Judge who shelved Apple trial says patent system out of sync

Comments (30)
moxsee wrote:

Apple’s lawsuit tried to use the jargon in a patent claim as a blanket to corner the market. Similar to having a patent on a carburetor in a car engine and trying to limit manufacture of all cars in general. Judge Posner’s comments reflect the growing frustration with technology companies and their ego.

Jul 05, 2012 9:02am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Wolfie-gang wrote:

Clearly Posner is losing his objectivity WRT this case. Pharmaceutical companies aren’t profitable? They work harder than software engineers? Really? Where is your justification for any of these arguments? Motorola created the first Droid. How was that NOT a blatant rip off of the iPhone? Look us in the eye and try to explain that one! If Apple copied anything from them it was merely FRAND, utilitarian functionality that any phone would use. It’s time to think about retirement.

Jul 05, 2012 10:59am EDT  --  Report as abuse
zato wrote:

I have a feeling that if the plaintiff was Microsoft, Judge Posner would be 100% behind software patents.

Jul 05, 2012 1:15pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Pamina wrote:

Our patent system seems to be designed to stifle progress and growth, so a handful of people can become rich at the expense of everybody else. Patents should belong to the commonwealth and licensed to generate revenue, with the inventor granted a waiver of all fees. In my opinion.

Jul 05, 2012 1:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Pamina wrote:

Our patent system seems to be designed to stifle progress and growth, so a handful of people can become rich at the expense of everybody else. Patents should belong to the commonwealth and licensed to generate revenue, with the inventor granted a waiver of all fees. In my opinion.

Jul 05, 2012 1:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
edwurtle wrote:

reply to woflie-gang:
“Pharmaceutical companies aren’t profitable? They work harder than software engineers? Really? Where is your justification for any of these arguments?”

He never said pharmaceutical companies aren’t profitable. He simply stated that a there is a lot more money and time put into creating a drug patent then creating a typical software patent. This is true. How much time and effort does it take to design and implement a sliding button? A high school intern could do it in less then a week.

Jul 05, 2012 1:55pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
edwurtle wrote:

reply to woflie-gang:
“Pharmaceutical companies aren’t profitable? They work harder than software engineers? Really? Where is your justification for any of these arguments?”

He never said pharmaceutical companies aren’t profitable. He simply stated that a there is a lot more money and time put into creating a drug patent then creating a typical software patent. This is true. How much time and effort does it take to design and implement a sliding button? A high school intern could do it in less then a week.

Jul 05, 2012 1:55pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
edwurtle wrote:

reply to woflie-gang:
“Pharmaceutical companies aren’t profitable? They work harder than software engineers? Really? Where is your justification for any of these arguments?”

He never said pharmaceutical companies aren’t profitable. He simply stated that a there is a lot more money and time put into creating a drug patent then creating a typical software patent. This is true. How much time and effort does it take to design and implement a sliding button? A high school intern could do it in less then a week.

Jul 05, 2012 1:55pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
edwurtle wrote:

reply to woflie-gang:
“Pharmaceutical companies aren’t profitable? They work harder than software engineers? Really? Where is your justification for any of these arguments?”

He never said pharmaceutical companies aren’t profitable. He simply stated that a there is a lot more money and time put into creating a drug patent then creating a typical software patent. This is true. How much time and effort does it take to design and implement a sliding button? A high school intern could do it in less then a week.

Jul 05, 2012 1:55pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Janeallen wrote:

What an idiot!
If patent didn’t cover software, we would lose the richest man in America’s wealth, and all its associated charity!

Some of these famously influential judges need to RETIRE!

He has no clue about how Silicon Valley became what it is now!
And if he had any say in the Silicon Valley, we wouldn’t be the world’s leader in technology!

POSNER THE IDIOT!

Jul 05, 2012 2:24pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Janeallen wrote:

Could it be because the U of Chicago does not even have an Engineering Department, nor a Computer Science Department when he was there? So he became the expert who spins about important areas of technology that he is COMPLETELY ignorant about!

Talking about ivory towers!

This guy has done America enough damage! STOP POSNER FROM DOING MORE DAMAGE TO OUR COUNTRY!!

Jul 05, 2012 2:27pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
wemmert wrote:

Wolfie-gang: not “entirely” true. You can’t say that a smart-phone directly copies another just because they entered open competition. If that were the case, we would all be driving model T’s today (purely for example since this is entirely different).

besides, the first “droid” was developed by Google, manufactured for T-Mobile, and had a smaller screen with a flip out keyboard, and no head-phone jack…yeah TOTAL rip-off of Apple. **rolls eyes**

Lastly, Pharmaceutical companies make more than you’d think. While a large part of that money initially goes to paying off the research; the rest, during the continuing run of the drug, nets them hundreds of millions of dollars in profit.

Jul 05, 2012 2:27pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
RandomName2nd wrote:

@Wolfie-gang and @Janeallen are clearly experts in IP law, calling for Posner to retire…except for the fact that all software engineers KNOW that the system is totally broken, and in it’s current form prevents smaller startups without a warchest of patents from competing with the established players.
But wait, @Janeallen defence of software patents is that without them Bill Gates would have never made Microsoft what it is.
That is hilarious @Janeallen for the fact that Microsoft would have NEVER succeeded if software companies like IBM had been as litigious in the 70s and 80s as they are now.
I won’t even address the fact that you seem to believe patents were invented to make a select few extremely rich. The patent system was actually created for the benefit of all mankind, so companies and individuals would be encouraged to share the details of their inventions with the rest of the world while still being able to make a profit.
Once upon a time the patent office used to employ skilled patent clerks that would examine every submitted patent and decide if that patent was valid. Now we have an automatic system where every patent application is granted and it is up to the courts to determine it’s validity.
This is a double win for the big guy. Not only can they afford to patent every ridiculous “feature” of their products such as rounded corners and rectangular shapes, and threaten legal action against their smaller competitors who can’t afford to challenge them, they can also infringe on the smaller players valid patents because they can threaten to counter-sue them with their garbage ones.
Everybody (software engineers) in the industry knows that the system is broken, and all of us are ecstatic that there are people in a position of power like Posner who have a clue and are willing to fix it.
The man is a saviour!

Jul 05, 2012 3:07pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
PaulC523 wrote:

Wolfie-gang wrote: How was that NOT a blatant rip off of the iPhone?

Hmmm, a blatant rip off? The Droid was a slider with a full qwerty keyboard and ran Android, who’s development began in 2003 by Andy Rubin. Apple didn’t begin the development of the iPhone until 2005, two years later. And it’s not like the “smartphone” itself hadn’t existed prior to either of these. Palm, Handspring, Windows CE and RIM all predate both Android AND the iPhone.

Surly facts like these need to be considered before accusations like “blatant copy” are thrown around.

Jul 05, 2012 3:15pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
emelibe wrote:

Great. What next your honor? No copyright for book, song too, because the author doesn’t spend a dime? Because it come from thin air?

Jul 05, 2012 3:16pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
mfriedman wrote:

emelibe wrote:
Great. What next your honor? No copyright for book, song too, because the author doesn’t spend a dime? Because it come from thin air?

Copyright and patents are quite different and actually copyright would probably more valid for software than patents. Code is specific, has a unique patterns and logical flow just that makes the software work just like the sequence of words in book tell a story. Copyright would protect developers from worrying that another company would steal their method of implementation of a software feature, but still allow others to write new ways to implement the same functionality.

Patents have their place, but they don’t fit with software. At least not the way the system currently works. Too many software patents are generic and vague and focus on the idea and result versus the details of how it’s done.
It would be like trying to patent directions from going from point A to point B where the terminology was “From point A go along a path and then make a couple turns along said path and eventually you will arrive at point B.” Details like this are intentionally vague and can be applied to any and all methods of giving a direct on top of the fact it’s fairly obvious. In today’s system this would be a valid level of detail for a software patent.

Jul 05, 2012 4:27pm EDT  --  Report as abuse

the copyright laws, ALL the copyright laws are gone way too far to protect the rights of the biggest companies, at expenses of the general public. In fact, often the biggest advances in IT are open source.

Jul 05, 2012 4:44pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Bravado wrote:

Posner, how about you read Koh’s order and comment on that?

And in comparing technology to pharmaceuticals, how about you tell me how much money the technology industry has spent on R&D? So why should software features not be patent-able?

Jul 05, 2012 5:49pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Cidinho wrote:

Wolfie-gang, where are your sources to that? My last psychopharmacology professor told me the profit margin for pharmaceutical companies is 3~5%.

And how was the Droid a rip-off of the iPhone? A rectangular phone with a large screen, is that it? Or is the “black” color the rip off?

Jul 05, 2012 5:53pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
matthewslyman wrote:

This man deserves a medal of some sort!

For more detail on why he’s right:
http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~mgk25/stallman-patents.html

Jul 05, 2012 6:13pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
mariner11 wrote:

Just because someone makes a chair doesn’t mean they have to pay the guy made the first chair. They need to come up with some better ways to deal with patents on software!

Jul 05, 2012 6:39pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
NH1956 wrote:

My simple view of consumer electronics:

Make the best toy.
You win.

Jul 05, 2012 7:23pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
borisjimbo wrote:

Hmm, proliferation of patents, all likely with overlapping claims, all likely only understandable to a very few people. Sounds like 112.1 written description problems with the bulk of them.

Jul 05, 2012 8:01pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
monarchist2 wrote:

This is maybe judicial activism, but I think entirely justified. The US patent system is broken (partly due to underfunding of the patent office itself). Congress refuses to act in a meaningful way, and companies have reacted to the leadership void by engaging in a senseless and counterproductive arms race to acquire the most patents, no matter how dubiously awarded in the first place.

Jul 05, 2012 10:01pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
TheUSofA wrote:

“Our patent system seems to be designed to stifle progress and growth, so a handful of people can become rich at the expense of everybody else. Patents should belong to the commonwealth and licensed to generate revenue, with the inventor granted a waiver of all fees. In my opinion.”

I agree wholeheartedly.

Posner’s thinking, and he is not alone, is sadly somewhat ahead of the times. Right now the wealthiest and powerful multi-nationals are fighting it out purely for the sake of profit, not for progress. Everyone trying to lock everyone into their walled gardens. This is not what information and technology should behave.

Jul 05, 2012 12:57am EDT  --  Report as abuse
TheUSofA wrote:

“Given the large cash reserves in Silicon Valley, high legal fees are not a deterrent. Apple, for instance, had $110 billion in cash and securities as of March 31.

“It’s a small expense for them,” Posner said.”

Exactly. Thanks in part to it’s squeezing and controlling the supply chain. By squeezing I mean cheap labor, human beings in a country that is a wee bit lacking in terms of human rights, worker rights, all kinds of rights really. Then there’s the additional billions saved due to tax havens and tax avoidance schemes.

Yet we toast Apple as though this should be the best corporate model. Not a problem, since corporations have been doing exactly this for years. Apple of course, did that better too.

Jul 06, 2012 1:06am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Resignedtoit wrote:

I personally find this quite worrying. His decision over Apples rights to it’s intellectual property is questionable at the very least, To then find that he harbours personal feelings regarding the necessity of such a law gives me serious pause for thought. When a man making the decisions is clouded in judgement by his own bias then he doesn’t need to call for changes to the law…he is the law!

Jul 06, 2012 4:43am EDT  --  Report as abuse
NeghVar wrote:

The problem with software patents is that every step of the process from input to output is patentable which includes every process, procedure, function and calculation within the software along with the final compiled product and the outcome.
Example: company A invents (1+4*5)/3-7=0. They patent +,-,*,/ and () along with “(1+4*5)/3-7″ and 0. They should only be able to patent “(1+4*5)/3-7″

Company B should be able to manufacture 20/4+5*5-30=0 without worry of litigation. A completely different formula to generate the same outcome.

This is the flaw of software patenting. Companies should not be able to patent every step of the process from input to out, just the final compiled program.

Jul 06, 2012 11:08am EDT  --  Report as abuse
trevorh wrote:

Go Posner!!!

Jul 06, 2012 4:20pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
trevorh wrote:

Go Posner!!!

Jul 06, 2012 4:20pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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