Obama signs big patent overhaul into law; Microsoft supports it

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by TheSideshow, Sep 16, 2011.

  1. TheSideshow macrumors 6502

    Apr 21, 2011

    “Somewhere in that stack of applications could be the next technological breakthrough, the next miracle drug,” Obama said during a signing ceremony at Thomas Jefferson High school for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va. “We should be making it easier and faster to turn new ideas into jobs.”

    The law “will ensure that innovators in our troubled economy can benefit from a predictable and rational patent system, with new tools to eliminate patents that should not have issued and to speed the processing of patents that should be issued,” Horacio Gutierrez, Microosft’s corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of intellectual property and licensing, wrote in a blog post before the bill passed Congress. “A fair, balanced and effective patent system is indispensable to promoting R&D investment, job creation, and economic growth.”
  2. kdarling macrumors P6


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 47 years ago
    There are people who think the changes should've gone much deeper, defining more precisely what could be patented. Perhaps even banning software patents altogether.
  3. KingCrimson macrumors 65816

    Mar 12, 2011
    Why? Software is just as valid IP as hardware IP.
  4. *LTD* macrumors G4


    Feb 5, 2009
    Not a good idea. Software is as valid an IP as anything else. A lot of people depend on the integrity of software IP for their livelihoods.
  5. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium


    Jan 28, 2009
    Quebec, Canada
    Software already has protection in the form of copyright. What is at issue is software patents. There's quite a big distinction here. Copyright protects the worked you've made from being copied. IE, no one can just up and take Quartz from Apple and distribute it as part of their products.

    Patents protect ideas, like let's say, the GPU accelerated GUI (obviously there's no patent on this, it's just an example). Now suddenly, only Sun Microsystems can have the GPU accelerated GUI and no one else because they did it first with project Looking Glass (this is before this reform, first to invent).

    Now with the new reform, even Sun could lose their right to their hard work on project looking glass because Apple would suddenly file for a patent on the GPU accelerated GUI for Quartz Extreme. They now own the concept (first to file, what the America Invent acts does).

    This is a step backwards. What people wanted was : No one can patent the concept of a GPU accelerated GUI. Copyright covers your implementation, trademark covers its name and logos, and that's all the protection your IP should have in the realm the software. Patents on software stiffle innovation in a way and that's not good. I can take a concept anymore and expand on it because the concept is patented. Without software patents, Sun made project Looking Glass and the idea got picked up and suddenly, we now have all these compositing engines for desktop UIs. Quartz Extreme, Compiz/Beryl, the Windows stuff.

    Software should definately enjoy protection as a form of IP, just not software patents. That is just the wrong approach to protecting software.
  6. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Well that's kind of a moot point isn't it. I mean that Obama signed in the overhaul law, I doubt very much they'll be any changes to patents in the near future.

    Beside they'll be zero support to drop patents for software as the software industry will fight that tooth and nail
  7. miles01110, Sep 17, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2011

    miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Wrong. Patents do not protect ideas (at least not in the United States). Patents protect (1) inventions or discoveries of new processes, machines, manufactured items, compositions of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, (2) new, original, and ornamental designs for articles of manufacture, or (3) distinct and new varieties of plants that have been asexually reproduced.

    You cannot patent an "idea." You have to have something more than just an idea. In your example the "idea" of GPU accelerated GUIs would not be patentable, but Sun's implementation of it would be. Another company could still accelerate a GUI with the GPU, but their implementation would have to be demonstrably different than Sun's.

    Edit: In fact, the US Patent and Trademark Office even states this explicity.

  8. kdarling macrumors P6


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 47 years ago
    Hey, don't shoot the messenger, I'm just repeating what almost every article had pointed out even weeks before it got signed into law: that many people were disappointed that it didn't go further with reform.

    I've always thought that longtime examiners couldn't possibly have the working experience to act as "someone skilled in the art" and see what's obvious and not. Especially when it comes to formerly niche fields such as touch.

    More to the point of this forum, I'm aghast that touch gesture vocabularies are getting patented. No inventive method or process involved. Just obvious answers that would come from any group of touch developers.

    For example, Apple's recent patent on using different numbers of fingers to do scrolling on different areas of a screen that can recognize... OMG.. different numbers of fingers. That's just a touch vocabulary, not an invention. No different from how Google uses a different number of fingers on Maps to indicate 3D view manipulation instead of 2D scrolling.

    Imagine if every single device on the planet had to have a different set of knobs or touch gestures for every action. We'd have no common set of volume or tuning actions, or scrolling, and so on. Ridiculous.
  9. cube macrumors G5

    May 10, 2004
    What about this "first to file" stuff? What happens with prior art?
  10. kdarling macrumors P6


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 47 years ago
    Apparently, prior art is still searched before granting the patent.

    However, if someone invents something but doesn't sell it or publish anything about it (i.e. keeps it secret), then their invention doesn't count as prior art.

    Which means that if you found out about a secret invention, you could rush off and patent it first because "first to invent" no longer counts. Hmm. Expect NDA's to get stricter!

    Perhaps now everyone will be in a rush to publicize and/or produce their inventions quickly. We should look to other countries' experiences with "first to file", since it's the norm in much of the world. Any thoughts?
  11. KingCrimson macrumors 65816

    Mar 12, 2011
    Ironically that position enabled Microsoft to continue gouging customers!

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