Patents have gone berserk in the last twenty years, the
has allowed business model patents, software patents, and even just methodology patents. It has made a mess and mockery of the patent process, to the point where patents are an inhibition to innovation, and instead are used for extortion, and monopoly.
RIM vs NTP
I have been involved off and on with a project which was dedicated to giving field technicians access to all the data that the central offices have, so they can make timely decisions, and also so the services to completion was expedited. We tried iPaqs, J2ME phones, until finally the Blackberry matured sufficiently that we could have the techs access the information through the same website that the central offices do. The Blackberry also replaced our phones, pagers, and old phone plans. Massive cost saving. I am a fan of the Blackberry.
However, the Blackberry is under a patent cloud. An intellectual property company, NTP, is suing RIM for patent infringement, in what has been an ongoing court case.
NTP is one of a new brand of companies
that have popped up with the weakening of the USPTO's restriction on what sorts of patents can pass;
Indeed, NTP does not make anything. It is a patent holding company formed by in 1992 by Thomas J. Campana and some investors with the intent of licensing patents. Mr. Campana, 57, is a retired electrical engineer and entrepreneur from the Chicago area who holds about 50 patents, some of which cover a national paging system.
These companies buy up weak patents, and sit on them, knowing that a company is likely infringing on it. Once that company, such as RIM, is well established, and had considerable market penetration, the intellectual property company will turn to litigation. These intellectual property company are litigious by nature.
But we expect laws to be universal, and apply universally - if the litigation is upheld, and RIM is removed from the US market by the courts because of their patent infringement - then surely it applies to the US government as well?
It seems not
In this ongoing patent infringement case involving the Canadian RIM's BlackBerry system, the U.S. Government has submitted a brief to District Court Judge Spencer. The brief notes that under Trojan v. Shat-R-Shield, the Federal Government cannot be enjoined against using a patented invention and thus, asks the court to fashion any injunction in such a way to continue to allow the U.S. Government workers to continue to use the BlackBerry.
But that is not all, the USPTO is having second thoughts too,
and NTP's litigious nature is being shown
The US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has rejected seven out of eight claims made by NTP against Research in Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry service, throwing a legal settlement between the two companies into further turmoil.
The patent office issued what it calls "non-final office actions" rejecting all the claims in two of NTP's patents, on the heels of a preliminary rejection notice for the claims in five of the patents earlier this year. Only one of the key patents at issue in the dispute over the BlackBerry service now contains valid claims in the eyes of the patent office, but that patent is under review as well.
What a mess.
Patents and their enabling legislation have produced weird outcomes in the past, and the weirdness is only getting worse as it seems weaker and weaker patents are let through the patent office.
Sun had a bizarre case with Kodak
The really significant part of that though, is that so much of the world has gotten tied up in knots over ridiculous pieces of litigation. I mean, Sun just came out of this really weird patent case with Kodak, where Kodak admitted that we did not violate their patent. They weren't't accusing us of violating their patent, they were accusing us of building a system that caused other people to violate their patent. So they had an expert who wrote software that violated their patent, and he actually got up in court and said that every program ever written does the following completely stupid stuff, and therefore Java induced people to violate their patent. And the jury made up of housewives bought it. And it's like, "What is this, you know, Shakespeare with rights? It's like five hundred years later, why didn't we pay attention and just shoot all the lawyers?".
Patents are more often than not used for extortion. I am sceptical of the patent system being maintained, and will need to see a massively convincing argument for it to remain. Especially when we know
co-operative and democratized innovation
is a faster commodifier of innovation than the patent system.
Friends of ours were displaying their art at Artomatic
in Alexandria, VA; and last night was the artist's opening night, which we got invited to. Lots of colourful and beautiful work on display. Very sumptuous visually. We met a fellow who told us that the building used to be the US Patent Office or archives, and when the Patent Office moved it threw out all the old patent documents.
He tried to get them to archive them all, and then he sued them, and was successful, but this didn't change anything, so he went to the NY Times. Unfortunately I cannot find the article, but he said it was on the front page of the newspaper.
In the end the Patent Office didn't bother maintaining the paper archives, they digitised them in low resolution, which omits much of the detail and doesn't show the pencil comments from the patent officers.
Anyway, this fellow had a folder of them which he was showing to people there since the art displays were in the old Patent Offices. I held in my hands, and read last night, a 1913 patent from the Wright Brothers for a device to move a rudder on an aircraft. I also looked at patents from Thomas Edison for an 1893 electro-magnetic engine and a movie camera.
I am a sucker for technology and history - consequently, despite my opinion of patents and the monopoly they offer, I thought it was pretty cool.
Most Popular on South Sea Republic
The articles that have been viewed the most:
Most Popular Restaurants in Phoenix
Phoenix Eats Out
is the restaurant review site for Phoenix
and Old Town Scottsdale
which lists the modernist and contemporary restaurants, taverns and bars in the greater Phoenix area.
This is the list of the most popular restaurants pages from phoenixeatsout.com that have been viewed the most;
My personal favourite restaurants in Phoenix are AZ88
, Humble Pie
, Orange Table
, The Vig
and others coming close behind. View the complete list with the photo-journalistic style images on phoenixeatsout.com
Most Popular Hikes in Arizona
Arizona is an outdoor state and has lots of hiking in the city and around the state. Phoenix is unusual for most cities in having several large mountains in the center of the city with great hiking. Anyone who comes to Phoenix has to do the Echo Canyon trail on Camelback
and the Summit Hike on Squaw Peak
or Piesta Peak. The views of the city, suburbs and surrounding mountains are wonderful from Camelback and Piesta Peak.
For more experienced hikers there is the McDowell Mountains in North Scottsdale that has several difficult and strenuous hikes in Tom's Thumb
and Bell Pass
. Alternatively, you can hike the highest mountain in Arizona. At 12,600 feet Humphrey's Peak
is a long and difficult hike.
Alternate Australian Constitutions
Between 2004 and 2009 this site, southsearepublic.org
, was a constitutional blog based on scoop which focused on Australian and global constitutional issues.
One of the strongest aspects of it was the development of constitutions by those involved in the blog. These constitutions are the outcome:
The constitutions were built using principles from Montesquieu's separation of powers, the enlightnment's universal political rights and the ancient Athenian technology of sortition and choice by lot.
Archives For South Sea Republic
South Sea Republic started in 2004 as an Australian constitutional blog in 2004 based on scoop software. It was an immigrative outgrowth of Kuro5hin. The archives for each year since then;
The articles are ordered by views.
Who Is Cam Riley
I am an Australian living in the United States as a permanent resident.
I am a software developer by trade and mostly work in Java and jump between middleware and front end.
I originally worked in the New York area of the United States in telecommunications before moving to Washington DC and
working in a mix of telecommunications, energy and ITS. I started my own software company before heading out to
Arizona and working with Shutterfly. Since then I have joined a startup in the Phoenix area and am thoroughly enjoying myself.
I do a lot of photography which I post on this website, but also on flickr. I have a photo-journalistic website which lists
the modernist and contemporary restaurants in phoenix. I have a site on the Australian Flying Corps [AFC]
which has been around since the 1990s and which I unfortunately
lost the .org URL to during a life event; however, it is under the www.australianflyingcorps.com
The AFC website has gone through several iterations since the 90s and the two most recent are Australian Flying Corps Archives(2004-2002)
Australian Flying Corps Archives(2002-1999)
which are good places to start.
Websites Worth Reading
Websites of friends, colleagues and of interest;