NCR Patents Internet, Lawsuits at 11

The Slashdot article. – Click with reckless abandon. :smiley:

Idiotic goddamned USPO (United States Piddlyshit Office) issues patents for things that are new and useful. Let me break that down:
[li]USEFUL: Has a valid use that could make the inventor money if he is given a monopoly on its production. That, after all, is what a patent is: The inventor agrees to publicise the details of his fine invention (instead of keeping them a trade secret) and, in return, becomes the only person who is legally able to produce the invention for a certain amount of time. Do all of these inventions have a use? Well, EBay certainly thinks databases that can be accessed online have a use. One of the patents covers that. So, that patent covers a useful invention.[/li][li]NEW: Did not exist twenty years ago. Did not exist thirty years ago. New means that it has been around less than a year. Preferably, it has been around on the close order of the time it takes to file a patent application. So the above-mentioned patent, on a database that can be queried from a remote machine, is not fucking valid.[/li][/ul]What, exactly, has NCR patented? Well, the patents are linked to from the article. But they are legalese and techspeak, not the most conducive to light reading. One of my fellow Slashdotters has summarized them, along with his appraisals of the validity of the steaming piles of verbal yak-dung:

All spelling errors are the Slashdotter’s.

How did this shit happen? How did the USPO manage to overlook the fact that whole industries are based around what NCR has patented? Shit. Anyone with a modicum of knowledge … fuck that, anyone who can fucking read knows those patents are stupid and should never have been issued. The USPO is supposed to review patents with an eye to spotting those that are stupider than a crack-smoking pickle.

There’s this thing called `prior art’ in patentland: It means that if you try to patent something I’ve been making or doing since before you filed the patent application, the USPO is supposed to recognize the fact that what you are trying to patent is old news and reject your patent application. There may be a hearing of some type, I don’t know. But the system is supposed to weed out patent applications that would violate the prior art rule.

The USPO has taken the prior art rule, folded it into a small pyramid, and told Michael Jackson to carve it into the perfect nose.

The USPO has taken the prior art rule, formed it into the shape of an anthrax spore, and given it to Saddam Hussein.

I say we dissolve the USPO and replace it with the Marx Brothers, under the guidance of Groucho Marx as Rufus T. Firefly. The new Office of Homeland Idiocy and Bad Soup would be twice as efficient as the USPO and require a fraction of the funding.

Then we get Mike Tyson to show NCR’s bloodsucking legal team, in the process of defending the indefensible through attacking the innocent, the true meaning of corporate restructuring and downsizing.

Who’s with me?

You rang?
[sub]And I didn’t even do a vanity search! :)[/ub]

RT, I knew you’d show up. I’m tired of starting threads nobody responds to.

Now, if OpalCat will come in, my plan will have succeeded beautifully! :smiley:

Derleth, in my opinion, the Patent Office has been ignoring prior art for at least three years. Back in 1999 during all the Y2K preparations, I read that they had granted a patent for a programming technique which said “If X <50, then the century is 2000, otherwise it’s 1900.” I was shocked to discover they’d granted a patent for this, because I was using this technique back around 1989 when I first started working with dBase (it used two digits for years). I’m sorry, if an amateur like I was in those days can come up with something like that, it’s probably not patent worthy in that if I was using it, I bet thousands of other programmers were, too. On the other hand, I was amused to realize I was writing Y2K compliant code long before most people started worrying about it.


That’s very good, Derleth!

Thank you, Desmostylus. I hoped someone would enjoy my work. :slight_smile:

Thank God for this rant.

This is one of those things that can get me riled up to the point of really blowing my stack. Why? Because when assholes get their mitts on intellectual property assets, good people and good companies tend to suffer.

We need some Internet geeks in the patent office. They need to recognize some of these applications for what they are - moose drool. I’ve seen so many patents approved for which there is prior art, it’s not even funny.

I see a lot of this. I work in the media business and I’ve been actively involved in Internet marketing since the commercial explosion of the web. I’ve seen companies patent things that never should have been patentable in the first place:

[li]Methods of coding that have been used by everyone and their grandmother[/li][li]Navigational schemes for websites that had been in use for years before the patent was applied for[/li][li]Business methods that other companies have been using for years[/li][li]Online applications that were invented by another company[/li][/ul]

It surprised me that the patent office can’t hire some people who actually know what the heck the Internet is all about. Because you know what happens when many of these Internet companies acquire intellectual property unfairly…It’s like granting an extortion license. First, the “cease and desist” letters go out. Coincidentally, these letters only seem to go out to direct competitors or other companies with shitloads of cash on hand. Some of these letters even cut right to the chase and say things like, “If you want to keep using this, here is our licensing fee structure.” Next, the press picks up on the cease and desist letters (they are almost always leaked to the press). Then the company on the receiving end of the cease and desist letter has to make an important decision - comply with the order or spend gobs of money going to court to fight it out. Many times, even if the patent is total bullshit, it’s worth it to pay rather than go to court. And when that first company pays, it legitimizes the bullshit intellectual property assets and makes it tougher for other companies in the same position to fight it.

This really pisses me off, because companies with BS IP are just taking advantage of the system and, in doing so, they screw other perfectly legit companies out of hard-earned money.

Now watch as Saddam Hussein immediately patents the concepts of war and invasion, and threatens the US with prohibitively high licensing fees.

And BTW, I’ve just patented the concept of “sequentially pressing keys on a computer input device in order to convey information to human recipients of said information”.

So you guys owe me money bigtime.

It’s not just the Internet - remember when some folks in Texas were trying to patent basmati rice?

Anyway, a court battle ensued, and their patents were thrown out on the grounds of prior art. They were then restricted to three varieties of the rice that the company apparently had bred itself. Well, that’s good - I was waiting for a development on that.

Patents - might help a company take over the Internet, but at least it won’t starve millions of Indians.

[pedantic nitpick]the United States Patent and Trademark Office, aka USPTO
[/pedantic nitpick]
The USPTO has had a wee bit of a problem with prior art and these newfangled computers, though clearly, y’all knew that.

The PTO has in the past granted patents on things that by the time the patent was granted, everyone was doing. An inventor named Lemelson (and his lawyer) made a boatload of money on it. They used to call them submarining patents.

I really dont think its that bad. They can do a half-assed, bungling job to FILE the patents if they want but if any comapny actually tries to enforce it and sue, there ass is going to get thrown out of court so fast it would be red-shifted.

Most of these patents should fail on multiple grounds. Patents not only have to be new, but the new applications have to be non-obvious to experienced practitioners in the field. A huge number of software patents should be rejected on these grounds because most programmers would look at them and say something like “Well, duh, that’s what databases are for.”.

Disclaimer: none of the following is an official statement by the USPTO.

Derleth, Finagle, et al: “new” also covers improvments on previous patents. For example: #6,253,203 stems in part from 3,624,616 (issued Nov. 1971) and 6,169,997 from 3,543,548 (issued Dec. 1970).

Regarding Prior Art: patent examiners are a very overworked bunch, they always have been. That wasn’t much of a problem while new application receipts were only a few per month. Now it’s several hundred a day and it’s just going to get worse. Practically the entire Patent & Trademark Office has a backlog. Last I heard, the average turnaround time for a patent is six years from receipt to issue. Comparing every application to every other application is simply not been humanly possible although it is getting easier. Everything had to be submitted on paper until a couple of years ago when the entire department started accepting submissions via the Internet. Problem is, not enough people are using the new system.

Scrapping the USPTO and starting over isn’t the answer. There are better ways of dealing with the problem but I’m not going to make any suggestions here.

Perhaps this is so, but in the U.S., the courts won’t throw out a case unless the defendant’s attorney asks it to, and shows the court why it should. Most attorneys in this country do not routinely perform their services for free. This means that, just by getting a lawsuit filed against you, even one without merit, you are being saddled with the expense of paying a lawyer to do things that, had the USPTO done their job properly, would not need to be done.

Someone should patent the act of manual stimulation of one’s own genitals for pleasure purposes.

Those patent lawyers would owe an awful lot in royalties.