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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.

    • 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.

        • I said that purposeful temporal intransigence was a possible factor. But sure, let's pretend it's all completely non-partisan, since I was suggesting reductionism is a bad idea.

          • Typical. You point the other way, when called on it, you say: OK it was nobodies fault...

            Shyster loving democrats will never end this cash cow and you know it (but are in denial).

            • "Why won't you accept that the people I personally hate are simply evil monsters?"
              --the person pretending that I'm a partisan shill.

              • Your words are your own. No matter who you try to put them on.

                You are a partisan shill. Read your own posts.

                • I do read my own posts. Over and over. Oh man, they're all so great.

                  Good advice! Much appreciated!

        • by guises (2423402)
          He didn't blame either party for this bill, neither party is to blame - both support and opposition were bipartisan. He did say that one party has made a mission of having no bipartisan bills pass until Obama is out of office, and that this fact might have been a factor in some of the opposition. This is entirely possible. He did not blame the bills withdrawal for this, or claim that this was the only factor.

          The bill was withdrawn when its sponsor (D) decided that it wouldn't get enough votes to pass afte
      • Re:Uh, what? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:21AM (#47222377) Journal
        The current Senate leadership has already unilaterally rewritten the rules regarding filibusters and some nominations/appointments; it could very easily do it (and with political/voter impunity as we saw from the previous rewrite) again to push this through. The pulling of a bill in the Senate happens because one man doesn't want a vote on it: Harry Reid. I suspect somewhere he's getting millions - or the promise of tens of thousands of votes - to pull the bill. He's the block in the Senate.
        • 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.

        • Reid isn't the individual person who kept it from the senate floor, it's nice that there's a powerful figure for your ensconce in your conspiracy theory as the core of the problem That does make it easier on you to make it seem like you've got the magic answer to fix the problem.

        • by houghi (78078)

          Just curious: how is this 'voting' going for you?

          • As I live in California, and would like to see responsible Government (fiscally at the very least), it's not going well at all...
            • As I live in the United Stated, and would like to see responsible Government (fiscally at the very least), it's not going well at all...

              Fixed that for you.

              Did you know that, within living memory (mine, anyway), the Republican party believed in a balanced budget, and the Democrats believed in only very moderate deficits by modern standards?

              • My point was that CA is heavily Democrat. I want a return to fiscal sanity (which we have not had since Ike - the last time the US ran an actual surplus and paid down the debt was in 1957), but with California essentially under Democrat lock-down, there is little hope of that. Instead we get spend, spend, tax and spend. Oh and get rid of that pesky bill of rights, too...
                • Why do you think Republicans have any desire for fiscal sanity? Ford was the last such Republican president. Since then, the Republicans have been the party of borrow-and-spend, with at least a serious attempt at sanity under Clinton. Or are the Republicans different in California? Or so long out of power that they may as well profess philosophies they have no intention of complying with?

        • by TubeSteak (669689)

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

          The Senate has traditionally operated on a 51 vote majority.
          For some reason, almost every single Senate vote got turned into a 2/3rds majority.

          What you call "unilaterally rewritten," I would call normalization...
          If the new rules had actually managed to bring filibustering back in line with historic averages.

      • Every single one of those, except for the "lack of popular support" which is just a bald-faced lie, can be boiled down to "the influence of money on politics." You haven't contradicted the person you're replying to, just made a list of largely unnecessary specifics about how they're right.
      • by Livius (318358)

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

        As if there were two parties.

    • 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: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.
    • The ars technica article does. You are probably talking about the opensource.com article - that one really does not say 'why', just 'what'.
    • Re:Uh, what? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gnupun (752725) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:55AM (#47222625)

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

      Or perhaps, the senate wants to prevent the US from turning into a 2nd or 3rd world country? The so-called patent reform treats even valid patents as troll patents, putting a lot of financial pressure on inventors, by making it difficult for inventors to sue infringers. In case of a trial loss, the inventor has to pay the infringer's legal costs, according to the new law. This disincentivizes inventors to patent inventions, resulting in lower product revenue, which in turn reduces GDP of the US, substantially.

      In this washington post article [washingtonpost.com], this letter [washingtonpost.com] explains it better:

      The patent system is the bedrock of the U.S. economy. The future of the U.S. economy and our nation's ability to compete successfully in an increasingly competitive global economy is dependent on Congress fostering a strong patent system that incentivizes innovators to invent. Amending the law as this bill does shortchanges the future of our economy for an unbalanced policy. The stakes are far too high not to get the balance right.
              We cannot support changes to the patent system that substantially weaken all patents. We oppose the legislation that we understand Members are being asked to agree to today and ask that you not support it.

      • we did damn fine for the CENTURIES that we had much less plutocratic patent law.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by gnupun (752725)

          Umm, what centuries are you referring to?

          * 1776 - US Declaration of Independence

          * 1787 - US Constitution Article I, Section 8: The Congress shall have Power ... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

          * 1790 - The Patent Act of 1790 was the first federal patent statute of the United States. It was titled "An Act to promote the Progress of Useful Arts."

          Link [wikipedia.org]

          • by tlambert (566799)

            Umm, what centuries are you referring to?

            * 1776 - US Declaration of Independence

            * 1787 - US Constitution Article I, Section 8: The Congress shall have Power ... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

            * 1790 - The Patent Act of 1790 was the first federal patent statute of the United States. It was titled "An Act to promote the Progress of Useful Arts."

            I believe he meant the two centuries between 1776 and 1976, but if you want to wiggle on the 1790 being 14 years after 1776, since that's about the term of a patent, and you're OK with patent terms that long, then I'll call rounding it up to two centuries an OK thing to do...

          • by Livius (318358)

            Umm, what centuries are you referring to?

            Presumably 18th and 19th.

    • by houghi (78078)

      They are thinking about the wording.

      They can't decide if it should say "For ever", "For always" or "For all eternity". They are luckily clear about the "... and then some." part.

    • Money influences politics isn't really an explanation. It gives the impression people just buy off politics.

      Almost every such policy is partly money, partly ideology, partly special interest, partly regional politics...

      My brother used to be an engineer, and is now in patent law. He genuinely believes that patent law is essential to protecting IP so Western businesses can thrive and long term intellectual property is protected.

      I heard a similar story on TVO (Canada's version of PBS). A bunch of lawyers and s

    • by swillden (191260)

      It's called the influence of money on politics.

      There is money fighting for both sides. Much of the tech industry is fighting for patent reform.

  • People I disagree with?

    That's what we're going to do in here, right?

    • by TWX (665546)
      No we're not!

      How dare you drag down this discussion that way!
    • Re:Can I blame... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jellomizer (103300) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:12AM (#47222299)

      Yes you can, the world would run so much smoother if they all had the same opinions and beliefs that I do.

      This type of thinking is the first step to tyranny. As any opposing opinion must either be from the Stupid (who needs to be reeducated), Coerced (Where we need to find the ring leader spreading the ideas), or from some evil in them (Where they need to be jailed or killed)

      Many Tyrants of the world came from people who had good ideas and gained and used their power to try to make real. Unfortunately there always seems to be a part of the population who has a different view that needs to be controlled.

      In America sometimes I am very frustrated that our government doesn't move much because they just don't seem to agree on any little thing. However due to the fact that they do disagree, and not feel like the government is going to go out and kill them for disagreeing with them is also comforting.

      When you have a government where all the people are working smoothly and efficiently without much conflict. Actually is very scary because you need to ask yourself why does everyone agree with this. Especially as every choice you make normally has some sort of trade-off which someone else may take the different path.

      • Very eloquently spoken, sir. Unfortunately I think that the conflict over patent reform is due not to disagreement about what is the best way to govern progress and invention for the good of the inventor and society. It seems to be a debate between people who want a fair system, and people who think that they need to fuck over everyone in order to get a larger share of of profits in return for doing nothing. (I'm looking at you, defensive patent portfolio holders)

        1000 years ago, those with the biggest ar
        • Thing is, let's ignore the "I've got mine, Jack!" guys, the rent-seekers, and the ideologues. We still won't have a real consensus, except on general things like "loser in frivolous case pays all costs"..

          Patents are intended to foster innovation, according to the US Constitution. What is the best way to do that? We have a conflict between letting somebody profit from exclusive rights to their invention, and letting somebody innovate without patent suits. The same rules aren't optimum for different bu

  • by tysonedwards (969693) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @10:55AM (#47222141)
    When there is money to be made in perpetuating the problem?
    • by tomhath (637240)
      It depends on who profits and who loses. Patent trolls cost many, many businesses a lot of money; there is plenty of support and money for patent reform; the problem is that it only takes one or two politicians in the right place to block it (e.g. a committee chairman or the Senate Majority Leader).
  • I patent the use of the letter E on the internet.

    Cost is $0.0060 per use

    Send payments to Happy Dude, 742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield USA.

    • I've already patented the alphabet (lower and upper case!) so please redirect your payments to
      Sorry Dude, 742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield USA.

      I'll give you $0.0003 for every $0.0060 you collect.

    • Hmm... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:17AM (#47222341)
      I think you'll find that avoiding that particular symbol is fairly straightforward.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Easy for you to say.

  • 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:Politics (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TWX (665546) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:10AM (#47222283)

      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.

      I don't think that we listen to the same radio stations. I listen to NPR a lot (the virtue of driving around a lot during the day) and they talk about issues, not political stances.

      I have heard right-wing radio on at places that I've had to visit, and they talk about their opposition, demonizing them. They didn't really talk about actual issues.

      I attempted to listen to left-wing radio like Air America, and I couldn't. They attempted to operate the same way as right-wing radio. It put me off for the same reason that right-wing radio did, it only served to demonize, not to actually discuss anything. So I went back to NPR to hear about issues again.

      I don't listen to the radio as much as I used to, actually. I realized that the 24 hour news cycle becomes a massively self-referential thing, and that it exists to feed itself on itself and the listener. It has to make things seem important to survive, any little deviation or difference suddenly becomes big news in order to garner the attention needed to keep the advertising dollars rolling in. As a consequence it needs inflammatory people that are willing to say disgusting things, which in-turn destroys polite discourse and factionalizes people that really don't come into this with any stake in it to begin with.

      Turn off your TV, turn off your radio, stop visiting political websites and listening to political podcasts. Go do something for yourself that you choose to do, and the circle-jerk will reduce.

      • 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:5, Interesting)

          by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:35AM (#47222455)

          Also, I've noticed that their non-news programming absolutely has an anti-conservative bent (with some exceptions).

          For example, I really like Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. But the participants tend to take swipes mostly at conservatives and conservative views, and the audience tends to whoop and applaud along the same lines.

          I recall another story where they did a sympathy piece on an illegal immigrant. But they never broached the subject of the people seeking proper visas whom she "cut in line", nor the possible identify fraud if she was using a SS#, nor the other low-skilled Americans who had to compete with here for a limited number of low-skilled jobs. Strangely, when I wrote my local NPR ombudsman regarding this, I never got a reply.

          • by thaylin (555395)

            Well lets see, the people seeking "proper" visas are waiting 21 years already, and there is no evidence that one affects the other

            You stated no evidence that she was using a SS#, so not really an issue

            And for the most part they dont compete with many other low skilled Americans because they do work even they dont want to do for the price.

            So you are upset they did not talk about a 2 non issues and an issue there is no evidence of...

            • Well lets see, the people seeking "proper" visas are waiting 21 years already, and there is no evidence that one affects the other

              Saying there's "no evidence" is a stunningly strong claim. Impressive citation needed.

              You stated no evidence that she was using a SS#, so not really an issue

              I believe most or all jobs require that an employee submits a SS# for tax purposes. So are you saying illegal immigrants (a) don't work, or (b) somehow obtain valid SS#'s, or (c) something else?

              And for the most part they dont compete with many other low skilled Americans because they do work even they dont want to do for the price.

              Say that to someone looking for an over-the-counter job in construction or restaurant work.

              So you are upset they did not talk about a 2 non issues and an issue there is no evidence of...

              Again, it's a very strong claim you're making, and I don't believe your post adequately supported that claim.

              • by Microlith (54737)

                aying there's "no evidence" is a stunningly strong claim. Impressive citation needed.

                You implied that somehow her immigrating illegally had an impact, but no evidence was provided that suggests that there was any actual connection.

                I believe most or all jobs require that an employee submits a SS# for tax purposes. So are you saying illegal immigrants (a) don't work, or (b) somehow obtain valid SS#'s, or (c) something else?

                A lot work without any valid documentation and are paid under the table.

                Say that to som

          • by EXTomar (78739)

            First I must point out: Shows like "Wait Wait..." are entertainment and never present themselves or any of their guests as news or analysis or anything of the like. They don't need to be objective about anything they comment on.

            Secondly: The conservatives make it pretty easy to make fun of them. They can write up a funny joke about a liberal going basaltic because no one is paying attention to global warming or they can write up a funny joke about a conservative who wants to stone to death sinners. I am not

        • by Dorianny (1847922)
          Pointing out that the Tea party's politics of reducing the powers of the federal government, especially its ability to tax and regulate as well as their obsession with imposing austerity measures to service the nation debt, is going to spell disaster for the United States is not liberal politics, it is common sense conclusions. Exposing the lunacy of the far right agenda doesn't automatically make one a left-wing nut.
          • Re:Politics (Score:4, Informative)

            by dcw3 (649211) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:52AM (#47222595) Journal

            You could make the same argument for Republicans or Democrats. You've simply chosen a position, and are claiming the opposition are all lunatics. Please don't pretend to be non-partisan when you clearly are.

            • by thaylin (555395)
              There is no evidence that he is partisan. This discussion was about the tea party, so therefore pointing out the problems with the tea parties agenda is no more partisan than point out the problems with the far lefts platform in a discussion about the far left's platform. He also never claimed they were lunatics. If it was just a general political thread you would have a possible point.
        • by Microlith (54737)

          they are more apt to paint a negative image to the Tea Party without trying to show their virtues.

          That would require the Tea Party to reveal and promote its virtuous attributes, rather than stumping for candidates that advocate for killing gays [huffingtonpost.com] as if we were Saudi Arabia or some other theocratic shit hole.

        • There's a difference between having political beliefs and acting on them (which is a good thing) and demonizing the opposition. Perhaps we need radio stations with different political biases that discuss the issues. (Maybe we have some. I don't listen to the radio much, and I do agree with NPR on many things.)

          Damn, I miss William F. Buckley, Jr. I almost never agreed with him, but he was entertaining and often thought-provoking.

      • The right wing thinks NPR is left wing radio. I agree that Air America is terrible.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tomhath (637240)

        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 poin

        • by TWX (665546)
          Really? Because that was in the height of the Juan Williams era, when he was distorting matters the other way.
    • 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?
    • 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.

      And here's the solution: Stop voting (D) or (R)
      They're the same damned party anyway.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There is no left-wing media in the United States. There is center-right and extreme right. We have no viable parties to the left of center either.

    • by Livius (318358)

      Is pure evil better or worse than the other party (which I assume is impure evil)?

  • I know the USA's banking system is backward, but even so that check was slooooow to clear.

    • Checks are actually moving faster than ever with the Check21 (The 21st Century Checking Act) which went into effect over a decade ago. Now, when WalMart scans a check in front of you at the register, the money instantly moves from your account to WalMart's, and the banks start reconciling where the cash that the transfer represents right away. If there's any delay in a check showing up in your Online Banking, it's because you sent it via the Postal Service and that still takes a little time but is also alwa

  • Duh? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Money buys policy in the US, and patent holders have more money. Did we really even need this question?

  • TLDR (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wienerschnizzel (1409447) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:42AM (#47222505)
    Here's the meat part:

    "This was entirely done by the pharmaceutical industry and the trial lawyers."

    ...

    Pharmaceutical and biotech firms are often plaintiffs in patent disputes and haven't been hit hard by troll lawsuits.

    ...

    Many law firms working in traditional plaintiffs' areas like personal injury or securities class actions have added patent work as other sources have dried up.

    Fucking. Lawyers.

    • Pharmaceutical and biotech firms are often plaintiffs in patent disputes and haven't been hit hard by troll lawsuits.

      Fucking. Lawyers.

      What does that have to do with lawyers? It sounds more like the proposed reforms would have impacted pharma and biotech firms in an way that they viewed negatively, because the harms to them are not balanced by the marginal benefit to them of avoiding troll suits.

      Without knowing specifically what they're complaining about, my guess is one of the definitions of trolls as "non-practicing entities" also scoops up many research universities, like Johns Hopkins (since they do research, get patents, and then lic

      • Because I'm pretty sure it wasn't the CEO's at the biotech and pharma firms that decided they needed to dump money on congress on this issue as if they didn't have better use for their capital. Guess who convinced them to do it...

        Plus, the trial lawyers played no small part in this. Read the article.

        • Because I'm pretty sure it wasn't the CEO's at the biotech and pharma firms that decided they needed to dump money on congress on this issue as if they didn't have better use for their capital. Guess who convinced them to do it...

          The Board of Directors? And yeah, lobbying decisions are absolutely due to the CEOs. I'm not sure what big business experience you have, but even the general counsel isn't pulling the strings that much.

          • I'm not sure what big business experience you have

            A little bit. Specifically issues regarding intellectual property that got escalated up to our CEO. What did I learn of it?

            CEOs of big companies listen to their lawyers very carefully and don't second guess them. At least in tech companies they don't.

  • 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 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.

  • 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 part

    • by alen (225700)

      you're only a patent troll when you invent something that's part of a product people like and the giant megacorp took your idea from 15 years ago when it was ahead of it's time and decided not to pay you. but since people want that feature now and want it for free because now its obvious, you're a patent troll

    • by Anonymous Coward

      How do you define "abusive"?

      When you didn't create the method, you didn't file the patent, and you have never attempted to actually execute the patent?

      You bought the patent from someone else and do nothing but sue other people for infringment. You add nothing to society.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by alen (225700)

        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 everythi

    • by JesseMcDonald (536341) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @03:18PM (#47224431) Homepage

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

      The canonical example of "abusive patent litigation" would be the case where someone else with the same problem came up with the same solution independent of your efforts, and you sued them simply because you happened to register your solution with the patent office first. This covers in particular all the cases of "submarine patents" where someone anticipates a problem and patents all sorts of half-baked variations on possible solutions without actually putting in any of the effort to make them work, and then waits for someone else to do the actual innovation and bring a product to market before suing for infringement.

      Independent invention should be an affirmative defense against claims of patent infringement. Put simply, if you developed a solution yourself, you shouldn't need anyone else's permission to use it. Naturally, the problem is proving that the solutions were really independent, since—unlike copyrights, for the most part—patents cover a very broad domain and two machines or manufacturing processes based on the same work need not show an obvious resemblance. A better solution would be to eliminate patents entirely. They don't really work to encourage innovation, they can't be implemented without violating people's natural rights, and they distort the entire economy for the sake of a mere incentive program.

      • A better solution would be to eliminate patents entirely.

        This is not really the best solution. There are still legitimate businesses using patent laws in legitimate ways to protect themselves - pretty much all industry involved in chemistry, biotechnology and material science. It takes a lot of initial resources to develop a new material or a new drug even though the eventual manufacture of them might be cheap. It would just not make any sense to invest in these things if the minute you get the new drug out of the door a dozen other companies would start selling

  • by SlaveToTheGrind (546262) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @12:01PM (#47222687)

    While it's no doubt fun to rail against Big Pharma and Greedy Trial Attorneys, Occam's Razor still holds true.

    The piece of the proposed legislation that would have made the most meaningful real-world change in the system was making it easier to collect attorney's fees from losing parties that had taken unreasonable positions in the litigation (e.g., trolls). After the Supreme Court expanded the trial courts' ability to do just that in the Octane Fitness and Highmark cases a few weeks ago, that naturally took a significant amount of wind out of the legislative sails.

    The legislative appetite to Just Do Something diminishes quite a bit when the playing field has materially changed and there's not yet any data on how much of the problem was curbed by that change.

  • With all the lobbying going on in Congress it's no wonder that their approval rating is in the dumps. This is another example of something getting held up in committee rather than being submitted for a vote. The committees control everything in congress and if the chairman decides to pull a piece of legislation they can pretty much do it. In this matter the Republican controlled House passed legislation but the Democratic Senate is caught in its own red tape. NPEs are a threat to our economic developme

  • by tambo (310170) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @01:29PM (#47223493)

    I posted an article [usptotalk.com] describing the "why" a month ago. Totally not surprised that the current reform efforts exhibited the same arc.

    That general model is exactly why this initiative collapsed as well. Several aspects of this reform - such as "attributable owner" rules, i.e., implementing laws that require patent applications to reveal the real party of interest in the case, as a measure addressing shell companies - were supported by large interests that benefited from them, and opposed by large interests that didn't. The result is stalemate, just as we've seen countless previous times in the patent "reform" discussion.

    The only measures that make it through the "reform" system are mild improvements that don't affect some entities differently than others. And even those can be difficult - e.g., the first-to-file change in the America Invents Act is great for well-funded enterprises, but more problematic for small businesses. In that case, large enterprises simply steamrollered the opposition with lobbying cash.

    The upshot is that the "reform" sytem is, itself, deeply dysfunctional. An additional tragedy is that efforts that would objectively improve the patent system for everyone, such as giving examiners more time to perform their examination and implementing more accountability for technically incorrect arguments, get lost in the struggle.

I use technology in order to hate it more properly. -- Nam June Paik

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