Ghost of Steve Jobs Kills German Patent With 2007 Video

Ghost of Steve Jobs Kills German Patent With 2007 Video

image

Just goes to show, you should never demo anything.

Alas, poor portable electronic device for photo management patent #07814633.9 intended to protect the technology in European markets, you were taken from us too soon, and it's Steve Jobs' fault. The Apple patent has been a bone of contention in the Apple-Samsung feud, but a video demonstration Jobs made in 2007 - five months before the patent was filed - killed the patent stone dead, at least within Germany, by showing off the feature before asking the German patent office for protection.

It's all about the grace period, says patent blogger Florian Mueller, who's been following the case. In the US there's a 12 month grace period between invention and filing a patent, but in Europe - at the time - the grace period didn't exist. "Even an inventor's own public demos could always be held against his own patents if they took place before the filing of an application," says Mueller, and that's exactly what happened here, at about 33:40 in. Jobs' "boy have we patented it" proclamation was premature. Apple has the option of appealing to the Bundesgerichtshof, but there's no indication yet that it intends to do so.

This isn't the end of the matter by any means, and if you have a hankering for an education in patent law I recommend Mueller's blog. It's fortunate that Jobs' resting place isn't public knowledge, else sightseers might have paid a visit, to find out whether he's spinning in it.

Source: Ars Technica

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Fine by me, patent law is where innovation and progress go to die.

cynicalsaint1:
Fine by me, patent law is where innovation and progress go to die.

I disagree. While they certainly have some problems (particularly copyright law), patent law serves a good function to help promote innovation.

The idea is simple: let's say I invent a brand new toothbrush. It's better than any toothbrush made yet. But of course, to make it, I needed to invest a lot of time, money, and energy into its creation. What more, it's difficult to hide how the toothbrush would work given it can be taken apart and and rebuilt . So, as an inventor, I need some way to protect my market to prevent people with more resources from just taking the invention, making it themselves, and undercutting me to put me out of business with my own invention. Hence, patent law. I disclose my invention and everything about it to public record and, in return, for a few years, I'm they only person allowed to legally sell or make the device. This insures I make some profit off my work, encouraging all inventors to do the same and not keep their inventions to themselves.

Now, you might say, "but doesn't this prevent others from making improvements to the design, setting back the next toothbrush for the same amount of time?". The answer is usually no. If you can improve the device, you can get a patent on the improvement, meaning no one else can use that improvement. From there, either you can try and license the rights to the original toothbrush and produce the new design yourself, or license your improvements to the original toothbrush maker for money. Most take the later plan.

Copyright law works much the same, but the time period is much longer which is the main problem people have with it.

Not even death could stop him screwing people over, at least this time it's someone deserving.

hiei82:

cynicalsaint1:
Fine by me, patent law is where innovation and progress go to die.

I disagree. While they certainly have some problems (particularly copyright law), patent law serves a good function to help promote innovation.

The idea is simple: let's say I invent a brand new toothbrush. It's better than any toothbrush made yet. But of course, to make it, I needed to invest a lot of time, money, and energy into its creation. What more, it's difficult to hide how the toothbrush would work given it can be taken apart and and rebuilt . So, as an inventor, I need some way to protect my market to prevent people with more resources from just taking the invention, making it themselves, and undercutting me to put me out of business with my own invention. Hence, patent law. I disclose my invention and everything about it to public record and, in return, for a few years, I'm they only person allowed to legally sell or make the device. This insures I make some profit off my work, encouraging all inventors to do the same and not keep their inventions to themselves.

Now, you might say, "but doesn't this prevent others from making improvements to the design, setting back the next toothbrush for the same amount of time?". The answer is usually no.

Yeah It's the user Terms of Service agreement that does that.

DVS BSTrD:
Not even death could stop him screwing people over, at least this time it's someone deserving.

hiei82:

cynicalsaint1:
Fine by me, patent law is where innovation and progress go to die.

I disagree. While they certainly have some problems (particularly copyright law), patent law serves a good function to help promote innovation.

The idea is simple: let's say I invent a brand new toothbrush. It's better than any toothbrush made yet. But of course, to make it, I needed to invest a lot of time, money, and energy into its creation. What more, it's difficult to hide how the toothbrush would work given it can be taken apart and and rebuilt . So, as an inventor, I need some way to protect my market to prevent people with more resources from just taking the invention, making it themselves, and undercutting me to put me out of business with my own invention. Hence, patent law. I disclose my invention and everything about it to public record and, in return, for a few years, I'm they only person allowed to legally sell or make the device. This insures I make some profit off my work, encouraging all inventors to do the same and not keep their inventions to themselves.

Now, you might say, "but doesn't this prevent others from making improvements to the design, setting back the next toothbrush for the same amount of time?". The answer is usually no.

Yeah It's the user Terms of Service agreement that does that.

Most of the things in Terms of Service agreements are making you not sue them if you do something dumb with the product (i.e. "I wave my right to sue you if I somehow ingest my iPhone"). Most everything else they throw in those agreements have no legal basis until tested in court. If at any point you see in an Terms of Service agreement a line that says "You are not allowed to disassemble the product" or "You cannot make the product better", that's only in there to trick people into not improving on the product since they have no legal rights on that. All the law says is you cannot:

1) make the product
2) use the product
3) sell the product
4) offering the product for sale
or
5) import the product

without a license.

hiei82:

cynicalsaint1:
Fine by me, patent law is where innovation and progress go to die.

I disagree. While they certainly have some problems (particularly copyright law), patent law serves a good function to help promote innovation.

The idea is simple: let's say I invent a brand new toothbrush. It's better than any toothbrush made yet. But of course, to make it, I needed to invest a lot of time, money, and energy into its creation. What more, it's difficult to hide how the toothbrush would work given it can be taken apart and and rebuilt . So, as an inventor, I need some way to protect my market to prevent people with more resources from just taking the invention, making it themselves, and undercutting me to put me out of business with my own invention. Hence, patent law. I disclose my invention and everything about it to public record and, in return, for a few years, I'm they only person allowed to legally sell or make the device. This insures I make some profit off my work, encouraging all inventors to do the same and not keep their inventions to themselves.

Now, you might say, "but doesn't this prevent others from making improvements to the design, setting back the next toothbrush for the same amount of time?". The answer is usually no. If you can improve the device, you can get a patent on the improvement, meaning no one else can use that improvement. From there, either you can try and license the rights to the original toothbrush and produce the new design yourself, or license your improvements to the original toothbrush maker for money. Most take the later plan.

Copyright law works much the same, but the time period is much longer which is the main problem people have with it.

Yeah but then again big companies really like to buy promising inventions that could really change lives just to stash them in some safe place until the right time comes. And that time is usually never since they want you to keep buying their slightly improved products every year or so. If patent laws were invented back in middle ages we would be still fighting in full plate armor and blacksmith patent holders would be blocking development of firearms.

james.sponge:

hiei82:

cynicalsaint1:
Fine by me, patent law is where innovation and progress go to die.

I disagree. While they certainly have some problems (particularly copyright law), patent law serves a good function to help promote innovation.

The idea is simple: let's say I invent a brand new toothbrush. It's better than any toothbrush made yet. But of course, to make it, I needed to invest a lot of time, money, and energy into its creation. What more, it's difficult to hide how the toothbrush would work given it can be taken apart and and rebuilt . So, as an inventor, I need some way to protect my market to prevent people with more resources from just taking the invention, making it themselves, and undercutting me to put me out of business with my own invention. Hence, patent law. I disclose my invention and everything about it to public record and, in return, for a few years, I'm they only person allowed to legally sell or make the device. This insures I make some profit off my work, encouraging all inventors to do the same and not keep their inventions to themselves.

Now, you might say, "but doesn't this prevent others from making improvements to the design, setting back the next toothbrush for the same amount of time?". The answer is usually no. If you can improve the device, you can get a patent on the improvement, meaning no one else can use that improvement. From there, either you can try and license the rights to the original toothbrush and produce the new design yourself, or license your improvements to the original toothbrush maker for money. Most take the later plan.

Copyright law works much the same, but the time period is much longer which is the main problem people have with it.

Yeah but then again big companies really like to buy promising inventions that could really change lives just to stash them in some safe place until the right time comes. And that time is usually never since they want you to keep buying their slightly improved products every year or so. If patent laws were invented back in middle ages we would be still fighting in full plate armor and blacksmith patent holders would be blocking development of firearms.

Hence the term limits of Patents. Every patent is available to the public through the Patent office. I can go look up the method of making a... 2013 Ford F-150 for example (first vehicle I saw looking out my window) for free at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. These patents have a very limited shelf life (only 28 years in the U.S.) so if the companies don't use them within that time period, they lose their exclusive rights and the market goes with them. As such, most patents companies buy fall into one of three groups.

1) Improvement Patents: When someone figures out how to add .2% to the iPhone battery life, Apple will often buy the inventions. This is because the original inventor can't make use these inventions. Most of these innovations won't be used, either because they aren't cost effective (you can increase the battery life of the iPhone, but if it costs $2000 no one will buy it), two or more innovations are incompatible (i.e. two different battery ideas use different materials. You can;t make the battery of BOTH materials so one idea is thrown out in favor of the better alternative), or because the innovation doesn't meet some standards (i.e. if a new battery design increases battery life by 2%, but needs to be made from the bones of dead harp seal cubs (or more likely lead), the product will fail to meet environmental regulations and face restrictions the company would rather not deal with)

2) Defensive Patents: These are patents which cover a similar idea to a product you are already making so, to prevent a suit, the company buys the patent or a license from the owner so they can better protect their current products. In general, these innovations are comparable to existing innovations and products so there are few if any losses of innovation

3) Offensive Patents: These are the real jerks of the patent world. These are bought by shell companies who in turn use them as grounds for suits against companies with similar products. So, for instance, you might buy (or make) a patent for a battery innovation then immediately sue companies like Apple and Samsung claiming they're infringing upon your patent. Most of these suits are completely in the wrong and would never hold up in court, but the cost of Apple defending itself in court is so much larger than just paying a small fee for a license that they'll just pay the offensive patent holder off and stay out of court. The recent changes in patent law (which came into effect this past April) are supposed to cut down on this practice, but there isn't enough data yet to say whether this is true or not.

I should add that the U.S.P.T.O. and the other patent offices around the world aren't dumb. When companies specifically sit on ideas which they won't release but would benefit the public, they will invalidate the patent. An example of this is a case involving John Hopkins where the hospital had developed a drug which would help prevent heart attack, but wasn't releasing any licenses for manufacturing (they claimed for more testing purposes, but they also benefited from having more heart attacks since the procedures are expensive). U.S.P.T.O. found the most pathetic reasons to invalidate their patent and allow production of the drug.

In the end, companies don't benefit from buying patents and sitting on them. For the most part, making their product better as quickly as possible is the key to surviving in the modern market. Remember, the better their product is at release, the more people will buy it which increases their profits and market share. Sitting on patents only invites disaster and wastes company resources.

Now, is there a delay between patent application and product release? Yes. A lot of this has to do with how long it takes to retool a manufacturing process. It can take an entire year to change a well designed production line to make even the smallest changes. As such, the ideas tend to get lumped together whenever possible and, if the innovations are discovered too late in the retooling, are put off until the next model. Such is the nature of industrial capitalism.

james.sponge:
snip

And yes, I've studied this crap in school for WAAAAAAY to long. -_-

hiei82:

james.sponge:

hiei82:

I disagree. While they certainly have some problems (particularly copyright law), patent law serves a good function to help promote innovation.

The idea is simple: let's say I invent a brand new toothbrush. It's better than any toothbrush made yet. But of course, to make it, I needed to invest a lot of time, money, and energy into its creation. What more, it's difficult to hide how the toothbrush would work given it can be taken apart and and rebuilt . So, as an inventor, I need some way to protect my market to prevent people with more resources from just taking the invention, making it themselves, and undercutting me to put me out of business with my own invention. Hence, patent law. I disclose my invention and everything about it to public record and, in return, for a few years, I'm they only person allowed to legally sell or make the device. This insures I make some profit off my work, encouraging all inventors to do the same and not keep their inventions to themselves.

Now, you might say, "but doesn't this prevent others from making improvements to the design, setting back the next toothbrush for the same amount of time?". The answer is usually no. If you can improve the device, you can get a patent on the improvement, meaning no one else can use that improvement. From there, either you can try and license the rights to the original toothbrush and produce the new design yourself, or license your improvements to the original toothbrush maker for money. Most take the later plan.

Copyright law works much the same, but the time period is much longer which is the main problem people have with it.

Yeah but then again big companies really like to buy promising inventions that could really change lives just to stash them in some safe place until the right time comes. And that time is usually never since they want you to keep buying their slightly improved products every year or so. If patent laws were invented back in middle ages we would be still fighting in full plate armor and blacksmith patent holders would be blocking development of firearms.

Hence the term limits of Patents. Every patent is available to the public through the Patent office. I can go look up the method of making a... 2013 Ford F-150 for example (first vehicle I saw looking out my window) for free at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. These patents have a very limited shelf life (only 28 years in the U.S.) so if the companies don't use them within that time period, they lose their exclusive rights and the market goes with them. As such, most patents companies buy fall into one of three groups.

1) Improvement Patents: When someone figures out how to add .2% to the iPhone battery life, Apple will often buy the inventions. This is because the original inventor can't make use these inventions. Most of these innovations won't be used, either because they aren't cost effective (you can increase the battery life of the iPhone, but if it costs $2000 no one will buy it), two or more innovations are incompatible (i.e. two different battery ideas use different materials. You can;t make the battery of BOTH materials so one idea is thrown out in favor of the better alternative), or because the innovation doesn't meet some standards (i.e. if a new battery design increases battery life by 2%, but needs to be made from the bones of dead harp seal cubs (or more likely lead), the product will fail to meet environmental regulations and face restrictions the company would rather not deal with)

2) Defensive Patents: These are patents which cover a similar idea to a product you are already making so, to prevent a suit, the company buys the patent or a license from the owner so they can better protect their current products. In general, these innovations are comparable to existing innovations and products so there are few if any losses of innovation

3) Offensive Patents: These are the real jerks of the patent world. These are bought by shell companies who in turn use them as grounds for suits against companies with similar products. So, for instance, you might buy (or make) a patent for a battery innovation then immediately sue companies like Apple and Samsung claiming they're infringing upon your patent. Most of these suits are completely in the wrong and would never hold up in court, but the cost of Apple defending itself in court is so much larger than just paying a small fee for a license that they'll just pay the offensive patent holder off and stay out of court. The recent changes in patent law (which came into effect this past April) are supposed to cut down on this practice, but there isn't enough data yet to say whether this is true or not.

I should add that the U.S.P.T.O. and the other patent offices around the world aren't dumb. When companies specifically sit on ideas which they won't release but would benefit the public, they will invalidate the patent. An example of this is a case involving John Hopkins where the hospital had developed a drug which would help prevent heart attack, but wasn't releasing any licenses for manufacturing (they claimed for more testing purposes, but they also benefited from having more heart attacks since the procedures are expensive). U.S.P.T.O. found the most pathetic reasons to invalidate their patent and allow production of the drug.

In the end, companies don't benefit from buying patents and sitting on them. For the most part, making their product better as quickly as possible is the key to surviving in the modern market. Remember, the better their product is at release, the more people will buy it which increases their profits and market share. Sitting on patents only invites disaster and wastes company resources.

Now, is there a delay between patent application and product release? Yes. A lot of this has to do with how long it takes to retool a manufacturing process. It can take an entire year to change a well designed production line to make even the smallest changes. As such, the ideas tend to get lumped together whenever possible and, if the innovations are discovered too late in the retooling, are put off until the next model. Such is the nature of industrial capitalism.

Thank you for this detailed answer, now I feel informed :)

hiei82:

cynicalsaint1:
Fine by me, patent law is where innovation and progress go to die.

I disagree. While they certainly have some problems (particularly copyright law), patent law serves a good function to help promote innovation.

The idea is simple: let's say I invent a brand new toothbrush. It's better than any toothbrush made yet. But of course, to make it, I needed to invest a lot of time, money, and energy into its creation. What more, it's difficult to hide how the toothbrush would work given it can be taken apart and and rebuilt . So, as an inventor, I need some way to protect my market to prevent people with more resources from just taking the invention, making it themselves, and undercutting me to put me out of business with my own invention. Hence, patent law. I disclose my invention and everything about it to public record and, in return, for a few years, I'm they only person allowed to legally sell or make the device. This insures I make some profit off my work, encouraging all inventors to do the same and not keep their inventions to themselves.

Now, you might say, "but doesn't this prevent others from making improvements to the design, setting back the next toothbrush for the same amount of time?". The answer is usually no. If you can improve the device, you can get a patent on the improvement, meaning no one else can use that improvement. From there, either you can try and license the rights to the original toothbrush and produce the new design yourself, or license your improvements to the original toothbrush maker for money. Most take the later plan.

Copyright law works much the same, but the time period is much longer which is the main problem people have with it.

The trouble is things are often patented that are the only logical/feasible way of doing things at all, lets use your toothbrush example. Sure if someone invented a really innovative toothbrush with new materials or did away with standard designs the system works, more often than not though a company will try and patent a plastic stick with nylon bristles poking out of it even though every other toothbrush has followed similar principles for years. Then they take any other toothbrush maker to court to get their products banned from sale, even if it's only on a temporary basis.

The level of stupidity in the smartphone market is a prime example of this, I don't really count patent trolls in this though. They are scammers trying to make some money, its the anti competitive way big companies abuse patents to get rivals blocked from the market.

I hate patents. Especially software patents. And I hate patent legislations in most countries.

hiei82:

Hence the term limits of Patents. Every patent is available to the public through the Patent office. I can go look up the method of making a... 2013 Ford F-150 for example (first vehicle I saw looking out my window) for free at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. These patents have a very limited shelf life (only 28 years in the U.S.) so if the companies don't use them within that time period, they lose their exclusive rights and the market goes with them. As such, most patents companies buy fall into one of three groups.

Actually it was 17 years from issuance but is now 20 years from filing but with a Patent Term adjustment which can add time based on delays from the Patent Office (which can give a patent something like 28 years).

That said, nice post. I hate it when ignorant people bad mouth the Patent System as it does truly help innovation by giving people incentive to create inventions. Plus even failed applications almost always get published which again can fuel innovation. Also, fun fact, the modern Patent system was developed in Venice in the late 1400s.

ETA: Also while this wouldn't have worked in the US, there are a surprising number of applications that are rejected based on videos like this or demonstration videos floating around on YouTube. Heck, I heard an application getting rejected based on a movie as it has the characters doing something applicant claimed.

ETA Again: Also I think some people get confused between a Patent Application and a Patent. You can apply for a Patent for anything you want (heck there was an application floating around for a Method of Finding God) but that doesn't mean your going to get a Patent. Also, you need to realize that the only thing an Applicant is getting patent right for are what is claimed in the Patent. Everything else is there to show and teach the innovation but is not being afforded patent protection.

J Tyran:

hiei82:

cynicalsaint1:
Fine by me, patent law is where innovation and progress go to die.

I disagree. While they certainly have some problems (particularly copyright law), patent law serves a good function to help promote innovation.

The idea is simple: let's say I invent a brand new toothbrush. It's better than any toothbrush made yet. But of course, to make it, I needed to invest a lot of time, money, and energy into its creation. What more, it's difficult to hide how the toothbrush would work given it can be taken apart and and rebuilt . So, as an inventor, I need some way to protect my market to prevent people with more resources from just taking the invention, making it themselves, and undercutting me to put me out of business with my own invention. Hence, patent law. I disclose my invention and everything about it to public record and, in return, for a few years, I'm they only person allowed to legally sell or make the device. This insures I make some profit off my work, encouraging all inventors to do the same and not keep their inventions to themselves.

Now, you might say, "but doesn't this prevent others from making improvements to the design, setting back the next toothbrush for the same amount of time?". The answer is usually no. If you can improve the device, you can get a patent on the improvement, meaning no one else can use that improvement. From there, either you can try and license the rights to the original toothbrush and produce the new design yourself, or license your improvements to the original toothbrush maker for money. Most take the later plan.

Copyright law works much the same, but the time period is much longer which is the main problem people have with it.

The trouble is things are often patented that are the only logical/feasible way of doing things at all, lets use your toothbrush example. Sure if someone invented a really innovative toothbrush with new materials or did away with standard designs the system works, more often than not though a company will try and patent a plastic stick with nylon bristles poking out of it even though every other toothbrush has followed similar principles for years. Then they take any other toothbrush maker to court to get their products banned from sale, even if it's only on a temporary basis.

The level of stupidity in the smartphone market is a prime example of this, I don't really count patent trolls in this though. They are scammers trying to make some money, its the anti competitive way big companies abuse patents to get rivals blocked from the market.

Except, unless it's truly innovative, they cannot get a patent. Every patent is tried against every other patent on record. It's called "Prior Art" and it's up to each person seeking a patent to prove their innovation has no Prior Art. If they do, they get no patent. What more, even if you DO get a patent, if other older designs with the same innovations appear after the patent was granted, they can invalidate the younger patent.

Again, patent law has been around in the U.S. since it's inception and in it's current form even longer. (I think it was the English under Queen Ann who created the most modern concepts of patent law, borrowing from the Italians circa 1400s). As such, they've had a long time to get things right and most of the problems have been dealt with in one way or another. The only major current problem, as I mentioned before, is the use of offensive patents which is hopefully on its way out.

Software patents are a weird field since you can get both a patent AND a copyright for software, which creates all sorts of strange problems. These will be fixed in time however; as most things are.

I'll admit I have mixed feelings on plant patents - patenting biological material doesn't seem to fit within the normal rules of the process. On the one hand, having farmers not be able to save seed is just dumb since it's beyond the ability of anyone to prevent plants from spreading their genetic material from generation to generation. On the other hand, companies like Monsanto DID invest a TON of money into making those plants so they do deserve SOME kind of protection and insurance of return of investment. But I digress.

Matt K:

hiei82:

Hence the term limits of Patents. Every patent is available to the public through the Patent office. I can go look up the method of making a... 2013 Ford F-150 for example (first vehicle I saw looking out my window) for free at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. These patents have a very limited shelf life (only 28 years in the U.S.) so if the companies don't use them within that time period, they lose their exclusive rights and the market goes with them. As such, most patents companies buy fall into one of three groups.

Actually it was 17 years from issuance but is now 20 years from filing but with a Patent Term adjustment which can add time based on delays from the Patent Office (which can give a patent something like 28 years).

That said, nice post. I hate it when ignorant people bad mouth the Patent System as it does truly help innovation by giving people incentive to create inventions. Plus even failed applications almost always get published which again can fuel innovation. Also, fun fact, the modern Patent system was developed in Venice in the late 1400s.

ETA: Also while this wouldn't have worked in the US, there are a surprising number of applications that are rejected based on videos like this or demonstration videos floating around on YouTube. Heck, I heard an application getting rejected based on a movie as it has the characters doing something applicant claimed.

ETA Again: Also I think some people get confused between a Patent Application and a Patent. You can apply for a Patent for anything you want (heck there was an application floating around for a Method of Finding God) but that doesn't mean your going to get a Patent. Also, you need to realize that the only thing an Applicant is getting patent right for are what is claimed in the Patent. Everything else is there to show and teach the innovation but is not being afforded patent protection.

Indeed. People seem to think you can patent "ideas", when in fact ideas are free. It's the reduction to practice that makes things patentable (along with being Innovative and Non-obvious). Technically it also has to be useful but then I can't even think of a patent application that's been rejected on terms of usefulness...

Side note: *looks up 28 years stuff*... Yup; thanks for the catch. I was summarizing too much.

hiei82:
Now, you might say, "but doesn't this prevent others from making improvements to the design, setting back the next toothbrush for the same amount of time?".

Actually, I'm going to say, "But you never made the toothbrush, and in fact don't have any manufacturing capability whatsoever, and you're suing everybody who does make toothbrushes even though your patent is a combination of the blatantly obvious and the totally unworkable."

Pyrian:

hiei82:
Now, you might say, "but doesn't this prevent others from making improvements to the design, setting back the next toothbrush for the same amount of time?".

Actually, I'm going to say, "But you never made the toothbrush, and in fact don't have any manufacturing capability whatsoever, and you're suing everybody who does make toothbrushes even though your patent is a combination of the blatantly obvious and the totally unworkable."

One of the rules of getting a patent is "Reduction to Practice". If the toothbrush cannot be made, then you cannot get a patent on it. This is determined by bringing in a panel of experts in the field who review the design and determine whether it can be produced. This is waved if a produced model is available. So there aren't any legal patents issued which cannot be made.

Of course, humans make mistakes and sometimes patents are issued to non-producible objects, but these patents are rare and can be invalidated by showing they aren't possible.

The same is true of being "blatantly obvious", as one of the major requirements to get a patent is called "non-obviousness". This is also judged by a panel of practitioners of the art (though not experts for very detailed reasons I'm going to avoid since it would take me an hour to type it all out)

Even if all of this were to happen, unless the new toothbrush patent is OLDER then the current toothbrushes in production, the patents will never hold up in court. See by above comments on "Offensive Patents" for more details on how patents ARE used terribly.

hiei82:

J Tyran:

hiei82:

I disagree. While they certainly have some problems (particularly copyright law), patent law serves a good function to help promote innovation.

The idea is simple: let's say I invent a brand new toothbrush. It's better than any toothbrush made yet. But of course, to make it, I needed to invest a lot of time, money, and energy into its creation. What more, it's difficult to hide how the toothbrush would work given it can be taken apart and and rebuilt . So, as an inventor, I need some way to protect my market to prevent people with more resources from just taking the invention, making it themselves, and undercutting me to put me out of business with my own invention. Hence, patent law. I disclose my invention and everything about it to public record and, in return, for a few years, I'm they only person allowed to legally sell or make the device. This insures I make some profit off my work, encouraging all inventors to do the same and not keep their inventions to themselves.

Now, you might say, "but doesn't this prevent others from making improvements to the design, setting back the next toothbrush for the same amount of time?". The answer is usually no. If you can improve the device, you can get a patent on the improvement, meaning no one else can use that improvement. From there, either you can try and license the rights to the original toothbrush and produce the new design yourself, or license your improvements to the original toothbrush maker for money. Most take the later plan.

Copyright law works much the same, but the time period is much longer which is the main problem people have with it.

The trouble is things are often patented that are the only logical/feasible way of doing things at all, lets use your toothbrush example. Sure if someone invented a really innovative toothbrush with new materials or did away with standard designs the system works, more often than not though a company will try and patent a plastic stick with nylon bristles poking out of it even though every other toothbrush has followed similar principles for years. Then they take any other toothbrush maker to court to get their products banned from sale, even if it's only on a temporary basis.

The level of stupidity in the smartphone market is a prime example of this, I don't really count patent trolls in this though. They are scammers trying to make some money, its the anti competitive way big companies abuse patents to get rivals blocked from the market.

Except, unless it's truly innovative, they cannot get a patent. Every patent is tried against every other patent on record. It's called "Prior Art" and it's up to each person seeking a patent to prove their innovation has no Prior Art. If they do, they get no patent. What more, even if you DO get a patent, if other older designs with the same innovations appear after the patent was granted, they can invalidate the younger patent.

Again, patent law has been around in the U.S. since it's inception and in it's current form even longer. (I think it was the English under Queen Ann who created the most modern concepts of patent law, borrowing from the Italians circa 1400s). As such, they've had a long time to get things right and most of the problems have been dealt with in one way or another. The only major current problem, as I mentioned before, is the use of offensive patents which is hopefully on its way out.

Software patents are a weird field since you can get both a patent AND a copyright for software, which creates all sorts of strange problems. These will be fixed in time however; as most things are.

I'll admit I have mixed feelings on plant patents - patenting biological material doesn't seem to fit within the normal rules of the process. On the one hand, having farmers not be able to save seed is just dumb since it's beyond the ability of anyone to prevent plants from spreading their genetic material from generation to generation. On the other hand, companies like Monsanto DID invest a TON of money into making those plants so they do deserve SOME kind of protection and insurance of return of investment. But I digress.

Except thats not true, go back to the Smartphone war. Patents have been filed for a rectangular shaped devices with various types of corner, other claims have been made about whether a device has a logo in the back or the front. PPCs, palmtops and early smartphones had those features in common for many years yet patent challenges have been made for those features.

In some cases those challenges have resulted in many hundreds of millions being awarded in damages or having products banned from sale, are you honestly trying to say thats working as intended? If so thats a fairly absurd argument, the silly phone patent wars are hurting us as consumers. Rapidly developing technology suffers more from absurd patent laws because things change year on year and the phone wars have become particularly absurd.

J Tyran:

hiei82:

J Tyran:

The trouble is things are often patented that are the only logical/feasible way of doing things at all, lets use your toothbrush example. Sure if someone invented a really innovative toothbrush with new materials or did away with standard designs the system works, more often than not though a company will try and patent a plastic stick with nylon bristles poking out of it even though every other toothbrush has followed similar principles for years. Then they take any other toothbrush maker to court to get their products banned from sale, even if it's only on a temporary basis.

The level of stupidity in the smartphone market is a prime example of this, I don't really count patent trolls in this though. They are scammers trying to make some money, its the anti competitive way big companies abuse patents to get rivals blocked from the market.

Except, unless it's truly innovative, they cannot get a patent. Every patent is tried against every other patent on record. It's called "Prior Art" and it's up to each person seeking a patent to prove their innovation has no Prior Art. If they do, they get no patent. What more, even if you DO get a patent, if other older designs with the same innovations appear after the patent was granted, they can invalidate the younger patent.

Again, patent law has been around in the U.S. since it's inception and in it's current form even longer. (I think it was the English under Queen Ann who created the most modern concepts of patent law, borrowing from the Italians circa 1400s). As such, they've had a long time to get things right and most of the problems have been dealt with in one way or another. The only major current problem, as I mentioned before, is the use of offensive patents which is hopefully on its way out.

Software patents are a weird field since you can get both a patent AND a copyright for software, which creates all sorts of strange problems. These will be fixed in time however; as most things are.

I'll admit I have mixed feelings on plant patents - patenting biological material doesn't seem to fit within the normal rules of the process. On the one hand, having farmers not be able to save seed is just dumb since it's beyond the ability of anyone to prevent plants from spreading their genetic material from generation to generation. On the other hand, companies like Monsanto DID invest a TON of money into making those plants so they do deserve SOME kind of protection and insurance of return of investment. But I digress.

Except thats not true, go back to the Smartphone war. Patents have been filed for a rectangular shaped devices with various types of corner, other claims have been made about whether a device has a logo in the back or the front. PPCs, palmtops and early smartphones had those features in common for many years yet patent challenges have been made for those features.

In some cases those challenges have resulted in many hundreds of millions being awarded in damages or having products banned from sale, are you honestly trying to say thats working as intended?

No. But it's a lot more complicated than that.

Patents have their problems yes, but the good they do far outweighs the bad. Hundreds of millions of dollars wasted on some suits is bad, but what if we didn't have patents? Whether we like it or not, making things costs money, money most individuals do not have. An individual may be able to invent something, but successfully manufacture it? Start a business which can, from inception, successfully compete with those already in the market? Without patents, no one would be able to survive off inventing things, so no one would. You wanna talk about things which are bad for innovation, just imagine that: dis-incentivized innovation.

You invent the next big thing in Toothbrush technology
You try to make it
Everyone already in the toothbrush industry steals the idea and, with their much larger distribution lines, brand identities, marketing techniques, ingrained manufacturing methods, etc they put you out of buisness
You never make a profit and instead end up in terrible amounts of debt

You invent the next big thing and you end up in the poor house BECAUSE of it.

That's how inventing would work without patents. No one would be willing to do R&D work when everything you do can be stolen for a much cheaper cost.

Don't believe me? Look up the guy who invented the intermittent windshield wiper. If it wasn't for patent law, he'd have never survived.

So yeah; it has problems, but it sure as hell isn't a bad system and unless you have any better ideas, you're not gonna find a better system.

Am I the only one who at first thought the title said: "Ghost of Steve Jobs Kills German Patient With 2007 Video"

I was like: WTF?! O_o

hiei82:

J Tyran:

hiei82:

Except, unless it's truly innovative, they cannot get a patent. Every patent is tried against every other patent on record. It's called "Prior Art" and it's up to each person seeking a patent to prove their innovation has no Prior Art. If they do, they get no patent. What more, even if you DO get a patent, if other older designs with the same innovations appear after the patent was granted, they can invalidate the younger patent.

Again, patent law has been around in the U.S. since it's inception and in it's current form even longer. (I think it was the English under Queen Ann who created the most modern concepts of patent law, borrowing from the Italians circa 1400s). As such, they've had a long time to get things right and most of the problems have been dealt with in one way or another. The only major current problem, as I mentioned before, is the use of offensive patents which is hopefully on its way out.

Software patents are a weird field since you can get both a patent AND a copyright for software, which creates all sorts of strange problems. These will be fixed in time however; as most things are.

I'll admit I have mixed feelings on plant patents - patenting biological material doesn't seem to fit within the normal rules of the process. On the one hand, having farmers not be able to save seed is just dumb since it's beyond the ability of anyone to prevent plants from spreading their genetic material from generation to generation. On the other hand, companies like Monsanto DID invest a TON of money into making those plants so they do deserve SOME kind of protection and insurance of return of investment. But I digress.

Except thats not true, go back to the Smartphone war. Patents have been filed for a rectangular shaped devices with various types of corner, other claims have been made about whether a device has a logo in the back or the front. PPCs, palmtops and early smartphones had those features in common for many years yet patent challenges have been made for those features.

In some cases those challenges have resulted in many hundreds of millions being awarded in damages or having products banned from sale, are you honestly trying to say thats working as intended?

No. But it's a lot more complicated than that.

Patents have their problems yes, but the good they do far outweighs the bad. Hundreds of millions of dollars wasted on some suits is bad, but what if we didn't have patents? Whether we like it or not, making things costs money, money most individuals do not have. An individual may be able to invent something, but successfully manufacture it? Start a business which can, from inception, successfully compete with those already in the market? Without patents, no one would be able to survive off inventing things, so no one would. You wanna talk about things which are bad for innovation, just imagine that: dis-incentivized innovation.

You invent the next big thing in Toothbrush technology
You try to make it
Everyone already in the toothbrush industry steals the idea and, with their much larger distribution lines, brand identities, marketing techniques, ingrained manufacturing methods, etc they put you out of buisness
You never make a profit and instead end up in terrible amounts of debt

You invent the next big thing and you end up in the poor house BECAUSE of it.

That's how inventing would work without patents. No one would be willing to do R&D work when everything you do can be stolen for a much cheaper cost.

Don't believe me? Look up the guy who invented the intermittent windshield wiper. If it wasn't for patent law, he'd have never survived.

So yeah; it has problems, but it sure as hell isn't a bad system and unless you have any better ideas, you're not gonna find a better system.

Thats a naive and idealistic way of viewing it, sure I wouldn't disagree that systems are needed to protect the little guy or truly innovative companies but more often than not its actually used against them. Big companies will abuse the system to put them out of business or steal their product, your windshield wiper guy? Now more likely as not he would have been taken to court and sued for damages because he happened to put a couple of electronic components side by side and a car manufacturer had filed a vague patent about the layout of a PCB after they realised what he had invented and wanted to avoid paying him to use it, the courts would happily oblige them too.

Look at James Dyson and how patents have been a pain in the arse for him since day one, he has had to make sure every single thing in his gadgets is patented. From the design of the motors to the way a wheel axle clips to the body of a vacuum, he has to have several dozen or even hundreds of patents per device because of the early clashes he had with other vacuum manufacturers that tried to squash his company before he became competitive. In the early days the extra expense and effort this cost was crushing and delayed his products getting to market.

J Tyran:
Thats a naive and idealistic way of viewing it, sure I wouldn't disagree that systems are needed to protect the little guy or truly innovative companies but more often than not its actually used against them. Big companies will abuse the system to put them out of business or steal their product,

It protects the big companies, the small companies, the individuals, everyone. It's a deal with society. Society promises to let you have a limited monopoly for a short period of time and in return when it's over, it's all public domain. Innovation has insured incentive. Companies can protect their ideas and investments, individuals can access the research free of charge, and we all get a record of all the neat toys we make. Win-win for everyone. I'm not the largest fan of giant companies, but in this case, individual and company interests are aligned.

J Tyran:
your windshield wiper guy? Now more likely as not he would have been taken to court and sued for damages because he happened to put a couple of electronic components side by side and a car manufacturer had filed a vague patent about the layout of a PCB after they realised what he had invented and wanted to avoid paying him to use it, the courts would happily oblige them too.

Clearly you didn't look him up, because that's what happened. They even used the much the same arguments. But the courts sided with him because of patent law and awarded him $30 Million in damages.

J Tyran:
Look at James Dyson and how patents have been a pain in the arse for him since day one, he has had to make sure every single thing in his gadgets is patented. From the design of the motors to the way a wheel axle clips to the body of a vacuum, he has to have several dozen or even hundreds of patents per device because of the early clashes he had with other vacuum manufacturers that tried to squash his company before he became competitive. In the early days the extra expense and effort this cost was crushing and delayed his products getting to market.

Excuse my use of Wikipedia but...

Wikipedia:
Following his success, other major manufacturers began to market their own cyclonic vacuum cleaners. Dyson sued Hoover UK for patent infringement and won around $5 million in damages.

Yes, the patent process is difficult. No arguing that one. It takes a lot of time to get a patent, and a lot of proof is needed to defend your claim to intellectual property rights because governments don't like granting even limited monopoly status, but without patent law he wouldn't have been able to compete with Hoover at all; much less get $5 million in damages.

I'm not sure if I even care about whatever this article is about.

Today I learned a decent bit about patent law thanks to Mr. Llama - hiei82.

Yay, learning!

Having read Patient in the title, I came in here expecting a whole bunch of "7 days!! Oh shit!!" stuff with Steve Jobs turning out to be the little girl from The Ring.

Gotta say, slightly disappointed to find out its about patents and therefore drier than an Oscar Wilde quip.

Steve Jobs managed to find a way to be an asshole even after his death. Wow this guy is talented.

Considering that most apple patents are batshit insane its quite good to see one of them fail. after all they wanted to patent round corners for gods sake.

 

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