so many others. First - genuine growth and competitiveness by innovation. Next - if lucky to reach the level of political corruption - corporate impotency, relaying on brand strength, monopoly, dubious patents and legislation. This phase is characterized by outsorcing and growth by takeovers; Apple (ex. ARM cores under A4 brand in iGlutton), and Microsoft all meet here. Third - an empty corporate shell managing the last asset - brand.
    I have already no great expectations of Google who tries to extermina

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