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The Courts Patents

'Unpatent' Begins Crowdfunding Challenges To Bad Patents (unpatent.co) 115

"Unpatent is a crowdfunding platform that eliminates bad patents," reads their web site. "We do that by crowdsourcing the prior art -- that is all the evidence that makes clear that a patent was not novel -- and filing reexamination requests to the patent office." An anonymous Slashdot reader reports: "Everyone in the world can back the crowdfunding campaign against the patent," explains their site, which includes a special section with "Featured stupid patents". The first $16,000 raised covers the lawyers and fees at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and "The rest is distributed to those who find valid prior art...any evidence that a patent is not novel. We review all the prior art pieces and reward those that may invalidate a claim... Then, we file an ex partes reexamination to the USPTO."

Their team includes Lee Cheng, the legal officer at Newegg, "worldwide renowned as the patent trolls' nightmare," as well as Lus Cuende, who created his own Linux distro when he was 15 and is now CTO of Stampery, a company using the Bitcoin blockchain to notarize data.

They're currently targeting the infamous US8738435 covering "personalized content relating to offered products and services," which in February the EFF featured as their "stupid patent of the month." Its page on Unpatent.co argues that "Taking something so obvious such as personalizing content and offers...and writing the word online everywhere shouldn't grant you a monopoly over it." Unpatent's slogan? "We invalidate patents that shouldn't exist."
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'Unpatent' Begins Crowdfunding Challenges To Bad Patents

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    There goes my patent on [a-z0-9]*

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Oh, it explains the [abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz012345789]* I've seen. They are trying to circumvent your patent.

    • by donaldm ( 919619 )

      There goes my patent on [a-z0-9]*

      How about:

      Convert all upper case to lower case
      cat my_file | tr '[A-Z]' '[a-z]'
      or
      cat my_file | tr '[:upper:]' '[:lower:]'

      Reverse the options and you can convert lowercase to uppercase. Read the manual entry "tr" for further fun and games.

      We have just invalidated your patent. Now pay court costs and consider yourself spanked, not because you tried such a silly patent but because you did not write in convoluted "legalese" which would enable our lawyers to do some very needed renovations to their

  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Sunday September 18, 2016 @09:44PM (#52914593) Homepage Journal
    The problem is that the patent system is broken. You are just treating the symptoms, not curing the disease. You are making the lawyers lot of money though I guess, which is probably why the Newegg lawyer thought of this brilliant idea.
    • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Sunday September 18, 2016 @09:59PM (#52914653) Homepage

      Morally speaking if you invalidate a patent that a corrupt patent office approved without obvious due diligence, should you not be able to recover that cost from the corrupted patent office and then legally speaking be able to charge the approving officer of that patent with a constitutional crime ie approving a patent that did not adhere to constitutional requirements.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Who knows, IANAL (I like ANAL).

      • -1 Baseless Namecalling. There are many problems with the patent system, and IP laws in general. Corruption at the USPTO isn't one of them. If you have evidence of actual corruption -- you know, bribery, graft, extortion, embezzlement, favoritism based on political patronage -- please provide. Or are we all just going to become little Donald Trumps and say mean words instead of making reasoned arguments?
        • -1 Baseless Namecalling. There are many problems with the patent system, and IP laws in general. Corruption at the USPTO isn't one of them. If you have evidence of actual corruption -- you know, bribery, graft, extortion, embezzlement, favoritism based on political patronage -- please provide. Or are we all just going to become little Donald Trumps and say mean words instead of making reasoned arguments?

          Would it be name calling to say the OP sounded like some alt+right screedism? Corruption versus a bad paradigm years ago by USPTO office people who didn't understand computing, and therefore didn't understand the unintended consequences.

          So yeah, my money is on pepe' doin their thing.

        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          Each and every falsely approved patent is a sure sign of corruption, each and every single one, that was not novel or unique or new. That it the job of any patent office and they are failing at it and that is corruption of office.

          • Each and every falsely approved patent is a sure sign of corruption, each and every single one, that was not novel or unique or new. That it the job of any patent office and they are failing at it and that is corruption of office.

            You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

      • by oic0 ( 1864384 )
        Just make the company liable for paying the person any and all proffit they made from licensing the patent. Let free market handle it.
      • Morally speaking if you invalidate a patent that a corrupt patent office approved without obvious due diligence, should you not be able to recover that cost from the corrupted patent office and then legally speaking be able to charge the approving officer of that patent with a constitutional crime ie approving a patent that did not adhere to constitutional requirements.

        Pepe'?

      • by Toad-san ( 64810 )

        Wot? Hold a stupid, lazy, possibly corrupt gummint official responsible for his actions? Now you're just talking crazy!

        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          Stop with the bullshit lazy government worker crap, it was always a lie a joke, sure there are bad ones but in the minority. The real problem ones are political appointees joining in on the corruption of the corporate selected politicians. So corrupt corporations, get corrupt politicians elected and those corrupt politicians put corrupt people (approved by those corporations) in charge of government departments, to run them into the ground, to hand out no bid contracts, to privatise elements at a major loss

    • by SlaveToTheGrind ( 546262 ) on Sunday September 18, 2016 @10:53PM (#52914787)

      You are making the lawyers lot of money though I guess

      How? Read their site -- the donated money in excess of the PTO filing fees gets paid to the prior art searchers.

      which is probably why the Newegg lawyer thought of this brilliant idea

      Or maybe it's because every bad patent that's killed through this process is one less bad patent that Newegg may have to pay real money to fight later on.

      • You are making the lawyers lot of money though I guess

        How? Read their site -- the donated money in excess of the PTO filing fees gets paid to the prior art searchers.

        Which is in and of itself a chore, given that I've seen a few patents that I'm not that sure were not in point of fact created by a very good parody generator that has been well-fed on patent applications. I can fully believe that a good prior art searcher deserves fully to be paid.

        I'd also like to feel a bit more confident that you couldn't manage to get the patent office to grant a patent on a filing that is nonsensical, but I don't expect that to happen.

    • by renegadesx ( 977007 ) on Sunday September 18, 2016 @11:35PM (#52914905)

      Agreed, this is what Slashdotters have been saying for over a decade now, but still there is no political apetite from either side of politics in just about all western countries from actually addressing this at the cause.

      Meanwhile patent wars are being fought all over the world hurting consumers world wide because at the end of the day they are the ones that are paying for this nonsense. At least there is someone out there trying to fix something. Yes it's like pissing into the ocean but if a few stupid patents get squashed that's still better than none.

    • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Monday September 19, 2016 @01:18AM (#52915213) Journal

      There is one fact which is rarely pointed out when discussing patent trolls, but I think it's important.

      Over 80% of all patent suits are filed by just four trolls.
      Obviously some patent litigation has to do with legitimate disputes, so those four trolls do probably 95% of the trolling. If you put those four out business, that takes care of 95% of the problem. It also shows other potential trolls that trolls end up broke.

      The people behind this initiative don't just yip yap about patents on Slashdot for a few minutes, they are professionals who have actually fought these trolls. They understand the problem better than you or I do. If they think this approach will help put the four major trolls out of business, they're probably right.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Over 80% of all patent suits are filed by just four trolls.

        Interesting. Can you please list them?

      • by plover ( 150551 )

        [ Sorry in advance for the stupid l33t spelling, but the lameness filter won't let me write the word tr0ll.]

        I wonder about "patent tr0lls". The inventor patents Invention X, then wants to monetize their invention. They can build a business (slow and risky) or they can sell their patent to someone else, such as a manufacturer, in exchange for money. Whether or not they get a lot of money or a little money is not important; what is important is that they agreed to the sale. The patent now belongs to Compa

        • Actually, I think the main reason they're considered evil is because their behavior is fundamentally a legal form of extortion--it would be like if I started claiming you trespassed on my property...because your shadow happened to possibly cross just slightly into it, maybe. These are not companies that in their behavior can be distinguished from Investment Company Q which will actively do things like try to find a company to license the patent out to, or offer Companies A, B and C a chance to license X be

        • I agree there are perfectly reasonable and legitimate reasons to sell a patent, and for the buyer to license it.

          The few companies who file the vast majority of patent suits (the trolls) are characterized by attempting to retroactively license questionable patents and engaging in various forms of generally predatory conduct in so doing. This combination of factors has a siginificant subjective element, you know when someone is being a slimeball even though you can't establish a rigorous definition of "slime

    • by Anonymous Coward

      In addition to SlaveToTheGrind's comments:

      The disease in the USPTO is a lack of funding to bring in enough competent personnel to do enough research to be able to reject invalid patents. The USPTO makes _more_ money if filers keep coming back with more narrowly-worded patent applications to bypass the latest rejection (and the fees to examine the latest submission). They make _less_ money if the filers get a patent accepted that never should have been accepted.

      Newegg and its partner organizations _are_ trea

    • by luisi ( 4713957 ) on Monday September 19, 2016 @04:14AM (#52915501)
      Hi there, Luis from Unpatent here. I agree the patent system is broken. However, the same way as we cannot cure VIH right away, we gotta treat the symptoms at least. It's the same for our crowdfunding platform. We're actually in the process of automating the lawyers' task in the process, so no, our aim is not to make lawyers rich(er).
      • Hi there, Luis from Unpatent here. I agree the patent system is broken. However, the same way as we cannot cure VIH right away, we gotta treat the symptoms at least. It's the same for our crowdfunding platform. We're actually in the process of automating the lawyers' task in the process, so no, our aim is not to make lawyers rich(er).

        You lost me for a second there on VIH. I assume you're a native Spanish speaker? It's HIV in English. I'm guessing I was not the only one that was slightly thrown by this. Otherwise, your English is excellent.

  • If this is implemented well it could help society a great deal. Another answer to the previous techies helping the world post. If implemented poorly it'll just disappear and no one will give it much thought.
  • bad patents (Score:1, Insightful)

    by jmcvetta ( 153563 )

    All patents are bad patents. The ownership of ideas is immoral and should be abolished.

    • by Tyr07 ( 2300912 )

      Guess you don't own anything.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The concept of ownership historically only applied to scarce goods. It was a solution to a scarcity problem. Knowledge is not scarce, although teaching it may be. The idea of "Intellectual Property" for knowledge is a relative recent one in human history (trying to keep it secret is not, but that is another matter) . Not all new ideas are good, or implemented properly at first try. IP is one of them.
        In a sense you can compare it to slavery. At first it looked like a good idea and solved some problems for so

        • by bv728 ( 943505 )
          Never understood this argument. In some platonic, ideal realm, knowledge/ideas are not scarce, but a person's life/time is. A patent is (supposed to be - I acknowledge the modern system has serious issues) a recognition of the intersection between the time and effort spent on obtaining specialized knowledge, which is not generally available, and labour/time to develop their not-plainly-obvious innovation. The patent isn't acknowledging some form of ownership of an idea, it's a limited license on financial
      • Correct, I do not own a government-granted monopoly on any ideas. I also do not own any slaves. And your point is?

        • by Tyr07 ( 2300912 )

          My point is you sound like a free loader, one of those people who wants everything for free.

          The patent system definitely has significant problems, but getting rid of patents and calling them immortal is a response that isn't thought out at all.

          I'll try to explain it to you.
          Scenario #1
          "Hey Jim, you worked really hard, you should invest that money into developing a better diabetes research."
          Jim responds, "Well, won't that cost a lot of money?"
          "Well, yes Jim, it would"
          Jim responds again, "Well, it's a risk, bu

          • 1. That a certain immoral public policy might sometimes be expedient in a certain economic configuration does not make it any less immoral. Let me emphasize: The question of whether the government ought or ought not grant monopolies on ideas - monopolies that are so similar to ownership that their own advocates describe them as "intellectual property" - is first and foremost a moral question. The ownership of ideas is offensive to human dignity. It must be abolished now.

            2. Dude, you are dreaming if you

            • by Tyr07 ( 2300912 )

              You completed ignored the problem that would occur if they didn't have patents.

              Congratulations, you're part of the problem. You're one of those individuals who simply say I want this, I don't care about the consequences, no I will not provide solution, I just want you to not do X.

              • Congratulations, you're on the wrong side of history.

                Since you apparently didn't read before, allow me to repeat:

                Dude, you are dreaming if you think those folksy anecdotes even sort of approximate how the real capitalist economy works.

                • by Tyr07 ( 2300912 )

                  I'll repeat, you've completed ignored the problem that would occur, again.

                  Do you think that people would invest their money in expensive lengthy processes that may not yield results and can be easily copied?

                  Do you think they'd be like, "Yeah fuck it, get a biolab going and invest tons of my money into it, I want to lose money".
                  All you've done is tongue in cheek responses about "What they say" and folksy crap. You sound like a hippy that doesn't know anything and you're going to start telling me how "It's th

    • But then you run into a primary problem of capitalism: Why would anyone invent anything anymore instead of saving the money, waiting for someone else to do it, then invest the money in technology to mass produce and sell whatever someone else invested time and energy into to invent it?

      • Re:bad patents (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jmcvetta ( 153563 ) on Monday September 19, 2016 @05:19AM (#52915633)

        What you describe is but a lesser example of the many problems with capitalism. However it seems implausible that, without immoral ownership of ideas, innovation will just grind to a halt. People were inventing things long before these badlaws were enacted, and will continue to do so in their absence.

        • Yes. People were. People were indeed often inventing for invention's sake. And many inventors died impoverished and penniless despite coming up with something that was a revolution to the world. There was this saying about Goodyear that "if you find a man, clothed in rubber from head to toe (which was an incredibly expensive stuff back then), but without a penny to his name, you found Goodyear".

          But the times when big breakthroughs were the work of single men are past. We still have ingenious people, no doub

          • Which doesn't really answer the question of how, precisely, do you propose we reward people for putting forward the time and effort to make these breakthroughs and then share them? The only thing wrong here is that you're specifically attributing this problem to capitalism, when this is a problem for any system--what incentive do I have to come up with a brilliant idea that solves one of your problems...and then share it?

            The fundamental question here is: Do those who invent have less of a right to remunera

            • I never questioned a time limited monopoly on intellectual property, what exactly is your problem? That's basically what I said, that you have to give corporations (rather than people, who MIGHT do it out of curiosity or their own, from a purely economical point of view irrational, reasons) a financial incentive to invent or they will not do it.

    • I am so glad we have millions of inventors out there who are willing to risk a lot of capital and personal effort into turning a novel idea into a real product and then try to introduce it into a market where Microsoft, Apple, IBM, or any other big player out there is free to take your idea; copy it; and crush you. So, let's abolish all patents and then be really surprised when nobody bothers to invent something new. It will leave us with a good, warm feeling because we will never know what we are missing.
    • Ideas cannot be patented.
      Novel and useful implementations of ideas can be patented.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    There are already statistics that show some applicant/lawyer teams especially able to are able to push questionable patents thru the system.
    Similar story for which districts to sue folks.

    I wonder if there are any statistics as to which patent examiners approve which patents.
    Perhaps the system forces some examiners to work in fields they shouldn't.

    Such statistics might make it easier to raise a systemic challenge instead of slogging it out patent by patent or claim by claim.
    On the other hand, the patent off

  • Nike Free Running [freetnmcmc.com] Adidas Beckenbauer Trainers are among the best selling retro Adidas trainers that were launched in. At that time they were used as training shoes but now they are worn as all-purpose football shoes. These black and gold shoes are a classic that can be worn any time of the year. Adidas Spezial Trainers that were introduced in 1979 look exceptionally good with jeans. These shoes are sported by world best players and come in three colours. The ones in navy blue and sky blue combination are
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Constitution says:

    "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;"

    The patent system as it is constituted does the exact reverse. It does not "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts" but instead *impedes* the "Progress of Science and useful Arts". If someone brought a case to the Supreme Court, perhaps they would have a chance to declare

  • Given access to the pixels in a bit-mapped character, how would you blink a cursor? You'd XOR the pixels in the cursor. It's trivial. Give a kid access to the logical operations available on 8-bit microprocessors and she'll probably reinvent this within a week. But cadtrack was granted U.S. Patent 4,197,590. They filed a lawsuit against Commodore computers. A US judge filed an injunction against Commodore blocking its sale of the Amiga CD32. This cemented Microsoft's virtual monopoly on desktop computers, s
  • If I could get a tax break for donating to challenge patents I'd be really all for it. Could they get 501(c)(3) status?

  • I noticed that a couple of the patents featured on the site are listed as expired? Can someone explain why there's a point to invalidating expired patents? Doesn't the expiration effectively place that invention into the public domain?

  • Patents are -not- to protect your ownership of an idea, or to help you make lots of money.

    Patents are to encourage people to -disclose- ideas so that they may be recorded and not lost, as happened many times in history (and before).
    And it is part of the reason the U.S. (and now others) has advanced so far, so fast.

    The normal way is to keep things a trade secret, which is great for the inventor but -not- so great for the nation or for humanity.

    But a way to record prior art, that was never patented, would mak

  • When they learn to create a web site that works without Javascript loaded from a dozen external domains, I'll be glad to take a look.

    Lordy, but I'm tired of web developers who don't create POSH sites that degrade gracefully when scripting is disabled. For a handful of RIAs that's understandable - they can't do anything useful without scripting - but for everyone else it's inexcusable laziness.

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