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Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google Chase 'Got Milk?' Patents 250

Posted by timothy
from the object-lesson dept.
theodp writes "Among the new iOS 5 features is Reminders, which Apple explains this way: 'Say you need to remember to pick up milk during your next grocery trip. Since Reminders can be location based, you'll get an alert as soon as you pull into the supermarket parking lot.' But does Reminders infringe on a newly-granted patent to Amazon for Location Aware Reminders, which covers the use of location based reminders to remind a user 'to purchase certain items such as, for example, as milk, bread, and eggs'? Or could Reminders run afoul of Google's new patent for Geocoding Personal Information, which covers triggering a voice reminder or making a computing device vibrate when a user approaches a location if 'one of the user's events is a task to pick up milk and bread'? Not to be left out of the 'Got Milk?' patent race, Apple also has a patent pending for Computer Systems and Methods for Collecting, Associating, and/or Retrieving Data, which covers providing a reminder to a user whose 'to do' list includes 'get milk' when the user's location matches 'a store that sells the item "milk."' (Continues, below.)
theodp continues: "That should not be confused with Microsoft's pending patent for Geographic Reminders, which allows users to specify reminders such as 'pick up milk if I am within a ten minutes drive of any grocery store.' That all four tech giants chose to pursue remember-the-milk patents — and the USPTO is considering and granting them — is all the more remarkable considering that Microsoft suggested location-based reminders were obvious in a 2005 patent filing, which informed the USPTO that 'a conventional reminder application may give the user relevant information at a given location, such as 'You're near a grocery store, and you need milk at home.' So much for that immediate patent quality improvement promised by the America Invents Act!"
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Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google Chase 'Got Milk?' Patents

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  • by Eightbitgnosis (1571875) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:36AM (#38116482) Homepage
    To the strongest lawyers go the spoils
    • by LordThyGod (1465887) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:58AM (#38116646)
      Yea, I was thinking it was the lunatics running the asylum, but it might be lawyers, indeed. What a sorry state of affairs that this kind of BS is not stopped at the door. "Get the fuck out and don't try that crap again".
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 20, 2011 @01:09PM (#38117154)

        This behavior is perpetrated by the corporate executives who don't want any businesses to be able to compete. The lawyers are gun, but the executives are the hand that fires it.

        • by fredmosby (545378) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @04:56PM (#38118846)
          That's the problem with asking "who can we blame?". When something bad happens usually there are many people who contributed to it happening. So people usually blame the person they dislike the most. In this example you dislike unscrupulous corporate executives more than you dislike unscrupulous lawyers, so you blame the executives. The person you responded to blamed the lawyers. They're both responsible.

          A more useful question would be "how can we prevent this in the future?". There is no shortage of unscrupulous lawyers and corporate executives. As long as the patent system exists in it's current form someone will abuse it. The only way to prevent abuses like this is to change the patent laws.
          • by tnk1 (899206)

            The problem is that we expect people who are paid to create profits and shareholder value to not use the laws to the maximum allowed extent to achieve those goals. The problem is with the laws and who is making them. Yes, to a certain extent, it would help if we could simply get all executives to agree to not be assholes voluntarily, but that's unlikely to happen.

            At this point, I think the concepts that we are using when we create and enforce patents need a serious update to deal with both the innovation

    • by durrr (1316311)
      With some proper user-friendly dev tools it should be trivial to bypass patents such as this. "If location == supermarket then run milkreminder" shouldn't require much of a brain for the end suer to figure out, or read from a guide.

      But of course, development tools and computer programming that is usable by ordinary mortals is apparently in the same folder as food for the poor, equal wages and general fair conduct that no one with influence is willing to do.
      • by SQLGuru (980662) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:59PM (#38117078) Journal

        I offer up Tasker as potential prior-art. It does a lot more than remind based on geo-location, but that is one potential application of the tool.

        http://tasker.dinglisch.net/ [dinglisch.net]

      • for the end suer to figure out, .

        Such an appropriate typo, I love it.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        Most people don't know how to use most of the features of their phone, their computer and probably their car's radio. That was one of the reasons Microsoft developed the much hated ribbon. Apple has understood this for a while and so designs stuff to "just work", or more accurately "do it for you". That seems fairly reasonable to me, it saves having to set up a location for that task if the phone just knows that milk is bought in shops so it should remind you when you get to one.

        I am a programmer but my mem

    • by icebike (68054) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:56PM (#38117056)

      Actually I was thinking the opposite might happen.

      The court might just line them up and bitch slap the whole lot of them.

      If a whole bunch of people come up with the same invention at roughly the same time it becomes the perfect definition of TRIVIAL AND OBVIOUS.

      Once you have bricks generally available in the market place, you can't patent the brick outhouse.

      • by cdrudge (68377)

        If a whole bunch of people come up with the same invention at roughly the same time it becomes the perfect definition of TRIVIAL AND OBVIOUS.

        I guess the invention of the telephone probably should have fallen in the same boat then, with Bell submitting his application just a few hours ahead of Elisha Gray.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        Once you have bricks generally available in the market place, you can't patent the brick outhouse.

        True, but you probably can prevent other people from selling their own brick outhouses while you drag them though the courts, during which time you have the market to yourself. It works best in the tech world where a delay of a year can be worth billions and the few million on legal fees are easy to justify.

        • by mikael (484)

          Some guy patented the truncated tetrahedron as a way of creating lockable paved driveways. The shape will prevent the bricks from moving out of place.

          Though there is prior art in the form of Inca/Aztec hill cities, who built walls using stones with trapezoidal edges. Same principle, but used to stop earthquakes from demolishing structures.

  • Ugh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Living Fractal (162153) <banantarr.hotmail@com> on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:38AM (#38116502) Homepage
    This is where out US patent group, judicial branch, executive branch, I don't know who exactly, needs to step in and say "YOU DID NOT INVENT REMINDING PEOPLE TO DO STUFF!" and prevent these companies from spending (wasting) money and time on winning the patent to do it. Their struggle to win that patent is not value adding for the country in any way whatsoever, but they'll do it anyway for their own gain. It's wasted money that could better go into R&D, for example.
    So tell them now, level the field... and prevent all that wasted effort.
    • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JoeMerchant (803320) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:48AM (#38116568)

      ...I don't know who exactly, needs to step in and say "YOU DID NOT INVENT REMINDING PEOPLE TO DO STUFF!" and prevent these companies from spending (wasting) money and time on winning the patent... prevent all that wasted effort.

      Yes, but whoever it is that might step in and stop the madness, remember, they likely are lawyers themselves, or sons of lawyers, or otherwise deeply connected to the legal profession. Effort is not wasted when it leads to remuneration of yourself, your family, or your colleagues.

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        I imagine the number of federal politicians (President, Vice President, Representatives, and Senators) that have not been a lawyer (or involved in law) at some point is very, very small. The only one that comes to mind is Ron Paul, who is a medical doctor. (Incidentally, the only reason I remember this is because of all the reading I've done on him over the years and I was surprised to find that he's a doctor and not a lawyer.)

        Supreme Court justices obviously don't count as they were all lawyers at some poi

    • "I don't know who exactly, needs to step in and say "YOU DID NOT INVENT REMINDING PEOPLE TO DO STUFF!" " The USPTO (They are in charge of patents). But oh no, if you go to enough "schooling" you can get a license to be a professional lier (did I mean lawyer?). They like to talk of "professional ethics" - but they will use a mouse while writing a patent for a mouse - and the patent examiner will use a mouse while granting the patent. Then the little guy trying to sell a computer with a mouse can pay $5
    • by honkycat (249849)

      This, and I think a patent like this misses the point. This is a patent on doing something, not on a method for doing something. A morally defensible patent needs to define a particular, specific method for accomplishing a goal. Furthermore, that method itself needs to be non-obvious to an expert who has been asked to achieve that goal.

    • by kermidge (2221646)

      "...I don't know who exactly..."

      The 'who', ultimately, is we.

      Enough already with the pinhead greed-borne stupid motherfucking patent ideas. It's beyond insane. Just recent stories concerning rounded corners, swiping or flicking one's finger on a surface, ingesting water not helping to prevent dehydration, performance royalties for campfire songs or Happy Birthday, patenting the Web, are enough to destroy the equanimity of a rock. Enough.

      "It's wasted money that could better go into R&D, for example."

      E

  • by mikael_j (106439) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:40AM (#38116518)

    How exactly does one get a patent on location-based reminders? I know I'm not the only one who has considered that idea and the actual implementation should be fairly straightforward (when you consider that APIs and hardware required for it all exist, hell even if you go the "IN THE CLOUD" route it would be relatively easy to figure out (Track position constantly, periodic "pings" to "The Cloud" that pass along your approximate coordinates, in return you get a JSON/XML reply with any nearby reminder positions which are cached locally, if/when you are close enough to a reminder position your device reminds you, new reminders are automagically submitted to the same "Cloud server", for local storage you just skip "The Cloud" and store everything locally)).

    • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:49AM (#38116580)

      How exactly does one get a patent on location-based reminders? I know I'm not the only one who has considered that idea and the actual implementation should be fairly straightforward (when you consider that APIs and hardware required for it all exist, hell even if you go the "IN THE CLOUD" route it would be relatively easy to figure out (Track position constantly, periodic "pings" to "The Cloud" that pass along your approximate coordinates, in return you get a JSON/XML reply with any nearby reminder positions which are cached locally, if/when you are close enough to a reminder position your device reminds you, new reminders are automagically submitted to the same "Cloud server", for local storage you just skip "The Cloud" and store everything locally)).

      The whole concept of "obvious to a person skilled in the art" has been ground into the dirt for 20+ years now.

      • by Raenex (947668) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:33PM (#38116876)

        The whole concept of "obvious to a person skilled in the art" has been ground into the dirt for 20+ years now.

        Yup. Before it was patenting X, "on the Internet". Now it's patenting X, "on the mobile".

      • The worst part is that this patent is for something that is obvious even to someone not skilled in the art. The point of that clause is that for something to be unpatentable is that even if it is not obvious to the average person, it is obvious to "a person skilled in the art". This is a patent on something that is obvious to just about anyone.
    • by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @03:40PM (#38118176) Journal

      One of the things that has me curious...

      I have a Garmin Edge bike computer, which I got back in 2006. I can create courses on this and have it notify me of important things along the route (eg, "slow down", "right turn"). This seems like it's the same concept. Even though it has nothing to do with milk, could this be shown as prior art?

      Heck, I would think any Navigation application could be shown as prior art, as it reminds you to turn right or left.

  • by Pete Venkman (1659965) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:41AM (#38116524) Journal
    We are already all criminals anyway in one way or another. Why not just ignore these patents and keep living life? We're the peasants in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
    • by GrumpySteen (1250194) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:40PM (#38116928)

      You shouldn't ignore the stupidity of the patent system any more than we should ignore a burglar who only targets the opposite of your gender. Sure, you may not be directly effected directly, but it affects society.

      Patent trolls stifle innovation, make the development of new products more expensive and have a negative effect on us all, even if it's only an indirect effect.

      • I can still innovate all I want. The US's obsession with IP shows me that the US doesn't want new products to be manufactured or sold here. There are plenty of people that aren't Americans, and they like jobs and products just as much as we do.
        • Sure, you can innovate all you want. But if you try to make a living by selling those innovations and run into someone who bought a stupidly obvious patent that should never have been granted, prepare to be bankrupted by the legal system that you suggested we simply ignore since we're all criminals anyway.

          And don't think that being in another country will protect you. Every developed country on the planet has a patent system. It won't necessarily be an American who rips you a new one.

          And saying that "the

  • Grab the Patent Lawyers and get them to Battle Royale fight to the death over the patent.

    It'll be almost as much as fair and the world could use a few less of them.

  • Good God... (Score:5, Informative)

    by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:42AM (#38116532)

    So now a location-based reminder is a fucking patentable thing? What's next, a patent on something that remembers phone numbers for you?

    This shit has got to stop...

    • Ja I was thinking like, doesn't having a passenger in the car who sees the store and reminds you we're out of milk at home fall under prior art? *facepalm* What'll they patent next, a sign for a urinal that reminds you to kind of lean into the urinal to save on splatter?
    • . I'm going to take out a patent on Claim 1. Executing logic and probability calculations in a computing machine,
      Claim 2. Representing objects or aspects of reality, and in particular physical objects in spatiotemporal situation-types using binary numeric symbols. and
      Claim 3. Applying the logic and probability calculations of claim 1. to the symbolic representations o claim 2 in order to have the computing machine discover significant associations between physical objects of different types in different ste

    • by GIL_Dude (850471)

      So now a location-based reminder is a fucking patentable thing? What's next, a patent on something that remembers phone numbers for you?

      I think next, they will figure out that simply reminding you to buy milk when you are near a store isn't very smart. You buy the milk, then it sits in your car while you go to work. When you get back out of work, you see the milk is spoiled. Next, the patent will be for "location based reminders that remind you to buy milk when you are on your way home and you are near a store that is within 30 minutes of your house ". I work 38 miles from home - which in the morning is a 40 minute drive and on the way h

  • by Max_W (812974) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:42AM (#38116534)
    Should such obvious, humanly logical things be patented at all? What if someone patents, say, "To submit form press OK." The whole civilization may stop.
  • I'd like to say I hope that we get some kind of patent reform which fixes all of this, but to be honest I don't understand it well enough to state with any confidence what needs to happen. IANAPL. Can someone who is shed some light on what would need to happen for this quagmire to end?

    • by Haedrian (1676506)

      The large companies have to stop making money using this magical method.

      Then they'll call the lobbyists off and the government can finally obey like the good puppets they are.

      So unless there's a nuclear war, society collapses, or zombies rise up - probably never.

      • by Artifakt (700173)

        For the publicly traded companies to stop doing this, it has to stop helping boost stock shares. That means stockholders have to learn that a company doesn't become more attractive just because it patented something, but only if that patent will actually make the company a profit.

        These are the same stockholders who will sell a very profitable company short because some metric says to always sell whenever employment costs in that industry have risen to over 18% or so of total operating costs, then invest in

        • by Haedrian (1676506)

          The problem is that it does. Look at what happened to Sun. It had some very nice patents. So obviously people wanted it - for the patents of course. That made it attractive, because you could use that sort of stuff to bully other companies into giving you a cut over the mobile technologies.

    • Re:Patent Reform (Score:4, Insightful)

      by JoeMerchant (803320) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:05PM (#38116690)

      Can someone who is shed some light on what would need to happen for this quagmire to end?

      A gradually increasing restriction on granting new silly, obvious patents. A gradual raising of the bar in what it takes to defend a patent successfully.

      The real problem is: any shock to the status quo will make the people with money nervous, they'll feel uncertain about the future and less confident in predicting how they are going to turn their giant pile of cash into a more giant pile of cash, and in the face of that uncertainty, they'll just sit on their piles and watch them shrink slowly instead of putting the money at risk (in use).

      Patents are a big part of that security blanket for investors, it makes them feel warm and fuzzy knowing how they can strike back at other kids who might try to steal their lunch money, it's kind of like that line "God created man, but Mr. Smith & Wesson made all men equal." A smaller version of nuclear detente'. If you have access to a sufficient nuclear arsenal of patents, you can go up against much larger companies and hold your own with a threat of mutual annihilation.

      I put part of the blame on the .com bubble - investors were feeling all warm and fuzzy then, and the patent office was helping them feel that way by granting them patents on whatever they wanted. Change the rules quickly, and you'll have negative economic consequences.

  • I don't need a reminder on what to get, I need a reminder on what I forgot to get. Let's say I'm baking bread and I put down that I need flour. However, I forgot that used up my yeast when I last baked two weeks ago and I forgot to put that down on my list. The "you forgot to get" feature would look at my past purchasing history and tell me, hey you might want to check if you have enough yeast since you last purchased yeast 6 months ago. Maybe even it could see if a phone is currently located in the

    • What you forgot to get= what you should get (as in these patents)-what you have got (trivial information)
    • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:09PM (#38116710)

      The more interesting data mining is currently implemented as trade secrets. Apparently, the credit card companies can predict [thedailybeast.com], with 99% accuracy, if you are going to get a divorce within the next two years.

      They could do useful little tricks like reminding you about the yeast at the checkout counter, but that would be creepy to most people and not as profitable for the company with the data.

      • by russotto (537200)

        The more interesting data mining is currently implemented as trade secrets. Apparently, the credit card companies can predict, with 99% accuracy, if you are going to get a divorce within the next two years.

        Note that Visa flat-out denied it. Which is unusual; usually there's a mealy-mouthed denial or a refusal to admit or deny it.

        Also, the banks don't usually know what you bought, only where you bought it. This makes such precision a little harder. That's why there's 'loyalty cards'.

        • The denial I read said "Visa does not track marital status" blah blah blah, o.k. Visa may not, but the credit reporting bureaus used by the banks which issue Visa cards sure as hell do. And, I get a statement at the end of the year that breaks down my purchases into food, fuel, entertainment, etc. I find it hard to believe that nobody is tracking any of that data at a higher level of granularity than they are reporting it back to me... maybe not, maybe I'm just paranoid, but I know that 25 years ago, mana

    • by oakgrove (845019)
      Sadly, you need to patent that shit, man or we'll be hearing about it in a years time.
    • by Fnord666 (889225)

      I don't need a reminder on what to get, I need a reminder on what I forgot to get. Let's say I'm baking bread and I put down that I need flour. However, I forgot that used up my yeast when I last baked two weeks ago and I forgot to put that down on my list. The "you forgot to get" feature would look at my past purchasing history and tell me, hey you might want to check if you have enough yeast since you last purchased yeast 6 months ago. Maybe even it could see if a phone is currently located in the house where you live, is one of your families phones and send a text message asking them to check and see if there is any yeast in the cupboard.

      With regard to your use case, if you used a recipe and it was in an application on your device, you could track the usage and know exactly how much you had left. Exapanding that a bit, use the bar code, scanned by the camera on the device, to record which brand you use. Cross reference that with a coupon management application to determine who has the best price today and add it to a shopping list, tagged with the geolocation of the store. The coupons are scanned and tagged to determine if they are store

  • Someone in a position of authority in Government has got to wake up and say STOP! This shit has gone so far beyond ridiculous, I doubt that there is a word or phrase to describe it other than FUBAR. (Change the meaning of "R" from recognition to recovery)
  • by Daneurysm (732825) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:50AM (#38116584)
    this sure seems to reek of obvious. The fact that multiple companies are racing to patent essentially the same thing--which is just seemingly logical extension of an existing idea (reminders)--seems to underscore that.
  • possible fix (Score:5, Interesting)

    by khipu (2511498) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:53AM (#38116604)

    Right now, you can patent anything, and if you can get it past the USPTO, you're a winner: you can collect royalties as long as you keep your demands below what it would cost to strike down your patent. There is almost no risk or downside (at worst, you lose what you paid for getting the patent, maybe $10k).

    Since lawyers are ultimately driving this, maybe we can fix it by giving lawyers an incentive: create laws that allow companies to be sued for damages if they obtain patents if they should reasonably have known about prior art. This might restore some balance to the patent system, and companies would think twice about filing bad patents if they incur potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in liability.

  • Since they are all so similar, wouldnt it make sense to deny ALL of them?
    • by green1 (322787)

      It's more likely that they will approve ALL of them with the theory of "let the courts sort it out." The end result of which is that the big companies continue as business as usual, but any smaller company that tries to implement a similar thing will find themselves quickly on the wrong end of a patent infringement suit from one of the big players. Of course that's par for the course right now, the primary purpose of patents shifted from protecting innovation to stifling it years ago.

      Of course your version

  • by drolli (522659) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:54AM (#38116620) Journal

    Excuse me. The idea to combine geographic positions with specific messages to the user is *not new*.

  • by jhd (7165) <xyllyx@gmail.com> on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:57AM (#38116642)

    ... it makes my (remaining) hair hurt just thinking about how stupid this "patent race" is becoming.

    -- john

  • by webdog314 (960286) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:58AM (#38116652)

    And the only reason that this hasn't been patented in the past is that nobody honestly believed that the USPTO could be so freaking stupid. Boy did we underestimate THAT...

  • Prior art (Score:4, Funny)

    by JustOK (667959) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:01PM (#38116672) Journal

    Some billboards are art. Pretty sure they're location based too.

  • by Grave (8234) <[moc.liamtoh] [ta] [88treblawa]> on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:10PM (#38116720)

    Any time an exceedingly obvious patent is filed by a company, it should be immediately placed in the public domain, and the company that filed it should be forced to pay royalties to the government. Not only would this reduce the amount of stupid patent filings and court battles, it would get our national debt paid off within a year or two.

    • I somewhat agree that the patent office should be in the business of declaring what is public domain just as much as what is protected.
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:18PM (#38116766) Homepage Journal
    Are going to run into trouble, since the guys at MIT were doing the same thing in the 90s. http://alumni.media.mit.edu/~rhodes/Papers/wearhive.html [mit.edu], for example. I ran across a paper in the mid 90's about leaving messages for other users in specific locations. They also published some articles about some very neat camera things things they were doing, such as recognizing someone's face via a camera the wearable user was wearing, and looking up up relevant information on that user (I think out of BBDB.)

    So if you're looking for prior art to go patent busting on these big companies, a good place to start would be in the wearable computer projects in the 90's. A lot of these guys published in the journal of the ACM, too. Apple, Google and Amazon think their balls are all shiny and they're doing something new, but they're not.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      > Apple, Google and Amazon think their balls are all shiny and they're doing something new, but they're not.

        You know, they probably don't even think they're doing something new. They're counting on us believing them when they tell us they're doing something new.

    • Are not going to run into trouble, since the patent system is out of control.

      FTFY

  • I'm turning GPS off right now!

  • Microsoft, Google, Apple and Amazon will likely eventually just cross license each other and keep the wannabes out, at least for the U.S. market (don't know about foreign patents issued).

    I see a lot of bitching with respect to patents, but without patents we would not have seen the 19th & 20th century rise of the U.S. in mechanical and electrical and electronic invention.

    A society where everything is kept a Trade Secret means that few people are willing to disclose or trade information. Patents only gi

    • You assume there is a trade secret which is worthy to be disclosed.

      This is not the case when there are 100.000s of equally able engineers and software developers.

      Also this is not the case when the patent is generalized so much in order to earn more money that it is hard to detect any implementation apart from the idea.

    • by green1 (322787) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:51PM (#38117020)

      Except that many patents these days are so broad as to not include any way of implementing what they describe (which means they are no better than a trade secret) AND the "limited time" isn't even applicable anymore when you realize just how long that time frame is and how fast the technology is progressing.

      I'm not an expert on patents in the 19th and early 20th centuries to know for certain if they did in fact encourage invention at that time or not (I suspect it was really a bit of a mixed bag). But I am quite certain that by the end of the 20th century and in the early 21st century they do no such thing, and in fact actively stifle innovation to large degree. At this point there is no way to invent ANYTHING without running afoul of one patent or another. Even something new and novel that nobody has ever even dreamed of is likely to run afoul of one patent or another on the shape of it's case, the method of powering it, or the user interface to run it (among other ridiculous things).

      Patents today are badly broken. They protect mega-corps at the expense of small time inventors. they protect exactly the people who need it least against those who would require it the most. It's time they were abolished, or at the very least, subjected to a MAJOR overhaul.

    • by russotto (537200)

      I see a lot of bitching with respect to patents, but without patents we would not have seen the 19th & 20th century rise of the U.S. in mechanical and electrical and electronic invention.

      Maybe it would have been the 18th and 19th century rise instead. Sewing machines, steam engines, and digital computers -- three important inventions delayed in development for years over patent wars.

  • by dimeglio (456244) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:35PM (#38116894)

    I thought patents were based on the method and not the product/service in and of itself. Everyone could implement their method slightly differently (that's the trick part) and be scot-free.

  • Assuming it will point out the closest gun store on the way to the patent attorney's office.

  • How do you patent what basically is a fucking grocery store shopping list that has been used for ever?

    How do you patent what every family has been doing for years? Which is simply calling to remind their child, their wife, their husband... to pick up some eggs and milk.

    This fucking world needs to hurl itself into the sun.

  • Takes effect on the Ides of March, 2012. For new filings after date. Those new filings will start to come out of the Patent Office mill around 2017. Most professionals in the patent field (including me) don't think the new law will change patent practice much.

    Like many others in my field, I prefer to call it by its original name, the "Smith-Leahy Act," since it, disappointingly, doesn't provide meaningful improvement in "inventing."

  • Um, I think Roast Beef and Ray Smuckles have prior art on this.

    http://achewood.com/index.php?date=05082002 [achewood.com]
    http://achewood.com/eggsmilk.php [achewood.com]

  • If the nation's first patent officer, Thomas Jefferson, knew what his beloved system has been turned into, he'd have abandoned the idea entirely, I believe.

    He even turned himself down for patents and he was the guy who approved patents!

    He also believed that the more important any technical or scientific advance was for society, the shorter the patent should last. If we had followed his original intent, everything in the iPhone would already be public domain.

  • I take BART into work and sometimes got a ride home, and sometimes I'd forget to pick up my car. So , I realised that location based alarms were a technically feasable feature using GPS units or the newer cellphones that were location aware - so you'd be able to setup reminders to pick up your car when the bay bridge was crossed, or pick up milk when you entered a supermarket.

    Back then there was no iPhone and getting the location info on most phones was just too much trouble so I abandoned the idea after a

  • Has it occurred to anyone that not making yourself have the mental discipline to remember what errands you have to do on a given day might just be eroding our mental faculties much sooner than otherwise? Seriously: The human brain is like any other part of your body, and even more so in some ways: If you never have to think for yourself, your ability to do so diminishes. If you've got an "app" for everything on your phone, what are you going to do when you don't happen to have your phone with you, or it's n
  • It's understandable that all those product-designer types also want to have some kind of IP protection, but can't they just go and play in some different playground?

  • Honestly, this shit is ruining the industry

  • Maybe it's different for you guys, but generally we know when we need to go to the grocery store. We use this innovative tool - we like to call it a "grocery list" - to which we add an item when we run out of it. Then, when we go to the grocery store, we take said "grocery list" with us and purchase the items contained therein. Note that we expressly do not limit ourselves to purchasing only the items on the list.

    If we haven't gone to the grocery store recently, it's almost certainly due to our schedules ra

  • .. they are called mothers, wives, and girlfriends...

    "Got milk" is just shortened from "Honey, did you remember to pick up some milk"...

  • Implementation. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Holi (250190) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @06:18PM (#38119366)

    I see no problem with three companies having patents for location aware reminders, remember patents are supposed to protect an implementation. To use a car analogy, how many patents are their for carburetors.

    The problem stems from overly broad patents. It breaks down to "I have a patent for location aware reminders now no one else can do it." is bad, while "I have a patent for doing location aware reminders in this way." is good;.

It's time to boot, do your boot ROMs know where your disk controllers are?

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