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Software Patents Not So Abstract When the Lawsuits Hit Home 180

no_such_user writes "It's easy to ignore the controversy surrounding software patents, especially if you don't have the passion for technology which Slashdot readers do. But as Dana Nieder discovered, it's not all about major corporations and obscure patent trolls. Her daughter uses a comparatively inexpensive assistive communication app on their iPad, which is being threatened by the makers of a multi-thousand-dollar hardware device."
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Software Patents Not So Abstract When the Lawsuits Hit Home

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  • Money wins (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 25, 2012 @03:42PM (#39468235)

    In our (North American at least) justice system, it is money that wins the day. If you cannot afford to do legal battle, you lose. Very sad, but until we change it, it is the way things are.

    My only suggestion is if you need the app, make sure you have it and a backup on your ipad. The company may stop producing and supporting it, but if you already have it and it is working, then keep it. (ps. Don't screw around with that ipad, in case you corrupt something and lose the 'irreplacebale' app.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @03:51PM (#39468299)

    Drop a lawsuit to save PR face?

    Muahahahahahahah... oh boy. Sorry, but this was just ... you really are one funny guy. The days when companies cared what people thought about them are over and gone. Ever since they noticed that the average consumer has the memory of a gold fish and any dip in sales due to bad press is at best temporary. If the consumer notices at all.

    For reference, see Sony.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 25, 2012 @03:54PM (#39468319)

    From my limited understanding of this stuff the summaries are meaningless, legally it is the "claims" that are the meat of the argument. Unfortunately there are 144 "claims" in the first and 124 "claims" in the second and while several are "dependent" where they rely on the enforceability of a previous claim, sorting through all of them and working out which apply legally looks like a mammoth task.

    (you might want to check grocklaw later as they may do an analysis of this and they actually have qualifications)

  • Re:Common sense? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @03:54PM (#39468327)

    The dead obvious clause "readily apparent to one skilled in the art" or somesuch, has been ignored for about 20 years now...

  • by sco08y ( 615665 ) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @04:06PM (#39468393)

    We already know that patent laws are fucked up.

    We don't need more emotional testimony dumped into our political and legal processes. It's already fucked up enough from this nonsense. "My cute wonderful 3 year old sweetie who is disabled and just found a way to speak and now a company wants to take that away for profit!"

    The moment someone says that such and such a law has "hit home" is the moment we need to tune them out.

    Because they're now useless as an even remotely objective source of information. Our worst laws are, by and large, the most popular, usually mandates that accomplish the opposite of what they're intended to do or simply fail miserably with terrible side effects. Which then stirs up another emotional mob that tries to fix the new problem!

    We think there are cigar smoking villains in back rooms writing our laws when in fact the real authors are nitwit staffers transcribing the rantings of mobs of emotional idiots. We think that rich villains buy politicians, when, by the numbers, it's almost entirely a case of politicians purchasing voters.

    We seriously need to take a deep fucking breath, rip out about 90% of our laws, and start over.

  • by OliWarner ( 1529079 ) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @04:13PM (#39468433) Homepage

    How is different from people who need and can't afford (or just can't get) certain drugs? TFA's daughter can't talk but millions die because they can't get a $1 vaccine or super-expensive healthcare and cancer treatments.

    Any for-profit company delivering healthcare, drugs and and assistive devices is pitting what they think the market will support against their bottom line. The parent in TFA is losing out because they can't find a device that follows the required IP structure that works for them in the market but why is their need [for parent reform] greater than somebody dying because certain drugs aren't available because they'd never be commercially viable? In both cases people lose out and it's morally atrocious that something as transitory and meaningless as money is hindering quality of life.

    I'll be honest, I don't know the solution. Nuking all patents from space sounds great if you're allergic to showers and buy into the Occupy Everything movements people in the real world realise that RND costs are real. Destroying patents would have a significant and fairly unpredictable effect on the world.

    And you can be sure, whatever the real solution is, whenever it comes along, the companies that own all this IP aren't going to let their patents go without a fight.

  • Horrible Article (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 25, 2012 @04:14PM (#39468443)

    I am against obvious patents, and therefore think that the current system needs reform. I think peer review and shorter time periods are the best solution. But this is a stupid emotional article:

    I’m not going to get into debates about the legal merits of the case, because that’s a conversation in which I would quickly drown...
    Here’s what matters: It’s a very logical assumption (confirmed by the AAC professionals that I’ve spoken with) that if SCS/PRC win this lawsuit, they will eliminate Speak for Yourself, the app that my 3 year old is working her damnedest to learn.

    If the original patents were truly novel, and no app like the one the author's daughter uses would ever have been invented if not for the invention of the original patent, then the author would have no cause for complaint. It is the obviousness of the patents (if that is the case), that is the real question.

    I believe that in order to achieve real patent reform, it is important to stay on topic and avoid emotional, illogical arguments. The key point is that we need a system which rewards people for real inventions that would be unlikely to be developed within a certain amount of time, without the original invention. The length of the patent should reflect how long it would take for that idea to become obvious without the original patent. This is just a rough idea of the real logic that patents should follow but it gives the general idea. This framework doesn't rule out eliminating software patents altogether, but it does require that doing so be based on some kind of cost-benefit analysis, including the incentive to invent new things, not just emotional sob stories.

  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @04:26PM (#39468517)
    Why adapt or die, when you could just manipulate the law to keep innovation from affecting you?
  • Re:Patent links (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @04:28PM (#39468525) Homepage

    Most of the litigators I know that're good in this space happen to bill at $350/hr. The only bunch I know of that charge $500/hr are people from places like Cravath. Most of the companies that hire those sorts of lawyers don't bother with idiot lawsuits like this one.

    As for months of a legal battle, it depends on the "big company" as to whether or not they're willing to piss $100k-1mil on the floor and lose the patent that they spent some $20-50k on getting, along with possibly losing a countersuit if one's filed.

    In this case, though, there's a dead-on, you lose piece of prior art involved- Apple patented the base concept in 1992 []. This isn't some almost item. It's the same concept/implementation- all that's differing is the verbiage in the patent copy for what they're doing and why. I'd put up a fight and counter-sue for damages due to this BS for bringing a frivolous lawsuit (Because it is...).

  • by aeschenkarnos ( 517917 ) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @04:42PM (#39468629)
    Patent and copyright are both broken in that they reward mere firstness infinitely more than quality of implementation. They get the whole concept ass-backwards. Ideas are a dime a dozen. It's implementation and marketing where the real work lies. Any fool can have a brilliant idea, indeed we all have them every time we discover something that doesn't work as well as we would like, and in fact I had three yesterday. Probably all three have already been solved in one way or another by other people, but the fact that I don't have, or even know about, a solution implies that the solution isn't good enough or hasn't been marketed well enough. There may be plenty of possible better solutions than mine already thiught of, that the patent system is making non viable because some asshole got there *first* with their half-assed device.

    The patent system is even worse than that. At least in the story in the article, the plaintiff has actually implemented *some* kind of solution, however ridiculously expensive. The current US patent system rewards trolling: *not* implementing *anything*, just sitting on the patent until some poor bastard actually bothers to think up a viable solution and produces it, then springing out to snatch a share of *their* work.

    And this is the system the US is frantically, despertely attempting to foist onto the rest of the world.

  • by jpapon ( 1877296 ) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @04:55PM (#39468721) Journal

    We think there are cigar smoking villains in back rooms writing our laws when in fact the real authors are nitwit staffers transcribing the rantings of mobs of emotional idiots. We think that rich villains buy politicians, when, by the numbers, it's almost entirely a case of politicians purchasing voters.

    An interesting thought, but one that seems to go against most of modern history, in which the rich have almost all of the power.

  • Re:Bit more info (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Raenex ( 947668 ) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @11:54PM (#39471521)

    It was a corporate reform of patents driven by patent lawyers. All a smoke screen to get in, who patents first wins. If it hasn't been patented yet, patent it, bugger prior art, bugger existing use and, bugger obviousness.

    Bullshit. You might have noticed that prior art and obviousness were being ignored before patent reform, so first-to-file changes nothing. Prior art and obviousness are still preclusions to getting a patent, but the patent office still needs to apply these principles wisely.

  • Tell them! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @10:12AM (#39473783) Homepage Journal

    Hopefully you're not just posting this on Slashdot, which is about three degrees away from the people being sued. I'd suggest using the Contact Us link on the company's home page [] to tell them. That's information their lawyer might find very useful and help in their defense.

  • Re:Tell them! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @12:40PM (#39475633) Homepage Journal

    No, I stuck it on the page the article linked to as well right after I posted it here.

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.