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RE: Intellectual Patent Law

I invent and patent a way to "sync Mac's, Windows and Linux" in real time - modulo internet connection.

Is that excellent? My "patent" might be:

a. update a text/image/document file and notification is published
to my "site" that updates are present and will be distributed.

b. Write a single character into a file and the "cloud" will make it
universal for all "cloud" receivers.

c. Take a picture and all my devices see it.

d. No "site" is necessary. Change a character and
it is published to ALL SUBSCRIBERS.

These issues are so obvious to any who tries to solve the problem,
that only "A LOT OF WORK" separates those who "envision" from
those who "benefit from" that technology.

Only unique technologies, easily recognized by most humans as
unique should be be granted 17 year patents, IMO!

I'm thinking that is what our founders had in mind when
they put the "patent" clause in the US Constitution.
Mike South's profile photoEd Bradford's profile photo
So, I have a thought on this that I think would solve a lot of the issues with patents.  Put the burden of proof on the claimant to show that the idea they have has been clearly economically feasible for 20 years at the time of their discovery.

All the complete crap that people are getting patents for in software right now would be immediately cleared away, and you would see the few things left where it's like "yeah, that was a very clever idea".

It protects both really great things that were hard to come up with, as well as simple innovations that it just so happened no one ever thought of.  

Part of the case for this is that it would encourage someone with even a simple innovation to come forward and take a swing at making money with it, rather that just sitting on it because they know that the established players could come in and drown them immediately with their supply chain advantages and stuff like that.

Plus, if it's been feasible for 20 years and no one has done it, it proves (a) the world can live without it, because, hey, they have, and (b) it must not have been obvious, because no one's done it, even though it would have been feasible to do it and make money at it.

The idea is to come up with an objective standard for non-obviousness, which we currently do not have.
I am not a fan of most software patents. However, until the patent laws are changed, companies will continue to patent anything and everything to protect themselves from other companies that do the same thing.
Yes--the regime in place requires you to do it defensively or you will, simply by developing software, be found to be infringing.  There is a great article by a guy who was at Sun Microsystems the first time IBM sent them a little note saying "we think you're infringing on these ten patents". And the Sun guys looked at the patents, looked at what they were doing, and when the IBM guys arrived for their meeting, the Sun guys did a thorough presentation on how, in each case, they were doing things in a different enough way that they were pretty sure it didn't infringe.

The IBM guys were not interested in the presentations at all--Sun had clearly missed the point.  IBM was just going to go back and find ten more things.  It was a shakedown--we have an arsenal of patents, you don't, and we're going to find some way you're infringing, and hurt you unless you give us money.  So Sun very shortly started building their own set, and any company, once it starts getting big enough that it's going to attract the attention of its larger competitors, knows that they have to do the same thing.

A huge waste of time and money and a drag on innovation--exactly the opposite of what patents are supposed to do.
Any company that focuses on the "competition" and not its customers ought to fail.
Sun failed!

IBM (I am retired from IBM after 17 yrs) is mostly defensive.

If IBM finds growth and competitors enter,
I doubt IBM wou challenge based on patents -- I might be wrong.

   [Almost all software patents are
    OBVIOUS, IMO. Getting there first
    is not a patentable idea!]

IBM is more honorable than most companies I have dealt with. In fact, I can think of none more honorable.
I also get the impression, of the modern IBM.  This was in the 80's.  Keep in mind that IBM is a huge company and has been around a long time.  Companies evolve and grow, and like humans, make mistakes.  I'm not saying this proves IBM is evil or anything.  At the time, they had the dominant position and saw they were starting to lose it to people like Sun, and this is how the IBM at that time reacted.  This, I think, is the story I read all those years ago:

"After IBM's presentation, our turn came. As the Big Blue crew looked on (without a flicker of emotion), my colleagues--all of whom had both engineering and law degrees--took to the whiteboard with markers, methodically illustrating, dissecting, and demolishing IBM's claims. We used phrases like: "You must be kidding," and "You ought to be ashamed." But the IBM team showed no emotion, save outright indifference. Confidently, we proclaimed our conclusion: Only one of the seven IBM patents would be deemed valid by a court, and no rational court would find that Sun's technology infringed even that one. 

An awkward silence ensued. The blue suits did not even confer among themselves. They just sat there, stonelike. Finally, the chief suit responded. "OK," he said, "maybe you don't infringe these seven patents. But we have 10,000 U.S. patents. Do you really want us to go back to Armonk [IBM headquarters in New York] and find seven patents you do infringe? Or do you want to make this easy and just pay us $20 million?" 

After a modest bit of negotiation, Sun cut IBM a check, and the blue suits went to the next company on their hit list. "

My impression is that IBM kind of came around on this, and by the time Linux started rising they found ways to integrate it into their business model (which they had widely diversified by then) and support it, while Microsoft took over the role of dominant-player-scared-of-competition-trying-to-kill-it-with-patents.

But I don't know enough to be sure those are accurate characterizations.
I cannot dispute your views.

However, when I was there, IBM was extremely eager to have patents.
I got one because another person recognized one of my ideas as "patentable"
and became the co-author of a patent. He wrote it, and became a co-owner of it.

To be honest, I don't even remember what it was about. I didn't at the time
believe it was a patentable idea. Today, I still do not.

IBM always pursued patents with great energy (bonuses, promotion and
recognition within the company). I believe that IBM is mostly defensive - they endeavor to be the first in a new field (OS 360; VM's; PC's; Services). When
they get nervous, they resort to patent challenges. IBM has been better at
seeing the future than almost any technical company in America that I can think of. During the lull's, they resort to patent challenges.
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