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Electronic Frontier Foundation Patents Your Rights Online

EFF Launching 'Patent Fail' Campaign 72

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-patent-for-you dept.
netbuzz writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has long been at the forefront of fighting software patent abuse with its Patent Busting Project, is launching a new initiative called 'Patent Fail: In Defense of Innovation.' EFF staff attorney Julie Samuels tells Network World: 'The project has three components: educating individuals about the problems with the current patent system, providing individuals with resources to deal with patent issues, and then exploring what the system should be in the long-term.'"
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EFF Launching 'Patent Fail' Campaign

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's a fine initiative.
    Of course, it will be completely ignored by anyone that matters, but very fine nonetheless...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ackthpt (218170)

      It's a fine initiative.
      Of course, it will be completely ignored by anyone that matters, but very fine nonetheless...

      Of course .. dear old Microsoft and dear old Google were collecting software patents "defensively" and now we see what a mess even that turns into, in the right hands and with the right motivation.

      • Re:A fine initiative (Score:5, Informative)

        by qzjul (944600) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @09:05PM (#39054769) Homepage
        Unfortunately, with Apple practising predatory patent behaviour, it seems as though they were justified...
        • by ackthpt (218170)

          Unfortunately, with Apple practising predatory patent behaviour, it seems as though they were justified...

          Not to forget the usual Patent Trolls.

          • they didn't forget the patent trolls, they mentioned apple in the above post.
            now seriously apple google and microsoft are either going to sue each other into oblivion and we all will lose because they will also be suing other infringers to pay for their war on each other.
            or they will cross licence and everyone else will lose because they will go after every other infringer patents need to be shortened and there needs to be real patent reform. and don't get started on copyright. but we all already know this

      • I don't see what you are referring to, Google hasn't used it's patents for anything except defensive reasons.
    • by similar_name (1164087) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @07:25PM (#39053641)
      I think after they patent Fail they shouldn't license it to anyone.
    • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @08:49PM (#39054617) Homepage Journal

      Of course, it will be completely ignored by anyone that matters, but very fine nonetheless...

      If all the EFF did was raise awareness, they're worth every penny they get.

      By the way, if you like the Internet, and would like to see it not become cable television, you really need to drop $10 or a double-sawbuck on them. They use every nickel they get to do good work, and I promise it will make you feel really good. Make a sandwich at home instead of going to Carl Jr a few times and it will more than cover it. And your digestive tract will thank you.

      • Re:A fine initiative (Score:4, Informative)

        by speedplane (552872) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @12:27AM (#39056301) Homepage
        And donating $99 gets you a really cool hat!
      • By the way, if you like the Internet, and would like to see it not become cable television, you really need to drop $10 or a double-sawbuck on them. They use every nickel they get to do good work, and I promise it will make you feel really good.

        Optionally, wait for the next Humble Bundle (should only be a couple months at most, at the rate they're going), and get some games out of the deal. Instead of the tax deduction, that is. They always get a solid chunk of my purchases.

        • by ewanm89 (1052822)
          The next thing coming through humble bundle is a weekend special starting tomorrow and running through the weekend in partnership with Mojang, I believe they are going to make and release a game all in the weekend.
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @07:00PM (#39053411) Journal

    I'm advocating a biological weapon that targets IP attorneys.

    • by jhoegl (638955)
      I'd tell you that may be a human rights violation, but then we would get more lawyer jokes.
      • by ackthpt (218170)

        I'd tell you that may be a human rights violation, but then we would get more lawyer jokes.

        How about Inhuman Rights and Zombie jokes?

        BTW, see the short film A Morning Stroll, it's great.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      I'm advocating a biological weapon that targets IP attorneys.

      Sorry, they'll have a patent for it and sue you into oblivion before you get to use it.

    • by meerling (1487879)
      Wouldn't that be pissed off victims, err, targets, err, defendants of IP Lawyers?
    • by bky1701 (979071)
      There is no disease cruel enough to make that a reasonable motive. Best let them remain IP lawyers. It is the worst fate I can think of.
    • by psxndc (105904)

      Hi, I'm an IP attorney. Thanks for wishing biological warfare - boils, seizure, death - on me because you don't agree with my profession.

      And you say we are jerks.

      • Don't blame me because you're filthy repugnant occupation has right-minded people wishing every last one of you was dead.

        • by psxndc (105904)

          Anyone that wishes physical harm on someone because they dislike their profession is not "right minded."

          And lest you think I can't take a joke, I can, it's just not funny.

  • It's against the word "fail" and anyone who uses it.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Oh and I suppose you're also against replacing "what do I do" with "wat do".

      Language evolves gramps, and sometimes the new way is just more succinct and expressive than the old phrases it replaces.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Actually they don't. There's been very little change in the English language in modern times. Slang comes and goes and has little in the way of permanence.

        Then again you are 16 and don't know much, so it's understandable you'd have this misconception.

    • It's for the word "lawn" and against anyone who is on it.

  • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @07:24PM (#39053625) Homepage

    I'd like to thank the countries which have hamstrung themselves by allowing software patents, for the mass publication of ideas which would otherwise be trade secrets.

    • Re:Free stuff (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @07:33PM (#39053729)

      I'd like to thank the countries which have hamstrung themselves by allowing software patents, for the mass publication of ideas which would otherwise be trade secrets.

      Argument 1: we need software patents, because otherwise the day after we publish our program, someone else will already have reverse engineered our super duper mega technique and use it in their own programs

      Argument 2: you need software patents, because otherwise we will keep our super duper mega technique as a trade secret and nobody will ever be able to figure out how it works

      Homework: find the cognitive dissonance.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tablizer (95088)

      If you want to sift through tons of useless verbose crap to find the rare nugget.

  • by ravenscar (1662985) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @07:28PM (#39053661)

    I work in the 'innovation' space and wish this would come up at the classes, conventions, etc. So many in innovation rush out to patent every idea they have in hope of making a fortune on IP - without any 'real' work. If these people understood just how this activity stifles their own endeavors it would go at least some way toward turning things around.

    With that said, another problem in the patent space is that it appears to offer a 'silver bullet' to companies looking to get a leg up on their competition. I've worked with a number of small software oriented start-ups and some think (probably rightly so) that superior IP rights are much more effective at overcoming the competition than a superior product. I'm not sure what to do in this space or in the space where mega-corps use patents very effectively to erect a barrier to entry.

    I frequently hear ideas about using patents in ways that I feel do nothing but stifle innovation. I launch off on my little patent diatribe and many people note that they've never really thought of it that way. Given that so many people look at patents simply as a war-chest item, it would seem that education is a good start in getting them to see the harms in that attitude.

    • by Dr Max (1696200)
      What we need to do is separate patents from ideas. Patents are a good thing, they are the reason big companies spent millions of dollars on R&D pushing the bounds of science. Where the system gets abused however is the use of other peoples inventions. Like apple owning the patent for fuel cells in computers when they didn't invent either tech. Not saying ideas like this aren't valuable but they aren't even in the same league as inventing the actual computer. So what if we start an idea register where th
      • What we need to do is separate patents from ideas.

        Thank You! The way patents are supposed to work is by patenting the specific *implementation* of the idea, not the idea itself. For instance, see the movie "Flash of Geniues" and you'll see that they cover this concept very well. In their example, the idea was intermittent wipers. In the movie, Bob Kearns did not patent the idea of "wipers that turn on & off to prevent squeeking", but on his method of using electronics (as opposed to the current attempts using mechanics) to accomplish that feat. All the

      • Patents are a good thing, they are the reason big companies spent millions of dollars on R&D pushing the bounds of science.

        Isn't that the exact *opposite* of what patents were supposed to accomplish? Patents were intended to help the small guy make inventions that the big guys couldn't take away from them. Large corporations with money don't need a legal monopoly that distorts market forces around them.

        • by bloodhawk (813939)
          Not at all, patents are about protecting the investment of whoever puts in the effort, whether they are the small guy spending months in his basement inventing or a huge firm spending 100 million on R&D, both have very valid needs to protection. Unfortunately between scumbag lawyers, patent trolls and a patent office that allows you to patent anything regardless of how obvious or prior art both the small guy and the big guy are getting screwed by whoever submits the dumbest patent the fastest.
  • where patents and copyrights are laughable exercises in greed and have no place in civilized society. They exist to make sure people have incentives to be creative and that people don't get rich off of other people's ideas. Are either of those goals really met in our current landscape? I think not. But then I guess I'm going against the status-quo just by 'thinking' to begin with.
  • Some of these patents and "points" are to most engineers with more than 3 years of experience to be able to solve and would be obvious to them. One problem is that the law now considers this engineer an "expert" (LOL) and thus, it qualifies as a patent.

    Now, the patents that have been flying around are 15 years old or so. It's ridiculous. When was the last time you even USED a computer that was 15 years old? How many people actually use the first generation Pentium? Basically no one. Why do we keep pat

  • They say, about FOSS:

    While compelling, there are risks to this strong approach. Every piece of software released to the world without legal protections may leave open a door for someone else to attempt to patent the same technology (and may leave its creators more open to legal threats without a patent to wield defensively). Such a scenario may result in years wasted in litigation and the existence of a patent used as a sword to scare away further innovators

    The implication is that if FOSS doesn't stop paten

    • Where have you seen that claim? Code that's freely available over the net can definitely be prior art.
      • by russotto (537200)

        Where have you seen that claim? Code that's freely available over the net can definitely be prior art.

        I've seen the claim here, on slashdot, I think. From one of the resident patent defenders.

    • by Sloppy (14984)

      I've seen the claim that open-source publication of the actual implementation of a technique in source code doesn't constitute prior art for a patent

      I've seen the claim that Bigfoot is sleeping with Nessie's sister.

  • by BillX (307153) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @10:00PM (#39055251) Homepage

    ...is a Mechanical Turk / crowdsourcing engine for distributedly nuking crap patents with prior art. Occasionally, specific bad tech patents reach notoriety on /. and elsewhere and the comment threads fill up with posts from geeks who have potentially credible examples of prior art. Some 80% of those don't really understand how to read a patent (not really their fault; they don't exactly teach this in school), but overall there's a good chance the discussion turned up something that would narrow the patent in question. However, that leaves many, many other bad patents lurking below the notoriety threshold.

    How many here would sign up to a service where you could subscribe to feeds for your fields / areas of expertise (e.g. "video compression algorithms" or "input devices", etc.), see an individual top-level claim and filing date, and get paid to point out examples of prior art that you are aware of?

    Prior Art databases exist, but with some issues [nongnu.org]. EFF's Patent Busting [eff.org] project is a good start, but there are relatively few patents to bust, and no one with the incentive (other than ideological) to finance a specific action. I bet a lot of companies would be willing to pay a more than fair bounty for information that nukes a specific problematic claim in a competitor's overbroad patent.

    Wishlist features:
    * A quickstart guide for laymen / "non-lawyer professionals" on how to parse patent claim constructions, how to determine if prior work exactly matches ("prior art"), or "teaches" (alone or in combination with some other pieces) or "renders obvious" a claim, even if not an exact match. It can't make participants into patent lawyers overnight, but many do not even know the basics, and those basics would improve the quality of prior art submitted.

    * Advice/tools for determining effective priority date. There are plenty of things (provisionals, continuations, filings across various countries, etc.) that will bamboozle many casual patent-busters in deciding if a piece of art is "prior" or not.

    * Random / Rainy day browse modes. Claim-a-day sent to your mobile?

    (Before anyone thinks this would just create another tool that could be used for evil, remember that the patent office - presumably in any country - is not supposed to be granting patents for things that already exist in the first place... so correcting such a mistake is not really foul play.)

    • Something like that already exists (maybe not with all the bells and whistles). Take a look at http://www.articleonepartners.com/ [articleonepartners.com] However, in this space, hiring a few real experts in the field is often more effective than crowd-sourcing a thousand laymen.
  • They should let people submit patent numbers for them to investigate. If they turn out to be stupid patents they should work on getting them invalidated.
  • by dstates (629350) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @12:03AM (#39056185) Homepage
    Copyrights are an increasing problem. Patents expire after 20 years. OK, 20 years is a long time in technology, but they do expire. Copyright is the better part of a century and the line between concept and copy is disappearing. In many areas of science, private multinational corporations hold copyright on almost all of the literature. It is literally impossible for a physician to practice medicine or an engineer to work without copying material from copyright texts in the form of medical orders or design procedures.
  • by speedplane (552872) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @12:56AM (#39056449) Homepage
    Is Intellectual Property Good or Bad? Lots of people on this thread seem to come down pretty hard on one side or another (mostly the latter). But I think when pressed most would agree that sometimes it's good and sometimes it's bad. For a good introduction on fleshing out the good and the bad of intellectual property, I highly recommend Fisher's "Theories of Intellectual Property," available for free online here: http://www.law.harvard.edu/faculty/tfisher/iptheory.html [harvard.edu]

    It goes through the justifications for intellectual property and can help you think clearly about when it is bad. It can help you justify the feeling that most people have that a patent troll is "bad" but a lone inventor that patents his invention is "good." Even if you don't think the lone inventor should get the patent, I think the article can help you explain why.
    • by Lando (9348)

      Biggest issue I see with patents is in the cost. It's cost prohibitive for a small inventor to grab a single patent much less a portfolio with the current system; however, the cost is peanuts for those with the wealth. And attempting to enforce your patents are even a bigger joke. Basically, the way patents currently stand the haves get to keep all their toys and not share anything with the have nots. If you can't enforce your patent it is the same as not having one in the first place except that you c

  • by Logic and Reason (952833) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @04:11AM (#39057347) Homepage
    Let's step back a moment and examine the bigger picture. Lots of people support patents because they believe patents encourage innovation, and indeed that's more-or-less the Constitution's stated purpose in granting Congress the power to issue them:

    To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

    But here's the question I have never, not even once, seen a patent advocate address: where is the evidence that patents actually promote innovation (i.e., that they cause a net increase in inventions, discoveries, etc.)? Indeed, there are some compelling arguments being made against patents and other forms of intellectual property, like Boldrin and Levine's Against Intellectual Monopoly [dklevine.com], mentioned previously on Slashdot. Should we not demand that such a costly and disruptive regime as the patent system be supported by hard evidence that it actually does what it's intended to do?

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken

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