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Why United States Patent Reform Has Stalled 139

Posted by timothy
from the buyer's-market dept.
ectoman (594315) writes Proponents of patent reform in the United States glimpsed a potential victory late last year, when the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3309, the Innovation Act, designed to significantly mitigate patent abuse. Just months ago, however, the Senate pulled consideration of the bill. And since then, patent reform has been at a standstill. In a new analysis for Opensource.com, Mark Bohannon, Vice President of Corporate affairs and Global Public Policy at Red Hat, explains three reasons why. "For this year, at least," he writes, "the prospect of addressing abusive patent litigation through Congressional action is on ice"—despite the unavoidable case for reform.
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Why United States Patent Reform Has Stalled

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  • Uh, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday June 12, 2014 @10:54AM (#47222131) Homepage Journal

    The article seems to explain what is [not] happening, not why. But I thought we already knew why. It's called the influence of money on politics.

  • by tysonedwards (969693) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @10:55AM (#47222141)
    When there is money to be made in perpetuating the problem?
  • Politics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jellomizer (103300) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:00AM (#47222185)

    Here is the problem.
    The Right Wing Media has done such a good job a painting the Democrats and Obama as pure Evil, is that any sign of working with the Democrats on anything is a sign that they are being manipulated. So these politicians cannot dare to do anything that will make Obama side considered a win. As if they did they will get voted out in the next primaries.

    The Left Wing Media makes the Right Wing like they are so out of touch and evil, so the Right feels constantly threatened, thus makes their stance more resolved.

    This degree of Polarization has gone to the Crazy level.
    Simple common sense solutions will not go threw because it was the other side who came up with it first.

  • Re:Uh, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:00AM (#47222191) Homepage Journal

    Well, the senate is complicated, and we could go into the whole details of how anonymous holds work, the potential for "single senator" filibusters, the difficulties of getting things out of committee in the face of a single powerful shill against the bill. The likely imperfections in the bill's language that would make those who actually support the concept to not support the actual thing, the fact that one party actively made a mission of having no bipartisan bills pass until Obama is out of office, or the relative lack of popular support outside of the tech sector.

    Any or all of those could have come to into play. But it's easier to pretend that those damn [other party] have the opposite of America's best interest at heart.

  • Re:Uh, what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HornWumpus (783565) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:07AM (#47222245)

    it's easier to pretend that those damn [other party] have the opposite of America's best interest at heart.

    Yet you somehow manage to blame the party that passed the bill in the house and doesn't control the Senate.

    Not a surprise. Exactly what we've come to expect from you.

  • Re:Politics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jellomizer (103300) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:17AM (#47222339)

    I do listen to NPR. They have gotten a bit more moderate, however their is a liberal tone in their discussions.

    They are not Rant Radio. But they are more apt to paint a negative image to the Tea Party without trying to show their virtues. As well the Occupy movement they made them seem a bit more organized and virtuous then they actually were.

    That said NPR actually tries to give you news, Not commentary. But they get their views out in deciding what stories to play, and what isn't worth it.

  • Re:Politics (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:22AM (#47222385) Journal
    Wait, what? The "Right Wing" Republican House PASSED the bill; it is the Democrats who control the Senate that pulled it. How does that reconcile with your nice little political rant?
  • Re:Uh, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:23AM (#47222387) Journal

    Or, to put it another way, Congressmen are vile repugnant greedy pigs.

  • Re:Uh, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HornWumpus (783565) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:25AM (#47222405)

    Except that's not what happened here. In this case the party in charge of the Senate prevented it from leaving committee. Protecting their shyster master's cash cow.

  • by The New Guy 2.0 (3497907) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:45AM (#47222541)

    Patents in the USA are a monopoly granted by the Constitution and laws that follow in order to provide a way for inventors to make money for a limited time, then depositing the idea in the public domain so others can manufacture the product or use the idea to expand upon it. It's all about encouraging innovation, because without a patent system, there'd be no incentive to do so and the inventor would have to find other jobs.

  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:53AM (#47222601)

    So once people say we will limit "abusive patent litigation" what does that mean?

    You worked for 5 years to solve a particular problem and found a unique way to solve it and successfully got a patent or two or three on your solution.

    Should the government now come in and pass a law that says "Bud, you can't sue to get patent royalties?"

    That takes away your asset value, does it not? How do you define "abusive"? Is it only when you sue a Fortune 500 company? Is it only when 20 other patent holders sue a particular company? Or is it only when those companies have lots of lawyers to lobby the US Congress?

    Answer the questions!

  • Re:Uh, what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by whoever57 (658626) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:55AM (#47222629) Journal

    The current Senate leadership has already unilaterally rewritten the rules regarding filibusters and some nominations/appointments;

    The rules are in place to protect the role of money in politics. Allowing bills to be killed without the killer being identified or without the majority party taking any heat over their failure to pass a bill.

  • Re:Uh, what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @12:18PM (#47222809)
    Which is why it makes no sense to me that most Americans who regularly acknowledge that fact pay no attention to what their congressmen are doing. "The government is doing a terrible job" somehow justifies apathy and ignorance about the whole thing. It's insane.

    Whatever the reason for it, I think it's counterproductive to generalize it like that. Congress is dysfunctional, and most politicians can't be trusted. There must be congressmen though, so it is up to the citizens to reign them in by voting, INCLUDING IN THE PRIMARIES, in order to ensure the ones we get are the least overtly corrupt ones.
  • Re:Politics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tomhath (637240) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @01:09PM (#47223249)

    NPR was established as the voice of the Democratic Party back in the 1960's, and it remains so today. If you pay attention to how they report an issue you'll see it immediately.

    I stopped listening to it regularly back in 2008 when they were falling all over themselves to glorify Obama. A typical story would be a minute or two discussing Obama's press releases on the topic followed by a 30 second sound bite of him talking about it; then the reporter would read a 7 second counterpoint with the Republican point of view (and the snark in the reporter's voice was tangible). Yes, they covered both sides of the issue all right.

  • by alen (225700) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @01:13PM (#47223291)

    say you invent a super absorbent material that can you be used in diapers and lots of other things
    you can't sell it as a standalone product because it's designed to be PART OF A PRODUCT
    and you don't want to pay a lawyer or spend months haggling deals with different companies or worry about suing people who rip off your idea
    so you sell it to intellectual ventures or some similar company, get paid and go on to invent something else

    meanwhile the crazy OCD geeks who have mental issues about controlling everything will rant about you on the internet how you are supposed to be handwriting the licensing contracts yourself for the hundred companies you might license a patent to

  • The problem is that the situation you describe fits about 0.1% of patents, or less. The dream of the lone inventor making it big with the help of patent law isn't a fantasy, but it's so rare that it might as well be. In the meantime the current patent law structure serves mostly to impede technological progress and enrich patent attorneys.
  • I disagree.

    Most of the Internet-related patents are so utterly obvious the patents should never have been issued. The reason companies don't want to license them is because thay add no value: The companies' engineers independently reinvented all of those trivially-obvious inventions, and now the patent holders are trying to hold them up for a lot of money. This is evidence that the system is badly broken.

  • by JesseMcDonald (536341) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @03:03PM (#47224327) Homepage

    I'm sorry, were you going for +1, Funny or -1, Naive? What you stated is indeed the standard line in support of patents, but unfortunately for that argument there is little evidence to suggest that patents actually foster innovation. There is, on the other hand, plenty of evidence to support the opposite position, that patents, like pretty much every other monopoly imposed by law, have a tendency to impede natural innovation and raise barriers to entry. Innovation occurred before patents, and would continue to occur if we eliminated all patents tomorrow. Perhaps not exactly the same kind or to the same extent, but rather the kinds and extent of innovation which make sense given supply and demand in the absence of artificial subsidies—the kind where innovators profit by enriching society rather than wasting resources in pursuit of monopoly rent-seeking.

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