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USPTO Grants Bezos Patent On '60s-Era Chargebacks 144

Posted by kdawson
from the let's-try-patenting-binary-numbers dept.
theodp writes "Chargebacks on computing resources are certainly nothing new, dating to the '60s. But five decades later, the USPTO has deemed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' invention — Dynamic Pricing of Web Services Utilization — worthy of a new patent. From the patent: 'Utilization of a storage resource may be measured in terms of a quantity of data stored (e.g., bytes, megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB), etc.) per unit of time (e.g., second, day, month, etc.). Similarly, communication bandwidth utilization may be measured in terms of a quantity of data transmitted per unit of time (e.g., megabits per second). Processing resource utilization may be measured as an aggregate number of units of processing effort (e.g., central processing unit (CPU) cycles, transactions, etc.) utilized, or as a rate of processing effort utilization per unit of time (e.g., CPU cycles or transactions per second).' Sound familiar, Greyglers? Another example of why it's not wise to grant software patents when people don't know much about computer history."
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USPTO Grants Bezos Patent On '60s-Era Chargebacks

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  • Shit! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith (2679) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @05:11PM (#32705104)

    There's a barrel load of stuff I've forgotten. Should have patented it while I could.

    WAIT!!! Maybe I still can.

    Go on, get off my lawn!

    FFS, someone should take a hatchet to the US PTO. Don't they need to reduce the budget or something?

     

    • Re:Shit! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by amentajo (1199437) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @05:13PM (#32705122)

      No, increase the budget instead: give perks to employees that deny patents like this.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Kitkoan (1719118)

        No, increase the budget instead: give perks to employees that deny patents like this.

        Sorry, but someones already patented that...

        • Re:Shit! (Score:5, Funny)

          by nacturation (646836) * <nacturation AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday June 26, 2010 @06:22PM (#32705568) Journal

          No, increase the budget instead: give perks to employees that deny patents like this.

          Sorry, but someones already patented that...

          Can we patent this type of reply on Slashdot so that we don't get the inevitable trite "that's been patented" responses? I mean heck... at try and be clever and original if you're going to pull out that crusty relic of a response.

          • Re:Shit! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Peach Rings (1782482) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @06:33PM (#32705610) Homepage

            Ironically, your post follows the response predicted by the meta-meme exactly.

            • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

              by nacturation (646836) *

              Ironically, your post follows the response predicted by the meta-meme exactly.

              Thanks for noticing.

              • by Chapter80 (926879)

                Flow of the Patent Meme:
                1. Article appears on Slashdot about a patent
                2. People post solutions to avoiding ridiculous patents.
                3. Somebody says that the idea has already been patented.

                Flow of the Patented patent idea Meta-Meme:
                1. Article appears on Slashdot about a patent
                2. People post solutions to avoiding ridiculous patents.
                3. Somebody says that the idea has already been patented.
                4. Another poster complains about the inevitable patented-patent idea posts.

                Flow of the "Patented patent idea Meta-Meme" M

          • Re:Shit! (Score:4, Funny)

            by camperdave (969942) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @06:36PM (#32705626) Journal
            No, its just a perfect example demonstrating that everything is already invented. As such there's no longer a need for the patent office.
          • Re:Shit! (Score:4, Funny)

            by Kitkoan (1719118) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @07:20PM (#32705846)

            No, increase the budget instead: give perks to employees that deny patents like this.

            Sorry, but someones already patented that...

            Can we patent this type of reply on Slashdot so that we don't get the inevitable trite "that's been patented" responses? I mean heck... at try and be clever and original if you're going to pull out that crusty relic of a response.

            But that hasn't been patented though. Rewarding an employee has been patented though for having/learning to do their job properly. Patent application number: 20100023384. [faqs.org]

          • In Soviet Russia, patents complain about YOU!!!!!

          • by Xyrus (755017)

            Simpsons did it.

      • Re:Shit! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sortius_nod (1080919) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @07:02PM (#32705748) Homepage

        You shouldn't need a bonus to do your job.

        The organisation is corrupt from the ground up, the only option is to remove patenting. Whenever you have companies with a lot of money trying to get an edge, you're going to get corruption. Whether is congress/parliament or a government agency that enforces the laws, this seems to be rife.

        There's no way a sane person would allow patenting of 50 year old business practices.

        • by Pharmboy (216950)

          Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence. - Napoleon Bonaparte

        • by jc42 (318812)

          There's no way a sane person would allow patenting of 50 year old business practices.

          The changes in the patent laws that allow this weren't made by sane people. This was done by lawyers who were elected to Congress with campaign funding paid for by many the corporations who are now filing such patents.

      • by jc42 (318812)

        Don't they need to reduce the budget or something?

        No, increase the budget instead:

        As many people have pointed out in other discussions, that appears to be a major cause of the problem. The US Patent Office has had its budget lowered, while the laws were changed to allow many more patents. They responded the only way they could: They laid people off, and encouraged rubber-stamping patent applications without doing a decent analysis of the application. Their approach has been "Approve them all, and let th

      • by ICLKennyG (899257)
        You are aware that that is basically how the patent system works.

        You pay based on your application and the calculated prosecution complexity. You get so many claims for a fee and the more complex above that basic level you pay more. Then if (or more likely when) your application gets rejected you file a response. When you screw that up, you pay more money and file some more. The examiners also get paid for doing rejections.

        The reason shit like this gets through is largely in part due to the fact
    • Re:Shit! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dachannien (617929) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @07:20PM (#32705848)

      FFS, someone should take a hatchet to the US PTO. Don't they need to reduce the budget or something?

      The USPTO is entirely fee-funded. Your tax dollars don't pay the examiners' salaries.

      On a side note, if you do know something about history and technology, and you'd like to put your money where your mouth is and improve the quality of patent examination, the USPTO is currently hiring qualified individuals with expertise in electrical, computer, and biomedical engineering. US citizenship required. In addition to standard federal benefits and a salary that can reach $100k in about three years, the USPTO has the federal government's flagship telework program, which allows you to work from home, anywhere in the country, once you meet certain qualifications.

      See http://usptocareers.gov/ [usptocareers.gov] for more info.

      • by rolfwind (528248)

        On a side note, if you do know something about history and technology, and you'd like to put your money where your mouth is and improve the quality of patent examination,

        The government is in over it's head and bamboozled constantly with bullshit talk. The way to improve the system is to do away with it:
        http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/againstfinal.htm [ucla.edu]

        • Re:Shit! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Dachannien (617929) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @04:45AM (#32707962)

          The way to improve the system is to do away with it:

          That's hardly practical, considering that most of us are not members of Congress. Wouldn't it make more sense to do something that would actually work, and try to improve the system from within?

          • by rolfwind (528248)

            Hah, you think things can get better by worthing from within the system. It's not. The system is what's wrong and your or anybody else's bandages won't do a damn thing.

      • Re:Shit! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by soundguy (415780) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @10:29PM (#32706678) Homepage
        The fact that in the year 2010, the videos on the USPTO website require RealPlayer pretty much explains the mentality at the patent office.
      • by AK Marc (707885)
        the USPTO has the federal government's flagship telework program, which allows you to work from home, anywhere in the country, once you meet certain qualifications.

        Is there a page on that? I looked through and they have lots on their parking garages and public transport, but nothing on telecommuting. The only thing I could find on a search was that you had to show up a minimum of once a week in the office so they wouldn't trigger any rules on per diems, traveling expenses, or such. Thus you could work
        • Re:Shit! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Dachannien (617929) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @04:50AM (#32707970)

          The hoteling (telework) program requires that you have two years of service at the USPTO and have reached GS-12 or higher (which is also possible within two years). Before then, you have to move to the DC area to work there so that you can get adequate supervision.

          There was a recent change to the hoteling program such that if you live within 50 miles of the office in Alexandria, Virginia, you don't have to meet the reporting requirement. If you live outside that radius, you have to report in to the Alexandria office on two days out of each biweek for at least an hour each day.

          Some people who live outside the radius fly in on the last Friday and Saturday of one biweek, show up at work for an hour that day, make a vacation out of the rest of the weekend (get a hotel, etc.), go back to work on Monday and Tuesday of the following biweek, and fly out Tuesday. That at least means you only have to report in once a month for a long weekend.

      • the USPTO is currently hiring qualified individuals with expertise in electrical, computer, and biomedical engineering. US citizenship required.

        Well that's your problem. People like that have already got jobs paying twice as much. All ten of them.

        If the nationality bit is too important to drop then I'm sure there's plenty of graduates in media studies, basket weaving or Klingon around.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Z00L00K (682162)

      USPTO is financed by patent fees. So that's why they grant patents without checking the validity of the claim.

      If they were to pay a fine for every patent that didn't hold then they would be much more careful.

  • Brainless (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kestrell69 (1302307)

    So who is more brainless? The patent office for granting this abomination? Or the person at Amazon who simply typed up a description of a common computing paradigm from 40 years ago?

    • Re:Brainless (Score:5, Insightful)

      by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @05:20PM (#32705184) Homepage

      ...or the people who comment on patents without studying them to determine what is actually claimed and the scope of those claims?

      • by mooingyak (720677)

        I came to the comments here with the thought that I might find the one solitary comment that tells me what the REAL scope of this is.

      • or the people who comment on patents without studying them to determine what is actually claimed and the scope of those claims?

        He's commonly referred to as "theodp".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by X0563511 (793323)

      Not the guy at Amazon. It takes intelligence with a lack of scruples to abuse this.

      • by Nerdfest (867930)
        So, most likely some new sort of Marketing Weasel / Lawyer cross-breed. Lets all hope they're sterile. FSM help us if these things start reproducing.
        • <movie class="50s_monster">
          <character class="grizzled_old_man">

          Look what you've created you...you maniacs! This is what happens when you play God!

          </character>
          </movie>
    • Re:Brainless (Score:5, Informative)

      by nacturation (646836) * <nacturation AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday June 26, 2010 @06:37PM (#32705628) Journal

      So who is more brainless?

      You're brainless for not reading the patent claims, and theodp is brainless for his nonstop anti-Amazon patent tirade [google.com] (372 results)

      Here are the relevant parts from all of the links in the summary:

      Wikipedia time-sharing article: "Users were charged rent for the terminal, a charge for hours of connect time, a charge for seconds of CPU time, and a charge for kilobyte-months of disk storage." Yeah, ok... that's metered service, just like your power bill or long distance charges.

      Plato history article: Uh, this mentions getting a 50th anniversary Plato-style Google logo on Google. Nothing relevant on this link.

      The actual patent abstract: "A method and system for dynamic pricing of web services utilization. According to one embodiment, a method may include dynamically predicting utilization of a web services computing resource that is expected to occur during a given interval of time, and dependent upon the dynamically predicted utilization, setting a price associated with utilization of the web services computing resource occurring during the given interval of time. The method may further include providing the price to a customer. "

      Does charging for CPU time and resources involve dynamic prediction? No? I didn't think so. Lousy try, theodp. Better luck next time.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by bmo (77928)

        "A method and system for dynamic pricing of web services utilization. According to one embodiment, a method may include dynamically predicting utilization of a web services computing resource that is expected to occur during a given interval of time,"

        "Oh look, we want to charge you differently for usage rates"

        As if this doesn't happen every day in all industries. This is *obvious.*

        This belongs in a fucking contract, not a goddamn patent.

        Amazon is evil in this regard. Jeff Bezos is one of a handful of peop

        • Re:Brainless (Score:5, Insightful)

          by nacturation (646836) * <nacturation AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday June 26, 2010 @07:13PM (#32705810) Journal

          As if this doesn't happen every day in all industries. This is *obvious.* This belongs in a fucking contract, not a goddamn patent.

          Maybe so, but claiming that it's "60's-Era Chargebacks" is a complete misrepresentation based on the so-called "articles" linked to in the summary.

          • by bbn (172659)

            Of course they also did this so called "dynamic" pricing in the 60's. That is why they invented the batch job and scheduling priority. So you could run stuff at off hour and get it cheaper.

          • by Throtex (708974)

            It would be amusing to make Slashdot an honorary patent examiner for a day. I think a lot of posters would be shocked not by how little they know of patent law (that much is obvious), but how little they understand technology in general.

            This patent may be obvious. It does look pretty broad. But it's definitely NOT for the reasons provided in the summary, as you noted.

        • by Fred_A (10934)

          This belongs in a fucking contract, not a goddamn patent.

          I thought Bezos has already patented contracts. Obviously he had to find something different.

      • by ChipMonk (711367)
        The United States federal government already does dynamic pricing for all its services, via the IRS's progressive tax tables. And that pricing is based on their prediction (valid or otherwise) that the rich will benefit from federal services more than the poor, and so should be charged more for those services beforehand.

        As for "dynamic pricing" etc., doesn't it all still come down to Bilski math territory?
      • by mjwalshe (1680392)
        so ezyjet and other lowcost airlines have been doing this for decades.
    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Or the person at Amazon that knew what he was doing, and pulled it off anyway?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Z00L00K (682162)

      Isn't brainless an absolute?

      Like saying "a little pregnant" - either you are or you aren't.

  • O'RLY (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3@gmail. c o m> on Saturday June 26, 2010 @05:14PM (#32705134)
    I don't really understand how this is patentable. It is essentially a patent covering 'charging for computer time' or 'charging for computer resources'? The credibility of patents is eroded day by day, diluted into pure paperwork used for litigation fodder.
    • Re:O'RLY (Score:5, Insightful)

      by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @05:22PM (#32705200)

      The credibility of patents is eroded day by day, diluted into pure paperwork used for litigation fodder.

      That is a design feature, a direct consequence of a society run by lawyers for the benefit of lawyers and as an afterthought also sometimes their most wealthy clients.

    • by srussia (884021)

      The credibility of patents is eroded day by day, diluted into pure paperwork used for litigation fodder.

      This is a good thing: reductio ad absurdum or at the very least reductio ad incommodum. Same with copyright.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Trepidity (597)

      I don't know if the actual patent is a good idea either, but to be fair, it is somewhat narrower than just charging for computer time/resources. It appears to specifically cover only charging for computer time/resources in a dynamic way based on a prediction of their utilization. So e.g. the cost for one CPU-minute would go up or down depending on the system's estimate of current contention for CPU-minutes. It seems that has probably been used in some other markets (e.g. in some electric markets), but it's

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MartinSchou (1360093)

        It appears to specifically cover only charging for computer time/resources in a dynamic way based on a prediction of their utilization.

        How is that any different than say ... hotels charging more for a room during times they predict will have lots of visitors? Or what airlines do to sell tickets - noone flying a particular day, they'll lower the price through the floor; everybody trying to get on a flight, and they'll charge you half your liver and a kidney just to use the in-flight bathroom.

        • Remember when you could take any old thing, tag with a computer on the end, and patent it?

          Well this is the same, except it's about computers

        • by cosm (1072588)

          How is that any different than say ... hotels charging more for a room during times

          Do hotels patent that practice?

  • Free markets (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    USPTO is only a small organization - and there is only so much they can do. It is like expecting the coast guard to have the expertise to stop the BP leak.

    A vast majority of USPTO decisions are right - and occasionally some are rotten. Those rotten one can be appealed by companies planning to use the technologies - esp. if the prior art is so obvious (and actually is relevant). Else, the USPTO will have to hire 200-400% more people, and take 5 times as long, to award patents.

    Finally - Software patents are n

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by David Gerard (12369)

      "A vast majority of USPTO decisions are right"

      [citation needed]

    • but that is a decision for the US Supreme court

      Congress could fix this. They're the ones that broke it in the first place.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by symbolic (11752)

      Bezos already has a find precedent for stupid patents. As long as companies are required to license use of the "one click" purchase, anything submitted by Amazon should be thoroughly scrutinized.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, I don't believe that the "vast majority of USPTO decisions are right".

      I just had to go through a set of patents issued to a particular company, in a domain that I'm quite "practiced" in for the last 30 years. There was a complete lack of innovation in any of those patents.

      I have several patents, and I am amazed to this day, that some dork in the USPTO thought they all should be granted.

      Most patents are filed as legal weapons, hoping that some naive fool within the USPTO will grant the weapon.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sjames (1099)

      No, it's like expecting the Coast Guard to guard the coast.

      I see no reason why it is unreasonable to expect the USPTO to correctly do the one and only thing they exist for.

    • by Wolfbone (668810)

      Finally - Software patents are not all bad. If you find a new way to compress/decompress video

      I don't think you understand the term "free market" (or was that comment title ironic?), let alone what makes granting monopoly patent rights in some field good or bad. Hint: for one thing, even 'clever' compression methods almost certainly should not be patentable if they're likely to be invented/discovered by multiple independent parties within the period of monopoly.

    • USPTO is only a small organization - and there is only so much they can do. It is like expecting the coast guard to have the expertise to stop the BP leak.

      Bullshit. One of USPTO's primary functions is dealing with patents.

      So it's more like expecting the coast guard to have expertise in, you know, guarding coasts.

  • I thought we were meant only to call ideas inventions when they were ideas that are not obvious, and would challenge someone practiced in whatever discipline to come up with by themselves?
  • Misleading summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mr 44 (180750) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @05:28PM (#32705240)

    The patent is actually for utilizing a predictive process to change pricing based upon expected future load. Still not necessarily new, but very different than the summary implies.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tuomoks (246421)

      Maybe misleading summary but what you just said is old, old, old - part of my job when started -71, and old already then! The problem today seems to be - add a couple of words, like WEB or Internet, to some old idea and , voilà, you can have a patent.

      Seriously - is the USPO the only government office which, when not skilled on the issue, is supposed and/or allowed to make bad decisions anyway? Doesn't sound good or even very useful?

      "Predictive process" has been used in any kind of business forever "to

  • by westlake (615356) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @05:29PM (#32705250)
    It doesn't matter that the idea is old - if the implementation of the idea is new.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It doesn't matter that the idea is old - if the implementation of the idea is new.

      And if the description of the new "implementation" is suitably imprecise, you can block others from coding up the same old idea in a different manner. Which is why patents on processes / algorithms (aka software) are bullshit.

    • by pogson (856666)
      So I can "invent" the shovel today? By moving manure, dirt, sand, rice, potatoes,.... I hope the USPTO has an infinite staff... Wait a minute! They CHARGE for applications! That's their new business plan: generate an infinite number of patent applications and pay off the national debt with the fees. I understand.
    • Yes. Yes it does matter. In fact, it's the entire fucking point. You're supposed to get a patent for innovating, not for reinventing the wheel. At this point, can anyone honestly find a business model that's never been tried? And does anyone even try to write a software patent that actually explains how to do what they're claiming? If these patents aren't doing anything worthwhile, then why are we rewarding anyone for them?
  • Worthless Patent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26, 2010 @05:29PM (#32705262)

    Let's look at a claim:

    1. A computer-implemented method, comprising: provisioning for an enterprise an enterprise-side web services computing resource to accommodate a given level of the enterprise's anticipated utilization; an enterprise-side computer system of the enterprise dynamically predicting the enterprise's own utilization of the enterprise-side web services computing resource that is expected to occur during a given interval of time; dependent upon said dynamically predicted utilization, said enterprise-side computer system setting a price to be charged for utilization of said web services computing resource by an entity other than the enterprise occurring during said given interval of time; and said enterprise-side computer system electronically providing said price to a client-side computer system for presentation to a customer associated with the client-side computer system as the price said customer will be charged for utilization of said web services computing resource during said given interval of time, wherein the client-side computer system is external to the enterprise.

    WTF? That's not an innovative solution to a problem. That's not even a solution to a problem - that's a description of the problem itself. They just patented anything that is a solution to the problem.

    This patent doesn't help other people implement any technology. The whole patent doesn't even contain any source code. If this document were released to the public, and had never been submitted as a patent, the world would be no better off than if it had never been written. Nobody would even care that it existed.

    This isn't an invention. This is worthless junk.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      WTF? That's not an innovative solution to a problem.

      You've got to understand that there are a lot of under-employed physicists out there who can't get academic work because they didn't ass-kiss their professors. With no good references the only type of work these physicists can get are either tech support work in call centres (but that has mostly been outsourced to India) or work in a patent office. Since most physicists aren't really interested in patents, perpetual motion machines, or business processes, they'll just rubber stamp whatever comes their way w

    • How is it that submitting a "sentence" like that claim would attract a fail mark in an English essay but is actively encouraged in a field dominated by supposedly educated people?
  • Milk the system for all it's worth. You never know when it's going to collapse on you. It's as predictable as any Pavlov experiment. I've gotten to where I don't give a shit anymore. If this is what people want, then who the hell am I to complain?

    Expect a patent on the biological exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide...

  • It won't matter (Score:1, Redundant)

    by jvillain (546827)

    None of this is going to matter to me after my patents are granted for

    -combining oxygen and a combustable material through the application of heat resulting in the production of heat and light.
    -a circular object through which a shaft is placed. The shaft may or may not support a load which will then be able to travel across a surface with out coming in contact with it.
    -combining oxygen and hydrogen in to create a fluid useful for sustaining light. Also good for stopping the first patent.

  • Overturn Now (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @06:06PM (#32705470)
    So why can't this just be overturned instantly with this proof of prior art? The problem with overturning even obvious patents is that it is so GD expensive in terms of money and time that very bad patents are allowed to remain standing until some idiot tries to enforce them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Theaetetus (590071)

      So why can't this just be overturned instantly with this proof of prior art? The problem with overturning even obvious patents is that it is so GD expensive in terms of money and time that very bad patents are allowed to remain standing until some idiot tries to enforce them.

      Actually, reexaminations are quite inexpensive to initiate. Why aren't more done? Because, contrary to Slashdot beliefs, there's a lot more to a patent than the title, and prior art needs to anticipate or teach each and every element of the claims, not just "this patent is on a method of X, and they were doing X decades ago!"

      • by Nerdfest (867930)
        Should you only have to address one of the claims to invalidate the patent?
        • Should you only have to address one of the claims to invalidate the patent?

          I don't understand your question... Are you asking whether you have to address all of the claims? If so, yes and no - any you don't address may be left valid, but you don't have to address them all to invalidate one.
          Or, are you asking whether you have to address a claim at all, or whether you can address the drawings, title, abstract, or specification? If so, yes. The claims are the patent. The other stuff is only there to provide explanation for the claims, but it has little to no legal weight. You can't

          • by Nerdfest (867930)
            Sorry, what I meant (and mis-typed) was "Shouldn't you only have to address one of the claims to invalidate the patent". I think you mostly answered it anyway.
  • PLATO (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Andy Smith (55346) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @06:20PM (#32705548) Homepage

    Wow, reading that PLATO link has got me feeling all nostalgic, and sad that I wasn't a part of it. I was only 1-year-old. It sounds magical.

    It also reminded me of how much I hate the locked-down mentality of certain modern computing companies. These companies only exist because of open systems and people tinkering, hacking, experimenting... and now they seek to deny those opportunities to new generations. Great shame.

  • Flashback. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by uncqual (836337) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @06:36PM (#32705622)
    Wow, I hadn't thought of 'Kilo-Core Ticks" (or similar measures) for decades (back when I cared what they cost).

    Maybe only people who have been in the field over 40 years should be able to file patents -- at least they might recognize crap like this and be too embarrassed to actually apply for a patent like this.

    Perhaps we need to enable 'reverse patent trolls'. If someone patents something and the patent is later invalidated, the person (company) who made the application must pay the challenger's legal expenses. In addition, the entity filing for the application must pay the challenger, with interest, all revenue derived from the patent (both licensing fees paid to them and the added value derived from the patent in their own products - such as 'one-click' during the life of the patent). In addition, the entity applying for the patent would have to pay back (with interest) all licensing fees they were paid back to the people who paid them (yes, this is double!).

    People might think a little more about filing bogus patents with a system like this.
  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @07:15PM (#32705820)

    Way back around 1972, I worked on a CDC time-share system. They charged 4 cents per CPU second, 1 cent per PRU (640 characters) transferred to/from disk, and 0.2 cents per kiloword-second of memory used.

    Except after 5PM, when the rates went down 50%.

    Luckily I worked for the computer center, so the long assembly times ( 5 minutes ) were charged against a funny-money account. Still it was humbling that one missing comma and I'd wasted about 20 minutes of real time and $12, when $12 was real money.

    • And indeed when I was at university back in the late '70s the time-sharing system (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_%28computer%29) had a model of charging users (in "credits" rather than actual money) at a variable rate depending not only on the time of day but on a complex model that took into account historic usage patterns on different days of the week and times of the year.

      If you wanted to do most of your CS project work during the day you had to do all your dataprep offline by punching it onto car

  • by xianthax (963773) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @07:16PM (#32705822)

    Did anyone actually read the patent?

    The summary author is an idiot and clearly doesn't understand the patent or simply didn't read it.

    They didn't patent measuring and charging for computer resources.

    They patented predicting resource utilization at a particular point in the future and varying charging at that time.

    They basically patented the ability to charge users hosting services with them based on response time and performance, they implemented this capability by predicting loads at a point in the future.

    Sounds like they don't want to charge by the RAM/disk usage/CPU time etc anymore but would rather charge based on guaranteed performance.

    Also this isn't a software patent at all. They effectively patented a business model.

    If you want to argue the merits of that, fine, lets at least stick to the real issue.

    • by symbolic (11752)

      So in other words, do what airlines do, but with computers. NOVEL! NOT! I'm not too irked, because I still have yet to buy a single thing from Amazon. Oh yes, I've been tempted a few times, but knowing that I've not provided any support for this kind of nonsense is much more fulfilling.

  • From the patent: 'Utilization of a storage resource may be measured in terms of a quantity of data stored (e.g., bytes, megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB), etc.) per unit of time (e.g., second, day, month, etc.). Similarly, communication bandwidth utilization may be measured in terms of a quantity of data transmitted per unit of time (e.g., megabits per second). Processing resource utilization may be measured as an aggregate number of units of processing effort (e.g., central processing unit (CPU) cycles, transactions, etc.) utilized, or as a rate of processing effort utilization per unit of time (e.g., CPU cycles or transactions per second).' Sound familiar, Greyglers?

    It should, since it's part of a description about the art generally. I mean, if you're going to quote mine in a biased effort to show that the patent is invalid, why not go for this:

    For example, in some embodiments computing resource 100 may include tangible resources such as computer systems (e.g., standalone or rack-mounted systems), storage devices (e.g., magnetic/optical disk storage, tape storage, etc.), wired or wireless network communication devices (e.g., Local Area Network (LAN)/Wide Area Network (WAN) devices and/or media), input/output devices, or other types of computing devices.

    Oh, no, they just patented every computer system, storage device, and network!

    I mean, heck... if you're spreading FUD, why not go all the way?

  • Hearing the stories of how well that worked in businesses and universities 30 years ago....good luck and have fun with that!

  • by theodp (442580) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @08:19PM (#32706106)

    A Futures Market in Computer Time [ucsb.edu], Communications of the ACM, June 1968: "An auction method is described for allocating computer time that allows the price of computer time to fluctuate with the demand...if the computer ever is idle, its price automatically becomes attractively low."

  • Bilski (Score:3, Informative)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @08:21PM (#32706116)

    I think this coming Monday is the last day of the current SCOTUS session, and is expected to be the day that they give a ruling on the Bilski case. If we wish with all our might, we may hear on Monday that software and algorithms are not considered patentable material.

  • I think the current patent situation is a kin to a patent land grab. It is little about valid patents, but the fact they are constrained to the US(Thru the USPTO).

    It is cleary state sponsored.

    Said it before, and I'll say it again: Patents will be the new oil resource, and wars will be fought over them in the future.
    • by PPH (736903)

      I think the current patent situation is a kin to a patent land grab.

      And all of us poor slobs who have just been using the technology for years are like the American Indians.

  • This article has inspired me to patent "a method where an employer removes an employee from payroll, and relieves said employee of all duties". I have no doubt it will be granted, at which point I will either have guaranteed job security, or a guaranteed early retirement.

    I already have the patent on "reading something and then patenting it before the other guy does", so don't even think about stealing my idea.
  • It seems to me that there is a sort of - dare one say conspiracy? No, lets call it a collusion - it seems to me that there has been certain elements in the SW industry that have silently propagated the idea that "innovation" is really the same as "invention", which is actually nonsense, as far as I can see.

    Invention, that's when somebody takes a carbon fibre, sends a current through it and gets the idea for the light-bulb. Innovation, by comparison, is when somebody takes the same light-bulb, paints it pink

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