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Last post Author Topic: More ammunition why patents are EVIL  (Read 13498 times)

wraith808

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More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« on: July 06, 2010, 03:43:45 PM »
07-06-10kindpatp.jpg

http://www.engadget....ted-barnes-and-nobl/

So, let me get this straight.  Amazon had the patent in the pipeline since 2006, without it being revealed, and in the meantime, Barnes & Noble releases the nook, which apparently violates the patent.  How is this fair?
« Last Edit: July 08, 2010, 11:03:33 AM by wraith808 »

zridling

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2010, 04:55:17 PM »
If corporations and various companies decided to start actively enforcing their patents, you'd see almost all software grind to a halt around the world, or at least its innovation. I figure this is why most hackers code without looking up patents first (willful infringement carries much greater penalties). But it's the most commonsensical things that get patented, e.g., Apple patented "gestures" on a flat screen a few years ago. Really? Gestures!

MilesAhead

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2010, 05:45:43 PM »
I knew a guy who was a welder.  He paid an attorney to attempt to patent welding bicycle hand brakes onto wheel chairs.  Apparently other than those stupid lever things that wedge the wheel, and a "parking brake" with 106 moving parts that engages when the person gets out of the chair, there's no brakes that can be applied.  His idea was that the person wheeling the patient should have hand brakes on the chair handles to slow down going down ramps etc..

I suggested he just open a side business welding the things on instead of trying to patent it.  But he didn't want anyone to steal his idea!!!




iphigenie

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2010, 02:17:52 AM »
Patents certainly do seem to kill competition and innovation - and oddly enough industries without patents seem to do fine...

But the immediate problem here is people getting such broad sweeping patents (in this case it could perhaps also apply to dual screen tablets, the nintendo DS, and some phones) - someone in the patent office should be able to see that these are not specific enough. It also is quite damaging that amazon has no device that uses the patented concept, how can you patent something you dont exploit, just to prevent others from jumping ahead of you?

iphigenie

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2010, 02:18:37 AM »
better buy a nook now :)

Renegade

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2010, 07:20:22 AM »
At some point the insanity really needs to end. But when will that be?

I still want to patent breathing... ;)
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MilesAhead

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2010, 04:08:11 PM »
At some point the insanity really needs to end. But when will that be?

I still want to patent breathing... ;)

Reminds me of a stand-up routine I saw. I can't remember the name of the comic.  But the premise was, imagine if they charged for air like they do for water and electric... "I'd be standing on the street corner gasping..  hey buddy, I'm a month behind.. wheez wheez, on my air payment... got any spare change so I can catch my breath?"

steeladept

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2010, 09:41:03 AM »
At some point the insanity really needs to end. But when will that be?

I still want to patent breathing... ;)
I always thought of the delicious irony of patenting patents and/or the patenting process...

mouser

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2010, 10:40:15 AM »
i think this amazon patent example is a terrific demonstration of the irony and despicableness of the patent process.. notice that the patent in question was for an ebook design that amazon doesn't seem to have any intention of using.. it's probably just one of a thousand patents that amazon has hired a team of people to write and file, as a kind of field of landmines to discourage and attack other potential competitors and make money through lawsuits.  If you are a big corporation, filing patent applications is a like a way to feed the lawyer pool you keep in the moat outside your castle.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2010, 12:48:59 PM by mouser »

wraith808

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2010, 11:02:29 AM »
+1.  I really like your description :)

steeladept

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2010, 12:43:30 PM »
Well I guess if you are paying the lawyers all that money anyway, you have to keep them employed doing something until the lawsuits show up.  :-\

MilesAhead

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2010, 03:05:29 PM »
Well I guess if you are paying the lawyers all that money anyway, you have to keep them employed doing something until the lawsuits show up.  :-\

Which is why many people argue against having a full-time legislature.  ;)

wraith808

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2010, 06:19:20 PM »
http://gigaom.com/20...patent-infringement/

Patenting an idea basically.  How idiotic is this. 

Deozaan

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2010, 05:40:29 AM »
I'm not sure patents are themselves entirely evil. I think they are probably being used in an evil way. But I think it may be more of the way the system is set up than the idea and function of a patent itself.

Admittedly I don't know much about how patents work, but I'm under the impression that they have a relatively short lifespan (7 years?) compared to copyright (lifetime+70 years or something obscene like that?).

I think the system should be reformed in a way to reject patents that are so broad and generic. Though they are probably designed that way because if they are specific then a competitor only has to change one of the specific things and it would no longer be violating the patent. I think reasonable limits on the lifetime of the patent should be enforced as well, to give those who come up with something truly unique a chance to profit from it (and potentially recover any R&D costs involved in producing whatever it was that was patented).

I also believe that, along with the rest of the law system, it should be rewritten and handled better to work more on the spirit of the law and not the letter of the law. The way the law is interpreted and enforced (letter of the law) results in impossible to read Legalese where they have to define every possible meaning of a word or make the laws extremely broad or else criminals will get away on technicalities (read: imperfections of our language to describe ideas).

Instead, a law should be written, followed by a description of the intent behind the law. Then it should be left to the judge(s)/jurors to interpret the law on a case-by-case basis rather than relying on technical meanings of the language and precedents set in other cases.

Doing that alone would probably result in the majority of lawyers being put out of a job. Immediately making the world a better place. ;)

I think that's why lawyers have had such a general bad reputation all throughout history. Because all they have to do is twist words around to mean what they want, perverting the intention of the law to meet the agenda of the client with the most money. Of course, not all lawyers are like that, but the ones who are in it for the money (with little regard for justice) would soon move on to other things, I think, if the spirit method was used.

Sorry, that went a bit off topic, but it was my intent to look more to the root of (patent) evil (how the law is interpreted), rather than the symptoms of evil (patents themselves).


JavaJones

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2010, 04:04:35 PM »
The idea of a part of every law attempting to explain the "intent" is really interesting. Probably hard to realize in practice, but very interesting indeed.

There are many problems with patents but the fundamental idea is not so bad. It's just that, as with everything, it can be abused, and companies in particular are prone to doing so because they are amoral (because they're not entities that can have morals! :D). The problem is that companies are the main money centers of our world, and everyone wants money, including politicians, money creates influence, corporations therefore wield greater influence than people, and thus the laws shift to favor the corporation.

Anyway, there are a couple of patent system reforms I think are fairly critical.

#1: "Open source" the patent review process. Anyone can submit a patent and once submitted they have first chance at being granted one, but like any patent their application must be reviewed for prior art, uniqueness of the invention, etc. This should be judged by the population at large, not by a relatively few patent evaluators who couldn't possibly individually have the education necessary to properly evaluate evey patent. Imagine the Wikipedia model being applied to patent evaluation. 90% of patents would probably be thrown out within a week, either because there is significant prior art out there (nothing is better at finding prior art than "the crowd"), or because the invention is obvious and can be demonstrated to be so.

#2: Incentivize the *application* of patented ideas. Or, to look at it another way, discourage or penalize those who patent something and don't actually implement it in a product or service. This would address a multitude of patent-driven ills, from "patent trolls" who survive solely off litigation (contributing nothing whatsoever positive to society), to large companies who buy up patents that threaten their business model or products and just sit on them. The question of course is how to incentivize patent use. Various fee structures or "patent taxes" have been discussed which could potentially do this, and this ties in to the next point.

#3: Restructure the fees to reward single/first-time filers and increase costs for those who spam the system or are large patent holders. In other words if you have 1 patent, filing is free or cheap. If you are filing for your 5th patent, it's $1,000. Filing for you 10th? $10,000. 20th? $50,000. It's not a linear scale, it should go up quickly, perhaps even exponentially, and by the time you're looking at your 100th patent, let alone 1000th, it should give even large corporations pause to think just how valuable a given patent really is. Some might argue that there are a few highly prolific inventors who would be hurt by this, but A: many of those inventions might be invalidated if some of these other rules were in effect and B: how many of those prolific patenters actually do anything with most of thier parents? (see #3)

#4: Patent term reform. 20 years, which is the generally agreed upon standard these days due to TRIPS, WTO, etc. is just too long. The world moves too fast. 10 years would be better, but even that is questionable. The period should basically be long enough to bring the most complex possible individually patentable invention to market, and to capitalize on it for a few years at most. Personally I think anything more than 2 or 3 years of market *exclusivity* is unnecessary. If you figure the development of very complex technology may take 3 or 4 years to bring to market, and then add on 2-3 years for sales exclusivity, then perhaps 6-8 years makes more sense. I'd be OK seeing 10.

#5: Patent maintenance fees, which already exist, should be extracted yearly rather than every few years, and should also depend on the number of patents held. If you have 100 patents, your maintenance fees are higher.

#6: Life forms should not be patentable. Period. Neither should business methods or software. Anything that is subject to copyright should not also be patentable (e.g. software).

So those are my simplistic ideas. I doubt any will ever get implemented. The fee increases alone, particularly targeted at large patent holders, would help with the patent office's budget problems. Oh yes, and the patent office income should only be usable for patent office purposes. :P

- Oshyan

steeladept

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2010, 12:30:25 PM »
Anyway, there are a couple of patent system reforms I think are fairly critical.

#1: "Open source" the patent review process. Anyone can submit a patent and once submitted they have first chance at being granted one, but like any patent their application must be reviewed for prior art, uniqueness of the invention, etc. This should be judged by the population at large, not by a relatively few patent evaluators who couldn't possibly individually have the education necessary to properly evaluate every patent. Imagine the Wikipedia model being applied to patent evaluation. 90% of patents would probably be thrown out within a week, either because there is significant prior art out there (nothing is better at finding prior art than "the crowd"), or because the invention is obvious and can be demonstrated to be so.
- Agreed

#2: Incentivize the *application* of patented ideas. Or, to look at it another way, discourage or penalize those who patent something and don't actually implement it in a product or service. This would address a multitude of patent-driven ills, from "patent trolls" who survive solely off litigation (contributing nothing whatsoever positive to society), to large companies who buy up patents that threaten their business model or products and just sit on them. The question of course is how to incentivize patent use. Various fee structures or "patent taxes" have been discussed which could potentially do this, and this ties in to the next point.
- Agreed x 10.  

#3: Restructure the fees to reward single/first-time filers and increase costs for those who spam the system or are large patent holders. In other words if you have 1 patent, filing is free or cheap. If you are filing for your 5th patent, it's $1,000. Filing for you 10th? $10,000. 20th? $50,000. It's not a linear scale, it should go up quickly, perhaps even exponentially, and by the time you're looking at your 100th patent, let alone 1000th, it should give even large corporations pause to think just how valuable a given patent really is. Some might argue that there are a few highly prolific inventors who would be hurt by this, but A: many of those inventions might be invalidated if some of these other rules were in effect and B: how many of those prolific patenters actually do anything with most of thier parents? (see #3)
- No.  There are too many legitimate situations where multiple patents would be required, unless there was a way to use these multiple patents (even if held by other patent-holders) for specific and unique ideas.  Many specialized engineering firms come to mind.  They create a very complex machine, but to properly patent it, they must patent all subsystems as well or they become subject to patent infringement by using these subsystems that mimic other patents in form or function even if it isn't with the same intent or purpose.  Moreover (in a worst case scenario), without patenting these subsystems, someone else can come in, patent the subsystem, and after approval, they can extract royalties for the subsystem they didn't even invent - they just saw it and found it unpatented.  
Another example you point to is the perennial inventor who patents inventions with the hope and intent to sell them (A.K.A. R&D companies).  This may be a gray area, but it is a legitimate (if morally questionable) business model.  Putting them out of business may be one way to curb the issue, or it may just be a way to discourage inventions by these people and organizations.

#4: Patent term reform. 20 years, which is the generally agreed upon standard these days due to TRIPS, WTO, etc. is just too long. The world moves too fast. 10 years would be better, but even that is questionable. The period should basically be long enough to bring the most complex possible individually patentable invention to market, and to capitalize on it for a few years at most. Personally I think anything more than 2 or 3 years of market *exclusivity* is unnecessary. If you figure the development of very complex technology may take 3 or 4 years to bring to market, and then add on 2-3 years for sales exclusivity, then perhaps 6-8 years makes more sense. I'd be OK seeing 10.
- I am split on this and think it should be part of the patent process.  There should be a review of recoverability (or whatever you want to call it) and it should be based on that.  In some cases, 20 years may seem particularly short, in other cases, 5 years may be ridiculously long.  Remember, the invention is designed and ready before the patent process begins, so you should be able to bring it to market long before the patent is awarded - that is what the Patent Pending means.  Also remember that Patent Pending provides most of the same protections as the actual patent until such time as it is denied.  I would like to see Patent Pending get it's own lifespan of less than a year (far too many companies take advantage of it by prolonging the pending as long as possible before starting the clock!).

#5: Patent maintenance fees, which already exist, should be extracted yearly rather than every few years, and should also depend on the number of patents held. If you have 100 patents, your maintenance fees are higher.
- Agreed on the yearly but flat rate.  See above on the other part of the topic.

#6: Life forms should not be patentable. Period. Neither should business methods or software. Anything that is subject to copyright should not also be patentable (e.g. software).
- Agreed!  Also w/ regard to software, I believe the copyright should only be on the product and not the code structures.  While it is easy to rebrand a product and keep the same code, by patenting code structures you prevent use outside of your protected area which is just wrong.  It creates situations where far too many people have to create far too much (often bloated) code for no good reason. Moreover, it is difficult to prove outside of open source that the code blocks were used, and even harder to prove they were used knowingly since there are only so many ways you can structure a code segment to accomplish any given task.  

Looking back, I guess I just reiterated the difference between copyright and patent with regard to code, but it is something worth noting again anyway  :D
« Last Edit: July 12, 2010, 12:32:19 PM by steeladept »

Deozaan

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #16 on: July 13, 2010, 05:06:40 PM »
I thought this was relevent:

crappy patent.jpg
The 10 Most Ridiculous Inventions Ever Patented


Some are stupid, but seem to be patentable inventions, others are more of the "people have been doing that forever, how can you patent that?" type of thing.


MilesAhead

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #17 on: July 13, 2010, 07:23:36 PM »
The one I liked was the automatic top hat tipper. No need to reach up to the brim. If you were the first on your block to have the automatic top hat tipper in your top hat, you merely inclined your head slightly and the mechanism would do the rest!!

brotman

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL a contrarian viewpoint
« Reply #18 on: July 17, 2010, 03:35:50 PM »
A disclaimer: I am not a patent lawyer, nor do I play one on TV :)  The ideas shared here are my own, not IBMs (Though my two decades of employment there may have colored my thinking)

My main point/Question: Is it Patents that are evil or just Unreasonable Patents???

O.K., while I agree that patents are sometimes too broad, there is something to be said for protect one's intellectual property.  As a former IBM engineer with my name on two patents,  I've had some experience with this topic.  IBM, for example wanted to have a large, valuable, patent portfolio for business reasons. Specifically, it was to protect their ability to innovate and engineer products without being overly concerned with infringing others' patents.  This occurred fairly often and there was always some little inventor waiting to soak IBM for a patent he/she/it held. Often these patents were valid and the inventor deserved to be compensated.  Sometimes, like the examples given above, they were overly general and ridiculous in scope (or obvious to any skilled practitioner of the art).  Sometimes IBM could point to holding a patent  which covered the idea in question or point to "prior art" which made the Patent in question less general or restrictive. I am aware of relatively few examples of IBM going after people/organizations using patents from their portfolio in general use.   There is much that can be said to justify these actions. Although, such protectionism did exist, it's worth noting that most of IBM's competitors had cross licensing aggreements with IBM, so the issue  was often moot.  Additionally, IBM ,like all technology based companies, used it's own extensive patent portfolio as a bargaining chip in inter-company negotiations.  To my knowledge IBM was always willing to allow patent use for a"resonable" fee.  The legal department seemed more hard nosed about trademark infringements than patents. 

Intellectual Property is a valuable asset and inventors (individual or corporate) deserve to have their ideas Protected.  Theft of IP (intellectual Property is a real concern for those who deal in ideas.  The Patent System was intended, in part, to ensure that good ideas get published, protected for a limited time, and then become public domain in order to foster better communication of ideas (as opposed to being hidden away forever as Trade Secrets.

The real problem is not patents per se, but the woefully understaffed, under-funded, patent office, which is sometimes so overloaded and so far behind the times that they can't recognize a good idea, or, they grant a patent to an obvioius, trivial, or overly broad idea, thus stifling the  very process it's intended to promote and protect.

JMHO,
Chuck

Chuck Brotman

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2010, 10:37:55 AM »
Broad patents = bad - the patent granting bodies need to be a lot more restrictive (and have qualified employees). Patent trolling shouldn't be legal; patents should be revoked if you don't produce a product within a reasonable timespan. Prior art should always null a patent's validity.

I'm not entirely against patents though, not even software patents; it's fair enough that you get a chance to profit from being innovative. The way the system currently works is entirely despicable, though.
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MSchantz

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #20 on: August 19, 2010, 10:22:21 AM »
I am a patent lawyer, but I'm not your patent lawyer. If I were, you'd know better.

The patent shown in the OP does not cover all dual-screen e-readers. The title of a patent does not define the rights of its owner. The abstract doesn't either. The drawings don't either.

There is no good reason to penalize inventors (be they individuals, small companies, or large companies) who do not have the resources to market their inventions. Nor to call them names.

Patents and parts of patents that cover (actually cover, not "are misinterpreted by ignorant people and tech media personalities to cover") prior art are already invalid. So:
  • Talking about patenting breathing does not advance any legitimate discussion.
  • Table-thumping about evil and despicableness sure appears foolish when the opinion is based on (at best) misinformation.
  • Talking about forcing losing patent owners to (perhaps in the judge or jury's discretion) pay the accused infringer's attorney fees might actually address the problem.

If you don't know, ask. Don't be a windbag.
</rant>

JavaJones

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #21 on: August 20, 2010, 01:21:44 AM »
Now that we have a copyright lawyer in our midst, I certainly will ask! I'd like nothing more than to be better informed about the whole system and process. I've read quite a number of articles and even many of the basic laws behind it, as well as about the application process, but that still leaves a lot of questions and concerns. So thanks for joining the discussion, I hope you stick around. :)

- Oshyan

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #22 on: August 20, 2010, 01:29:07 AM »
I am a patent lawyer, but I'm not your patent lawyer. If I were, you'd know better.

The patent shown in the OP does not cover all dual-screen e-readers. The title of a patent does not define the rights of its owner. The abstract doesn't either. The drawings don't either.

There is no good reason to penalize inventors (be they individuals, small companies, or large companies) who do not have the resources to market their inventions. Nor to call them names.

Patents and parts of patents that cover (actually cover, not "are misinterpreted by ignorant people and tech media personalities to cover") prior art are already invalid. So:
  • Talking about patenting breathing does not advance any legitimate discussion.
  • Table-thumping about evil and despicableness sure appears foolish when the opinion is based on (at best) misinformation.
  • Talking about forcing losing patent owners to (perhaps in the judge or jury's discretion) pay the accused infringer's attorney fees might actually address the problem.

If you don't know, ask. Don't be a windbag.
</rant>

Welcome MShantz.

I'd be very interested to hear any further thoughts of yours. Here are a few of my own. (My post above would be understood by those that know me as a cynical statement. I will expand it here.)

Regarding:

Talking about patenting breathing does not advance any legitimate discussion.

It advances the discussion of silliness. :)

But it's still about as valid as many existing patents.

Amazon 1-click.

ORM (Object-Relational Modelling)

See here for a rant on ORM patents. It's simply obvious. Relational models. Object models. Functional models. Bridging the gap between them is obvious and trivial.

More on why software patents are a bad idea.

How does a patent get granted for trivial mathematical principles? It happens.

Have a look at this video for information on how adding names to a matrix gives you a patent. Some <expletive> has taken out a patent on Singular Value Decomposition and distances between vectors. Ahem... Patent #6,735,568.

This is very far from being a windbag. It's simply pointing out some complete idiocy. Like really... Basic, trivial mathematics get a patent? Somebody obviously didn't pay attention in class if they think that matrices are "non-obvious" or "novel". Others find it ridiculous as well. As do others.

Other views about how software patents are undesirable are here, here, here, and here, and that's not even a start.

Why can't so many companies use open source software? Because of potential patent issues down the road. Oracle is currently attacking Google over Android and its use of Java.

"Process" was added to what is patentable in 1952, prior to software. It was meant for industrial purposes.

In 1978 the Supreme Court ruled that non-novel mathematical algorithms are not patentable.

Breathing. Mathematical algorithms. They are both trivial.

You see, it's not that we're not advancing legitimate discussion... It's that the topic of discussion (software patents) is not legitimate.

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Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

SchoolDaGeek

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #23 on: July 03, 2011, 06:42:19 PM »
Doing that alone would probably result in the majority of lawyers being put out of a job. Immediately making the world a better place. ;)

Interestingly enough, Jesus said that you shall always have the poor with you, and it were the Lawyers of the Law that sentenced him to death.
My Karma just ran over your Dogma.

zridling

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Re: More ammunition why patents are EVIL
« Reply #24 on: July 04, 2011, 02:24:55 AM »
The current U.S. patent backlog is sitting at 1.26 million patents. There might actually be some innovation among those. But I assume 1.25 million of them are patents on things that aren't really patentable, e.g., "Brown-colored desks!" In 2010, Congress had the US Patent Office change the process from "First-to-file" to "First-to-invent." The lawyers are still enjoying that financial orgasm.