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Patents IBM

Patent System Not Broken, Argues IBM's Chief Patent Counsel 152

Posted by Soulskill
from the which-is-good-because-being-broken-is-patented dept.
New submitter TurinX writes "Unsurprisingly, IBM's Chief Patent Counsel, Manny Schecter, thinks the patent system isn't broken. He says, 'Patent disputes like [the Apple-Samsung case] are a natural characteristic of a vigorously competitive industry. And they're nothing new: Similar skirmishes have historically occurred in areas as diverse as sewing machines, winged flight, agriculture, and telegraph technology. Each marked the emergence of incredible technological advances, and each generated similar outcries about the patent system. We are actually witnessing fewer patent suits per patent issued today than the historical average.'" Regarding software patents, he argues, "If patent litigation caused by the U.S. patent system stifled innovation, U.S. software companies would not be the most successful in the world." His recommendation is that we should be patient and "let the system work." Schecter's editorial at Wired is one of a series of expert opinions on the patent system; we've already discussed Richard Stallman's contribution.
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Patent System Not Broken, Argues IBM's Chief Patent Counsel

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  • Well.... really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:07PM (#41936389)

    The title is all you need to know...

    Patent System Not Broken, Argues IBM's Chief Patent Counsel

    Of course he will say that, his job depends on there being patents to work and litigate with.

  • by Laxori666 (748529) on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:11PM (#41936443) Homepage

    "If patent litigation caused by the U.S. patent system stifled innovation, U.S. software companies would not be the most successful in the world."

    This is not an argument at all. It's possible they stifle innovation as it is now, so they would be even better off without the patent system.

    Or, another possibility: Perhaps the patent system is not stifling software companies as much as other businesses as of yet. Do you want it to become as difficult to create a new software company as it currently is to create a new company in any other industry?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:13PM (#41936475)

    Hen house "perfectly secure", proclaims fox.

  • Fluff patents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by camperdave (969942) on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:16PM (#41936521) Journal
    I'm sorry, but when you can patent swinging side to side (US6368227) or teasing your cat with a laser pointer (US5443036), and the infamous rounded corners; it just proves that the system is broken. Whether it is broken beyond repair, needs a serious overhaul, or just needs a bit of tweaking, is up in the air.
  • by Baloroth (2370816) on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:16PM (#41936523)

    Of course there are fewer suits per patent, because there are literally 5 times the number of patent applications as there were 30 years ago. That means nothing. Deceitful bastard of a lawyer... but I repeat myself.

    And of course I don't need to address the "if it wasn't a good idea, we wouldn't be succeeding", around here, do I? So damned fallacious. It's like saying being fat isn't bad for you because people now live longer than they did 100 years ago. A does not follow from B.

  • by eparker05 (1738842) on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:19PM (#41936561)

    Of course he will say that, his job depends on there being patents to work and litigate with.

    Yes, let's just ignore his decades of experience in patent law and years of studying patent history that comes with the territory because he has a vested interest. On the other hand, he makes some fairly good points. If we all but abolish the patent system for technology companies they would easily be overtaken by whomever has the largest manufacturing capacity. Ever wonder why Foxcon didn't just grab android and make an iPhone clone? Why be subject to Apple if there are no IP restrictions at all? People bemoan the quandary of the small innovator, and this is a legitimate concern, but it must also be weighed against the benefit patents (software and hardware) confer to large companies who must decide how much to spend on R&D.

    Stallman is an activist against tightly controlled intellectual property, copyright and otherwise. That isn't a something to hold against him, it's just a fact that one must consider when listening to his opinions and analysis. Please try to keep that in mind when reading analysis from the other side.

  • No way! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nedlohs (1335013) on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:22PM (#41936607)

    Next you'll be telling that accountants don't think the tax system needs simplifying.

  • Winged flight? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Carnildo (712617) on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:24PM (#41936625) Homepage Journal

    ...a natural characteristic of a vigorously competitive industry. And they're nothing new: Similar skirmishes have historically occurred in areas as diverse as...winged flight,

    You mean the skirmishes that left Europe doing all the innovating in winged flight for 20 years [wikipedia.org]? The ones that resulted in the US entering World War I with airplanes that weren't much better than the Flyer III?

  • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:24PM (#41936637) Homepage Journal

    You're strawmanning the argument. Only the people on the far extreme want patents abolished. Even Stallman doesn't want that. There are a lot of us that want the system reformed and the rules on WHAT is pattentable scaled back.

    Even if patents were totally elimnated on software the idea that all of a sudden that industries would disappear is hogwash. Software is still covered by copyright and that is how it should be. However the idea that you can patent rounded corners or little details of software programs (some of which are ideas that date back to the early days) needs to go.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:27PM (#41936655) Homepage

    You are trying to create a false dichotomy. Of course that is bogus. We could simply reform the system. A lot of it would be nothing more than rolling back recent changes. It's like what you do when your production server starts to run amok.

    You don't shoot it, you undo recent changes.

    It's recent changes that have made our patent system mock worthy. It's not the concept in general. We just need a less permissive approach. We need to stop treating the toxic waste that is a 20 year long monopoly as if it were in fact candy.

    20 year monopoly.

    Contemplate what a 20 year technology rollback means to you personally. That's basically what you're advocating for our collective future.

    A patent lawyer defending the current patent system is much like a wannabe patent troll fighting for Apple against Samsung.

  • Yes it is broken (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperCharlie (1068072) on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:28PM (#41936673)
    When patent trolls lay in wait for a successful business and then litigate them into submission, the system is broken. When companies amass patents simply for use as leverage and profit from other companies, the system is broken. When it is necessary to pay thousands of dollars to lawyers, researchers and fees thereby removing the system from the average garage inventor, the system is broken. And finally, when patents become so universal to every breath, every step, every device, and every thought we may have now or in the future, the freaking system is broken. In fact, it is hard to think of ways the system is actually not broken, come to think of it.
  • Broken (Score:4, Insightful)

    by robmv (855035) on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:31PM (#41936717)

    US patent system is broken because only big companies can afford that kind of litigation. Small companies only have the option to be bought by someone big enough before they are attacked by patent trolls or competitors that don't want a new actor in their area. But it is understandable that Big IBM want the current state because it is in favor of them, that doesn't means the system is right

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:38PM (#41936805) Journal

    This is not an argument at all.

    I agree with this wholeheartedly.
    Remember when Google went on a patent buying spree? They bought Motorola to help them support Android.
    /. covered the news that Google was buying IBM patents for Android's protection from Apple & Microsoft [slashdot.org]

    It's not because Google needed the IP, it was to create a patent army to be use in future battles with tech giants.
    That sounds awfully broken to me.

  • by dcollins117 (1267462) on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:45PM (#41936867)

    Well, it's not broken for IBM.

    In other news, The financial system is not broken for the 1%.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday November 09, 2012 @11:37PM (#41939467) Homepage Journal

    If it's not costing them money, they benefit for certain.

    It's costing them money, but no more than their competitors, and they have more money. They can ride this horse until everyone else's horses are dead.

The economy depends about as much on economists as the weather does on weather forecasters. -- Jean-Paul Kauffmann

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