This has to stop
How the blue blistering blazes can a patent be granted or enforced if it is applied for after the products being complained of came to market?
Apple, Google, Motorola, HTC, and 18 other top mobile-tech firms have been hit with yet another wide-ranging patent infringement lawsuit. Unlike a similarly broad-brush suit filed earlier this month by the obscure Texas firm of SmartPhone Technologies LLC against Apple, Motolora, RIM, and others, the plaintiff in this case is …
But clearly not doing what their ex-MIPS founders originally had in mind. As I recall, they folded about ten years ago after flaming out in one of the biggest Silicon Valley financial failures in history. Apparently the folks holding the burnt-out shell are having better luck as patent trolls than in trying to actually build something.
"Of the 14, two - one concerning floating-point operations and [...] - were granted just last month."
Having followed the link and got as far as the first claim, I have attempted to parse the text as English. More fool me, I suppose, but it appears to be a claim on the FMAC instruction as applied to SSE-style registers. (That is, registers with a single architectural name but whose data is partitioned into more than one argument value.)
Hard to see how that is non-obvious or novel in 2010.
Now, it could be that the other claims are all stunningly worthy, in which case one has to ask why the patent agent put this dodo in as number one. Or it could be that the other claims are equally bogus. However, until someone translates them into English, I can't see that they've met the most important criterion for granting a patent -- to have disclosed the details of their invention.
The relevant date for assessing novelty and inventive step is the date of filing (2004), not the date of grant.
Broadly speaking, for infringement only the independent claims (those not dependent on other claims) are relevant - they define the scope of protection. For this patent they are claims 1, 12, 23 and 33. The dependent claims define further optional aspects of the invention which do not affect the overall scope of protection.
Sufficient disclosure requires that a skilled person (average expert in the appropriate technical field) is, on the basis of his general knowledge and the description of the patent, able to carry out the invention as defined by the claims. Claims are through necessity written in generalised language to avoid unnecessary limitations on the scope of protection, whereas the description is more detailed and can provide concrete examples.
Welcome to the world of patents :)
I suggest that no company be allowed to file a patent unless they have at least on *viable* product that actually uses said patent. - It seems to me that these companies are just filing patents left and right, waiting for somebody who can actually design and build stuff to come along and accidentally infringe on their bogus patent, so they can sue and take a piece of their profits.
We need to obsolete these sort of patents!
Slight problem there, which is that a larger company can get a product to market quicker than a small company, simply by throwing money at a dev team. So if you can't patent an idea until you've got a product to sell, you're stuffed. Industrial espionage is one thing. Another is simply that if you propose your ideas to a company under NDA and they say "thanks but no thanks" and then make it anyway, you're screwed. Check out James Dyson's lawsuit against Hoover for exactly this kind of scenario.
Look at the amount of correspondence with the USPTO cited in the patent. They submitted their "hey, I just thought of SIMD" patent roughly 20 years too late, and the examiner would have rejected it as, at best, an obvious composition of two previous ideas.
They argued and argued, and one day all the computing guys at the USPTO were busy and it ended up on the desk of a veterinary prosthetics specialist, who said "this isn't obvious to me" and let it slip past.
Still, it'll be fun to watch...
Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021