Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'The OT' started by MikeW, Aug 26, 2009.
Seems to be yet another area that might need some "tort reform".
Stew reported that one of the infringements was listed as the FF/RW "autocorrect" feature. While I can understand TiVo wanting to patent it, I honestly don't believe it should be patentable. Mainly, it's just too much of a common sense idea. I'll bet more than half the users of VCR's realized that they wanted this feature.
To quote Justice Antony Kennedy, "When there is a design need or market pressure to solve a problem and there are a finite number of identified, predictable solutions, a person of ordinary skill has good reason to pursue the known options within his or her technical grasp. If this leads to the anticipated success, it is likely the product not of innovation but of ordinary skill and common sense." Again, since patents are about innovation, this fails the test. But of course I'm not going to have to decide this case, so we'll see what happens.
That's the thing to me... unless we are just seeing some of the worst of the worst, I suspect there might be a lot of too-general patents lurking out there.
I can't form a list off the top of my head, but it does seem reasonable that some things ought not to be patentable... and other things should be patentable only if very specific.
Consider that some processes are almost natural, and there might only be a handful of ways to do something... so the concept of "auto correction" shouldn't be patentable in and of itself... and quite possibly it might be that anyone doing that kind of work could only do it one of a handful of ways.
What if someone had gotten a patent on how to increment the value of a variable in their code... perhaps an extreme example... but some of the discussions I see here sound like only a few levels removed from that kind of generic patent.
"Big Mac" is a registered trademark, not a patent. Same government agency, but a different concept altogether.
Close enough, you get the idea though.
Open a Harsh's Burger shack and make a hamburger with those exact same ingredients/porportions/order and see how fast McDonalds comes in and rains on your parade.
This sort of thing would probably come under what is called "trade dress" which was argued in the landmark case, "Two Pesos, Inc. v. Taco Cabana, Inc., 505 U.S. 763 (1992)"
Patents are very specific in what they do. They are not specific in how it gets done. There's a reason patent lawyers make the money they do for helping people submit a patent.
Take the plastic device that keeps the top of the cardboard box off of your pizza.
He patented a spacer for heated food delivery devices. Of course it says this in much more legalise. This is why everyone uses the company he sold the patent to and made millions from. It's so generic anything can violate that. A major pizza company tried to make one built into their box's and lost the law suit even though it was completely different it did the same thing.
I'm over simplifying the process involved for demonstration purposes however if you can get some patents approved you can usually cash in on them at some point. That's why these companies want to help inventors. They have a vested interest in having some rights to patents submitted. A lot of these patent places also offer patent protection where you don't pay but they get a cut if they find someone infringing on your patent.
It's the same thing that always happens. Something that can be simple and help spawn innovation gets distorted by $$.
Who cares about the suit, the most important item in the article is the last sentence-
The company also said DVR rollouts with Comcast and DirecTV are on track
On track to me does not mean dead (at least yet). First update I've heard in a long time.
It's a good thing they didn't have these laws back when the first human discovered a sharp rock was a better weapon then a round rock.:sure:
I'm seeing a lot of FUD about "too general" patents being bandied about, with claims that folks are not trying to say anything about the topic of this thread. Forgive me, but I find such statement a little disingenuous. It's like going into a thread about a newspaper, and starting to talk about plagiarism but claiming that you're not trying to make anyone think that perhaps the subject of the thread is who you're talking about.
Let's all be clear: These patents are specific.
The accusation that many (presumably "other") patents are "too general" is a personal opinion. Invoking such fears fosters animosity towards business that best services the consumerist desire.
Have you read them (or should I say looked at all the pretty pictures)? There's a good basis for a copyright, but I (and the PTO) aren't certain that they represent a foundation for a patent.
I read over them back when the original (Echostar) lawsuit was filed. The patents were issued. That alone means that a good number of reasonable people held that they are specific enough. Until they're overturned, that is the overriding determination of society as a whole, while individuals, as with anything, can disagree among themselves.
You're right of course. But....
It's funny how opinions seem to work out in society.
Take members of Congress for instance. Polls show members of Congress taken as a whole to have a rock bottom approval rating. But my Representative works hard and is reelected. And it appears most people feel this way.
I see this patent of software thing like that. The patents granted for software are too broad and loose. But my patent makes sense.
Since I don't have a patent, they are all too broad and loose.
Patents are not based solely on specificity. Patents are about promoting innovation. As such, being able to patent an idea that is not innovative is counterproductive to the system. Something is not innovative if it is the product of ordinary skill and common sense. Given the highly technical and complex issues involved in developing software and hardware for modern consumer electronics, it seems reasonable that differentiating between innovative and ordinary could be difficult. If I were doing that job, I likely would err on the side of assuming innovation, and then let the courts decide. And that seems to be exactly what is happening here.
That is not the case. The criteria for approval of a patent application are substantially deterministic. The patent system is predicated on promoting innovation but individual patent applications do not need to individually demonstrate that the granting of that specific patent specifically promotes a lofty conceptual opinion about what "innovation" is.
The patent system is a contract between society and innovators: You come up with something that matches these criteria, and we'll protect your rights to the capitalization of that idea.
Capriciously applying personal opinions regarding what is an is not innovative is counterproductive to the system. The criteria for what is and is not patentable are well-documented.
Thanks for proving my point.
Hate to bicker... but, seriously I'm not really hip to all the inner workings of the various Tivo claims and lawsuits... so I really can't speak to the specifics of any of these cases.
What I can do is speak in general terms of how I understand the patent system as well as what I thought it was supposed to be vs what it seems to be.
Also, the patent office doesn't actively protect anything. Evidence of this is the very topic we discuss on Tivo vs Company X... Tivo has to protect its own patents... The patent office merely provides (upon request) evidence of the patent filing and grant to support that lawsuit. That's it. The government nor patent office do not protect anything for you. You have to do that yourself.
That said... the way I always understood it, a patent needed to be specific/unique to some purpose whether it be a mechanical design or an algorithm... otherwise it would be fairly easy to apply for and be granted a patent on almost any general principle once conceived.
However you must realize that in doing so (specifically with regard to bolded text) you've left the realm of what it is reasonable to expect others to agree with you with regard to. Governance starts with hopes and aspirations, but operates via laws and while it is reasonable to expect compliance with laws, because they're deterministic and have objectively appraisable criteria, it is not reasonable to expect compliance with an individuals personal understanding of hopes and aspirations.
Essentially, reasonable people can disagree about conceptual issues, but what matters is what the law actually says and how it is actually applied.
That's true. The TiVo patents are. The assertions to the contrary are wrong, as a matter of law. That might change, but today the most reasonable assumption is that it won't.
That's why I've stayed out of the Tivo/Echostar threads because I don't know enough about the patents in question to argue either side.
This thread, however, has allowed a little more leeway for me to speculate on patents in general without casting aspersion too much on the actual litigation in progress.