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Personal Audio's James Logan Answers Your Questions 78

Posted by samzenpus
from the Listen-up dept.
A few weeks ago you had the chance to ask James Logan, the founder of Personal Audio, about the business, the patents the company holds, and the lawsuits it has filed. James answered most of the questions in great detail. Read below to see what he has to say and what question he passed on and why.
Why are you doing this interview?
by MtHuurne

I am curious why you would volunteer to step into the lion's den.

Logan: There is an active debate going on now about whether the patent system should be changed again while we are still adapting to the American Invents Act of 2011, the largest patent reform since the 1950’s. We have strong views on this and want to weigh in on the debate.

Yes, we understand the leanings of Slashdot readers but sometimes going into the “lion’s den” is the best way to get your point across. That’s probably why you see James Carville on Fox News from time to time.

There are some legal risks to us wading into the den, however. Lawyers may try to take things we say and use them against us. You know how that goes. So, we apologize in advance if some of our answers have to be circumspect.



What do you do?
by Antipater

What exactly is Personal Audio? Your website is slashdotted, so I can't find what you make or what your business model is. But you claim not to be a patent troll. You're even willing to come to a hive of kneejerking anti-patent-trolls and answer our questions to try and convince us of this. So, if you're not one, why not? What do you make? What do you sell? What do you do?

Logan: Personal Audio, LLC is a holding company. That is, we own property and our main activities relate to earning a return on that property. Now, it just so happens that our property consists of patents—not real estate, artwork, or copyrights—and that has apparently put us on the wrong side of the patent debate in the eyes of some people (see Lion’s Den above).

The term “patent troll” has emerged in recent years, and to the extent that words matter, this phrase has served as an effective piece of negative branding for those who want to reduce the rights of patent holders. But the debate should go beyond catchy name-calling. Whether we are, or aren’t patent trolls, whatever that term means, isn’t the issue. The issues are what purpose do patents serve and how do we best foster innovation? Which brings us to the next question



To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts
by nickmalthus

The intent of patent and copyright laws is "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts". Certainly back in the 18th century when the Constitution was written access to information, resources, and research specialists was limited and costly. Now in the 21st century, with global economics focused on knowledge and service sectors, these assets are extremely abundant. Would the progress of Science and the Arts be better served by eliminating legal barriers to innovation, such as patents, and letting the market decide which unencumbered producers survive? If not, why not?

Logan: Nick, thanks for this question. Yes, patent rights are laid out in the Constitution and perhaps a few words about history here would be of interest. The U.S. patent system was derived from the earlier, successful English system. According to a recent book by Willliam Rosen,

It was England's development of the patent system that was the decisive factor (in giving England the dominate role in the Industrial Revolution). By aligning the incentives of private individuals with those of society, it transformed invention from a hobby pursued by the idle rich into an opportunity for spectacular commercial gain open to anyone with a bit of skill and a good idea. That allowed England to harness the creative potential of its artisan classes in a way that no other country had managed before.

But the English patent system was a rich man’s game and it was expensive to get a patent. It did lead to the successful development of many “heavy industry” inventions (think steam engines and railroads) but not a lot of “micro-inventing”. When Nikola Tesla (the greatest geek who ever lived) came to America later in the 1800’s, he marveled at the innumerable ways that inventive Americans had improved, and patented, everything they could lay their hands on.

You suggest that today, with globalization and an economy focused on knowledge and services, we might be better off without patents. That a world without patents would foster innovation. This really is the most fundamental question of the whole debate.

I think the suggestion is wrong. Patents are even more important in today’s information economy then they were in past centuries. To see why, let’s broaden the debate to include all intellectual property (“IP”).

If there were no copyright laws, do you think AMC would spend $3 million on each episode of Breaking Bad? If anybody could just copy it and give the content away on the Internet why would they? Without copyright laws there would be no Mad Men, New York Times, or Call of Duty.

(Of course, the irony of comparing patent rights to copyrights isn’t lost on us. We’ve come under blistering attack from the media, including NPR, for asserting our patents against some rather large media businesses—companies that wouldn’t blanch at suing teenagers who copy their songs, websites that offer free movie downloads, or even Google who might offer too-detailed of an article summary. And of course, we all have to sit through their FBI warnings at the beginning of a DVD.)

These same copyright arguments apply to hard goods, and by extension to patents. Would Cisco be able to afford its R&D if factories in China could copy its products and sell them here for a fraction of Cisco’s price? Would Microsoft be spending millions on Windows 8 if each update could be freely copied and distributed? Would GE spend money designing wind turbines if others could copy the designs at will?

Would innovation happen without patents? Of course, just not as much. The risk involved in R&D would increase, investors would be less interested, and researchers tired of being “ripped off” would do other things. The pace of progress would slow. As the economy shifts more and more to knowledge-based work, it seems clear to me, that we need even stronger IP protections.



Do you deserve a patent without doing the work?
by saihung

Why do you believe you deserve any money in licensing fees at all, when you haven't apparently done any of the work required to produce a product?

Logan: Well, I could answer this question by arguing that I did try to build a product. That I spent $1.6 million of my own money trying to realize our vision of a custom listening experience that ended up, at the end of the day, being implemented in the form of a cassette tape product, and not the digital player system we envisioned and patented.

But I think that story is beside the point. The question is whether we should have a patent system that requires the inventor to build a product in order to receive a patent. I think that’s exactly what we don’t want and by way of example let me explain why.

I started my first company in the 80’s, when I was working with a young MIT engineer, Blair Evans, to develop the first analog capacitive touch screen. Were we struggling to make it work when we got a letter in the mail from an inventor in Maryland, Bill Pepper, who was literally working out of his garage. He had been working with Bob Moog, inventor of the world’s first electronic synthesizer, on a touch sensitive piano and from that research had gotten several patents on a touch tablets.

Bill had tried unsuccessfully to license these patents to several large companies (“Call me back when there’s a market”, they said) when he heard about our attempts to make a capacitive touch screen. We realized Bill had the solution we were looking for and we promptly signed an exclusive license for his patents. MicroTouch went on to become the world’s largest touch screen company, selling the precursor to today’s projected capacitive touch screen found on all smart phones. When I left MicroTouch to start Personal Audio in 1996, we employed 500 people making touch screens in Massachusetts. Without those patents, we would never have gotten the company off the ground.

The point of the story, besides the fact that patents can play a leading role in driving innovation, is that often the inventor and the implementer are, and should be, two different people or companies. Bill had no desire to build or run a company. He retired off our royalties and went on to invent other things. Blair and I went on to build a company and an industry.

Why would you want a system that mandated such “vertical integration”, where the inventor has to be the producer? A recent paper (pdf) published by Yale looks at the history of patent monetization over the last 200 years. It describes how “the ability to quickly find buyers for patents was an important driver of inventive activity during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when patenting rates in the United States were at historic highs.” In fact, both Edison and Tesla sold off most of their patent rights. The paper goes on to say that 24% of hi-tech patents were sold off in the twenty-year period leading to 2000.

The whole history of tech over recent decades has been an ever-increasing specialization of labor. In 1980 IBM made everything from chips to software to mainframes. We all know how that evolved—Intel, Microsoft, Adobe, and others came in and took a slice out of that stack, each becoming a master specialist in one function.

The horizontal slicing of technology food chain has continued and has worked its way to intellectual property to an extent. Today you have Cisco, Yahoo, Google and others buying small companies, for their engineers, products, customer bases, and sometimes intellectual property.

There is still work to do, however, in developing more of an actual “IP market”—one where ideas and inventions are sold outright and not necessarily encapsulated in products or services. It’s a hard market to develop because each patent is, by definition, different and speaks to something new and unknown. If commodities are the easiest things to buy and sell, patents and intellectual property are the hardest. In addition, many companies have strong “not invented here cultures” that build barriers to buying-in technology.

But do you think the large tech companies that rail against “patent trolls” would really want rules that required a product to be produced before a patent was granted? After all, these companies get patents all the time for things they only invent on paper.

Even if you had such a requirement, how would you manage it? Would you have to just “produce” a product or would you have to sell it, too? Google dabbles in lots of areas and works on lots of long-range projects. Are you going to tell Larry Paige that if he doesn’t sell a driver-less car within five years those patents expire? Or if he doesn’t ship or offer for sale at least one, 10, or 100 such cars a year his patents expire? Does each car have to use every claimed feature? Does it have to work (well)? Can it be sold at any price? Who would decide all that?

If there were a requirement that only producers could own patents, then Personal Audio would probably start a podcast just to meet the requirement. But then you’d say, “That doesn’t count. You need to have 1% of the market to qualify.” Or maybe it’s 5% (so one doesn’t get patent protection until one succeeds?) Or do you want us to sell ourselves to CBS thus ensuring a system where only large companies have valuable patents?

Even if you don’t agree with my view that the world would be better off if inventors and implementers were sometimes different people, you can see that setting up a system to mandate otherwise would be a nightmare of micro-management with no obvious benefit. Except, I suppose, that there would never be a case where somebody would say, “He or she doesn’t deserve a reward just for inventing something”.

The debate of whether it was necessary to produce a product to get a patent has been thrashed out in the past. The U.S. patent office used to require inventors to send models to Washington DC before a patent would be issued. But inventions were getting more complicated, took longer to implement, and were getting more abstract. So in 1880 the U.S. patent office dropped the “implementation” requirement.



Comment Please, Mr. Logan
by Anonymous Coward

Mr. Logan,
Here's a "comment" from the Computer World story linked above: "'The company was able to hang on to several patents, however, and put them "in a drawer for 10 years," Baker added. "Is that a troll?"'

Yes it is. That is exactly the definition of a troll. They weren't able to make it work, had no impact on the industry, failed and no one has ever heard of them. But when someone more enterprising independently comes up with a similar idea, solves all the problems that Personal Audio couldn't solve, popularizes the concept, and makes it work, they somehow feel they are entitled to a piece of the action. Your thoughts?


Logan: AC, you summarize well points we have heard from others. Let me start off by saying that over 1,300 patents have cited the Personal Audio patent set (meaning these later patent applications referenced the Personal Audio patents as “prior art” to their applications). A lot of folks read our embodiment and probably some of what we taught in the patent did end up in other people’s products and implementation. That still doesn’t answer your question, however, as to whether we are “entitled to a piece of the action”, as you put it.

But our patents, like others, fall under a two-part incentive system. The first incentive gives the hope of a temporary monopoly to the entrepreneur. That hope fosters innovation by getting people to push the envelope and try new ideas, not just copy old ideas. The hope of creating a business protected by patents, like the one I had at MicroTouch, motivated me to create and move forward with Personal Audio.

The second incentive offered by patents, however, is to investors. During the life of Personal Audio, I invested $1.6 million, and lost it all. Personal Audio, LLC, the patent holding company, is the attempt by the investor, me, to get a return on that investment. When investors like me get our money back, plus some if we’re lucky, it means that startups are not as risky as they might otherwise be. To that extent, patents lower the “cost of capital” to startups, that is, make it easier in the long run for them to raise money. If you’ve shopped plans around to VCs, you will see that often they are very interested in the IP potential of the ideas being pursued. They are interested in both the monopoly power it might offer a startup as well as the safety net it provides in case things don’t go well.

So to answer your question, we are small players in a larger system, one set up to foster innovation by turning inventions into property. We are merely using our property as the system was designed. You may not like every outcome of this system, but in general it has served its purpose well over many years.



Why individuals?
by Sockatume

Pursuing the end users of a product which infringes upon one's patent is practically unheard-of. Why have you done so?

Logan: We appreciate the gist of your question, Sockatune. Let me clarify by saying that we have not done anything to approach “end-users”, who technically would be listeners of podcasts or viewers of other episodic content. But you’re probably referring to podcasters or video producers themselves who are on the smaller side of things.

With that in mind, it is worth noting that the cost of negotiating and setting up a patent license is not trivial. As such, it does not make sense for us to deal with hobbyists, non-commercial ventures, and small entities. The economics of it would be prohibitive. As such, we will be focusing on the largest users of our technology and those that collect significant revenues from ads placed on their podcasts or episodic video content, or who gain commercial value from that content in other ways. Finding good information on this score can be challenging, however, so we can’t be certain that our efforts are always perfectly aligned with our strategy.



When did you first hear of podcasting?
by capedgirardeau

When did you first hear of podcasting and why didn't you file your infringement suit immediately instead of waiting until many people were already using the technology?

Logan: We filed the ‘504 patent (U.S. Patent 8,112,504) in 2009, a short time after we filed suit against several infringers of the ‘076 patent (U.S. Patent 6,199,076). The patent then issued in early 2012. We have had a lot of questions concerning how we could have filed for a patent covering podcasting in 2009, years after the first podcasts started coming out, so let me briefly explain that.

Under certain circumstances, specifically when the patent office has not finished prosecuting a family of patents, the inventor is allowed to apply for additional claims that derive from the original invention by filing a “Continuation Patent”. The priority date, or date of invention, that is given by the patent office to this Continuation is the filing date given to the original patent application in the family. In our case, then, the priority date of the ‘504 patent is October of 1996—the date we filed our first patent application in which the material that describes podcasting was included.

Another misconception is that we “waited all those years” while podcasting evolved and then sprung the ‘504 patent on the industry. The fact of the matter is that Charlie Call, my co-inventor and patent attorney, and I were busy working on other things when podcasting as an industry was emerging. We didn’t get focused on the Personal Audio patents until 2008. That delay is unfortunate for Personal Audio because as a result the ‘504 Continuation Patent did not issue until 2012. As a result, we are only able to collect license fees from that date forward. All the activity that happened before the ‘504 issued is not covered



Can you explain?
by trcooper

Can you explain, in terms I could tell the average person, how your patent is novel enough that anyone who wants to distribute audio over the internet should license it from you? I'd appreciate it if you could address how the distributions of podcasts today widely differs from downloading audio files in 1995 and how your patent help change this.

Logan: Trcooper, this is one of those of questions that could get me in a boatload of trouble—with my lawyer, that is. Any comments I make regarding the claims and how they are different from previous systems, can and will be used against me in court. So I’ll have to take a pass on this one.



Cassette Tapes
by CaseCrash

The only business you made with these patents was sending cassette tapes with some recorded articles that were chosen by the customer through the mail. How does this transfer to creating playlists and podcasting? Picking the listening order of sound files I got from the internet doesn't really seem like it should be protected intellectual property. How do you justify what you've done (a failed business in 1995) to justify payment (much much later) from people who had never heard of you or your patents when they made their services/products, and who apparently never tried to patent that process as it seemed too obvious to them?

Logan: CaseCrash, you touch on a few different areas with your questions, so let me tackle them one at a time.

First, the cassette tapes that Personal Audio sold in 1997 have nothing to do with the validity of the patents that were filed in 1996. Are you suggesting that if a company changes its business strategy, it has to abandon any claims to things it might have invented before the switch? Or if you go out of business you have to donate your patents to the public? If so, be sure to let the creditors of A123, the now-bankrupt pioneering battery company, know that their only remaining asset is now toast. Ditto for the Fisker car company. That all sounds a bit like the culture in Europe where entrepreneurs are severely punished for losing. I’m not sure that’s the startup culture we want to embrace here.

Secondly, you seem to be implying that Personal Audio’s patents should be invalidated for obviousness. Well, I’m not at liberty to discuss specifics around this issue in our case, but one of the main functions of the patent office is to screen for obviousness. Some large companies expended significant resources to prove Personal Audio’s patents were obvious but they were unsuccessful. In general, though, things often seem obvious in hindsight, particularly when the idea has been around a while. So we’re not surprised when people say that about our patents.

In addition to a jury trial, some of our patents have also been through more than one re-exam, an extensive process where the patent office prosecutes the patent all over again. While some consider these do-overs to be a quality control step, it can also be thought of as a form of double jeopardy, retrying a case over and over again. Re-exams create an aura of uncertainty over a patent, making it harder to license a technology and get it to market. Think how hard it would be to put up a building if mortgage holders kept coming out of the woodwork.

Ironically, there are now new laws before Congress to institute even more re-exam procedures. I think that is unfortunate. One of the better features of the America Invents Act of 2011 was to allow for an expedited patent process whereby you can get a patent in less than 12 months—a new speedway that is working as advertised. Now you can come up with an idea, get it patented in a matter of months, raise money on the IP, and be off to the races.

Other changes to the patent system are also being considered, including the SHIELD Act, which would force an NPE (a Non-Practicing Entity) to pay the other side’s legal bills if the NPE loses in court. It would be unfortunate (if not unconstitutional) if this passed. As this article in Forbes recently pointed out, NPEs serve a real purpose in offering inventors, investors in failed companies, universities, and even smaller operating companies a way to participate in the market for intellectual property.

While NPEs have been ceaselessly disparaged, one of the most common criticisms has been that they have been responsible for doubling the number of annual patent lawsuits. In their defense it should be said that two factors outside their control have accounted for most of that increase. First is that the America Invents Act mandated that any patent lawsuit can only have one defendant whereas previously a case might have had multiple. This has dramatically increased the nominal number of cases and skewed the data being hurled against NPEs.

Second, is that over recent years many companies have started using a tactic of preemptively suing a prospective licensor the minute they receive an offer to license a patent. This has led to a counter-strategy where many licensing companies decide to sue first then enter into licensing discussions later. This again, has greatly skewed the numbers.

In any case, the IP market today is dominated not by NPEs but by companies like Google, Apple, and other large firms who own tens of thousands of patents. They buy patents by the thousands, cross-license each other, and then go on to hoard their patents effectively shutting out others from the market. Talk about stifling innovation—try to go license a patent from Microsoft or Google.

And these same U.S. tech companies that rail against patent trolls have few qualms about taking ideas from others. They will buy competitors’ products, conduct teardowns to analyze components and features, and incorporate the best of what they find. Yet it rare that these companies check to see if the “borrowed” ideas are patented. If fact, ask anybody in Silicon Valley and they’ll tell you that engineers in many, if not most, R&D labs are specifically requested to refrain from looking at the patent database when designing products.

Finally, many of these firms are themselves now engaged in so-called trolling. They are spinning off unused patents and either selling them to NPEs (often hiding their ownership) or setting up their own patent assertion companies. In effect, they lobby for one thing, while doing that which they lobby against. And the hypocrisy doesn’t stop there. Look here, in fact, and you’ll see that Mark Cuban sponsored the EFF’s “Chair To Eliminate Stupid Patents” in the same year he went for a quick buck by buying 7% of VRingo, a public NPE that has famously sued Google.

But despite all the consternation about NPEs, and who is one and who isn’t, in general I feel the patent system is not broken. The ever-rising number of U.S. patents being filed, the explosion of incubators, and continued flow of venture capital into new enterprises points to vibrant culture of innovation in the country.



How can I license your podcasting patent?
by David Quaid

Hi Jim, I am about to start a podcast of my own, and I want to make sure I do this in the right way. I looked on your website, but there is no information for how to license your podcasting patent. No online shopping option. No form to mail in. No price. In fact, in the This American Life episode, Richard Baker says "We have a price. We just don't want to make it public."

It seems that the only way to license with you, is to first launch my podcast and then settle with you once you threaten to sue me.

You argue that you are really just a legitimate business man and not a patent troll. But despite the ongoing growth of new podcasts, you have not made it possible for an aspiring podcaster to realize what their financial liability to you might be. This makes it very risky to decide to invest in a new podcast and growing the number of subscribers, since I could be sued out of existence if I succeed.

My question: If you are not a troll, why have you chosen only to sue and threaten, and never directly license to interested customers who are joining the growing podcasting industry?


Logan: David, we have no intention of making podcasting a risky endeavor for anybody. Our license is a modest one and reflects, we feel, the relative values of our intellectual property, the podcasters’ copyrights, and the marketing and other efforts that make a podcast succeed. Our licensees are our customers and we want them to succeed just like any business wants its customers to succeed.

We hope to publish our ‘504 license schedule in the coming weeks. If we do, that will give you a sense of the affordability of a license. In any case, if you think you will need a license please contact us and we would be glad to discuss the details.



The EFF
by greg1104

Claiming that the EFF is some sort of enforcer working for large companies to beat up small ones is an idea that can only have come from heavy use of hallucinogenic drugs. Which ones does your team take?

Logan:None of our team-members is on drugs as you suggest, and one of us has even sworn off caffeine. (Not sure how that works.)

Regarding the EFF, I think our point was just that with our limited resources, our primary focus is addressing the larger entities that are podcasting. To that extent, the EFF can be seen to be weighing in on the side of large media conglomerates such as CBS and NBC.

More generally, I think it’s a bit anomalous that patents often get such a bad rap by individuals, such as some engineers in Silicon Valley, or groups like the EFF, which purport to stand for David (vs Goliath). Patents are a great tool for the little guy. If you want to start a company, build it around some patented technology (like Google did). The patents, or even pending applications, will help you raise money, ward off competition, and give you a fighting chance. They’re the ultimate equalizer.



International
by Sockatume

You don't seem to have any presence outside the US, despite apparently having invented podcasting. Why?

Logan: We don’t have any international patents and as such, don’t have any activities outside of the U.S., although we have licensees that are foreign companies.

Why don’t we have any international patents? The answer is that it is very expensive to apply for, and “prosecute” such applications, and the benefits can be scant. One of the beauties of the American patent system is that it provides reasonable protection to inventors, has modest costs associated with it, and the resulting patents cover a critical part of the international market. If a company can get coverage in the U.S. for its products, as we hoped to do when we filed in 1996, it gets a measure of worldwide protection. That is because it’s hard to compete in today’s global economy if you can’t sell in the U.S. This is one of the reasons that many European companies come to the U.S. first to file patents on their inventions—and often bring over their R&D work, too.

Today, patent rights are rapidly being eroded in the U.S. through recent court decisions, legislation, and new patent office regulations. Meanwhile, the Chinese are rapidly strengthening their patent system. Hopefully, we don’t find that in 10 years the tables are turned—that China has the biggest economy and has created an IP fortress, where they incubate and protect products that are then shipped to the U.S.

While we’re on the topic of protecting American intellectual property, let me also point you to a recent report stating that overseas intellectual property theft is a problem that costs the U.S. economy $300 billion a year, a number about 10 times larger than the damages recently ascribed to “trolls” by President Obama.

Well, I hope this has been helpful and thanks for your time!
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Personal Audio's James Logan Answers Your Questions

Comments Filter:
  • I gotta a great deal on a famous bridge on a Florida swamp.

    • by nedwidek (98930) on Monday June 24, 2013 @11:43AM (#44092997)

      Yeah, my first thought was, "giant douche tries to explain why he isn't a turd sandwich."

      Regarding the 'thousands of patents claim ours as prior art'.... Yeah, it's so broad that to do just about anything near audio and the web, you'd need to cite it too. That's become the main problem. They claim not an invention, but the entire domain of the invention and several others at the same time.

      Seeing the work load that patent examiners are under, that the examiners do not appear to be skilled in the modern art of computers, the fact that granting patents is the way for the USPTO to get its funding, that it's just cheaper to pay the troll than to try to get a re-examination or go to court, and companies that are more than willing to just keep amending a patent until the examiner caves..... The system is just broken and it's beginning to seem easier to throw the whole stinking pile out and start again.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The mandate for patent officers is to pass things through, and then let the courts decide whether a given patent should have been granted. Lawyers lobbied for this change many years ago, and for the life of me, I can't think why they would do something that would create a huge amount of work for themselves involving billions of dollars a year.

      • by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:24PM (#44093329) Homepage

        Yeah, my first thought was, "giant douche tries to explain why he isn't a turd sandwich."

        This is the gist of the problem. He does not see himself as a turd, or his business as evil. He lives in a world where such things are taken for granted as business as usual. There is no room for sympathy, fair play, justice, or integrity in big business, only blood thirsty greed. As long as it is within the letter of the law, laws written by the same people, then no one should have any problem. There is no way to make these people understand the basic problem with that way of thinking.

      • The system is just broken...

        It is NOT!

        WE are broken!

        You're out of order! You're out of order! The whole trial is out of order!

          We piss and moan, yet, every day we wake up and go about our dirty business pretending we're not part of anything. How many degrees of separation from the emperor is required to be able to claim 'innocence' and ignorance of his crimes?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Whether you agree with his arguments or not, I'd say he at least communicates his position fairly well. And that he's willing to enter into a discussion, civilly so far as I can tell, is a positive thing.

      • by Grishnakh (216268) on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:20PM (#44093285)

        Smart sociopaths are good at that kind of thing. So are compulsive liars, and lawyers.

      • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:21PM (#44093293) Journal

        Yes, he's a master of spin. He'll convince you that tuberculosis is good for you. The man should be writing speeches for the president. He seems quite qualified.

      • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

        No he doesn't. You are an idiot.

        the largest patent reform since the 1950â(TM)s.

        Weasel words

        I don't know what happened in the 50's, but if it was monumentally huge, and the American Invents Act of 2011 changed a single letter, the AIA could still be the largest since then, without being large. Here, let me show you another. I among the most intelligent and attractive people in the world, and among the richest. If I tell you my percentile in each category is 51, that sounds less impressive. You sai

        • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

          I missed one.

          The debate of whether it was necessary to produce a product to get a patent has been thrashed out in the past. The U.S. patent office used to require inventors to send models to Washington DC before a patent would be issued. But inventions were getting more complicated, took longer to implement, and were getting more abstract. So in 1880 the U.S. patent office dropped the âoeimplementationâ requirement.

          And in the age of 3D printers, offshoring, and especially software patents, you th

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why would you want a system that mandated such “vertical integration”, where the inventor has to be the producer?

    Yes, I agree - IF someone licenses the patent to actually produce or provide a service that uses said innovation.

    Getting a patent for sole purpose of litigating is not "producing" anything of value - unless you're a lawyer.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      IF someone licenses the patent to actually produce or provide a service that uses said innovation.

      It seems that's exactly what the company is focused on--getting people who are providing those services to license the patent that covers what they're doing.

  • by gl4ss (559668) on Monday June 24, 2013 @11:31AM (#44092881) Homepage Journal

    is that patent laws are broken and "NYAH NYAH NYAH NYAH".

    "We didn’t get focused on the Personal Audio patents until 2008. That delay is unfortunate for Personal Audio because as a result the ‘504 Continuation Patent did not issue until 2012. As a result, we are only able to collect license fees from that date forward. All the activity that happened before the ‘504 issued is not covered "

    yeah. that's fun. as if podcasting(even through automated process to download) wasn't around in early 2000's. heck, some pirates had autodistribution systems for new mp3 releases way earlier than that.
    isn't what you just explained a clear case of you adding already on the market inventions to be covered by your patents which were processing during that time?

    • by Ardyvee (2447206)

      Why are you commenting here? Prove prior art and destroy the patent!

      • by Arker (91948)
        The trouble is it's setup so it costs inordinate sums of money to even attempt to 'prove' something that is trivially demonstrable, and even then the courts usually find a way to ignore it and rule against you if you try. Ergo, invalid patents that are effectively enforceable. It's a completely broken system.
  • Patent chests (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pr0nbot (313417) on Monday June 24, 2013 @11:36AM (#44092935)

    In general, there is food for thought here.

    But the bit that most amused me were his complaints about large companies and their patent warchests. If you turn patents into a weapon, you're starting an arms race, and guess what? The guys with the most money can afford the biggest guns. And despite his assertion that he's not going after the little guy, I wonder whether he's also not going after the big guy, i.e. finding his own niche in the chain of bullying.

  • by Endo13 (1000782) on Monday June 24, 2013 @11:40AM (#44092965)

    So to paraphrase: "We're not patent trolls because that's such an ugly term and no one should be called that".

  • What a scumbag (Score:4, Informative)

    by Desler (1608317) on Monday June 24, 2013 @11:56AM (#44093087)

    Logan:None of our team-members is on drugs as you suggest, and one of us has even sworn off caffeine. (Not sure how that works.)

    Regarding the EFF, I think our point was just that with our limited resources, our primary focus is addressing the larger entities that are podcasting. To that extent, the EFF can be seen to be weighing in on the side of large media conglomerates such as CBS and NBC.

    More generally, I think it’s a bit anomalous that patents often get such a bad rap by individuals, such as some engineers in Silicon Valley, or groups like the EFF, which purport to stand for David (vs Goliath). Patents are a great tool for the little guy. If you want to start a company, build it around some patented technology (like Google did). The patents, or even pending applications, will help you raise money, ward off competition, and give you a fighting chance. They’re the ultimate equalizer.

    What a worthless argument. The EFF only happens to seem to be "weighing in the sides of the media conglomerates" because standing against patent trolls like this guy is the correct thing to do. It's no different than the ACLU's mission to defend the First Amendment sometimes requires weighing in on the side of racist shitbags.

    • by greg1104 (461138)

      I asked the EFF question, surprised that made it though. Describing the EFF as a sort of digital oriented ACLU is a great analogy for explaining its role to people unfamiliar with it, thanks for that.

  • Circumspect... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:01PM (#44093147)

    I would first like to say that I appreciate this long reply and, in fact, bothering in the first place. There's much of what was said that I agree with, though also plenty that I disagree with.

    Aside from an agree/disagree, though, I do feel that these could have been addressed more thoroughly:

    The 'Why individuals' question.
    You say that individuals would be the listeners. I disagree. The individuals are the podcasters. They are the ones you assert are running afoul of your patents. What should have been explained is why you are going after them, rather than, say, the developers of podcast platforms, products, etc.
    As an analogy, the MPEG LA group generally doesn't go after individuals encoding video with a codec that is covered by patents in their pool. Instead, they go after the developers of software and hardware products. This way they get a large section of the market (including areas where you may not even hold a valid patent, as the patent licensing costs are often not deducted in price discrimination), and end-users of the products don't have to worry about whether or not they are in the clear regarding patents. Yes, this does mean that they don't recoup any licensing from those who use, for example, a free and open source product. The question is whether that is enough of a market for them to worry about and thus go after individuals after all.
    This is the question that should have been answered here.

    The 'Why should I license your patent' question.
    This one is unsatisfactory by necessity - your lawyer wouldn't appreciate your answering it.
    Unfortunately, however, if your lawyer cannot give you (and thus: us) a good reason to license your patent, what chance does he have in the court of law?
    At the same time...

    The 'How can I license' question.
    This one is answered as "If you think you need a license, contact us". I take issue with that for two reasons:
    1. How would I know if I need a license, if you can't tell me why I would need a license? (see above)
    2. Any time somebody tells you "contact us for a quote", it should be assumed that it is, quite frankly, cost prohibitive. If it weren't, you could just throw out a ballpark figure: $10/month. $0.02 per subscriber. $0.01 per subscriber * revenue in kiloDollars.
    I understand that you're still working on the details and hope to have this information available in the coming weeks, and would prefer discussion on the actual figures (if given) rather than ballpark figures. But at the same time, telling somebody 'contact us' means you do already have some figures in mind right now.

    On a closing note, I think you could have done without the pro-American rhetoric. Not just because it is rather thinly veiled, but because your own closing note states:

    overseas intellectual property theft

    While...
    1. It's not theft. You should know better, especially given this audience.
    2. Didn't you just say you don't hold any international patents?

    Again, I do appreciate the reply, and agree with much of what you have said.

    • by Desler (1608317)

      As an analogy, the MPEG LA group generally doesn't go after individuals encoding video with a codec that is covered by patents in their pool.

      They will go after you for royalties when it comes to the commercial use of the codec such as for home video, VOD, etc.

      • True - though this depends on what tech you licensed for the encoding, most do have in their EULA that the license doesn't cover the Packaged Medium license (I think that's what you're referring to, at least).

        It would indeed be interesting to see if PA are setting up a similar structure and declaring each podcast item * subscriber as a single 'packaged medium' or any other metric.

        Note that for most video this is a somewhat academic issue. If you wanted to share a video now, YouTube - even if they pay you -

    • The 'Why should I license your patent' question.

      This one is unsatisfactory by necessity - your lawyer wouldn't appreciate your answering it.
      Unfortunately, however, if your lawyer cannot give you (and thus: us) a good reason to license your patent, what chance does he have in the court of law?

      He wasn't saying his lawyer "cannot give [him] a good reason to license [his] patent." The question was "how is your patent novel," and he was saying, "if I describe, off the cuff in a simplified way, how it's novel here, then that answer will be taken out of context and used against me in court as a not-off-the-cuff, exhaustive description of novelty of the patent." And he's right: even you just took his answer out of context, claiming he was saying that him and his lawyer can't give a good reason to licen

      • Well if we're going to argue about what the question was, we might as well quote it:

        Can you explain, in terms I could tell the average person, how your patent is novel enough that anyone who wants to distribute audio over the internet should license it from you? I'd appreciate it if you could address how the distributions of podcasts today widely differs from downloading audio files in 1995 and how your patent help change this.

        I'll fully admit that my "Why should I license your patent" interpretation is my

  • by Zan Lynx (87672) on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:08PM (#44093183) Homepage

    The main reason is so that your company is equally vulnerable to the ridiculous patent system.

    Just being in business using computers and the Internet and writing software opens up your company to hundreds of potential patents. Most of which are OBVIOUS! Really.

    Another reason to be a producer is something that every inventor knows. Coming up with an idea is 10% of the effort. Actually making it work is much more difficult and 90% of the work. Sitting around and coming up with wild ideas that might be possible and writing patents on them and then waiting for someone else to do the 90% work before suing them is a very bad taste for the people who really did the work.

    "Rocket science is easy. Rocket engineering is hard."

    • by surmak (1238244) on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:49PM (#44093575)

      .. Sitting around and coming up with wild ideas that might be possible and writing patents on them and then waiting for someone else to do the 90% work before suing them is a very bad taste for the people who really did the work. ...

      What makes this even worse is that the guy who "reinvented" the patented idea in most cases does not even know the patent exists in the first place. The courts have the legal fiction that the knowledge in the patents is in the public domain, but in practice this is not just the case -- especially when a defendant has a disincentive to willfully infringe a patent (better remain ignorant and avoid extra damages). Perhaps we need a system where the patent owner had an affirmative duty to publicize the patent.

    • by greg1104 (461138)

      Coming up with an idea is 10% of the effort.

      That's generous. Ideas without a working implementation are in almost every case worth $0. If it's innovative enough to be considered worthy of a patent, it will be complicated enough that you can't prove it will work without building at least a prototype.

      And many of the cases where something can be built, but couldn't until now, are simply based on underlying technology being available. Every year I churn out a few ideas that, while new at the time, are obvious next steps based on the current state of t

  • Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Antipater (2053064) on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:12PM (#44093213)

    Well, he was brave enough to come to a site he knew hated him and try to defend his actions. I respect him for that. Having never heard of the guy or his company before ("what do you do?" was my question), I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. But while he wrote persuasively about the benefits of the patent system in general, his answers regarding Personal Audio were not nearly as convincing.

    Basically, his argument boils down to "patents are an insurance policy so that you can get your money back if your investment fails". This is a rather novel analysis of the patent system that I've never heard before, and a completely paradoxical one. While encouraging innovation on the surface (by lowering the risk of "reach for the stars"-type innovative startups), it stifles it in the long run by chilling any follow-up innovation. If the first foray into a new field fails, anyone who comes in to try to do a better job is then penalized. It creates a barrier to entry for an empty field.

    His other point of note was the threat that, if patent-holders are forced to create a product to enforce their patents, he would just create a useless podcast to justify holding his podcasting patent. I wonder if he realizes that any legislation would be written to give a court leeway to define such a strategy as useless or vexatious, at the court's discretion rather than written into the law. Designing a podcast to overcome that barrier would then make him a productive member of society and hey, maybe he'd find an actually-useful means of getting back his lost $1.6 million. He asks if Google should be required to produce a driverless car within a certain timeframe or forfeit their driverless-car patents. He asks it in such a way as to imply that this would be a ludicrous requirement. I almost find it funny that he could be so out of touch.

    tldr: I went in with an open mind, but now believe /. was well justified in jumping all over this guy. Shameless, useless patent troll.

    • by CCarrot (1562079)

      While encouraging innovation on the surface (by lowering the risk of "reach for the stars"-type innovative startups), it stifles it in the long run by chilling any follow-up innovation. If the first foray into a new field fails, anyone who comes in to try to do a better job is then penalized. It creates a barrier to entry for an empty field.

      I especially like this 'condemnation':

      And these same U.S. tech companies that rail against patent trolls have few qualms about taking ideas from others. They will buy competitors’ products, conduct teardowns to analyze components and features, and incorporate the best of what they find.

      Umm...can you spell 'ideal scenario'? This sort of open source approach to hardware would be the best of all possible outcomes for everyone involved: users get better and better products, product developers are free to add or remove features without fear of reprisals (other than whether the users actually like the new-to-them features or not). Can you say iPad with a USB or microSD port, anyone??

      Of course, an argument can be made that the original inventor should be

      • Of course, an argument can be made that the original inventor should be recompensed, and that's fair...to a point. To redress this perceived injustice: patents should expire after a reasonable time, and NOT be renewable beyond a limited extent (say one or two renewals).

        Patents do expire after (what Congress has decided is) a reasonable time: twenty years from the date of filing of the application. They are not renewable, period. And they can even expire earlier, if you fail to pay maintenance fees.

        So, for example, a filed patent would expire in two years, renewable to up to twice for a maximum length of six years.

        The problem there (or rather, not a problem) is that patents aren't just registrations or rubber stamps. They get examined, and that takes time - currently, it's about 4-5 years from filing to granting. So, under your proposal, they could expire before they even make it through

        • by CCarrot (1562079)

          Of course, an argument can be made that the original inventor should be recompensed, and that's fair...to a point. To redress this perceived injustice: patents should expire after a reasonable time, and NOT be renewable beyond a limited extent (say one or two renewals).

          Patents do expire after (what Congress has decided is) a reasonable time: twenty years from the date of filing of the application. They are not renewable, period. And they can even expire earlier, if you fail to pay maintenance fees.

          Wow, I wasn't aware of the requirement for maintenance fees [uspto.gov], very interesting. So essentially, these fees do pretty much as I described, with the exception that the last 'maintenance fee' paid in year 12 extends the patent eight years, instead of only four years for the previous 'maintenance' fees.

          Am I correct in assuming that once it expires (for whatever reason), it then gets assigned to the public domain?

          So, for example, a filed patent would expire in two years, renewable to up to twice for a maximum length of six years.

          The problem there (or rather, not a problem) is that patents aren't just registrations or rubber stamps. They get examined, and that takes time - currently, it's about 4-5 years from filing to granting. So, under your proposal, they could expire before they even make it through the queue to examination. That would be fine, if it was more like copyright and simply paying your $35 registration fee gets you registered, but is not fine with an examination system... and I think the latter is a better system.

          Ah, so let the patent term start from the day it's granted, not the day it's filed (I think that's h

          • Of course, an argument can be made that the original inventor should be recompensed, and that's fair...to a point. To redress this perceived injustice: patents should expire after a reasonable time, and NOT be renewable beyond a limited extent (say one or two renewals).

            Patents do expire after (what Congress has decided is) a reasonable time: twenty years from the date of filing of the application. They are not renewable, period. And they can even expire earlier, if you fail to pay maintenance fees.

            Wow, I wasn't aware of the requirement for maintenance fees [uspto.gov], very interesting. So essentially, these fees do pretty much as I described, with the exception that the last 'maintenance fee' paid in year 12 extends the patent eight years, instead of only four years for the previous 'maintenance' fees.

            Am I correct in assuming that once it expires (for whatever reason), it then gets assigned to the public domain?

            Mostly yes - slight change to what you described was that maintenance fees are based on filing date, so if you have a patent application pending for 10 years, you only pay the year 12 fee, and it expires 8 years later.

            And yes, once it expires, it's public domain forever. Interestingly, though unsurprisingly, most software-related patents get abandoned without paying the 12 year fee. The fees are not static, but increase significantly, so for most companies, it's not worth it to pay that last extension, par

    • by sribe (304414)

      His other point of note was the threat that, if patent-holders are forced to create a product to enforce their patents, he would just create a useless podcast to justify holding his podcasting patent.

      I'd have no problem with that. I don't care if the product is a turd and a total failure in the marketplace, what I care about is proof that the alleged inventor actually knows how to implement his invention--too many "software" patents out there are more of a wish list of features than a description of an actual invention.

      • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

        You are far too forgiving. A failed hardware launch is really expensive, and a failed software launch can be anywhere from kinda expensive to a pain in the wallet.

        A useless podcast would not be a product - it would either be a market failure, or a money sink. If the product fails, it is no longer a product. If it's a money sink, it's a tax on the patent holder.

        Either way, it is way more harmful than the "negligible product" he thinks he will market.

        You have a product, but it is not available anywhere - w

        • by sribe (304414)

          You are far too forgiving.

          Not at all. My point is simply for the inventor to prove that he knows how to make his invention--in other words that he has actually completed the hard part of inventing, and is not trying to patent a wish list or a dream. I see no relevance, to the purpose of a patent, in requiring an inventor to prove that he knows how to make money with his invention.

    • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

      "patents are an insurance policy so that you can get your money back if your investment fails".

      No, his argument is that as a patent troll he is somehow beneficial to society, while creating no products and consuming royalties.

      Patents as a backup plan are relatively novel, but hardly a novelty. There was an inventor named Bill, from Maryland, in the 1980's, who worked with Moog himself and still couldn't get a product to market. Along comes a business partner with a complimentary idea, they form a partners

  • Answers weighed and.... yeah, patent troll.
  • by PsychoSlashDot (207849) on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:42PM (#44093493)

    Q: Can you explain, in terms I could tell the average person, how your patent is novel enough that anyone who wants to distribute audio over the internet should license it from you? I'd appreciate it if you could address how the distributions of podcasts today widely differs from downloading audio files in 1995 and how your patent help change this.

    A:Logan: Trcooper, this is one of those of questions that could get me in a boatload of trouble—with my lawyer, that is. Any comments I make regarding the claims and how they are different from previous systems, can and will be used against me in court. So I’ll have to take a pass on this one.

    A: Logan: No, actually. If I had an actual justification for what we do, people wouldn't be able to use it against me. But I don't. So anything I make up by necessity will be shot so full of holes that it'll resemble swiss cheese. That'll make my case weaker. Which will make my pockets less full of money I haven't earned by doing anything productive. Which will make baby Jesus cry and stuff. Probably. I don't want to say for sure He'll cry because if he doesn't then someone will point out I'm a liar in court.

  • by netpixie (155816) on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:52PM (#44093615) Homepage

    I got as far as this bit of nonsense (Q2):

    > The term “patent troll” has emerged in recent years, and to the extent that words matter, this phrase has served as an effective piece of negative branding for those who want to reduce the rights of patent holders.

    before stopping reading. I presume the rest of his answers were just as silly.

    • If reducing the rights of patent (and other "IP") holders mean set them back to constitutionally intended levels, then hell yes I wan to reduce the rights of patent holders.

  • by devjoe (88696) on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:52PM (#44093617)

    James, you wanted to hear about what the real problems with the patent system are? One of them is the continuation patent.

    Back in 1996 you filed for a patent which issued in 2001 as U.S. patent 6,199,076 [google.com]. This actually sounds original for the time; it seems to be a system for providing hyperlinks that could be followed while listening to an audio program, along with a way to jump back to the previous program. Of course, we had those features already in web browsers; whether doing the same thing in an audio program was sufficiently innovative enough to deserve a patent is debatable (and presumably was debated a bit, since it took 5 years for the patent to be issued).

    However, that patent in no way describes podcasting, which involves an ability to subscribe to a recurring series of audio programs, including ones not yet issued. That is instead covered by patent 8,112,504 [google.com], which you filed in 2009 as a "continuation" of the much earlier patent application, one which had, in fact, already been issued as a complete patent for 8 years. Podcasting generally does not (and as far as I know, never does) include the hyperlinking-within-audio-programs feature of the '076 patent. (Yes, each item in a feed includes a hyperlink to where the audio file can be retrieved, but there aren't hyperlinks within those files to other podcasts - not unless they are spoken and you have to type in a URL yourself.) The features of that patent that podcasting programs do include - the ability to select one or more of a set of audio programs to listen to, possibly setting them to repeat, and with the ability to interrupt and redefine the sequence - were available in programmable CD players that already existed when the '076 patent was filed. And none of those features are features of the podcast, but of the podcasting program or hardware device.

    The ability to go back and rewrite your old patent to include new features, and claim you invented them back when the old patent was filed (even if, as you noted, you're limited to collect damages on activity after the new version of the patent is issued) is one thing that is broken in the patent system. You basically saw something that people were doing, found an old patent which bore a little similarity, but which didn't have any claims against that activity you could enforce, and rewrote it so it covered the activity, after the fact. This should not be allowed.

    Now I realize that there are legitimate reasons for continuations being considered a part of the original application. But you shouldn't be able to introduce new concepts outside the scope of the original patent application in a continuation. This sort of thing should either be rejected outright, or treated as a new application with priority date set to when the new concepts were first filed.

    • Back in 1996 you filed for a patent which issued in 2001 as U.S. patent 6,199,076 [google.com]. This actually sounds original for the time; it seems to be a system for providing hyperlinks that could be followed while listening to an audio program, along with a way to jump back to the previous program. Of course, we had those features already in web browsers; whether doing the same thing in an audio program was sufficiently innovative enough to deserve a patent is debatable (and presumably was debated a bit, since it took 5 years for the patent to be issued).

      However, that patent in no way describes podcasting, which involves an ability to subscribe to a recurring series of audio programs, including ones not yet issued. That is instead covered by patent 8,112,504 [google.com], which you filed in 2009 as a "continuation" of the much earlier patent application, one which had, in fact, already been issued as a complete patent for 8 years.

      By definition, a continuation application is identical to the parent application, except for the claims. The specification and the figures must be word for word and line for line identical. The claims must also be supported by that specification and those figures. Accordingly, if the '504 continuation describes podcasting (which I'm not taking a position on), then by definition, the '076 patent describes podcasting.

      The ability to go back and rewrite your old patent to include new features, and claim you invented them back when the old patent was filed (even if, as you noted, you're limited to collect damages on activity after the new version of the patent is issued) is one thing that is broken in the patent system. You basically saw something that people were doing, found an old patent which bore a little similarity, but which didn't have any claims against that activity you could enforce, and rewrote it so it covered the activity, after the fact. This should not be allowed.

      It's not - if you rewrite any part of the specification, or add any "new features", then it's

      • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

        Misunderstandings are common on both sides -

        A little learning is a dangerous thing;
                Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.

        How amusing it is frequently misquoted, and often misunderstood.

        It is easiest to take the side you favor, and a challenge to take the side you don't. The hardest is to take no side at all.

    • Excellent post, devjoe, despite the length.

      Patents are currently too extensible, last too long, are far too transferable, and cover ideas that are too broad and things that should not be patentable. Logan slyly points out the heyday of American patenting and inventing (1865-1882) came to an end shortly after the US Patent Office stopped requiring models in 1880, although that's certainly not the emphasis he puts on it.

      He's just defending the current, broken system because he can get rich by it. I wanted t

  • Patents (Score:4, Informative)

    by niado (1650369) on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:54PM (#44093643)
    Patent '504 [google.com]
    Patent '076 [google.com]

    These seems very abstract/broad. Not "rounded corners" patents, but almost as bad.
  • There were so many applications of the Chewbacca Defense, my head was spinning. /. disdain wont change a thing about this guy. His ego came shining through quite clearly, "You all are wrong, I am right, get lost". The only way to truly effect folks like this is through changing the rules (laws) that provide for him and his ilk to slip and slide through the cracks, fleecing the public along the way. Sadly, those entrusted with the law are just about as bad. They too walk around with propped up egos, look

  • by brit74 (831798) on Monday June 24, 2013 @01:13PM (#44093879)

    Patents are even more important in today’s information economy then they were in past centuries. To see why, let’s broaden the debate to include all intellectual property (“IP”). If there were no copyright laws, do you think AMC would spend $3 million on each episode of Breaking Bad? If anybody could just copy it and give the content away on the Internet why would they? Without copyright laws there would be no Mad Men, New York Times, or Call of Duty.

    You can't use copyright to legitimize patent law. They're two different things. First of all, copyright law is much more limited in scope than patents are. For example: you can go after someone if they started redistributing your podcast (maybe with inserting their own commercials and pocketing the money), but you can't sue all podcasters using copyright law.

    And secondly, you can't use justifications for Intellectual Property law A as justifications for Intellectual Property law B. If that worked, then do this quick mental experiment:
    Step 1. Dream up a new intellectual property law
    Step 2. If copyright law justifies patent law, then you should be able to use copyright law to justify your new intellectual property law.
    Step 3. You have now justified your new intellectual property law - whatever the heck it is. You've now shown that all conceivable intellectual property laws are justified (no matter what they are, you just need to dream it up).

    Claiming that the EFF is some sort of enforcer working for large companies to beat up small ones is an idea that can only have come from heavy use of hallucinogenic drugs. Which ones does your team take?

    Regarding the EFF, I think our point was just that with our limited resources, our primary focus is addressing the larger entities that are podcasting. To that extent, the EFF can be seen to be weighing in on the side of large media conglomerates such as CBS and NBC. More generally, I think it’s a bit anomalous that patents often get such a bad rap by individuals, such as some engineers in Silicon Valley, or groups like the EFF, which purport to stand for David (vs Goliath). Patents are a great tool for the little guy. If you want to start a company, build it around some patented technology (like Google did). The patents, or even pending applications, will help you raise money, ward off competition, and give you a fighting chance. They’re the ultimate equalizer.

    What a turd. This guy is trying to take-on the mantle of being "the little guy" against the big guys because he knows that people like to support the underdog. Sorry, Jim Logan, we're not that stupid. We're not going to do a knee-jerk support of the underdog when the underdog is wrong. Besides, it's pretty clear that the real underdogs here are the podcasters, which Jim Logan (who's obviously a millionaire) is beating up. The only thing that this tells me is that people who stand to make millions of dollars off of bad patents can rationalize their crap to themselves.

  • "If there were no copyright laws, do you think AMC would spend $3 million on each episode of Breaking Bad?"

    Of course. The existence of copyright has no bearing on the laws of supply and demand. People would still want new episodes to be made, and AMC would still be able to fulfil that demand, all that would change is the business model. AMC would simply ask for pledges, and only make the show when they were guaranteed to make as much profit as they would under the current system.

    • I'd go even further and say you could still make money from broadcast advertising, even if people were then free to record and distribute that broadcast. I download a lot, but I still watch TV. I'm currently hooked on The Returned, which I watch on TV with ads, but which I could easily download - but it's broadcast at a time when I'm always free, and I've come to appreciate waiting a week between episodes of an enjoyable show.
    • this is a constant red herring roadblock in these discussions.

      It's also a false duality. There aren't many of us that want patents eliminated. There are a lot of us that want them scaled back enough so they are no longer used as weapons.

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        Well, most of us want software patents eliminated. I've seen no real justification for allowing software patents.

        The thing is, at least in the context of software patents, when you turn this guy's AMC question around, the question becomes downright silly. "If software patents were eliminated, do you think anyone would write software?" That's just an absurd question to ask, particularly given that most companies assumed that most software patents were not allowed until a key court decision (Sidney A. DIAM

  • Whose efforts? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bidule (173941) on Monday June 24, 2013 @02:21PM (#44094737) Homepage

    We realized Bill had the solution we were looking for and we promptly signed an exclusive license for his patents"

    So Bill saved you a lot of struggle. That's what patents are for.

    You seem to think that a patent should compensate you for the amount of work you did put in your idea (original or bought). Now did your idea help podcasting in any way, did it save them from struggling to find a solution?

    If the answer is "no, not really", then it is a classic patent troll.

  • I just wanted to say thanks for answering the questions. Not everyone is satisfied with the answers, of course, but at least you tried walking into the dragons den. It was quite interesting reading what you had to say about all this instead of just another interpretation by someone else.

    I'm not saying I agree with you on everything, but thanks.
  • Machines can be broken into two parts: the interface to the outside world and decision logic.
    Decision logic can be hardwired or configurable. A configuration of the configurable
    parts of a machine comprises the software. Software may be viewed as a program or
    as data. This is an artificial distinction: data may be viewed as a program for an interpreter
    (notepad.exe interprets a text file and generates an interactive graphical experience that
    appears to represent the contents of the text file).
  • " MicroTouch went on to become the world’s largest touch screen company, selling the precursor to today’s projected capacitive touch screen found on all smart phones"

    Mine certainly doesn't use a capacitive touch screen. It would be much more useful if it had one.

    Thanks for fucking up the world of smartphones for some of us with your patents, asshole.

  • Now you can come up with an idea, get it patented in a matter of months, raise money on the IP, and be off to the races.

    Simple ideas aren't meant to be patentable. Inventions are meant to be patentable. Just demonstrates how corrupt this guy is and the whole system is.

  • If there were no copyright laws, do you think AMC would spend $3 million on each episode of Breaking Bad? If anybody could just copy it and give the content away on the Internet why would they? Without copyright laws there would be no Mad Men, New York Times, or Call of Duty.

    The point to note here is that, AMC didn't have to spend $3 million on Breaking Bad episodes, AMC could have made each episode for $3 million without copyrights. Removing the copyright monopoly means you have to market your labor; It does not remove demand for new inventions or media. If the fans of the show want another episode to be made, and paying $3 million for each episode is what it takes, then in aggregate we will pay for it. Also, $3 million is a hugely inflated price; I'm sure that were market

  • Glad James took the time to answer these. Not sure how much I agree with everything, but he didn't have to give us the time of day so thanks.

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