back to article Paul Allen launches patent broadside on world+dog

Billionaire Paul Allen on Friday became the latest tech titan to launch a major patent offensive, filing a far-reaching complaint against Google, Apple, Facebook, Netflix, and seven other companies over technology that was developed almost a decade ago. The complaint (PDF), filed in federal court in Washington state, asserts …

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  1. Jeremy 2
    WTF?

    Crazy.

    He won't win. The companies involved won't win. The court system will be bogged down with it for months, if not years. The lawyers involved however, must be pissing themselves laughing at the thought of the pay cheques they'll be getting.

    His personal worth is in the region of $13.5bn according to Forbes. What a tit. Like he's not rich enough already?

    1. copsewood
      Linux

      does he intend to win ?

      Obtaining revenue from patents usually involves deals done to keep the dispute out of court, rather than by bankrupting one of the protagonists. This works a bit like protection money paid by a shopkeeper to a gangster to prevent "bad things from happening". A bankrupt patent protagonist doesn't pay license fees, just as a burned out shop doesn't pay protection money - they serve as a warning to the others.

    2. Shannon Jacobs
      Flame

      It's not about money

      It's purely about using the patent system as a tool to jam up the competition--sideways and twice on Sundays. The problem here is that patent law has been completely corrupted. The way patents are used these days, it's almost impossible to believe that patents were actually intended to ENCOURAGE technical innovations.

  2. Goat Jam
    Linux

    Oh my!

    Could it be that the oft whispered about day of patent armageddon is upon us? I look forward to Steve Wozniak launching his arsenal of overly broad and ambiguously worded patents covering stuff tjat people have already been doing for decades.

    As for Microsoft, it is hard to believe that they arent the ones behind this, being historically too gutless to attack OSS and Linux out in the open it would appear that Allens mob of trolls may be the next SCO, albeit a SCO with a Lot more cash on hand, assuming Allen is keen to flush his own pile down the toilet with the rest

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      @Goat Jam

      "I look forward to Steve Wozniak launching his arsenal of overly broad and ambiguously worded patents covering stuff tjat people have already been doing for decades."

      Woz's brain may have been a bit scrambled in a plane crash but as a trained engineer I *strongly* doubt he'd be dumb enough to think that most (substantially more than 50%) of *all* software* patents are no more than UPPTO issued BS.

      *Except the kind relating to any form of comfortable apparel of course.thanks to Gary Trudeau for that one.

  3. Mikel

    The IPocalypse

    It does appear the day of Mutually Assured Destruction foretold in days of yore is upon us.

    1. Geoff Mackenzie
      Joke

      Ahem

      You can't use iPocalypse, it's an Apple trademark.

  4. Lou Gosselin

    These patents are awful

    "Alerting users to items of current interest"

    Has anyone else actually try to read this? It's utterly incoherent. No wonder the patent office rubber stamped this, they didn't read it either.

    It's absurd to pretend that this work could have been the basis for any innovation. What a waste of human effort to spend time composing or even reading this monstrosity. Hell, it's a waste of 1 and 0 bits even if there were no humans involved. Which is more revolting: that mr allen feels entitled to collect royalties on the work of others, or that the USPTO is on his side?

    1. Quxy
      Unhappy

      ...even as software patents go.

      Agreed. Even if we set aside the debate over the value of software patents, it's incredible that any patent examiner who wasn't simply nailed to his perch could have done anything but stamp a big red "Rejected" on the front page of each of the four applications after reading the first few paragraphs. I've read a lot of patents, and I've never read so much vacuous, pointless twaddle as these.

      1. g e

        Thank you!

        For a truly special mirth-moment :oD

        Can we get El Reg to add 'VPT' to it's descriptive arsenal ? Let it be added to the fabulous vocabulary that regularly gives us Bulgarian Airbags as a memetic reference?

        Cos Vacuous Pointless Twaddle really does hit the spot on so many levels.

        37 out of 10 for that combination of words

    2. DZ-Jay

      @Lou Gosselin

      I read it, and although I can say it is explicit and not too hard to understand (sorry, I didn't think it was incoherent), it is extremely broad.

      That particular patent seems to cover *any* search feature that includes some sort of recommendations engine based on external user input.

      It describes some examples which seem too broad and generic. For instance, one user finds an interesting site and rates it, then when a second user searches for web sites, depending on the categorization of his search criteria, he is presented with recommendations correlated from the other user.

      Obviously this applies to most all current web search implementations, hence the inclusion in the complaint of Netflix, Google, Apple, and most other web application giants (sans Microsoft, of course).

      It is up to the court to determine if this patent describes an obvious device or a practical invention. It does include specific formulaes for rating and correlating interest, but those would too narrow to apply to the implementations of Netflix, Google, Apple, et al.

      -dZ.

      1. Lou Gosselin

        @DZ-Jay

        "Obviously this applies to most all current web search implementations, hence the inclusion in the complaint of Netflix, Google, Apple, and most other web application giants..."

        Absolutely, and it is rather unlikely that the developers for any of the defendants have ever seen or used this patent. It's totally absurd for anyone to hold a monopoly on the idea of displaying statistically correlated products to users.

        "It is up to the court to determine if this patent describes an obvious device or a practical invention."

        Since the USPTO and courts have a very poor track record with their handling of business/software patents thus far, it is difficult to have any confidence in them. If the USPTO had any sense of right and wrong, these types of patents would have been voided from the get go.

        Those of us in software field plainly see the USPTO has outlived its usefulness, it's affect in the marketplace contradicts it's mission statement. The artificial software roadblocks are an impediment to progress because the benefits don't come close to justifying the overhead and harm.

      2. paulc
        Stop

        no...

        "It is up to the court to determine if this patent describes an obvious device or a practical invention. It does include specific formulaes for rating and correlating interest, but those would too narrow to apply to the implementations of Netflix, Google, Apple, et al.

        -dZ."

        It's time for all software patents to be invalidated immediately unless, and only unless, they are tied to an implementation on a specific machine as a way of enabling the machine to perform the function...

        software running on a general purpose personal computer should NOT be patentable at all... only stuff like software that enables something like an MRI scanner to function where it is tied to that particular machine and even then, the patent should only run for ten years at most... plenty of time to make money out of it before the machine (+ software) becomes obsolete

    3. Andus McCoatover

      "Alerting users to items of current interest"

      Er, so CNN's online news is next??? 'Push' SMS's to your mobile from your service provider about special offers???

      Oh, for God's sake.. These are sooo vague, it's amazing they got in. However, 'prior art' should relieve Mr. Allen of a few million to his lawyers.

      Greedy fuc*ker!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Black Helicopters

        Alerts? Alarming....

        Prior art, eh? There must be a few Town Criers spinning in their graves.

        And how dare anyone give an opinion or, heavens above, a rating, on the pies from Mrs. Miggins' Pie Shop.

        It would be nice to see if Microsoft 'licensed' these patents a few years back because if they haven't one has to wonder exactly why Allen hasn't pursued such a flagrant case of abuse of the patents he holds..

        It appears that the USA can't even be trusted to handle their own ideas properly.....

  5. bex
    Thumb Down

    broken, scrap it!

    The whole patent system is broken and needs sorting out. When you can secure a patent for a vague idea without (at that time) being able to demonstrate it in fact is utter bullshit.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    World+dog?

    He doesn't name Amazon and Microsoft, so it's just world, the dog part is missing.

    1. Jason Terando

      Article Title Wrong

      Should be World - Dog

  7. John Tserkezis

    Oh never mind, it doesn't matter anyway.

    The patent trolls will feed off the innovators (or at the very least the ones who try to innovate).

    When there are no innovators left, they'll feed of each other (your patent infringes on my patent).

    And when the number of trolls reaches critical mass, they'll get sucked into the vacuum of their own arses and vanish altogether.

    By that stage, the true owners of the earth, bacteria (they were here when the earth started, and they'll the be only ones left when our sun goes nova) will take over the earth. And any remaining lawers...

    And I for one, welcome our new bacterial overlords....

    1. asdf
      Headmaster

      close but not quite

      Though they keep pushing back the origins of life on earth life was not quite here from the beginning. That massive collision with a mars size planet that merged with ours would be tough even on the cockroaches. Your point about scum sucking lawyers creating a virtual house of cards economy that will soon topple on us all is well taken though.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Paul Allen = patent troll

    He has lost any virtue he ever held for his involvement in Microsoft. He is now nothing more than a patent troll, a leech and innovation vampire.

    1. yossarianuk

      @ Paul Allen = patent troll

      From your description I see no difference between Paul Allen and Microsoft.

      Apart from WGA what have Microsoft ever innovated ?

    2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Amazing

      You've managed to put the words "virtue" and "Microsoft" in one sentence!

  9. gnufreex

    Notice he didn't sue Microsoft

    Paul Allen is shareholder of Microsoft, and he is suing Microsoft competitors. Looks like Bill Gates announced new Jihad.

    Bill Gates is also a patent troll, he and his buddy Nathan Myhrvold (also ex-Microsoftie) have a company called Intelectual Ventures, which is biggest patent trolling company in the world.

    http://www.intellectualventures.com/Home.aspx

    They buy patents from failed companies and then use their proxies to sue companies that compete with Microsoft. When. Looks like this time proxy is Paul Allan. Bill Gates set the target, and then trolls attack. Later they spin it like it has nothing to do with Microsoft...

    Scum of the earth.

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Indeed

      They've worked out that working for Microsoft and building things is hard work and risky, so why not retire and just spend all day hunting for good patents to use.

    2. Bill Coleman
      Gates Halo

      @ gnufreex re: intellectualventures... interesting post!

      what a wonderfully vague and odd little website you linked to! My favourite bit is in the products and services section: ..."with more than 30,000 Intellectual Property assets currently under management and thousands more being added every year" ...odd phrasing from a company that are trying to pass themselves off as "inventors"

      Interestingly though, the names Edward Jung and Nathan Myhrvold are top of the list - but Gates is nowhere to be seen.

      1. bobbles31

        er...

        Surely the output from a firm that invents things, as opposed to actually produces things is their Patents and with Patents (a.k.a. inventions) being their product surely that belongs on their products and services page.

        Not wanting to piss on too many prejudices but if Allen's firm paid for research into software that eventually went on to become Google, then they deserve a return on their investment.

        The patent system is fecked up because it needs some really, really , really clever people to dissect and investigate patents that are filed and those people are off inventing and creating stuff. Not pawing over other peoples inventions.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    That's it

    Let's stop recognizing US patents right this moment. ALL patents. And now we're at it, let's ignore their copyrights too, life + 75 years is ridiculous. Their IP process is Seriously Borken. Let's see how they will fare without us...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Alerting users to items of current interest

    I think there might be prior art, like you know..cave paintings.

  12. yossarianuk
    Linux

    If this is all out world patent war ...

    I can't wait for IBM's response.... Yes I know that they are not presently involved, but if this the true patent armageddon they soon will be.

    p.s - Linux is safe from IBM's patents - Microsoft is not.

    http://www.linux.com/news/featured-blogs/158-jim-zemlin/299092-ibms-open-source-patent-pledge

    In the end there will be nothing left and we may get reform of this alice in wonderland style patent sytem.

  13. Chris 244
    Gates Horns

    Re: Alerting users to items of current interest

    Margarita mix display in the tequila section?

    BBQ sauce display in the meat department?

    Salad dressing display in the fresh produce department?

    WTF?

    Icon by proxy.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      @Chris 244

      "Margarita mix display in the tequila section?

      BBQ sauce display in the meat department?

      Salad dressing display in the fresh produce department?"

      You're so busted.

      Rarely have I seen such *blatant* breach of patent.

  14. Shades

    Seriously, WTF?

    How can ANY of that nonsense be patentable? The patent system (over there) is most definitely broken. F*ck knows how to fix it, but its most definitely broken!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    Just out of curiosity...

    ...what's the difference between a billionaire vexatious litigant and a terrorist?

    1. asdf
      Flame

      easy

      A terrorist is a vague shadowy threat meant to scare the sheeple into giving away rights. A billionaire lawyer on the other hand is much more likely to destroy humanity. Humans always fear those that are a different than us but in actuality those that the greatest danger to you look almost exactly like you but have more money/power/influence.

    2. g e

      The dress sense

      Paul Allen's waistcoat is made from the scalps of innovators, not semtex.

    3. Uncle Warthog

      Re: Just out of curiosity.....

      What's the difference between a billionaire vexations litigant and a terrorist? That's easy: One is a nasty, evil, lowlife who hides his strategy for as long as humanly possible, strikes without warning, works to instill the maximum amount of fear, loathing, and horror in its victims, and grabs up any possible spoils of war after doing the most damage possible......and the other one is a terrorist.

  16. Donovan Hill
    Grenade

    Go John Galt

    Deprive the leeches of their ill-gotten gains. Stop producing. Let the world self destruct.

    1. Charlie van Becelaere
      Joke

      Who is John Galt?

      [please note icon]

  17. Peter Mylward
    FAIL

    Sour Grapes

    So Paul Allen has been sitting on these patents for a decade or so, all of the mentioned companies have been reasonably stable in thier core operations for at least the last few years. Any chance that Mr Allen is helping out his former brainchild and attempting to hamper the competition and allow Microsoft to get its hulking beaurocratic innovation engine going at last before it gets permenantly left behind????

    Also, how anyone can glean anything from the description of the browser patent I dont know, what a bunch of garbled wishy washy.

    Shocker!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    For the greater good

    Paul Allen is one of the super rich guys who pledged to give a sizable part of his fortune to charity. It logically follows that the larger the fortune, the more money that will be available to make the world a happier, Windows 7-based place.

    He's doing it for the children - won't anyone think of the children?

  19. Little Poppet
    Thumb Up

    Down with the system?

    Looking at the long list of infringments and companies....

    It's obvious he's doing this on purpose. He's making a mockery of the current patent system. He wants to FAIL - hence set a precedent.

    I hope it puts a stop to blood-sucking companies like Apple who file patents en masse. It's just ridiculous! It's the small start-ups that lose out in the current system.

    Anyone questioning his motives can clearly see it isn't about making more money. Afterall, isn't he a part of the group, including Bill Gates, who are donating half of their fortunes to charity?

    :)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And to back up his patent claims.....

    Doubtless Microsoft is a long term licensee of all these patents. Not that I'm trying to say the founders of MSFT are thick as thieves 8-).

  21. JaitcH
    WTF?

    Time, again, to change U.S. patent law. to serve the public, not 'pigs'

    The problem lies in the U.S. Patent office in that is manned bu less than intelligent examiners or he rules it is governed by are too lax.

    What shear stupidity is: "Alerting users to items of current interest"? I don't think a search engine alerts anyone, it simply provides indexed tags. Alerting sounds more like an alarm clock so when a time point is reached it alerts you. How does Google 'alert' a user when the user initiated the requested search.

    Then you get Apples 'let us do it all over again" where the try to patent common practices or even others ideas.

    The United Nations should establish a conference so every patent office is using the same criteria.

  22. genome

    the end?

    could this finally herald the end of ridiculous(sp?) software patents? oh please oh please oh please

    the only people who win anything from this crap is the lawyers!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Stop the software patent leeches

    Software ultimately emulates human behaviour. How do you patent that?

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Boffin

      AC@05:33

      "Software ultimately emulates human behaviour. How do you patent that?"

      You might like to read Michael Creighton's "Next" just about his last book to see what *can* be patented under US law.

      Indeed what rights you might have to your *own* body.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a patent on breathing

    The patent eco-system is crazy, but its like smack for big companies, they want the patents so they can use them to defend other patents and avoid getting wiped out in court financially.

    Once Paul Allen shuffled up to the patent office looking shady back in 1980 something and asked for his first patent application with shaky hands, from that moment he was a hooked patent junky. What can he do now only assert the patents or they are worthless. If he manages to get off the killer habit then he will end up like Steve Wozniak but without the original kudos.

  25. It wasnt me

    Could it be ....

    ......that hes trying to do us all a favour? (Or favor for the septics). I don't believe that he can be serious with these patents. Surely he can't really believe that he can defend a patent on "Using my unused attention capacity". So maybe he is trying to ignite a revolt against the patent system by highlighting it's stupidity. Or am I too optimistic?

    As a second thought, if he can patent "Using my unused attention capacity" can I patent "Suing his unsued capacity?"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Favours

      I certainly hope so.

      Perhaps he is as sick of flashing banner ads as the rest of us, and someone has just pointed out that he has the patents in place to outlaw them.

  26. S 11
    FAIL

    Paul Allan, go away now . . .

    Why doesn't someone just patent a one-click patent process and get it all over with. Seriously, this is Amazon.com all over again.

    Fail. Because Paul Allan is a . . .

  27. Kevin 6
    FAIL

    Honestly

    If you do not enforce a patent for over 5 years and wait till its extremely widely used you should AUTOMATICALLY lose it. Seriously it is not like these companies he is suing are new or just instituted these "ideas" They had these patents for 9 years.

    6,034,652, WTF it describes a TV in a department store playing a DVD, or before it was patented a VHS tape. And 6788314 wtf its the same thing as the previous one except they changed people to users at the very end.

    Patent trolls should start getting HEAVILY fined by the USA for wasting time of the patent office, and the court systems.

  28. raving angry loony
    Thumb Down

    fraud

    Yet another example of the USPTO failing in its basic mandate. I don't see any of those patents surviving a review - but in the meantime the lawyers will bill millions, even tens of millions of dollars defending companies from this crap. Small companies have to declare bankruptcy or sell out at cents on the dollar rather than fight these spurious claims, all because a government department has completely been bought out by the big players.

    1. Eric Olson

      Here's the actual problem with the USPTO

      They don't get any money from the US Gov't. Not one dime. Since 1991, it was set up to survive on the fees it charges for patent and trademark filing. However, they can't adjust their fees. Congress controls the fees, and hasn't felt it necessary to grant the USPTO's request to change the fees, the way it does fees, or any other number of options. In essence, they require Congressional approval to do anything, even though they get nothing from the government, and even had some of those fees appropriated by the government for "other priorities." Needless to say, it's an overworked, understaffed agency with no real authority.

  29. Nexox Enigma

    Easy fix

    To fix the patent system (at least as a first step) simply deny any patent that's "Too lawyery" Then you'll magically have lots of extra man power at the USPTO to go over the other 6 patents to see if they're worth approving.

    And why the hell are judges involved at all? Like they have the capability to understand any given handful of patents? Seems to me like the USPTO should arbitrate all disagreements, and they should go ahead and keep half of any given settlement in fees. Of course that creates a massive conflict of interest within the USPTO, but it'd be a step up from what we have now, and they'd probably be able to beef up their staff, while discouraging litigation altogether.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Patent on incremental sales?

    If you buy two, I'll give you fifty percent off on the second. If you buy three, I'll give you this nice jacket for free. If you buy four, I'll sell you this 08 Mercedes for only 3000 dollars. If you buy ten, you can have the car and this nice little bag of white powder for your nose.

  31. Jemma
    FAIL

    .... Who cares....?

    We're still going to end up paying three times the going rate whoever owns the sodding patent...

  32. Kurt Faasse
    Flame

    tit for tat

    Let Paul Allen go ahead and patent everything. Who cares? I'll go ahead and patent Paul Allen's genome, and then I'll own him.

  33. Lord Lien
    WTF?

    Should be just as amusing...

    ... as when BT tried to claim hyperlinks were their idea, all them years ago.

    http://news.cnet.com/2100-1033-955001.html

  34. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Now we see what the SCO case was all about

    Alans case has no merits at all - prior art should piss this into a cocked hat.. however it seems the SCO case has set the playground for destroying your opposition:

    Just pay a lawyer a small amount to regurgitate SCO's arguments and in 10 years time Google et all will just have to give up the will to live.

    Typical MS - no innovation required - just destroy a small company and steal its ideas

    Embrace

    Extend

    Exterminate....

    1. OffBeatMammal

      just what happened to MS

      for those who don't remember their history isn't this exactly what happened to Microsoft on a number of occasions... their competitors, unable to actually outthink MS when they were having a good day, would result to the DoJ (Netscape, Oracle) or EU (Opera) to try and ham string them?

      1. Goat Jam
        WTF?

        What drugs are you on?

        Just about everyone and anyone can "outthink" [sic] Microsoft even on a bad day.

        Where Microsoft succeeds is through lying, deception and outright bullying. Their list of victims includes, but is in lo way limited to;

        Stacker: Told them they wanted to license their code but needed to see the code to do due diligence checks. Upon receiving access to said source they immediately proceeded to back out of the deal and then cut and paste Stackers code into their own inferior copycat product. By the time Microsoft lost the ensuing court battle stacker as a business was dead.

        Digital Research: DR missed the boat when IBM was fishing for a partner to produce an OS for their new IBM PC product forcing them to play catchup from the start. They produced an superior alternative OS called DR-DOS in the early nineties but Microsoft killed DR-DOS by putting checks in MS Windows to ensure that Windows would crash randomly when DR DOS was detected.

        Lotus: Lotus was THE killer app on the market in the eighties with Microsofts alternative coming in a distant second. Microsoft "outhinked" Lotus by once again coding MS-DOS to detect that Lotus was attempting to load and have it crash randomly leading to the famous line "It aint done until Lotus won't run"

        Mosiac & Netscape: Netscape was the most popular browser when the intenet exploded during the mid nineties at a time when Microsoft was busy "thinking" that the internet would never catch on. When they finally got a clue they were left with an embarrassing lack of a MS branded browser on their OS. They"outhinked" NCSA (Mosaic) buy signing a profit sharing deal with them promising a percentage share of all copies of Mosiac sold in return for complete and unfettered access to the Mosiac code in perpetuity. They then proceeded to leverage their monopoly in the operating system market by giving Mosiac away for free thereby destroying Netscape who had no other business to leverage their browser sales against and leaving those trusting fools at NCSA with a big fat share of ZERO.

        IBM & Wordperfect: Wordperfect was the defacto standard in word processing at the time that PC's were text based. During this time Microsoft's competing product was clunky, feature poor and difficult to use. Then, in their role as IBM's OS partner, Microsoft was approached to form a partnership with IBM to develop a next generation protected mode OS called OS/2. Microsoft publicly promoted the idea that OS/2 was the future of the PC causing Wordperfect Corp (and Lotus) to put their development resources into re-coding their flagship products to the upcoming GUI based OS. Secretly however, Microsoft was developing Windows 3 (a far inferior OS) and at a critical juncture pulled out of the partnership with IBM and released their own revamped office products (which would later become "MS Office") on their newly announced Windows 3. By the time that Wordperfect (and Lotus) had managed to finish redeveloping their products for a second time for the Windows platform MS had already managed to abuse their monopoly OS leverage position and their OEM networl to entrench their own products leaving WP and Lotus to wither and die.

        These are not the only examples of Microsoft "outhinking" their competitors (and often times their own PARTNERS) and every person on this planet* pays the price for their brutish behavior every single day whether you like their products or not. While MS is able to retain their iron grip on the IT industry then their "customers" are forced to pay premium prices for products because their is no competition to drive the prices down.

        This is a bad thing for everyone, even MS fanbois.

        * Except perhaps for some tribes in the Kalahari desert. And maybe some Eskimos too.

        1. JimC

          Although to be fair

          123 for OS2 and later Windows was a pretty damn awful spreadsheet with a lot of foot shooting about it... Excel was plain better. But all the rest I agree with completely. Excel and Visual Basic (until the latter got bloated beyond all reason) were good and not uninnovative products. I suppose no-one can get it wrong all the time. But wll the rest was dross. I blame Microsoft for the fact that there has *never* been a decent GUI based word processor...

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Boffin

            @JimC

            You do know that Visual Basic was bought in right?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Senile old b*tch

    Well, well, this incompetent senile old bitch doesn't have enough money already? He has to sue on the basis of some patents covering some obvious simple stuff?

    Rot in hell, you little insignificant man (and you too, Bill G, everyone knows you're really behind this idiocy anyway)

  36. copsewood
    Linux

    license to print money

    That's what a patent is, a monopoly granted upon the wording of an idea, which may be turned into licensing revenue by the successful applicant. So the office which grants patents has a license to print money.

    To see how this works in practice, supposing you run a patent office which is funded based upon how many applications are made. The number of applications will always be a multiple of the number of patents granted, because if the chance of successful application are low, customers won't invest much time and money in applications, but if the chance of successful application are high, customers will increase the number of applications. So as a patent officer, are you going to grant very few, high-quality patents, in which case your funding and empire will be cut down to size, or are you going to grant many poor-quality ones, in which case your bureaucratic empire grows without limit ?

    Solution: the patent examination office should not be able to spend patent application fees which should go to general taxation. Road license fees go to general taxation and road maintenance comes out of a separate budget so there is a precedent. Funding of the examination process should be assessed independently based upon the sampled quality of patents granted and excluded independently of how many patents are granted. This should require a change in the style of patent writing so that the language and presentation of these becomes clearer to engineers, as opposed to documents intelligible only to patent lawyers.

    That and legislation restricting patents to exclude mathematical, business methods and software ideas better protected using copyright.

  37. <shakes head>
    Black Helicopters

    or more interestingly

    Use patent portfolio to sue lots of companies, if bust then buy their patents, if to big to go bust, sue- buy shares 'settle' sell shares. Profit all round or an even bigger patent portfolio.

  38. Adrian 10

    Is any organisation lobbying effectively?

    I heard that breast cancer research gets significantly more funding than prostate cancer research, even though more people die of the later. Something to do with more effective lobbying - chicks are less embarassed about the whole thing and are more effective at letting politicians know that they will use their vote to make a difference. We all sit here and complain away in the forums as it seems relatively obvious to the The Reg readers why all this patent stuff is so stupid (and is such a risk to innovation in general). But our forum posts won't really make a different other than to make us feel better by venting.

    Is there any organisation that is lobbying effectively against the poor regulation and running of patent law? If so, please post who it is so I can become a supporter.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    @Donovan Hill - From the objectivist point of view

    Paul Allen IS John Galt, the Rich, innovator and producer.

    We are the leeches, from Ayn Rand's twisted plutocrat point of view

  40. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
    Terminator

    Terminators required ASAP

    Send in the Terminators to rid the world of the patent scourge.

  41. ContentsMayVary

    Damn that Ghostcrawler and his Paladin nerfs!

    Oh wait! Sorry. Thought I was on the World of Warcraft forums for a moment there... it's strangely similar.

  42. Chris Cartledge
    Gates Horns

    Time limited

    The good news is that patents are time limited. The bad news is that two of these are dated in 2000 so this nonsense could go on for a further 10 years...

  43. Rabbers
    FAIL

    Commonplace?

    Surely *Surely* there's something precluding companies from making patent claims on patents that have been allowed to become commonplace due to not being keenly protected in the past, isn't there?

    Perhaps needs some thought that one!

  44. YumDogfood

    FUD wars II

    Anybody seriously think this is _really_ about patent infringements?

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Paul Allen's gift to the World...

    ...according to an interesting take on this by Adam Curry on the most recent "This Week in Tech" podcast. ( http://twit.tv/263 )

    Allen knows that the patent system is broken, and what better way to show this (and set a precedent for future BS patent troll cases) than to hit the biggest tech companies in the world with legal action, thus triggering huge teams of expensive lawyers funded by the accused to thrash it out and hopefully win (with Allen 'losing').

    Allen's got plenty of money and probably doesn't need any more; his experience with cancer might have set him thinking about how he can leave a legacy that would do some lasting good in the tech world.

    I really want this to be the case!

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